The company they keep

THE COMPANY THEY KEEP…. The Politico’s Jonathan Martin noted last night that the McCain campaign planned on “making news” this morning, but wouldn’t say what it was. We learned this morning it was a new, detailed economic plan, explaining in depth how McCain believes the U.S. should respond to the ongoing financial crisis over the next 12 months.

No, no, I’m just kidding. The “news” is that the McCain campaign has released a 90-second web ad attacking Obama for knowing Bill Ayers. As Martin noted this morning, “The idea here is to keep Ayers in the mix without spending precious dollars to put real points behind it on TV. Republicans know that cable TV stations will play the spot for free, regardless of it being a web ad.”

The web ad comes about 24 hours after top McCain campaign aides seemingly took the Ayers “issue” (I use the word loosely) off the table.

But as long as we’re on the subject, McCain’s associations continue to be increasingly interesting as well. We’ve known for a while that McCain has befriended a convicted felon who advised his supporters on how best to shoot federal officials, used the money of a convicted criminal to help buy a house, befriended a radical anti-Catholic televangelist, befriended a radical anti-American televangelist, was a long-time associate of Charles Keating, and hired for his campaign the publisher of a Confederate nostalgia magazine who has described Nelson Mandela as a “terrorist.” This week, we also learned about McCain serving on the board of the extremist U.S. Council for World Freedom, where he worked alongside Iran-Contra figures, and a eugenics researcher studying “white superiority.”

Last night, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann had a very interesting report on McCain’s associations, including the McCain campaign touting an endorsement from Leonore Annenberg, who helped created the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, where, wouldn’t you know it, Obama and Ayers met. Olbermann also noted McCain having hooked up with a right-wing hate group called the Oregon Citizens’ Alliance, despite warnings McCain received from then-Sen. Mark Hatfield, an Oregon Republican, about the radical nature of the organization.

While hanging out with the group, McCain heard speakers praise — you guessed it — domestic terrorists. McCain could have gotten up and left, but didn’t.