Going There

As in, McCain didn’t.

After a week of his surrogates, supporters and running mate desperately trying to link Obama to terrorists, domestic and otherwise, accusing him of criticizing the troops and questioning his patriotism and his character, one almost expected the first words out of McCain’s mouth to be “Bill Ayers.” But it wasn’t. In fact, the guilt-by-association change-the-subject attacks we’ve seen over the last several days were almost completely absent from last night’s debate. Yes, McCain threw in the “Obama would bring our troops home in defeat” line, but that’s like the Rolling Stones playing “Satisfaction.” It’s expected. Where was the material from the new album?

Perhaps he’s saving Ayers/Wright/Rezko for the final debate as a desperate ace-in-the-hole. Or maybe McCain understood that a town hall format with undecided voters might be the wrong venue to toss around the kind of bloody red meat suitable only for partisan rallies.

Or maybe John McCain is a big, fat chicken.

For some time now, McCain’s base in the national media have defended his campaign’s non-stop sleaze-a-thon by arguing that “that’s not the real McCain,” [www.politico.com] that somehow the candidate was helpless to stop his hired underlings from the lying, character-attacking “celebrity” silliness we’ve see thus far. McCain really wants to run a serious, issues-oriented campaign, but the Karl Rove retreads that work for him won’t let him, and that makes him sad. And grumpy. This is, of course, bunk. McCain runs the show. It’s his campaign. If he can’t stand up to his own employees, how is he going to stand up to terrorists? No, McCain is more than willing to “go there” through other channels, but when it comes to telling Obama face to face that he’s BFFs with radical terrorists, he takes a powder.

I’d like to think that it’s because John McCain knows the attacks are paper-thin and irrelevant to solving the myriad problems the country faces.

On the other hand…

– Michael Turner