Well folks, we’re within 30 days of E-Day and it’s been coming at us fast and furious with no signs of slowing down.
Over the weekend we heard the McCain campaign officially concede that they have nothing to add to the conversation so they’re going one hundred percent on the attack in all of their advertising, rallies, etc. Expect to see Tony Rezko and Bill Ayers make their way back into the conversation again as "guilt by association" seems to be the only flotation device the sinking USS McCain has left.
Sarah Palin made heads explode around the nation when she asserted that Barack Obama is "palling around with terrorists." Before we could stop reeling from that whopper, she butchered a Madeline Albright quote that (and I shit you not) she read off of a Starbucks cup the day before. Caribou Barbie actually stated from a podium that "there is a special place in hell for women who do not support other women."
Since this is the strategy (or is it a tactic?) the Republicans have decided to employ for the remainder of the cycle, Obama — clearly refusing to be "swiftboated" — has picked up the gauntlet and launched a new website, www.KeatingEconomics.com, which featues a 13-minute documentary about the Keating 5 Scandal and John McCain’s role in it. Although it falls into campaign talking points by the end, it’s still a remarkably simple and effective video that lays out McCain’s complicity in plain terms.
Then it got weird.
Today, something interesting happened in a conference call with the McCain campaign about their response over Obama’s Keating film. AmericaBlog’s John Aravosis was on the call and posted his incredulity at what he was listening to. McCain’s lawyer, John Dowd, is now claiming that the Keating 5 investigation was merely "political" and how "Senator [George] Mitchell [D-ME] was the [Senate] majority leader and [Democratic Senator] Howell Heflin [D-AL] was his stooge and he was merely doing what he was told because the rest in the hearing were Democrats. "So it’s sort of a classic political smear job on John," Dowd argued.
Did you get all that?
It was just a political smear. Now, you could take that on face value and say "yeah, that’s believable," except that the situation cost taxpayers billions of dollars; except for the 20,000 or so who lost their life’s savings; and except that McCain has made a HUGE DEAL out of the fact that he did wrong, and subsequently "worked tirelessly" to make amends for his involvement. His entire Maverick™ mantle is based on the fact that he went against his party to push campaign finance reform, etc., after he sat under the Congressional Kleig Lights on national television having very obviously been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The entire persona of McCain the Reformer™ comes from his public admission that he had done wrong and then gone on to do the right thing for America. But if the investigation was simply a "political smear," then what’s with the decades of public atonement? Was that simply "political" as well?
Seems like the Straight Talk Express™ has not only gone off the rails — it has burst into flame, burned itself out and is now resting comfortably in a ditch somewhere in Iowa.
UPDATE: The Washington Post has more including this nugget:
In an interview, [Robert] Bennett said McCain should never have been dragged into the ethics case to begin with. He said that after his own lengthy investigation, he came to the conclusion that the case against McCain and former Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio) “should have been dropped” because the evidence suggested that once McCain understood that the Justice Department was investigating Keating, he backed off any involvement.
Did you get that? Because McCain stopped his shady dealings AFTER finding out that Keating was under investigation he should have had his charges dropped. I would LOVE to start hearing that defense in court. “Your honor, my client stopped doing contract killings after finding out that the mafia family he was working for was under federal investigation”. I’d love to see how that one would play out.
Oh, and here’s some audio from the conference call: