Tuesday, October 07, 2008

How can MSNBC get it so wrong?

Chris, Keith, Rachel, Pat and company keep wondering why McCain didn't pursue the Bill Ayers line of attack. They all cling to the notion that St. McCain's a wonderful human being who's not as comfortable making the dirty attacks that Palin seems to relish -- because McCain dropped a clumsy attack in favor of a potentially more damaging counterattack, it's a sign of his inherent decency*. To expand on a comment that I made at Huck's a few days ago, the attack on Ayers has been the left jab. McCain tried to land the right hook at the very beginning of the debate when he brought up campaign contributions from Fannie Mae. As much as Chris Matthews loves to talk about relishing the combat of politics, you'd think he know that. Tonight's format probably kept McCain from pursuing that line of attack, but expect to hear much more about Franklin Raines and Fannie Mae, and the Clintons and the CRA this week.

If you haven't seen it, there's an email making the rounds with this clever YouTube compilation. Sure, the racial play is obvious. So is the attempt to make an openly gay politician the face of the Democratic Party, but it's a potentially effective effort to shift the blame for the credit crisis. Every Democrat should have answers to both the CRA caused the crisis attack and the Democrats caused by blocking Fannie Mae reform attack. Please don't take your talking points from clowning Keith
But the winner, the most un-American member in the American House of Representatives, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, Republican from Minnesota. She read into the Congressional record part of an article from the right wing publication "Investors Business Daily," which purports to explain the mortgage crisis by blaming a Clinton era rule change. Congressman Bachmann read aloud that the rule pushed, quote, "Fannie and Freddie to aggressively lend to minority communities to offer, quote, home ownership as a way to open the door for blacks and other minorities to enter the middle class."

In other words, Congresswoman Bachmann blamed the meltdown on blacks and other minorities. In other words, Congresswoman Bachmann is a racist! Congresswoman Bachmann of Minnesota, today's worst person in the world.

That's just weak. In other words, Keith Olbermann is too lazy, or too interested in flaunting his moral superiority, to come up with serious answers to potentially damning charges. First off, it's not inherently racist to say that a federal program designed to help poor people and minorities can backfire. Some of the variations on these two attacks are dressed in obvious racist clothing, but the core charges still need to be answered.

In addition, to the links that I provided here, I'd recommend this Barry Ritholtz post to anybody who might find himself debating the issue. For your own understanding, you could certainly do worse than This American Life. My apologies to somebody, because I'm not sure where I came across that last link.

During the Democratic primaries, I frequently wrote that dubious charges of racism would cost the Democrats votes from some people that would strike the average liberal as irredeemably prejudiced, but who could actually vote either way in an Obama/McCain election. Admittedly, my point might not have always been clear, but read E's post about some of his coworkers. Do you think they'd be more favorably influenced by Ritholtz's questions or Olbermann's assertion?

*Not that I blame the Republicans for trying to shift the blame, it is a political campaign after all.

Well you get it exactly right here. I'd put it this way, though. McCain didn't need to bring up Ayers during the debate because Stupid had already put it "out there" this week. So it gets into the debate coverage as a whisper in the background while Keith and Chris and the rest of the 8th graders speculate interminably over whether or not McCain will bring it up. In this framing, it plays as a "dirty little secret" that McCain is too gallant to touch but everybody knows about. "Persuadable voters" wonder about it and maybe doubt Obama a little bit. Meanwhile McCain's base just gets angrier and more fired up thinking about how Obama needs to be hit with it but not quite seeing it happen. Plus it doesn't give Obama a chance to respond... to show everyone just how stupid it is. Perfectly played by McCain, really.
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