Dishonorable, Vile, Deceptive, Disgraceful, Dishonest and Sleazy

Both campaigns came out with new ads this morning. The feeling that comes from watching them together is that U.S. Sen. John McCain is on offense, and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama is playing defense.

Obama's ad pulls quotes from the media, accusing McCain of running a "dishonorable," "vile," "deceptive," "disgraceful," "dishonest," "sleazy"  campaign-- and yes, all those words were squeezed into a 30-second spot.

McCain, meanwhile, has already moved on to talking about the economy, and the agenda seems to be set for the week.

Last week, McCain dominated the news cycle by running the aforementioned sleazy ads. Obama promsed to fight back, and now we get this: An ad that gets the point across, but is stuck on last week's finger-pointing. The people running McCain's campaign have cleverly moved the agenda forward, focusing on what has to be this week's top story: The crumbling economy.

Obama has released a statement on the Wall Street meltdown, incisively blaming McCain's philosophy of deregulation and trickle-down economics for the current trouble. Obama has to get that criticism out, and combine it with an explanation of why his ideas are better.  And if he's lucky, McCain will keep opening his mouth and giving himself trouble:

On the campaign trail today, McCain continued his insistence that the "fundamentals of the economy are strong," displaying how out of step he is not just with the American people, but with the people making his ads, too. As NDN President Simon Rosenberg wrote last week, this is just more evidence of how far removed McCain is from reality.

Will the Real Sarah Palin Please Stand Up?

Tina Fey has got it down. From the hokey accent to the weird thing she does with her mouth... I'm not even sure who is the real one.

The Trouble on Wall Street Becomes More Grave

From tomorrow's NY Times;

In one the most extraordinary days in Wall Street’s history, Merrill Lynch is near an 11th-hour deal with Bank of America to avert a deepening financial crisis while another storied securities firm, Lehman Brothers, hurtled toward liquidation, according to people briefed on the deal.

The dramatic turn of events was prompted by the cataclysm of losses that has shaken the American financial industry over the last 14 months.

The moves came after a weekend of frantic negotiations between federal officials and Wall Street executives over how to avert a downward spiral in the markets. Questions still remain about how the market will react and whether other firms may still falter like A.I.G., the large insurer, and Washington Mutual, both of whose stocks fell precipitously last week.

Coming just a week after the government took control of mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the magnitude of the industry’s reshaping is staggering: two of the most powerful firms on Wall Street, Merrill Lynch and Lehman, will disappear.

NDN's Rob Shapiro offered these reflections on the weakening of our financial markets a few days ago.

Cowardice, Not Courage

It is clear that John McCain would rather lose his integrity than lose this election. After a series of lies and mischaracterizations that have been chronicled by numerous news sources, U.S. Sen. John McCain released an attack ad today about Barack Obama's record on immigration.  Having participated in the immigration debate during 2007 as a Hill staffer as it was happening, and having delved into the dozens of amendments thrown at the bill per minute by those who would try to block immigration reform, and having had to sort through all the "poison pill" amendments, I feel a responsibility to distinguish between truth and fiction in regards to an issue as important as immigration reform.  The truth is that Senator Obama proposed an amendment to the section on a temporary worker program in order to ensure that those workers are a paid a prevailaing wage - i.e., to help push wages up.  It is disturbing to see this attempt to misinform Hispanic voters, as members of the Democratic leadership are accused in this ad for having halted immigration reform, when they were the ones who presented the legislation to the floor and fought to have the issue voted on and passed - not once, but twice.  The reason immigration even came to a vote twice is that many Republicans - including President George W. Bush - also recognize the dire need to fix the broken immigration system, and there was thought to be enough support at the time for reform.  What really happened: there were insufficient votes to close debate and move to vote on immigration reform because the Republicans who had pledged to support the legislation caved to the anti-immigrant rhetoric and voted against cloture.  The truth is John McCain changed his position and did not participate in the 2007 debate to provide the necessary political leadership to pass reform.  And that could have made a difference - one could argue that it was John McCain's absence and lack of leadership on this issue that led to its demise.  I'll refer you to our Hispanics Rising report, where we track the immigration debate and John McCain's abandonment of his own reform legislation.  The truth is, John McCain abandoned the reform he had once promoted because he feared the political ramifications.  As reported by the Washington Post (see Hispanics Rising), John McCain told his party "I got the message", immigration reform was not popular.  Sadly, it remains very necessary.  

