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April 25, 2008

McCain Conference Call

On Ayers:

Again focuses on comparison of Ayers to Tom Coburn, asks for apology. Also however says we should be talking about this "unrepentant terrorist" and it's proper to raise it in the media.

On the NC Wright ad:

"It's not the campaign we want to wage." "Inferences made" are "unnecessary" and "unwarranted" but allows that Wright is a legitimate issue. Does not explain which "inferences" he specifically objects to.

On Basra:

'We're pleasantly surprised" by Maliki's actions. "Generally pleased" at how the Iraqi Army fared.

Follow-up to NC Wright ad:

Asked if his position is that the Wright issue is legitimate, but he doesn't want to see ads on it, he's vague once again: He says some people find it "offensive" and that he wants to run a "positive campaign."

On Obama's unhelpful signals to Hamas:

"It's clear who Hamas wants to win the presidency." Vows he will be Hamas' "worst nightmare" and that it's unlikely Hamas will ever endorse him.

"If Hamas endorses Senator Obama, people can make judgments based on that." -- MY TAKE: I have to say this statement verges on the unfair. Not that I mind it, mind you. But I am not getting this Simon Pure thing with the "unwarranted inferences" in the NC Wright ad when out of his own mouth he's making hay of Hamas' unsolicited endorsement of Obama. I cannot see any consistent principle here except, alas, that McCain thinks it's okay when he does it but objectionable when others do it. I don't know whether I should bother asking a third follow up. It seems clear to me at this point all answers on this topic will be vague and either he won't articulate precisely what is objectionable in the NC ad, or simply can't.

McCain had to cut the call short because he was getting on a plane to meet with his "good friend" Mike Huckabee.

I wanted to ask about ethanol and why we need a tax holiday on gas as opposed to opening up ANWR for drilling. I'm just guessing, on the latter, he'll say such drilling is "unwarranted" and that some find it "offensive."

Here's that ad, by the way:

Okay... Here's my best guess. McCain thinks the connection here is highly tenuous -- Two Democrats endorse Obama, who in turn sat in the vile Wright's pews for twenty years. Objectively, rationally, he figures, this should have almost zero impact on the race, at least as the case is made.

However, the ad is running, so he wonders what irrational impact the ad might be hoped to have. He figures it's running to rile up anti-black sentiment, or, if it's not for that purpose exactly, that will be its effect, or its perceived effect.

And he doesn't want to say so because 1) he hesitates from branding NC Republicans as racist and 2) because his objection to the ad is nearly as tenuous and speculative as the connection the ad makes.

In legal terms he may be thinking the ad is unduly prejudicial -- it's not that the evidence offered is irrelevant; it is relevant, although not greatly so. But its limited relevance is overshadowed by its capacity to emotionally prejudice far beyond its rational persuasiveness.

This isn't exactly insane, and I guess we should be thankful, at least, he hesitates from calling us racists. Thank God for small favors.

But the more obvious point being made here is exactly what the ad explicitly says: Wright's an extremist, and these Democrats endorse a candidate who has cultivated this extremist, making them, by implication, too extreme for North Carolina.

The "God Damn America" quote doesn't have anything to do with race. It's about anti-American leftist hatred. The connection may be a bit attenuated but it's still fair and it's not racial.

Are we to avoid all ads which may, in some people's heads, remind them (as if they need reminding) that Barack Obama is black, even if the ads themselves are unobjectionable on their face? Is this why McCain is more forward-leaning on Bill Ayers-- that he's white whereas Wright is (sorta) black?

I appreciate the balancing act here, and that he would like to run a "positive" campaign (except, of course, where he's decided a negative issue is "legitimate"). But this frequent imputation of the worst and crudest motives to his fellow Republicans grows wearying.

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posted by Ace at 10:18 AM

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