Newsweek: Howard Fineman: Campaign Avoided Racial Warfare

Newsweek: Howard Fineman

Campaign Avoided Racial Warfare

You knew it was going to happen. I’m only surprised it took so long. 

In Pennsylvania, Sen. John McCain’s must-win blue state, local Republicans now are up with a TV ad linking Sen. Barack Obama to his former pastor, the corrosively race-based Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

The ad plays Wright’s familiar “no, no, no” and “KKK” clips from incendiary sermons, and asks how Obama could ever have countenanced the guy. In fact, Obama no longer does. The split was final. 

The McCain campaign distanced itself from the ad, insisting that they didn’t approve of–but could not prevent–the spot being aired.

But here is the good news, and I don’t mean for either campaign but for the entire country: so far as I know, the ad was the first of its kind to be sponsored by a state party or other above-ground entity.

Obama’s longtime relationship with Wright–and especially the Illinois senator’s shaded and reluctant characterizations of it–may be valid topics of debate. But McCain and the GOP largely have stayed away from the subject. 

And that is a good thing. There are plenty of other topics to discuss.

I am willing–we all should be willing–to give McCain the benefit of the doubt on his motives. True, he voted against the Martin Luther King holiday a quarter century ago, and, in this year’s South Carolina primary, he allied himself with some of the same operatives who savaged him on racial grounds (over his adoptive daughter from Bangladesh) when he ran against George W. Bush in 2000.

But I know McCain and know that he does not have a racist molecule in his body, and that he is no fan, at heart, of the kind of politics that pokes at racial or religious sore spots in someone else’s life.

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NY Times Caucus: In Pennsylvania, Wright and Clinton Remarks Are Revived

NY Times Caucus

In Pennsylvania, Wright and Clinton Remarks Are Revived

 Here come the final Republican attacks on Senator Barack Obama, authorized and unauthorized, in the last 48 hours of the race.

The Pennsylvania Republican Party has cut a television ad – which the McCain campaign said was unauthorized — reminding people here that Senator Barack Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, had said “God damn America” in a sermon.

The ad, titled “Judgment,” juxtaposes images of Mr. Obama and Mr. Wright, noting that the Democratic presidential candidate chose the Chicago preacher to baptize his two daughters. A narrator says: “Barack Obama, he chose as his pastor a man who blamed the US for the 9-11 attacks. Does that sound like someone who should be president?”

Senator Obama distanced himself from the pastor during the primaries after some of the his more controversial remarks were made public. He also quit his membership at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ where Rev. Wright preaches.

“Well, we wish they wouldn’t do Wright ads, but as McCain said back in the spring, he can’t be the referee of every ad,’’ Charlie Black, a senior adviser to the McCain campaign, said on a flight here from Philadelphia. “People know how he feels. If they cared what he felt about the issue, they wouldn’t run the ad.’’

It was unclear how often the Pennsylvania Republicans were able to broadcast the ads, and the party was raising money on its web site to try to keep them on the air. Robert A. Gleason Jr., the state party chairman, said in a statement on the party’s website: “Why did Barack Obama associate with a man who has clear disdain for our country?’’

NY Times Caucus Blog: The Ad Campaign: Unauthorized Ad Reminds Voters About a Certain Pastor

NY Times Caucus Blog

The Ad Campaign: Unauthorized Ad Reminds Voters About a Certain Pastor

PRODUCER Not provided.

THE SCRIPT A narrator says: “If you think you could ever vote for Barack Obama, consider this — Obama chose as his spiritual leader, this man.” The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.: “Not God bless America, God damn America.” Narrator: “He also picked Wright to baptize his children.” Mr. Wright: “The U.S. of K.K.K.A.” Narrator: “Barack Obama, he chose as his pastor a man who blamed the U.S. for the 9/11 attacks. Does that sound like someone who should be president?” Mr. Wright: “God damn America.”

ON THE SCREEN The advertisement opens with a profile photograph of Senator Obama followed by one of Mr. Wright. Then the advertisement cuts to the sermon Mr. Wright gave in which he declared, “God damn America.” More images juxtaposing Mr. Obama and Mr. Wright lead into a clip of a second fiery sermon by the preacher. The advertisement ends with a shot of Mr. Obama next to the words, “Judgment to Lead? No.”

ACCURACY The advertisement includes short excerpts of Mr. Wright’s most incendiary remarks and accurately notes that he was Mr. Obama’s pastor and the man who baptized his children. After Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Wright delivered a sermon suggesting that the terrorist attacks were a consequence of American foreign policy. But there is no evidence that Mr. Obama was present for this or the other sermons cited. And it omits the fact that Mr. Obama began distancing himself from Mr. Wright months ago after some of the preacher’s controversial remarks surfaced. Mr. Obama delivered a speech in late April denouncing some of Mr. Wright’s statements as “divisive and destructive.” He withdrew his membership at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where Mr. Wright served as pastor for more than three decades.

SCORECARD This last-minute effort by the Republican Party to bring up the Wright issue is aimed at the crucial white voters Mr. Obama must court to win an important state like Pennsylvania. Though some voters may be aware that Mr. Obama severed ties with Mr. Wright during the primaries, the spot’s aim is to keep the controversy front and center and to plant doubts in the minds of voters considering backing Mr. Obama. Mr. McCain once indicated he would avoid using his opponent’s ties to Mr. Wright as a line of attack but since has been less rigid on the point. On Sunday, Charlie Black, an adviser to Mr. McCain, confirmed that the campaign did not authorize the advertisement and wished that the party had not made it.

