Linking Barack Obama to Ayers-Dohrn and their 60s radical violence will have as much effect on the 2008 election as Bill Clinton’s ties to radical leftists at Georgetown and Oxford had in 1992. In other words: no effect at all.
Last night my wife and I had dinner with another couple our age–we’re in our early 40s. For background music I turned on the cable music channel that is all 80s music all the time. Together we enjoyed some songs we hadn’t heard in years. Needless to say, our children hated the music. And why shouldn’t they? Our kids are as far chronologically from 80s music as I was from my parents’ 50s music. The 80s is ancient history . . . sadly, as my scale and waistline will attest.
Ayers, Dohrn, the Weathermen, SDS–that was 20 years before I was in college. It is ancient history. Consider this: the youngest soldier in the Vietnam War was 17 in 1973. That means that every single veteran of that war has been eligible for AARP membership for at least the last two years. And most of them for far longer than that.
By 1992 America was tired of fighting the Vietnam War. What makes anyone think that sixteen years later we want to re-fight it again? It is a loser issue. Drop it.
While I still stand by my advice that the Ayers-Dohrn connection is not a winner for the McCain campaign, Barack Obama’s response that “he didn’t know” of the unrepentant bomber’s radical past gives McCain an opportunity.
Obama offers the same “I didn’t know” excuse about Rezko and Wright. McCain needs to make reverend Jeremiah Wright a story again (a much more powerful story). The excuse allows McCain to show an Obama pattern of “I didn’t know about the horrible things my horrible friends did.” It also allows McCain to tie Daley (just the name turns off everyone who lives outside of Cook County), Raines, and Johnson back to Obama.
While McCain can’t rely upon American disgust with an anti-American bomber to alone turn Americans against Obama, making Ayers part of a pattern just might work. Since most Americans–even his supporters–recognize that he is very light on experience, a big question about Obama is, who are those he will surround himself with for advice? This attack angle offers McCain opportunities to sew distrust.
One other thing. I would go on the attack tonight, directly. 70 million people will be watching. Surely the Frank Luntz dials will drop, but the message will stick. More people will learn the truth about Obama’s shady connections if McCain makes the case tonight than if he waits for the media to do their job. But he will have to make the case that it’s a pattern. An attack simply connecting Obama to a 60s radical will go nowhere.
Believe it or not, CNN has made the Obama-Ayers-Wright-Daley connection.
Here’s another attack from the past that is going nowhere:
John McCain may have an Iran-Contra connection.
Again, the individual connections themselves are unimportant. It’s the pattern that has to be established. In the case of Obama the pattern is of a political neophyte whose advisors are of the worst sort. In the case of McCain, what exactly is the pattern?