Archive for Friday, August 8, 2008

McCain, Obama decry campaign tone

August 8, 2008


— The first question I asked John McCain and then Barack Obama was: How do you feel about the tone and direction of the campaign so far?

No surprise. Both men pronounced themselves thoroughly frustrated by the personal bitterness and negativism they have seen in the two months since they learned they would be running against each other.

"I'm very sorry about it," McCain said in a Saturday interview at his Arlington, Va., headquarters. "I think we could have avoided at least some of this if we had agreed to do the town hall meetings" together, as he had suggested, during the summer.

Obama, in a phone interview Wednesday from Elkhart, Ind., argued that "the classic tit-for-tat campaigning" of recent weeks "is part of the politics of the past that we have to move beyond." Ironically, having turned down McCain's proposal for weekly joint town halls, Obama argued that the formal debates, starting in late September, may refocus the campaign on real issues.

Back on June 4, McCain proposed 10 joint town halls before screened audiences of uncommitted independent voters across the country. Obama countered by offering two such sessions this summer, one on Independence Day and one in August, and the idea died. Three days ago, Obama said he would participate only in the three debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, the first scheduled for Sept. 26.

Since the idea of joint town meetings was scrapped, the campaign has featured tough and often negative ads and speeches. They culminated last week with an exchange in which Obama said that McCain and his supporters were calling attention to the Democrat's unusual name and the fact that "he doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills."

The McCain campaign in turn accused Obama of playing "the race card." In the interviews, both candidates expressed indignation at what was being said of them. "I'm not going to be smeared," McCain declared. "I went through that once and I'm not going to do it again. ... If anybody says I'm a racist ... I'm not going to stand for that."

Obama insisted that he had never made such an accusation. And he condemned McCain for suggesting that "I would rather lose a war to win a political campaign. That is patently offensive. When his campaign ran an ad suggesting that I had refused to visit wounded troops because I couldn't have TV cameras with me, reporters immediately said that was patently false. ... I'm not going to sit back and let my record be distorted."

When I asked Obama how he thought the campaign could be returned to the issues, he said he hoped that the two conventions would "offer each party a chance to showcase its best ideas" and then the three scheduled presidential debates "will allow people to see Senator McCain and myself interact in a way that keeps people more honest because you're standing there face to face."

I told Obama that McCain made exactly that point in arguing for the early joint appearances. What McCain actually said was: "When you have to stand on a stage with your opponent, as I've done in other campaigns, you obviously have a tendency to improve the relationship. ... When you have to spend time with somebody, I think it changes the equation."

I asked Obama if he had any regrets now about turning down McCain's early June invitation to start the joint appearances back then. He said, "I think the notion that somehow as a consequence of not having joint appearances, Senator McCain felt obliged to suggest that I'd rather lose a war to win a campaign doesn't automatically follow. I think we each have control over ourselves and our campaigns and we have to take responsibility for that."

He also argued that "We responded with an offer of doing five debates, rather than the traditional three, which the McCain campaign declined."

"My general point," Obama continued, "is that both the conventions and the debates will offer formats for Senator McCain and myself to make our best case to the American people at a time when the American people will be paying attention.

"And ultimately, the best corrective to overly negative campaigns are the American people, who are not interested in a lot of bickering, but are interested in who's got the best answers for the country."

I think everybody would agree to that last point.

David Broder is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


cato_the_elder 9 years, 9 months ago

The truth is that Senator Obama mastered the art of "the politics of the past" when he cut his teeth politically in Chicago and began by getting his primary opponents kicked off the ballot on purely technical grounds. He's utilized "the politics of the past" exclusively in order to defeat the Clintons and arrive at his present political position. Refusing to participate in town hall meetings with Senator McCain is quintessentially "politics of the past," especially since this format has only recently come to the fore when it was perfected by former President Clinton a little over a decade ago. Senator Obama cannot utilize the excuse of being too far ahead, because he's seriously deficient in his polling numbers when viewed in the light of where he and his party had expected him to be and Democrat candidates have been at this time, even those who have lost, in recent election campaigns. It's become patently obvious by now that Senator Obama does not do well in this format, either being unable to articulate what he's trying to say or instead stumbling into revealing his far-left views. If the roles were reversed and Senator McCain had done this, the media would have fried him. As it stands, there's only an occasional mention of it and Obama is never seriously taken to task as he should be, including in Mr. Broder's milquetoast column today.

