But the McCain campaign went beyond condemning General Clark’s remarks; it went out of its way to distort them. “This backhanded slap against John as not being a worthy warrior because he just got shot down is one of the more surprising insults in my military history,” said retired Col. Bud Day, who participated in a conference call organized by the campaign. In fact, General Clark had said no such thing.
The irony, not lost on Democrats, is that Col. Day himself has done what he falsely accused Wesley Clark of doing: he appeared in the 2004 Swift boat ads that impugned John Kerry’s wartime service.
The willingness of the McCain campaign to engage in these tactics, employing such tainted spokesmen, tells us that the campaign has decided to go negative — specifically, to apply the strategy Karl Rove used so effectively in 2002 and 2004 (but not so effectively in 2006), that of portraying Democrats as unpatriotic.
I was sorely disappointed that Sen. Obama capitulated so quickly in the face of this classic Rovian smear. It was a phony controversy -- a “fauxtroversy” -- and it deserved to be mocked. The absolute last thing Obama should have done is treat the mock outrage seriously.
Memo to Democrats: just because the Rove Machine yanks your tail, it doesn’t mean you have to respond every time. It makes you look wishy-washy. It makes you look weak. No, it makes you be weak.
You know, you never see Republicans apologize to anyone for anything one of them says or does--real or imagined. They close ranks. They present a united front.
Look, I was a John Edwards supporter during the primary. When he dropped out, I said I’d support either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama--I could see strengths and weaknesses with both. But my main fear about Obama was that he wouldn’t know how to fight the Swift Boat machine. I was afraid he’d make the same mistakes that sank John Kerry’s campaign: capitulating and apologizing for every comment taken out of context, every word our “liberal” media blows out of proportion, every Rovian smear.
One thing I knew without a doubt: Hillary Clinton knows how to fight back against the kabuki theater that now constitutes our political discourse.
So I have a memo to Barack Obama: don’t apologize out of fear of looking weak. That is the surest way to make yourself look weak. The right wing will be relentless in their attacks, and apologizing at every turn, especially when it’s not warranted, is the surest way to lose in November.
That is all.