AP: Palin’s Ayers Attack “Racially Tinged”

WASHINGTON — By claiming that Democrat Barack Obama is “palling around with terrorists” and doesn’t see the U.S. like other Americans, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin targeted key goals for a faltering campaign.

And though she may have scored a political hit each time, her attack was unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.

First, Palin’s attack shows that her energetic debate with rival Joe Biden may be just the beginning, not the end, of a sharpened role in the battle to win the presidency.

“Our opponent … is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country,” Palin told a group of donors in Englewood, Colo. A deliberate attempt to smear Obama, McCain’s ticket-mate echoed the line at three separate events Saturday.

“This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America,” she said. “We see America as a force of good in this world. We see an America of exceptionalism.”

Obama isn’t above attacking McCain’s character with loaded words, releasing an ad on Sunday that calls the Arizona Republican “erratic” _ a hard-to miss suggestion that McCain’s age, 72, might be an issue.

“Our financial system in turmoil,” an announcer says in Obama’s new ad. “And John McCain? Erratic in a crisis. Out of touch on the economy.”

A harsh and plainly partisan judgment, certainly, but not on the level of suggesting that a fellow senator is un-American and even a friend of terrorists.

In her character attack, Palin questions Obama’s association with William Ayers, a member of the Vietnam-era Weather Underground. Her reference was exaggerated at best if not outright false. No evidence shows they were “pals” or even close when they worked on community boards years ago and Ayers hosted a political event for Obama early in his career.

Obama, who was a child when the Weathermen were planting bombs, has denounced Ayers’ radical views and actions.

With her criticism, Palin is taking on the running mate’s traditional role of attacker, said Rich Galen, a Republican strategist.

“There appears to be a newfound sense of confidence in Sarah Palin as a candidate, given her performance the other night,” Galen said. “I think that they are comfortable enough with her now that she’s got the standing with the electorate to take off after Obama.”

Second, Palin’s incendiary charge draws media and voter attention away from the worsening economy. It also comes after McCain supported a pork-laden Wall Street bailout plan in spite of conservative anger and his own misgivings.

“It’s a giant changing of the subject,” said Jenny Backus, a Democratic strategist. “The problem is the messenger. If you want to start throwing fire bombs, you don’t send out the fluffy bunny to do it. I think people don’t take Sarah Palin seriously.”

The larger purpose behind Palin’s broadside is to reintroduce the question of Obama’s associations. Millions of voters, many of them open to being swayed to one side or the other, are starting to pay attention to an election a month away.

For the McCain campaign, that makes Obama’s ties to Ayers as well as convicted felon Antoin “Tony” Rezko and the controversial minister Jeremiah Wright ripe for renewed criticism. And Palin brings a fresh voice to the argument.

Effective character attacks have come earlier in campaigns. In June 1988, Republican George H.W. Bush criticized Democrat Michael Dukakis over the furlough granted to Willie Horton, a convicted murderer who then raped a woman and stabbed her companion. Related TV ads followed in September and October.

The Vietnam-era Swift Boat veterans who attacked Democrat John Kerry’s war record started in the spring of 2004 and gained traction in late summer.

“The four weeks that are left are an eternity. There’s plenty of time in the campaign,” said Republican strategist Joe Gaylord. “I think it is a legitimate strategy to talk about Obama and to talk about his background and who he pals around with.”

Palin’s words avoid repulsing voters with overt racism. But is there another subtext for creating the false image of a black presidential nominee “palling around” with terrorists while assuring a predominantly white audience that he doesn’t see their America?

In a post-Sept. 11 America, terrorists are envisioned as dark-skinned radical Muslims, not the homegrown anarchists of Ayers’ day 40 years ago. With Obama a relative unknown when he began his campaign, the Internet hummed with false e-mails about ties to radical Islam of a foreign-born candidate.

Whether intended or not by the McCain campaign, portraying Obama as “not like us” is another potential appeal to racism. It suggests that the Hawaiian-born Christian is, at heart, un-American.

The fact is that when racism creeps into the discussion, it serves a purpose for McCain. As the fallout from Wright’s sermons showed earlier this year, forcing Obama to abandon issues to talk about race leads to unresolved arguments about America’s promise to treat all people equally.

John McCain occasionally says he looks back on decisions with regret. He has apologized for opposing a holiday to honor Martin Luther King Jr. He has apologized for refusing to call for the removal of a Confederate flag from South Carolina’s Capitol.

When the 2008 campaign is over will McCain say he regrets appeals such as Palin’s? ___

EDITOR’S NOTE _ Douglass K. Daniel is a writer and editor with the Washington bureau of The Associated Press.

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The Anatomy of a Deception: How The McCains Changed Their Baby Adoption Story Just Before 2008 Campaign Began

huffingtonpost.com

Mark Nickolas

August 21, 2008

 

As was pointed out yesterday by the Christian Science Monitor, the McCain campaign was called out for lying about the purported urging of Cindy McCain by Mother Teresa herself to adopt two children at her orphanage back in 1991. Turns out, McCain never met or even spoke with Mother Teresa on that trip.

Once confronted by the Monitor about the deception, the campaign quickly erased such claims from the website, as it did with Cindy’s family recipes, which were proved to be lifted from the Food Network.

