McCain's Attacks Missed Target in Third Debate

During Wednesday night's third and final presidential debate, the former fighter pilot John McCain proved that he doesn't know how to land an attack. Whether due to discomfort or ineptitude, McCain brought up ACORN and William Ayers in a way that had to be utterly baffling to people who don't follow politics closely.

Picking up a week-long Republican campaign against the voter-registration organization ACORN, McCain said this during the debate:

We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama's relationship with ACORN, who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy. The same front outfit organization that your campaign gave $832,000 for "lighting and site selection." So all of these things need to be examined, of course.

That's the entirety of what McCain said about ACORN. Though it sounds bad, the attack is less credible because McCain skimps on details. ACORN, which wasn't even an issue a week ago, now threatens to destroy democracy's fabric -- we must elect McCain to be democracy's seamstress!

Because McCain was so short on specifics, Obama stepped in and explained the ACORN controversy to the debate's audience in a manner that's likely to retire the issue entirely. "ACORN is a community organization," Obama said. "Apparently what they've done is they were paying people to go out and register folks, and apparently some of the people who were out there didn't really register people, they just filled out a bunch of names. It had nothing to do with us. We were not involved."

McCain's reference to "lighting and site selection" was so obscure that I only could find one reporter who tried to explain it in his debate story. Paul West of the Baltimore Sun wrote:

[Obama] did not respond to McCain's charge about $832,000 that Obama's campaign spent during the primaries for what it says were canvassing activities.

The Obama campaign originally had said the expense included "lighting and site selection," as McCain pointed out, then later filed an amended spending report.

The $832,000 was paid not to ACORN but to Citizen Services, a campaign services firm affiliated with ACORN, according to an August Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article. The firm, which collected signatures and managed past minimum-wage ballot campaigns in four states, was paid by the Obama campaign for work conducted during the primaries from February through May. The campaign amended its FEC filing to indicate the payment was for "get-out-the-vote" efforts.

Though the relationship is worth examination because that's a large campaign expenditure, no evidence has been uncovered to suggest anything improper occured. A Democratic politician hired a political firm affiliated with the largest voter registration organization on the left. I've read several right-wing bloggers who allege that Obama's campaign tried to hide an attempt to pay ACORN by hiring Citizen Services, but their affiliation has never been a secret. A 2006 ACORN publication described the firm as "ACORN's campaign services entity."

McCain did little better with details on Ayers, claiming that he's a "washed-up terrorist" who launched Obama's first run for political office in his living room and said in 2001 he wished he had "bombed more." McCain also said that together the two men "sent $230,000 to ACORN."

Republican partisans have believed for months that Ayers was a relationship so toxic that any attempt by Obama to explain it would just make him look worse. But as Obama explained accurately last night, Ayers was an education professor respected by Chicago's political establishment by the time he met him in the '90s. Republicans and Democrats alike served with him on boards and funded his educational initiatives.

Because McCain gave the shorthand version of the Ayers controversy, Obama filled in the details for him:

Forty years ago, when I was 8 years old, he engaged in despicable acts with a radical domestic group. I have roundly condemned those acts. Ten years ago he served and I served on a school reform board that was funded by one of Ronald Reagan's former ambassadors and close friends, Mr. Annenberg.

Other members on that board were the presidents of the University of Illinois, the president of Northwestern University, who happens to be a Republican, the president of The Chicago Tribune, a Republican-leaning newspaper.

Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign. He has never been involved in this campaign. And he will not advise me in the White House.

Ayers did some loathsome things 40 years ago and continues to hold obnoxious views about his actions, but he was never convicted of a crime -- prosecutorial misconduct hindered the effort. He used that opportunity to rehabilitate himself and carry on a distinguished career in education. Anyone who finds it unacceptable that he was welcomed into Chicago political circles should explain the post-crime treatment of G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North, who continue to be heroes to the right.

If politics is about defining somebody before they define you, McCain's clumsy attacks on ACORN and Ayers just gave Obama the opportunity to address them in his most favorable light. Voters think those subjects are distractions from the economic mess. The days the McCain campaign spent on them have left him with a double-digit deficit in most polls and a 1-in-20 chance to win, according to the poll analysis site FiveThirtyEight.Com.

During the debate, all McCain got out of the attacks was the sour response of CNN's independent voters. Every time he mentioned Ayers or ACORN, their opinion plummeted faster than the Dow.

