21 October 2008

(Another) Apology!

Sorry for the lack of posts (those who are still reading lol) but I have had a crazy week.

Flew out last weekend to work on the Obama campaign, so I am sure you can imagine it has been a bit hectic!

The same old politics of fear

With the election less than a month away it seems the ‘respectful campaign’ that John McCain promised for 2008 has become a distant memory. The mud-slinging and race-baiting this week hit a new high with concerted efforts from McCain, Palin and their Conservative friends over at Fox News to open up a debate over who the ‘real Barack Obama’ is. Governor Palin’s accusation that Obama ‘pals around with terrorists’ coupled with Obama consistently being mentioned using his middle name, (Hussein) is a step up from the Karl Rove attack politics that smeared McCain in 2000 and questioned John Kerry’s service in Vietnam. When Rove openly criticizes Republican candidate’s methods on Fox it’s clear that they may have gone too far. This week has seen supporters at McCain’s rallies screaming ‘terrorist’, ‘traitor’, ‘off with his head’ and one even shouting simply ‘kill him’. In a nation with a history of assassinations this is extremely disturbing.

This method of campaigning has not just been used recently but has correlated in a crescendo like form since Karl Rove protégé Steve Schmidt took over the campaign and the economic crisis saw McCain with ever decreasing poll numbers. Schmidt was originally credited by the New York Times as having transformed the McCain campaign into an ‘elbows-out, risk-taking, disciplined machine’. There is no doubt that the aggressive stance taken by Schmidt was effective and worked at first, but it was also trying to turn John McCain into George W. Bush. Despite similarities in policies the President and the man who wishes to full his shoes are very different political animals.

The politics of fear has risen this week to a whole new high with senior civil rights veteran John Lewis accusing McCain and Palin of "sowing the seeds of hatred and division". At a rally one man claimed he was scared for his unborn baby that there could be an Obama presidency, whilst a woman suggested Obama was actually an Arab. This prompted McCain to defend his opponent which simply undercut his campaigns message, showing that amongst the Conservative base of the Republican Party the campaign of demonising Obama has been too effective. It’s looking now like bar a special moment in the debate, Barack Obama will be the next man to sit in the White House, Senator McCain now has to decide if he’s really going to try to win at any cost.

By Chris Tarquini

No solutions, John McCain on the attack

With both national and swing states polls showing Obama gaining ground in this tightly contested election, the McCain campaign has become increasingly negative. The economic woes of the country do not appear to be dissipating. For McCain this is worrisome as economics is not his strong suit and potential voters continually rank Obama better suited to deal with economy. In an attempt to change the national debate from the economy to Obama’s perceived flaws the McCain campaign has ratcheted up the attacks.

Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin charged that Obama is “palling around with terrorists” and does not love America. Advertisements attempt to link Obama to former domestic terrorist now education professor Bill Ayers and hammer home his limited experience. These attack advertisements intend to scare voters away from Barack Obama. In addition there is an argument among campaign strategists that negative advertising disenfranchises voters. With democrats registering more new voters than republicans, perhaps the McCain camp hopes these attacks will reduce turnout on Election Day.

At the Republicans campaign events, it seems these attacks have had their desired effect as attendees profess their fear of an Obama presidency. It appears that linking the Democrat to a terrorist may be a game changer. For example at an event a woman explains that she is scared of Obama whom she believes is an Arab. McCain quickly takes the microphone from her and explains that no one should be frightened of Obama who he calls a decent family man and citizen. After spending so much money and time to scare voters away from the Democratic nominee, McCain is now defending him to his supporters.

Did John McCain rediscover his conscience? Will he retreat to the positive campaign he promised? Has he come to the conclusion that he needs to propose solutions and unite America in order to solve its problems? The answer to these questions is more than likely no, however, it is possible that McCain realised he had gone too far and is now trying to tone down his negative attacks. In the end it is unlikely that this type of campaigning will win this election when so many big issues such as the economy, terrorism, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are at stake.

By Michael Goldberg