Jay Lovett 9 years, 9 months ago

They both say they don't like the tone of the campaign but neither of them will change. This is exactly why the american citizens pay less attention to the race and why MOST of our country will not vote. The time for a different system is well past.

Satirical 9 years, 9 months ago

I am tired of the politics as usual. My opponent is the only one who uses the tactics of personal attacks, which makes him a *bleep, bleep, mother bleep, who should go bleep the bleep bleep.

Satirical 9 years, 9 months ago

Clint...I know many extremely intelligent individuals who cannot use the internet or a computer. It is not how you get your information that is important, it is what you do with the information.

Satirical 9 years, 9 months ago

Question for liberals...I think I see why the Dems are always so successful with young voters, they are incredibly naive. What change did (or do) you seriously think you were going to get with Obama? Did you really believe all his rhetoric?

jaywalker 9 years, 9 months ago

"But why would the leader of the free world need to understand how to work the largest technological breakthrough in modern history?"Indeed! Do you honestly believe that whomever is President is going to be spending any time doing Google searches? "Let me get back to you on that, President Mugabe." Click."Cindy, let me jump on there real quick, I've gotta find out what the air speed velocity of a coconut laden swallow is, toot sweet, or this maniac is gonna slaughter a few thousand more dissidents."You know, the reason Kerry actually lost is 'cuz he never learned how to drive stick, and how can the leader of the free world not now how to drive stick?

Satirical 9 years, 9 months ago

Clint, Duplenty:Thank you for providing excellent examples of typical liberal responses, and the example of a fallacious response. "I doubt that:" ClintWow, what a zinger. It must require some special talent to so deftly dodge an argument and make such a profoundly unsupported statement. Oh wait, I think the talent is called "ignorance."

Satirical 9 years, 9 months ago

Clint...I don't' see a problem with asking your supporters to vocally, or in writing, advocate for their candidate about issues that are important to them and this country. What you call "desperation" I call political common sense. Or perhaps you would tell Obama supporters to silently support their candidate? Thanks for the link Agnostick, I didn't know about this until you told me. I now plan on blogging on the websites McCain listed.

Satirical 9 years, 9 months ago

Agnostick...I get the distince impression you are referring to me when you state "Conservativeman," however you have not responded in the past when I have asked you that question directly. If you choose not to respond this time I will assume you are referring to someone else and are just using the typical liberal tactic of personal attacks rather than debating issues.

jaywalker 9 years, 9 months ago

"If this is true: why is McCain and/or his campaign promoting the spamming of certain blogs, message boards, and web sites?"If what is true? I checked out your links, and I have to say I don't care too much for that idea. But the point of the article is about divisive, mud-slinging rhetoric. I don't see McCain or his site promoting such, only to spread his stance on issues. Again, gotta say the practice of awarding points for spreading one's message is .... not sure how to phrase it.... feeble? cheap? silly? But he's not advocating deriding or debasing his opponent, only spreading his messages.

Satirical 9 years, 9 months ago

jaywalker..."Probably the same morons and fearmongers that instituted those useless tornado sirens."Exactly. I think it is pretty "convenient" how they also seem to turn them on when a tornado is near. Sounds like somebody has a twisted (pun intended) agenda.