Update: Right-winger John Podhoretz and I are brothers by another mother: "the shorthand in which McCain spoke about these matters made them comprehensible only to those of us who are already schooled in them. In almost every case, Obama answered McCain's shorthand with longhand -- with detailed, even long-winded answers that gave the distinct impression he was more in command of the details of these charges than the man who was trying to go after him on them. ... It is not a rap on McCain to say he’s not good at it; he doesn't want to bother with the introduction. But in a setting like that, the introduction is what matters, far more than the attack."


September 11th 2001, William Ayers (with his felon terrorist wife)stood on an American Flag and stated he wished he would have been more radical and done more bombings. This was at the same time that Hussein was being mentored and indoctrinated into the radical leftists 'social' programs'. Ayers was Hussein's big break into politics, he didn't care what Ayers had done, as we can tell by all of Hussein's past relationships, he in fact endorsed those views.

On September 16 th 2001, while the rest of America was in mourning, Hussein's pastor and spiritual leader gave a sermon praising the attacks on America and saying we deserved it. The Randy Rev. Racist, said, 'GODAMN AMERICA' and the congregation cheered like the Cubs had just won the world series. Hussein was lock stock and smoking barrel part of the afro centric, anti American hate that permeated his world. Ayers wrote his first book, Wright baptized his children, Rezko bought him his house.

Hussein is the most corrupt, least qualified individual to ever run for the presidency, period.

It's like a bad 75 cent novel, that America would elect a Muslim born socialist named 'Hussein' 'Obama' just 7 years after Osama bin Laden attacked our heart and while we fight a war against the remnants of Saddam Husseins regime.

John Mccain is a hero, a man born to lead our country. He and his entire family have fought for America and given their blood for our freedoms. John Mccain has the wisdom, the experience, and the judgment to lead us out of our current crises and into the next era of prosperity.

Hussein is a tax and spend socialist who thinks that middle aged soccer moms get the majority of abortions (after consulting with their pastors and husbands. WTF?!?!). Hussein just wants to take from you and 'spread it around' to every one else, just like his mentor William Ayers.


What's your source for that info, Rex? Sounds like boolsheet to me. The most corrupt individual to ever run for the Presidency? Wow. Do you really believe that? Because if you don't believe it and you say such things, you are really doing a disservice to your cause.

The Annenbergs are major contributors to the McCain campaign. They also fund the board that Ayers sits on....therefore they support Terrorists! McCain should give back every cent he got from them.

After 8 years of trickle down economics it is time to spread the wealth around. Oil companies make record profits, the rich keep getting richer and richer while nothing has trickled down....nothing has trickled down at all. Bush even proved that trickle down econ does not work when he had to give a stimulus check to the lower class. Those economics do work! When people who make less have more, they spend it. When the rich have more, they save it.

Also, to Rex, if John McCain is a hero and born to lead our country...why has he never been nominated before this year? OR asked to serve as VP? Or in any leadership capacity in any way? How does being born into the military only to abuse that privilage ("I;ll take my airstrip and go home") make him ready to lead anything? He is an angry, bitter old man, whose only foreign policy is to bomb it, his only economic policy to give to the rich, and no domestic policy at all.

His only campaign policy is too attack Barrack....and he could not even do that effectively. Much like his flying career...all he knows how to do is crash.

Oh how I love rants like Rex's! The more neo-cons like him bring up Ayers and Reverend Wright, the better Obama does in the polls. Why? Because Americans simply do not care about that stuff.

Every time you guys talk about Ayers & Wright, Americans see you and your damaged-goods of a candidate John McSame as wildly out of touch with the concerns that real Americans have.

So I am begging you, Rex -- begging you! -- to keep talking about Ayers & Wright non-stop until Election Day!

So I am begging you, Rex -- begging you! -- to keep talking about Ayers & Wright non-stop until Election Day!

I'll go a step further than that. If Rex sets up a campaign services firm to talk about Ayers and Wright until Election Day, I will make a donation.

I would like to ask the conservative to stop falling in to the logical fallacies of Ad Hominem. Rex did you watch the debate and just refuse to listen. Obama handle and answered the questions regarding to Ayers while denouncing him and saying Ayers will NOT advise him in the White House. There is no proof that Obama got his "big break" into politics due to Ayers. If you could actually comprehend what you read, you will also see that there were a good amount of republicans working with Ayers at the same time. So according to your own logic, your party is a socialist group that condones terrorists. This is America Rex, from the begining there has been freedom of speech, and religion. So attacking Obama as a Muslim just defeats the purpose of your of what an American is. Also accoridng to your logic a man with the name of Adolf is automatically a Nazi? Have you notice that the democrates actually focus on the issues rather than the person? Are you familiar with the Keating 5? You have not heard the democrates bring it up have you? Mccain doesn't know shit about the economy unless he his breaking the laws on economic policies. The repulican party are just like high schoolers gossiping trying to win a popularity contest. Do you think Mccain would have been a POW had he not finished in the bottom 5 of his graduating class. Maybe if he was paying attention he wouldn't of got into that mess in the first place. Rex, your logic makes me lose hope in the American people, Whatever helps you sleep at night.

