Dishonorable

DISHONORABLE…. If media reports are accurate, the game-plan for the McCain campaign is to start going after Barack Obama for his tenuous associations mid-week. In the meantime, though, they’ve decided to rehash 15-month-old smears. Here’s a new “ad” unveiled this morning.

ANNCR: Who is Barack Obama? He says our troops in Afghanistan are

BARACK OBAMA: “… just air-raiding villages and killing civilians.”

ANNCR: How dishonorable.

“Dishonorable” is the appropriate adjective, but it describes the ad, not Obama’s comments.

The spot follows Sarah Palin’s reference to the Afghanistan line during Thursday’s debate. On Friday, with Fox News, Palin not only repeated the line, she said it literally makes Obama unfit for the presidency.

As we talked about over the weekend, this is ridiculous. Fifteen months ago, Obama said, “We’ve got to get the job done [in Afghanistan] and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there.” At the time, a few Republicans, most notably Mitt Romney and Sean Hannity, said the comments were outrageous and offensive.

Soon after, the AP published a fact-check item, and found that Obama was right and his critics were wrong. The Republicans quickly dropped the issue and moved on. That was August 2007.

And now, it’s back. Apparently having run out of new attacks, McCain is recycling old and thoroughly discredited ones, cynically hoping we have very bad memories.

Look, combat in Afghanistan is killing a lot of civilians. It’s an enormous problem. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, just two weeks ago, felt compelled to apologize for civilian casualties in Afghanistan, after an airstrike killed 90 people. Does McCain believe the Pentagon chief was being “dishonorable”? If he does, he should say so.

I guess the underlying point here is that McCain and Palin are unconcerned with civilian casualties in Afghanistan? Or perhaps the notion that casualties are bad, but we shouldn’t talk about them?

There’s no real coherence to this attempted smear at all.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.