Satirical 9 years, 9 months ago

Clint:"You continue to dodge the crux of the matter"So, when I quote your counter arguments, then directly respond and refute them, I am dodging them? Ok, redefine your argument and I will refute it again."Is it necessary that the president understands what the internet is, and how to use it generally? Yes" ClintAgain, the answer is 'No'. (1) Most U.S. Presidents did not have the internet yet they were still able to govern. (2) It is not as if McCain couldn't easily learn, or already "understand(s) what the internet is, and how to use it generally" (3) My original argument: "It is not how you get your information that is important, it is what you do with the information." Does it really matter if he gets handed a piece of paper with information as opposed to using a computer screen? Of course not. It only matters that he can make sound decisions once presented with the information. "Given the fact that McCain seems to forget where countries are located:" ClintMisspeaking and being ignorant and two different things. Obama has misspoken before as well."I don't think his lack of knowledge about the internet is an anomaly, but a symptom of someone too old/senile/grumpy:" ClintSo you would do away with all the liberal U.S. Supreme Court justices if they are 72 or older? I would rather have a candidate that has some age and experience to go along with sound judgment, than Obama who lacks experience and judgment.

jaywalker 9 years, 9 months ago

"reflecting Obamanation's rabid, ruthless promotion of abortion mill profits" What the hell are you talking about? 'abortion mill profits'?

Satirical 9 years, 9 months ago

Thanks for the post parkay....Kinda out of left field though. It would have been nice if you used these facts to make a statement or an argument.

jaywalker 9 years, 9 months ago

Clint:"And "jaywalker" compares it to "driving a stick shift". Wow, another well thought out, coherent, rational statement by "jaywalker"."Is that what I did? I thought I used sarcasm to parody the ridiculous claim that 'the leader of the free world' needs such a fundamental skill in order to govern. You said it yourself, Clint: " that a 5 year-old can use...". How vital is it if a 5 year old can use it? Oh, wait, it's important because, according to you, the internet provides: "Communication, entertainment, social-networking, news, information, etc:"Allow me to ridicule you one at a time, may I?1. Communication - this may be the only tool provided by internet that a President might find helpful, but that's probably debatable. I doubt the Prez is gonna be wasting time clearing spam from his Yahoo in box, or IM'ing cabinet members, and he's certainly not forwarding jokes to Putin, let alone discussing foreign policy.2. Entertainment/social networking - I for one would be greatly dismayed if our next CIC isn't proficient in downloading Youtube videos, vigilant on the latest gossip from TMZ, and doesn't maintain an interesting, engaging Facebook page.3. News/information - Any idea how many staff members, Cabinet, DOD officers, NSA, Ambassadors, etc. the POTUS conferences with every single day? And you believe he's gonna miss out on news and information if he doesn't surf the web? What was it you said...."Talk about being disconnected from reality:"Yes, Clint, the internet is a great tool. But considering all the resources at the President's disposal it'd be darn near redundant. Personally, it makes me a touch uneasy to think of our Prez staring blankly at a PC waiting for Wikipedia to load.

Satirical 9 years, 9 months ago

Clint:"Um, yeah it is important, otherwise you would reference FoxNews and Intelligent Design propaganda as "information"."Questioning the veracity, or source of the information is different than questioning "how you get your information." Also, Foxnews and Intelligent Design theory are online, so you argument about the source of the information is moot since even if McCain did know how to use the internet he could still use those sources."As for dodging arguments you haven't replied to anything regarding the enormous value that the internet brings human beings everyday." ClintI do not disagree with the value of the internet."Could you elaborate why it's "not important" that the leader of the free world can't use technology that a 5 year-old can use?"I never said it is not important, however I don't believe it is necessary to hold the office. Most U.S. Presidents in history didn't have the internet, and yet were still able to govern. If you had a choice between a candidate who doesn't know how to use internet, but makes sound policy choice in the best interest of this nation; or a candidate who is extremely knowledgeable about the internet (or even invented the internet *Al Gore : ) but who makes poor decisions when presented with information, which would you choose?

jaywalker 9 years, 9 months ago

"Uh huh:which party brought us the color-coded threat assessment system?"Probably the same morons and fearmongers that instituted those useless tornado sirens.

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