Wednesday, July 23, 2008

McCain attacks Obama's visit to Holocaust Museum, calls Obama a flip-flopper on genocide

Well, Republican presidential candidate John McCain provides another example of the "respectful campaign" that he promised to give to the American people. For the past week, McCain has relentlessly attacked Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama over his character, over how Obama would lose the Iraq war, and how Obama would commit treason for political gain. Now McCain has decided to add genocide to his attacks, on the day that Obama visited the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem. From the Huffington Post:

The McCain campaign implied on Wednesday that Barack Obama's commitment to preventing a future genocide was not sincere, attacking the Democratic candidate during his appearance at the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem.

In an early morning press release, entitled "Obama on Genocide," McCain aide Tucker Bounds emailed reporters a quote from Obama's appearance in which the Illinois Democrat reiterated the cry "never again." He followed that quote with one taken a year ago from an interview that the Senator gave with the Associated Press in which he said that genocide or humanitarian crises were not a prerequisite for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq (a statement he has since walked back)

"Well, look, if that's the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces," said Obama, "then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now."

The message was fairly explicit: Obama's commitment to stopping future Holocausts is in doubt. Asked for clarification, McCain aide Michael Goldfarb responded:

"Today he says 'never again.' A year ago stopping genocide wasn't a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces in Iraq. Doesn't that strike you as inconsistent?"

It's a heavy charge to make, not least because Obama had just wrapped up his visit to the Holocaust memorial. In addition, there are, for better or worse, outstanding implications when discussing genocide when it comes to Jews -- and the insertion of the issue into the presidential campaign will border for some, on the taboo. Moreover, on the topic of Iraq, Obama has said he would leave a residual force to intervene in potential humanitarian crises and that he reserves the right to intervene militarily with international partners in order to "suppress potential genocidal violence within Iraq."

I don't know what else to say here, except that McCain campaign's attack was mean, nasty, and dirty. Florida Democratic Representative Robert Wexler, who was one of Obama's high-profile Jewish surrogates during the Democratic primary, called McCain's attack, "shameful and unconscionable."

Back in February 11, 2008, then McCain campaign manager Rick Davis sent a memo to reporters:

John McCain is now the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. It is critical, as we prepare to face off with whomever the Democrats select as their nominee, that we all follow John's lead and run a respectful campaign focused on the issues and values that are important to the American people.

Throughout the primary election we saw John McCain reject the type of politics that degrade our civics, and this will not change as he prepares to run head-to-head against the Democratic nominee.

John McCain will continue to run on his principles and will focus on the future of our country. The stakes could not be higher in this election, and John will contrast his vision for America with that of Senators Clinton and Obama. He will draw sharp contrasts: victory versus surrender to Islamic extremism; lower taxes and spending versus more big government; free-market solutions to health care versus costly mandates; and the appointment of strict constructionist judges versus those who legislate from the bench.

Overheated rhetoric and personal attacks on our opponents distract from the big differences between John McCain's vision for the future of our nation and the Democrats'. This campaign is about John McCain: his vision, leadership, experience, courage, service to his country and ability to lead as commander in chief from day one.

John McCain has pretty much thrown the "respectful campaign" out the window. The problem for the McCain campaign is that they no longer have any issues to run on that the American people will support. John McCain decided to his campaign with the Bush administration's agenda on issues such as the economy, taxes, energy policy, and Iraq. John McCain is running for a third Bush term at a time when two-thirds of Americans disapprove of President Bush's job performance, and over three-quarters of Americans are saying that the direction of the country is on the wrong track. John McCain has not effectively expressed change to the American people on his political policies or his views on the issues. He has remained stubborn--hence his nickname of McSame as President Bush. And now that McCain's positions on the issues have been shredded, there is nothing left for the McCain campaign to do, except for lashing out, with one nasty attack ad after another, against Obama. That is what this McCain campaign has become.

And it is going to get even dirtier, as we get closer to the election.

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