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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Clean Campaining

    When your candidate for vice president invokes mass cheers while claiming your adversary, “pals around with terrorists,” you need to stop and think about what you’re doing.

    When your own supporters openly boo you for defending your opponent when you say, “I will respect him,” you need to stop and think about what you’re doing.

    And when members of your core constituency are crying out things like “terrorist,” “treason” and “kill him” you really need to stop and think about what you’re doing.

    I guess this is what happens when you’re down by over 10 percentage points, according to some of the latest national polls. What happened to the clean campaign John McCain once promised to the American people? I thought we were going to focus on the issues.

    It’s amazing, but it seems as if McCain has been played by so-called “Washington politics.” His television advertisements that question, “Who is Barack Obama?” are clearly aimed at skewing public perception away from the issues and onto ridiculous guilty-by-association claims like the whole William Ayers foofaraw. I’m not saying that attacking someone’s credentials, character, or temperament isn’t fair game, but in a time when voters are most concerned about real issues like the economy, energy, and foreign policy, trying to connect Senator Obama to absurd assertions of palling around with domestic terrorists for the sake of riling up the core base of conservatives is not only wrongful campaigning, but also dangerous as well.

    I actually applaud senator McCain’s rebuttal of the remarks made by his own attack ads only a day after they were launched on television. This shows that he’s out of touch with the rest of his campaign and that he needs to stop this negative advertising. Somebody’s pulling the strings in the advertising department, and it’s definitely not McCain. If he’s going to have any chance at winning this election, he needs to show that he can get his own camp under control before he has a chance to manage the entire country.

    If you want to know how McCain really feels about all of this, just watch the expression on his face when a woman in the audience of his Oct. 10 rally in Minnesota famously called Obama an “Arab” after saying how she didn’t trust him. Despite McCain’s horrifyingly politically incorrect response that Obama was “?a decent family man,” it was reassuring to see him finally rebuke the empty character attacks of recent days.

    And kudos to Senator Obama for not engaging in the same negative campaigning and instead continuing to focus his rallies on the economic crisis plaguing this nation. Besides playing a fair game, Obama’s refusal to engage in the same smearing is just good political science. The majority of Americans want to hear about the real issues, and McCain’s setting Obama up perfectly to do so, while he’s stuck defending the unwise words of his out of control campaign.

    The fact is that at the end of the day, Senator McCain, his campaign – or whoever is truly responsible – is putting the Republicans in a lose-lose situation for Nov. 4. Backing off on the attack ads now will show weakness and frailty to many of the hardcore Republican backers while remaining focused on character rather than issues will alienate McCain from the moderates and non-affiliated voters, like me, that he needs to sway in order to have even a remote shot at winning the election. Whatever path he chooses, McCain needs to grab hold of the reigns to get his campaign staffers and Sarah Palin in line and on the same page on with what the message of this race should really be about.

    Back in 2000, McCain said, “Sooner or later people are going to figure out that if all you run is negative attack ads, you don’t have much of a vision for the future, or you’re not ready to articulate it.” I would suggest that he heed his own words and follow his advice. Surely the Republicans can come up with a sound policy that offers some sort of substance to the average American voter.

    We’ll see in the coming days if this change in rhetoric happens, because if not, then I guarantee that Obama’s popularity and polls numbers will only continue to grow.

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