Well, he was, according to the right-wing whiners, when he told Wolf Blitzer on CNN that Sen. McCain was “losing his bearings.”
“This is offensive, and I think it’s disappointing,” Obama told Blitzer, when asked his thoughts about McCain’s comments that the terrorist organization Hamas wants Obama to be president. “Because John McCain always says ‘I am not going to run that kind of politics,’ and to engage in that kind of smear is unfortunate, particularly because my policy toward Hamas has been no different than his.
“I’ve said it’s a terrorist organization and we should not negotiate with them unless they recognize Israel, renounce violence, and unless they are willing to abide by previous accords between the Palestinians and the Israelis. So for him to toss out comments like that I think is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination. We don’t need name calling in this debate.”
The McCain campaign immediately jumped on that and said that Sen. Obama was using ageism as a campaign tactic.
“First, let us be clear about the nature of Senator Obama’s attack today: He used the words ‘losing his bearings’ intentionally, a not particularly clever way of raising John McCain’s age as an issue. This is typical of the Obama style of campaigning,” said the memo from senior adviser Mark Salter.
The Obama campaign fired back:
Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton responded: “Clearly losing one’s bearings has no relation to age, given this bizarre rant that Mark Salter just sent out. It’s clear why a candidate offering a third term of George Bush’s disastrous economic policies and failed strategy in Iraq would want to distract and attack, but it’s not the kind of campaign John McCain has promised the American people that he would run.”
As Kyle E. Moore notes over at Comments from Left Field, the Obama response was well-crafted and exactly what needs to be done with all such smears:
In and of itself, it’s a solid retort, opening jab. One of the things about Obama’s style and about his campaign is that he’s going to take just about anything thrown at him, and that alone will essentially validate a major part of his core message of wanting to take politics away from being petty and about personal attacks.
Thus, everytime an opponent comes even close to leveling a personal attack, blammo! out comes the “You throw mud” card. It’s a double hit, one that refutes the attack, the second that hits you back for being a part of “Old” politics.
With this bit here, Obama goes it even one better. By tying his approach to Hamas, he not only shuts down McCain’s old attack against him, but makes it very difficult for McCain to try and use it again. In other words, if McCain wants to say Obama is the Hamas president, McCain now has to explain why this is when they both have the same position towards Hamas.
Some may hear the potential for dog whistles here, but I assure you, McCain does not want to go there. The only way to effectively go back to an attack such as this, McCain would essentially have to get into a foreign policy debate with Barack Obama, and spend a considerable amount of time trying to put daylight between them regarding Hamas, if possible, all just to use a stupid smear attack.
What’s really pissing off the righties and the McCain campaign isn’t that Sen. Obama called out Mr. McCain for his Hamas smear; it’s that they responded at all. Democrats aren’t supposed to do that; they’re supposed to roll over or curl up in a ball when the right-wing attack machine goes into action. It’s not fair of them to actually hit back. Call the Waaaahmbulance.