Hussein is the most corrupt, least qualified individual to ever run for the presidency, period.

Seems terribly unlikely. You must never have checked the bottom of the ballot. I am willing to go so far as to throw my hat in the 2008 ring just to make sure that's not true.

Be nice to Rex folks. After all, he's a wonderful demonstration of our failed education system.

Rex, it's not even worth it. Stupid is as stupid does. They will be the first ones complaining if he get's in and ruins this country.

Would any of you sit on a board with David Duke? Launch your career at Tim McViegh's house? Attend a church that spews anti American crap? I DON'T THINK SO!

And don't any of you have the audacity to know "what all americans want or don't want". You don't speak as to what is important from one voter to another.

Hey "Anti Obama" - there's this thing called a newspaper. And in it, it was reported today that one of Reagan's Ambassadors and a huge McCain donor served on that same charity board as Ayers.

So if you hate Obama for participating in a charity that also included Ayers, then you also hate Reagan and McCain.

But again -- I implore you to keep talking about Ayers, because it continues to make McCain look more and more out of touch... because Americans don't care about Ayers. And you know how I know what's important to American voters? Because that's what they keep saying. In dozens of polls, when Americans are asked "What issues are important to you in this campaign?" Americans have said over and over again that they don't care about Ayers.

Ayers doesn't determine whether ordinary Americans get or keep a job.
Ayers doesn't control the pension of ordinary Americans.
Ayers doesn't help ordinary Americans get health insurance.
Ayers didn't cause the banks to be taken over by the government.

And that's why when asked, ordinary Americans repeatedly say that they don't care about that dude, and that's why I continue to say...

Please please please keep talking about Ayers! You're doing a great service to the Democratic Party and to the nation!

Rex & Anti-Obama,
Do some reading, please. Bill Ayers did some things 40 years ago that, in the context of the times, represented an extreme form of what millions throughout the nation were doing: protesting against an unjust and pointless war that killed over 50,000 Americans and more than 3 million Vietnamese. He has protested against policies and not people. He has hurt buildings, and not people. So, your comparisons to Duke and McVeigh are more of the same smearing, I'm afraid. Since that time, he has been a professor of education at the University of Illinois, the Citizen of the Year in Chicago (read that one again, please), and a contributor to various civic causes supported by, among others, Republican donors. In your view, do his acts of protest 40 years ago cancel his many works for society since that time? In any case, whether or not you would choose to associate with him professionally, which is all Obama has ever done, many of the most prominent and dedicated members of the Chicago community have, Republicans and Democrats alike, don't agree with your narrow reading of the man's life. You can learn more here: I'd also recommend reading up on the tactics of Joseph McCarthy. Guilt by association is nasty business, unbecoming of democratic values. And it's a loser in a political campaign.

JB great link, I learned a lot that I didn't know already......seriously, really. Thanks!

I hope you understand that this isn't a simple matter of policy disagreement with you, I think you are mentally ill. Anyone that would twist their logic in such a way as to excuse a unrepentant terrorist is obviously unstable.

Or, as in the case of Hussein, politically ambitious.

This thread is about Hussein and his mentors and everyone that he choose was either a terrorist, a racist, or a felon, but each was blatantly anti American and evil.

Hussein is the ultimate manchchurian candidate, he and his handlers have counted on the hatred of George Bush and by extension the self hatred in many Americans to blind the left to the true evil nature of Hussein and his mentors.

Osama bin Laden has done a lot of good in the poor Muslim communities, he has built many roads, he is a community organizer, maybe we should forgive Osama make him a tenured professor at Colorado or UMass.

Just like you, Rogers, and Hussein have forgiven and even celebrate William Ayers.

Your making an excellent point, Rex. I'm beginning to see the light.

Probably the first thing to do is to start with targeted purges to round up his mentors. Punahou School in Honolulu is a radical hotbed. It gave the world the likes of Steve Case, who created AOL, after all. You should be able to clean that place out pretty quickly. Then it's on to Columbia University and Harvard, obvious dens of anti-Americanism and terrorism. What next, Rex? The senior members of the Illinois Legislature, Tom Daschle, Bill Bradley, Ted Kennedy. In the end, it's remarkable that so many have been deceived by Barack Obama, but that you have managed, through what is obviously a close and unbiased reading of history, to get to the true bottom of things!