But after doing some research, this deception was no careless accident, but rather another shameless and deliberate attempt by the campaign to reinvent and embellish the McCain family history in time for his 2008 presidential bid.

Here’s how the McCain adoption was described by them prior to the 2008 presidential race:

Newsweek (Nov. 15, 1999, Cindy McCain’s Own Story):

On finding a child while running a relief mission to Bangladesh in 1991:

I was working in Dhaka, and a friend of mine from Arizona had said to me, Look, while you’re there, do me a favor. Mother Teresa has an orphanage in Dhaka. Would you mind seeing if they need any help? And I said, Sure. We finally found the orphanage, and we saw 150 newborns on one floor. And a lot of them were sick. And the nuns said, [This little girl with a cleft palate]–can’t you take her and get her medical help? And I thought, well, sure I can, I can do that.

CNBC (Feb 12, 2000, Tim Russert Interview with the McCains):

Mrs. McCAIN: She’s–our daughter Bridget is eight years old. I found her in Mother Teresa’s orphanage when she was 10 weeks old in Bangladesh. She has a cleft palate; she had some other problems. And the nuns persuaded me to bring her home, and I did. I–I could do that. I was able to do that. And literally on board the flight home from Bangkok to Los Angeles, not having spoken to my husband, I decided I couldn’t c–I had to–I couldn’t let her go. I had–she chose me. So she’s ours now. I came home and presented my husband with a new daughter that he didn’t know he had.

Vanity Fair (November 2004, The Trashing of John McCain):

In 1991, when Cindy McCain was on a relief mission to Bangladesh, she was asked by one of Mother Teresa’s nuns to help a young orphan with a cleft palate. Flying her to the U.S. for surgery, Cindy realized she couldn’t give her up. At the Phoenix airport, she broke it to her husband, and they eventually adopted the child. But few people knew that story. In the words of McCain’s national campaign manager, Rick Davis, a smear doesn’t have “to be true to be effective.”

Now see how the story changed at the beginning of 2008:

The Sunday Mail (Feb. 3, 2008, Dark past no barrier for Cindy):

“While working at Mother Teresa’s orphanage in the early 1990s, I stumbled upon the most beautiful little girl I’d ever seen,” she said. “She had a terrible cleft palate. She had problems with her feet. She had problems with her hands. She had all kinds of problems.

“As only Mother Teresa can, she prevailed upon me to take this baby and another baby to the United States for medical care.”

The Sunday Telegraph (Feb. 3, 2008, Cindy McCain: pills, ills, beer and the White House)

It was on a trip to Bangladesh in 1991 that she adopted Bridget. On Friday she recounted to voters in Missouri and Illinois how Mother Teresa persuaded her to return home with the child. “I just could not let her go. The only thing was, I had not told my husband. When I got back, he asked me ‘Where will she go?’ and I said: ‘I thought she could come to our house.’

Digital Journal (Jun 15, 2008, Can We Trust Cindy McCain to Represent American Women?):

Mrs. McCain has been involved in charity work from clearing landmines, to starting a charity to help children who need facial reconstruction. She has been inspired by her daughter she adopted from Bangladesh who needed extreme care after being born with a cleft palate. The adoption was prompted by Mother Teresa herself who implored Cindy to adopt the little girl. She did so without first consulting John McCain because of her compassion for the girl and her respect for Mother Teresa.

But the most damning evidence of a deliberate attempt to concoct this story comes from cached versions of the McCain campaign website.

Here’s how Cindy’s campaign bio reads on the website as late as November 9, 2004:

As an advocate for children’s health care needs, Cindy H. McCain founded the American Voluntary Medical Team (AVMT) in 1988. The AVMT provided emergency medical and surgical care to impoverished children throughout the world. Cindy led 55 medical missions to third world and war-torn countries during AVMT’s seven years of existence. During one of those missions, on a visit to Mother Teresa’s Orphanage Cindy agreed to bring two babies in need of medical attention back to the United States. One of those babies is now a happy and healthy little girl named Bridget McCain.

Now compare that to the change made on the website on February 3, 2008 — the same day the stories above by The Sunday Mail and The Sunday Telegraph were printed:

As an advocate for children’s health care needs, Cindy founded and ran the American Voluntary Medical Team (AVMT) from 1988 to 1995. AVMT provided emergency medical and surgical care to impoverished children throughout the world. Cindy led 55 medical missions to third world and war-torn countries during AVMT’s seven years of existence. On one of those missions, Mother Teresa convinced Cindy to take two babies in need of medical attention to the United States. One of those babies is now their adopted daughter, 15 year old Bridget McCain.

Notice the obvious change in the one sentence that depicts the circumstances of the adoption.

The instances of the dishonest efforts to create a McCain family portrait are growing. The campaign previously had to scrub its website of Cindy’s family recipes when it was discovered in April that they were largely cut and paste from the Food Network.

At the time, they blamed an intern for the problem. I wonder who they will now blame for Cindy McCain’s own words?

Are these indicative of the McCain family values?

UPDATE: Seems that Rick Warren told Larry King on Monday night that the Mother Teresa story was one of three times during Saturday’s forum that McCain teared-up. They’re liars and actors.

Mark Nickolas is the Managing Editor of Political Base, and this story was from his original post, “The Anatomy of a Deception: How The McCains Changed Their Baby Adoption Story Just Before 2008 Bid