Here is the translation of the ad, called "Which Side Are They On":

ANNCR:Obama and his Congressional allies say they are on the side of immigrants. But are they?
The press reports that their efforts were 'poison pills' that made immigration reform fail. The result:
No guest worker program.
No path to citizenship.
No secure borders.
No reform.
Is that being on our side?
Obama and his Congressional allies ready to block immigration reform, but not ready to lead.
JOHN MCCAIN: I'm John McCain and I approve this message.
ANNCR: Paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee. Approved by McCain-Palin 2008.

I must say, this ad insults my intelligence, and it is a shame because John McCain was the first to come out promising to keep this campaign "clean", and to not reach for baseless attacks like this one.  You will see below, McCain said, "Do we have to go to the lowest common denominator? I don't think so". Well Mr. McCain, you already have - this is just another example of how low you can go. Is lying to voters putting "country first"? I don't think so.

John McCain, Out of Touch on Energy

As the Congress moves closer to bipartisan energy legislation, John McCain is nowhere to be found. Instead his campaign – on the one issue that was supposed to separate him from Bush – is clinging to the old energy paradigm. It's hard to believe, but John McCain is now more out of touch than most of the Republican members of the U.S. Senate.

Bipartisan energy legislation, discussed today at the U.S. Senate’s energy summit, has gained momentum through the work of the "Gang of 10/16/22," and now looks to be one of three proposals that will come up in the Senate next week. (The House is also at work on bipartisan legislation.)

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama has said he is willing to accept a compromise on drilling to advance energy legislation that includes provisions for the expansion of renewable energy and efficiency. McCain, meanwhile, is stuck in a dogmatic anti-tax fuzz. Left behind by much of his party, McCain unwilling to compromise, show up to vote, or take any sort of stand to help make moves on energy.

Meanwhile, the bottom half of the McCain ticket has pledged to try to move him toward drilling in ANWR, which shouldn’t be hard since he only recently moved away from an opposition to drilling in the OCS to a wholehearted, singular support of it, and since he looks to be moving away from supporting Cap and Trade climate legislation.

This move away from Cap and Trade isn’t a surprise, as coming up with a serious energy policy doesn’t seem to be a goal of his ticket. Since his VP candidate knows more about energy than just about anyone else, and doesn’t believe climate change is man made – despite her absurd claims on television last night that she had never said that – John McCain owes American voters a big clarification as to where he stands on energy.

It looks like he may get the chance next week. Will he step up to plate and vote, or will his old, no show ways get left in the dust by Democrats and Republicans alike? Next week, when John McCain finds himself looking to the right on energy and only seeing James "Global Warming is a hoax" Inhofe, he’ll find himself running on empty. (Unless Jackson Browne sues him again.)

The Bush Doctrine? Um... Have I Mentioned That Alaska Is Close to Russia? And Energy?

In case you missed it, here's the best part of Gov. Sarah Palin's interview with Charlie Gibson. He asks her if she agrees with the Bush doctrine, and she freezes up like the Alaskan tundra in February.  

If you want to see the full interview, click here.

On Earmarks

Earmarks, pork, district development -- the American people have heard a lot about how federal money comes to their hometown. And we obviously have the McCain-Palin pledge to "shake up Washington" to thank for that...

Politics aside -- plenty of others have pointed out the half-truths, disturbingly misleading ads, and the endless repeating thereof -- what is an earmark anyway? The original term is actually "pork-barrel spending," which came about in the early 20th century. From Merriam-Webster's:


pork barrel
: government projects or appropriations yielding rich patronage benefits; also : pork 2

Two quick points. Let's be clear: lots of politicians use earmarks, including Sarah Palin. But not all of them use it as a rallying cry like McCain has.

Second, earmarks are one of those little paradoxes in politics that are important to understand. People have a low opinion on Congress as an institution, but many members of Congress have individual approval ratings above 50%. People say that want to elect a leader who sticks to his principles and doesn't consider public opinion polls, but then say "Hey why doesn't he listen to us?" when elected officials ignore public opinion (See Bush, George W.). 

Earmarks fall nicely into this category. It may be a good buzz word for how McCain will change Washington with the veto pen, but generally people favor the federal funds brought to their districts. Keep that in mind next time you hear the word.

Daily Kos Launches Daily Presidential Track

Add this one to your list. First day out, yesterday, had it 47% Obama, 45% McCain and 2% each Nader and Barr.

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