I'm impressed, Rex. Still, I'm glad that I don't have to walk the streets inhabited by your paranoid and hateful psyche. You see phantoms where none exist. We have problems to solve in this country and in the bigger world that is out there. I hope some day you will train your energy on real issues, and not fictions. We need a country that can pull itself together, and not one that is riven by ancient and outdated prejudices.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Ayers! Ayers! Ayers!

Every time the Republicans mention Ayers, an angel gets its wings... and another swing voter throws his hands up and says, "My job got shipped to Mexico, I lost my health insurance, my kids are in a failing public school and my taxes are gonna go up because the government is bailing out the fat cats on Wall Street... and all John McCain cares about some guy named Ayers?"

"I guess the candidate for me is the one who actually mentions the middle class in his speeches and at the debates. I guess I'll vote for Barack Hussein Obama."

So keep up the good work, Rex!

Was Ayers ever convicted of a crime? Or are the neo-cons condemning him only for things that he said? Is that what we do now in America? Condemn people for exercising their 1st Amendment rights to free speech?

Wright/Ayers 2012!

The truth doesn't seem to matter to HappyandQueer--just the fact that our failed justice system didn't convict Ayers, even though he admitted to the crime. You liberals can have your empty-suit, slick-talking Marxist. There are enough non-taxpaying people in this country to elect the next president and they will surely vote for the "spread the wealth" candidate. It should be a requirement that in order to vote you have to be a tax-paying, contibuting citizen rather than the slime that Acorn is putting on the voter registration lists in order to get Hussein elected. I make way less than Hussein's magic $250,000 but I'll be damned if I'll take a red cent from the "rich" he wants to steal it from so that "we can all participate".

Sorry, Anon - I just accidentally posted under your name. It was an honest mistake, I swear.

A McCain supporter who hates gays? What a shocker!

You can't cherry-pick when you believe in the justice system (Bush v Gore) and when you don't (Ayers not convicted of blowing anything up).

Just like you can't cherry-pick which candidates deserve scorn for praising Acorn (Obama in 1995) and which escape your scorn for praising Acorn (McCain in 2006).

Either be consistent or just admit you're a hypocrite. Or more likely it's just that you're a bigot as evidenced by the fact that you keep referring to Barack Obama by his middle name (which based on doesn't seem to be scaring people the way you desire) and referring to me as a "queer" (which doesn't bother me at all despite the fact that I'm not a homosexual).

Anon, please try to get the word to Warren Buffett and Paul Volker that they're supporting a Marxist. They'd be fascinated to learn that. The only socialism that has occurred in this country has been for the rich. You may like the Bush-reformed tax system that has been doled out disproportionate tax cuts to the wealthiest among us, but I'll put my vote behind a candidate who cares about the widening gulf between those with the most and the rest of us middle-class, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens for whom the Republican party has shown total disdain.

Rex says "I make way less than Hussein's magic $250,000"

Really, Rex? I thought surely you would collect a more handsome fee as your "salary from by one of the top global finacial firms to watch the news and to make judgements on world affairs."

My $1000 offer still stands. I'll wire $1000 to your PayPal account if you can prove either of your two claims: (1) that you "actually collect a salary from by one of the top global finacial firms to watch the news and to make judgements on world affairs. It is what I do, everyday, all day long." or (2) that you "lived in Japan for a year."

A thousand bucks if you can provide documentation that either is true. But, of course, you can't. Because neither is true.

It's sad that you have to resort to lying and name-calling in order to try to win an argument... and sadder that you still lose anyway.

My money has never been safer.

Rex? You need to read a bit closer 'Anon'.

Don't compound your stupidity with ignorance.

My offer still stands, give me your full name, your soical security number, your childrens names and social security numbers, your home and work address, your home, work, and cell numbers, your bank account numbers (including 3 digit id # on back of debit card), then wire $2500 to a paypal account, which I will specify after those conditions are met.

Then I will tell you what industry I work in.

Sound fair?

BTW, 'Anon' is the douche rat that posted as anon and then under my name. And most likely anon is Bourne.

You'll know it's not me if an 'apology' is issued, because I don't make apologies.

Rex, you can post as me, you can post as you, it doesn't really matter. I'm not Bourne, I'm not RogersCadenhead, I'm not Tadowe, I'm not Happyandgay, I'm not JB, I'm not Tom Clancy, I'm not anyone else but me.

I've never claimed to be rich or important, so I don't have to prove. Remember - you are the one who said, "I actually collect a salary from by one of the top global finacial firms to watch the news and to make judgements on world affairs. It is what I do, everyday, all day long."

