Will Barack Get Tougher?

By: Heather Ellerbock

In the last few months Obama supporters have been rolling their eyes at John McCain attack ads against the Democratic Presidential candidate. Now it seems that McCain may have gone too far. In an interview on Fox News this Sunday, George Bush’s top campaign advisor and staunch Republican, Karl Rove, has stated that McCain’s ads do not pass the 100% truth test.

With Karl Rove stating that McCain’s ads have gone one step too far, could this mean that the McCain campaign will have to reform their campaign policies?

The most current McCain campaign ad, “Education”, that has sparked this debate is a claim that senator Obama passed legislation to, “teach comprehensive sex education to kindergartners.” Now John McCain is being called a liar. What is at question here is, has McCain become too vague in his now seen as dishonorable campaign? In an interview on MSNBC, syndicated columnist David Sirota agrees that McCain is being too vague and argues that McCain is aiming to paint Obama as culturally different than the majority of Americans. The solution? Sirota states that Obama needs to inform the American people that not only is he the same as them but that he is also on their side economically. 

However, this is not the first as that McCain has released that is not only vague but in ways an outright deception. In McCain’s “Higher” ad, the commentator continues the notion of Obama’s celebrity status stating in the first line, “Celebrities don’t have to worry about family budgets, but we [the American people] sure do” (I could get into how Obama has in the past 30 years had to worry more about his family budget than McCain but I will stay away from that). The ad continues with the understanding that the American people are paying more for food and gas making it harder to save for college and retirement. “Obama’s Solution? Raise Taxes.”

While it is true that Obama will raise taxes, you have to make approximately $250,000 per year for his tax policies to effect you. Furthermore, “Obama would also introduce new tax breaks for lower and middle-income groups. Such breaks include expanding the earned income tax credit, giving those making less than $150,000 a $500 tax credit per person on the first $8,100 in income, giving those making under $75,000 a 50% federal match on the first $1,000 of savings, and exempting seniors making less than $50,000 from having to pay income tax. John McCain’s tax policy? “…those in the lowest income groups would only see thier after-tax income raise by less than 1% (or between $19 and $319). By contrast, the highest-income households – those with incomes of at least $603,000 – would see a boost in after-tax income of 3.4%, or more than $40,000.” I think we can all agree that people who have a harder time saving for college and retirement fall in the “less than $150,000” category.

Beyond these few examples, McCain’s ads continue to be vague and deceiving to the American people. Rupublican strategist Brad Blakeman spoke on MSNBC on behalf of the McCain campaign to shed some light on if McCain has indeed gone too far. His attempt was almost embarrassing concerning the “Education” ad with Blakeman stating, “Well, look, we don’t know what was intended in that bill…if you read that bill it is unclear what the intent was regarding education for children.” Blakeman pretty much shoots himself and John McCain in the foot for the sole purpose that they are running an ad with a staunch claim Obama wanted to teach sex education to kindergartners. If you don’t know what was intended in the bill then how can you run that claim?

It will be interesting to see how the McCain campaign handles this situation and what his new ads will consist of. The positive side to all of this is that it seems Barak Obama is going to be tougher in the next 50 days. Obama’s new ad, “Honor”, is attacking the integrity of John McCain with the clear message that McCain’s deception is all he has left. Obama has received a lot of criticism from his supporters who feel that he is not attcking right back. John Ridley writing for the Huffington Post recognizes that, “Since the day he [Obama] tossed his hat into the ring he has been hit up with vicious innuendo and outright lies regarding his heritage, his patriotism, and his religion. And in almost every circumstance his denials have been tepid when not simply nonexistant.” From here we can hope that Obama will come out clawing and stand up for not only himself but the integrity that should be part of a presidential campaign.

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3 Comments

Filed under McCain, Media, Negative Campaigning, Obama

3 responses to “Will Barack Get Tougher?

  1. Diego Del Campo

    It’s spelled “Barack” but yeah, I think McCain is framing issues in a way that is sloppy at best and dishonorable at worst. But I think when you base your campaign on the merits of your personality–and not on your policies–and promise to run a campaign that will transcend mudslinging politics, you pretty much leave yourself open to this type of crap.
    Obama has a chance to stop McCain at their first debate–McCain’s notoriously bad at debating, and maybe that will get the media to focus more attention on the Obama offense instead of the Obama defense.

  2. Matthew Wolf

    This issue, of Obama’s toughness in relation to McCain and Palin’s attacks, really revolves around one’s definition of tough. Is sliding into the trough and throwing mud back at your adversary an indication of one’s toughness?

    Some might argue that it is tougher (and possibly smarter) to rise above such tactics and keep things moving forward on the important issues like domestic (especially economic) and foreign policy. I know that my three children have a more difficult time avoiding a petty argument when one is offered.

    Do we really want a president who is good at petty argument, or one who has a clear vision of the direction our nation should take and how, specifically, to get there?

    Is mudslinging a skill that a president needs to be successful in office? Does a good mudslinger find more success in working with Congress to determine the federal budget, or to negotiate a treaty with another nation?

    Next week’s debate will likely bring all this to the table, and I will not think less of Barack if he fails again to take the bait on petty issues, except in clearing the record on some of the false claims made by McCain. I also expect it will serve to highlight some of the inconsistencies in McCain’s statements and positions.

  3. Stephen Noriega

    I believe that Obama will get tougher during the campaign. However, he needs to be smart as well. McCain plays the underdog well and there’s nothing cuter than an underdog under attack. Obama should do some baiting of his own, trying to rile McCain into saying something that hurts his campaign.

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