Talking Points Memo: Pennsylvania GOP Ad Hits Obama Over Wright

Talking Points Memo

Pennsylvania GOP Ad Hits Obama Over Wright

The Pennsylvania GOP goes up with its own ad hitting Obama’s association with Jeremiah Wright:

We were unable to immediately confirm details of the buy.

It’s worth noting that the McCain campaign’s claim that Pennsylvania is within reach — and could be key to a McCain victory — has prompted outside groups allied with McCain to really get serious about hosing down the state with slime. Most recently we had the Republican Jewish Coalition’s flyer yesterday saying a vote for Obama could be a vote for a second Holocaust, and now today’s Wright ad. More soon, we trust.

Racism Review: Hoping for a Bradley Effect?

Racism Review

Hoping for a Bradley Effect?

 

Like so many others at this point, I’m suffering from election fatigue. Despite promising poll numbers, many argue that McCain shouldn’t be counted out .

After wondering why the heck McCain was continuing to campaign in places like Iowa and Pennsylvania, states in which Obama leads on average by double-digits (see this), there seems to be only one explanation: that the McCain campaign is hoping for the Bradley Effect, along with the Wilder Effect.

The former refers to whites lying to pollsters about supporting the black candidate while actually voting for someone else (i.e., the white candidate), while the latter refers to the remaining undecideds to break overwhelmingly for the white candidate. (Thus, it is more accurately called the “white racism effect.”)

In both RCP averages in those states, Obama’s raw score is above 52 percent, meaning that the Wilder Effect alone would be insufficient for McCain to win in those states. So why spend time campaigning there with such little time left before Election Day? Part of the explanation could be that they have nothing left at this point, but why ignore Colorado at this juncture? Turns out that they may be banking on the older white populations of Iowa and Pennsylvania (along with others like Florida and Ohio), while giving up on Colorado (the youngest state in the union). 

 

RedState: Nancy Pelosi and Chris Van Hollen’s DCCC makes $84,000 ad buy in attempt to save Murtha from himself

RedState

Nancy Pelosi and Chris Van Hollen’s DCCC makes $84,000 ad buy in attempt to save Murtha from himself

Two weeks ago, John Murtha (D-PA), the Vietnam veteran who is currently being suedby two former Marines for slandering them on national television as “cold-blooded killers,” let his “tolerant man of the people” mask slip and told his constituents outright what he thought of them: that they’re pathetic, dirty, unrepentant and unvarnished racists (video below).

Now, Congressional Democrat leaders are fighting to save his seat, dropping $84,000 on a Pittsburgh ad buy designed to smear Murtha’s Iraq war veteran Republican opponent worse than Murtha has already smeared himself.

 

Jewish Journal: Move over, Willie Horton

Jewish Journal

Move over, Willie Horton

I just hope Peter Feldman isn’t Jewish.

In my parents’ New Jersey home, when the perpetrator of some awful act in the news was not yet known, I could always count on them to say, “I hope he isn’t Jewish.”

Peter Feldman is the McCain-Palin campaign’s communications director in Pennsylvania. 

I don’t know Peter Feldman, and the only mayhem he’s suspected of is metaphorical, and the drip, drip, drip of evidence against him is coming out in the court of public opinion, not in a court of law. I realize that politics ain’t beanbag, and I’m familiar with the riptides and undertows that can seize anyone working in a presidential campaign, especially an apparently losing one, in its final days. Still, for the sake of the reputation of Jewish ethics, and even for the sake of the reputation of Republicans, I sure hope he didn’t do last week what it kinda sorta looks like he did.

By now everyone knows that Ashley Todd, the 20-year-old McCain volunteer from College Park, Texas who told Pittsburgh police that a 6-foot-4 black man robbed her at an ATM machine and carved a backwards B on her face, has (in the words of a Pennsylvania prosecutor) “not insignificant mental health issues.” She made it all up.

But what everyone may not know is that before the contents of her allegation were fully known, let alone verified, it appears to be Peter Feldman – not the police – who told local reporters that her (fictional) big black assailant said to her, “You’re with the McCain campaign? I’m going to teach you a lesson.” 

Move over, Willie Horton.

The story begins last Thursday, when a reporter from Pittsburgh television station KDKA called the Pennsylvania McCain campaign after the Drudge Report — an online conduit for right-wing talking points — ran a big red banner saying, “MCCAIN VOLUNTEER ‘ATTACKED AND MUTILATED’ IN PITTSBURGH… MUGGER CARVED ‘B’ ON ME…” (If you think Drudge was tipped off by the Pittsburgh police, rather than by someone in the McCain campaign, I have a bridge to nowhere to sell you.)

According to KDKA News Director John Verrilli, it was Pennsylvania McCain spokesman Peter Feldman, in the absence of any confirmed facts, who told the media that the mugger saw a McCain bumper sticker on Ashley Todd’s car, and that the B stood for Barack. Mr. Feldman fed the same story to a WPXI-TV reporter, even though the assistant chief of the Pittsburgh police department’s investigative division later said, “We suspected [her story] was false from the beginning.”