You are the one who made that claim.

All I have ever said is - if that's true, back it up. Name the company, name the position. I understand why you're trying to turn it around on me - it's because you lied. You got caught.

All you have to do is admit it, and I'll stop rubbing your nose in it.

Don't sweat it, Anon All Rex is is one of those mega angry racists that keep showing up to support Palin at her pep rallies That is why all he can talk about is "Hussein" and "Ayers."

the republican defections continue... the chicago tribune just endorsed obama. that's the 1st time they've endorsed a democrat in their 161 year history.

Krauts decides, "the republican defections continue... the chicago tribune just endorsed obama. that's the 1st time they've endorsed a democrat in their 161 year history."

Chicago, Illinois real estate *billionaire* Sam Zell bought the newspaper last year, and it isn't the same neutral rag it was supposed to be (nerver was!)

It is amazing to think that someone coming from Chicago could become a real estate success there without greasing the Chicago "Machine's" wheels, and this is a prime example of that!

Are you really this gullible, or are you taking the RSS community for being so? "Conservative" - you?

My fundament!

the numbers don't lie. zell's political donations are overwhelmingly to Republican candidates and special interest groups. the trib is my local paper - it's always been the conservative paper in town, and it still is. that's why i'm a proud subscriber.

Kraut salts and pickles, "the numbers don't lie."

You're a used car salesman, right?

"zell's political donations are overwhelmingly to Republican candidates and special interest groups."

Here is the fact of the matter, the Chicago Tribune endorsed a Chicago Democrat for president, and however much you want that to be "conservative" and "Republican" thingy, you fail ... miserably.

You now "proudly" subscribe to a newspaper that endorses a socialist Democrat for president. One who has zip in any sort of experience, except for 2 years in the Senate ... all the time running for the nomination to be the first I-know-nothing-and-have-done-nothing-president of the United States.

in your earlier post, you suggested that because sam zell bought the trib that the newspaper was now somehow a democrat rag. sam zell is no democrat. i thought perhaps you were confused, so i posted a link to an article listing his political contributions so you can see that zell puts his money where his republican mouth is.

i am not sure what you are doing. are you trying to pick a fight with me? i have no argument with you, sir.

i do not endorse barack obama. i am a republican. i do not support my hometown paper endorsing barack obama, but i am a loyal reader of that paper nonetheless because it reflects what i believe to be a more accurate- and conservative- view of the city.

i merely posted the fact that a conservative paper, the chicago tribune, endorsed barack obama. many conservative papers are doing so. for some reason, conservative newspapers and pundits (hitchens, buckley, noonan) are abandoning mccain.

i have not stated that i support this (because i do not), so i am unclear why you are so angry at me. i am merely posting facts, not opinions.

Krauts gets extremely personal, "... i am unclear why you are so angry at me. i am merely posting facts, not opinions."

"Angry"? Why are you trying to make me your subject to disparage over your claim that I'm "angry"? You merely reveal your own level of angst in projecting "anger" as my own and personal motive. You attempt to fool the "audience" with this sort of misdirection, and not me.

Indeed, anyone who has read the commentary we have exchanged knows that I don't believe your claim to being a "conservative", and since I haven't seen even one conservative sentence in anything you've written!

All I've seen from you is constant criticism of Republicans and rightwing efforts to run a campaign for president of the US ...

So, I will continue to notice the "fact" that you denigrate the Right, while pretening you are One - like some callow "5th Columnist", Republican wannabeze ...

Tadowe, your hillarious! You should totally write a book!

Weepy Tom calls Kraut a "used car salesman" and then claims that Kraut is the one getting personal. I agree with Lola - Weepy Tom is a total riot.

Stick around, Kraut - we need smart conservatives here.

Stop attempting to fool me with this sort of misdirection, Kraut!

Kraut, you forgot to mention the Houston Chronicle (endorsed Bush) endorsing Obama and the New York Daily News (endorsed Bush) endorsing Obama andthe Salt Lake Tribune (endorsed Bush) endorsing Obama.....

And it's not "for some reason." It's for one reason: Sarah Palin. All the editorial boards ofall these conservative newspapers cite McCain's choice of Palin as his VP asthe main reason they've endorsed Obama.

yes, happyandgay, palin turned out to be a great short-term pick and a bad long-term pick. sen. mccain should have swallowed hard and picked romney as his v.p. candidate. romney would have locked up the base like palin plus he is quite comfortable being interviewed on camera. and in the current economic meltdown, mccain having romney on his ticket would have been more of an asset than palin. but there's still 2 weeks to go, so there's still a chance.

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