Attacking the Past

Gavin Leighton

It seems the gloves are coming off again and at the expense of the GOP “Country First” message. The Republican Party, and more specifically the McCain campaign, are unveiling a new attack strategy targeting Barack Obama and his past. The campaign, against all evidence to the contrary, seems to believe the citizens of this country care most about an inconsequential relationship. The same campaign that claims they represent main street America, in fact, does not. While the Dow, S&P and NASDAQ are all finishing near five year lows, while thousands lose their jobs and homes, while the majority of Americans find the economy the most important issue, the McCain/Palin campaign retreats to the smoke screen of Barack Obama’s dangerous history. What America considers the number one issue is disparate from what Senator McCain and Governor Palin consider the top issue.

The current jabs at Obama are nothing short of odious. Worse yet, the McCain/Palin ticket seems content to look in the other direction. During a recent McCain rally, a crowd member likened Barack Obama to a terrorist while Senator McCain stood there and grinned. It is certainly possible that Senator McCain did not hear the attendee over the rest of the crowd, however, even after the event there was virtually no response from the campaign to such an abhorrent sentiment. Senator McCain should listen to his own message from eight years ago. In 2000, John McCain stated, “Sooner or later people are going to find out, that if all you run is negative attack ads then you don’t have much of a vision for the future, or you are not ready to articulate it.”

Last week at the vice-presidential debate, Sarah Palin repeatedly criticized Joe Biden for looking into the past and pointing fingers at the Bush White House. Rebuking Senator Biden for focusing on the past, Governor Palin asserted that leadership requires forward thought, and not harping on previous errors. But now, less than seven days after that debate, Governor Palin is taking part in the very same behavior she reprimanded Senator Biden for last week. Sarah Palin has hypocritically questioned Barack Obama’s past and focused on his fleeting, and insubstantial relationship with William Ayers.

But it seems not even John McCain is above the opportunistic sort of politics that he condemns. During this campaign, Senator McCain was quoted as saying, “I know wars, I know how to win wars, and I know how to improve our capabilities so that we will capture Osama Bin Laden – or put it this way, bring him to justice. We will do it. I know how to do it.” Is this true, Senator? Because if it is, then what could possibly be keeping you from sharing any and all of this information with intelligence agencies, the Pentagon, and the U.S. military? Senator, are these plans put into motion if and when you get the desired outcome on November 4? Or are you pandering Senator McCain, using these baseless words to incite voters.

Despite their supposed loyalty to the American citizenry, the McCain/Palin campaign’s actions call into question the “Country First” banner they use at almost every event. A recent survey concluded 8 in 10 Americans are stressed over personal finances because of the weakening economy. “Country First” means putting aside the extraneous. “Country First” means showing some empathy towards those that have lost everything. Avoiding germane issues, conducting ad hominem attacks, and seemingly waiting to apprehend perpetrators of terrorist attacks until in office is not putting country first, it is putting self first.