Monday, October 20, 2008

McCain on Ayers

John McCain continues to run ads and robocalls linking Obama with William Ayers. Chris Wallace on Fox News, of all places, points out that McCain hired the same firm for these robocalls that slimed him in South Carolina in 2000. McCain claims that they are different, that the Ayers ads and robocalls are true. In this clip, note a contradiction in McCain's position. He claims that he doesn't care about Bill Ayers, but that he thinks that the American people should know what Obama's relationship with him is, and that Obama has not been clear about that. But if he doesn't care about Bill Ayers, why does he care about Obama's relationship with him?

McCain is technically correct that the robocall is true: Bill Ayers was involved with bombings in the US. But the implication that Obama somehow approves of that behavior is ridiculous: Obama has repeatedly condemned them. For most of us, that stuff is long in the past.

But for McCain, they're not in the past. McCain is still very much stuck in the '60's. Ayers was a member of the Weather Underground when McCain was a POW. That's how he sees this issue: while he was sacrificing for his country, Bill Ayers was committing acts of treason. Most of the rest of the country has long since moved on. We've dealt with the legacies from the '60's in a lot of different ways. We've sorted out the good - civil rights, feminism, Jimi Hendrix - from the bad - LSD, protests that went too far, communes that fell apart.

McCain cannot and will never forgive someone like Bill Ayers for what he did during the '60s. Protesting is presumably fine; as a Senator, he's subject to vitriolic disagreement from his constituents all the time. But using violence in politics, particularly against the Pentagon and Capitol, are unpardonable for McCain. This is why he sees a big difference between the attacks on him in 2000 and his Ayers robocalls. The attacks on him questioned his character and attacked his family. His attacks on Obama about Ayers are, literally, about patriotism and whether someone loves or hates America. He thinks Bill Ayers hates America, quite literally, and all of the arguments about water under the bridge, rehabilitation, etc. have no meaning for him. For him, once a domestic terrorist, always a domestic terrorist.

Here's the video:

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