- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 8, 2008

In the spotlight

“The polls now all indicate an Obama win on Nov. 4; some even suggest a landslide. But there’s a strong chance the race will tighten back up this month,” Dick Morris and Eileen McGann write in the New York Post.

“Anger over the Wall Street mess has been pushing voters to Barack Obama in droves. And John McCain‘s effort to get involved in the solution only hurt him,” the writers said.

“By suspending his campaign and heading to Washington, McCain made himself a central actor in the unpopular bailout, and thus a target of populist outrage. It also hurt his effort to show how he far he is from President Bush - there he was, shoulder to shoulder with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Bush and Wall Street.

“But October may see the end of Obama’s surge: He’s peaking too soon.

“Once the Democrat is seen as the clear leader and likely winner, the spotlight will inevitably shift to him. And he may not benefit from the increased attention.

“Obama didn’t do well when he last emerged on top, in later Democratic primaries. The more it appeared that Hillary Clinton would lose, the more voter concerns over Obama’s relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright cost him state after state in the later primaries.

“Obama still beat Clinton because he’d already amassed a sufficient delegate lead earlier on. That dynamic doesn’t apply in the general election.

“The Democrat gained by standing back during the rescue-bill drama. But now voters (with a strong push from the McCain campaign) will be giving him a closer look - and some won’t like what they see.”

Media herd

“Barack Obama received a valuable campaign contribution from the New York Times on Saturday: a front-page piece reviewing Obama’s lengthy association with the ‘60s and ‘70s Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers,” the Media Research Center reports at www.mrc.org.

“The Times’ key sentence asserted: ‘The two men do not appear to have been close.’

“The Times’ stamp of disapproval was all the rest of the media needed to reject the idea that Obama’s dealings with Ayers should matter to voters, as Sarah Palin dared to suggest over the weekend. ABC’s David Wright on Sunday called Palin’s attack on Obama ‘incendiary,’ while CBS’s Bob Schieffer (moderator of the final presidential debate on October 15) called it a ‘down and dirty’ move, adding that Palin ‘took after Barack Obama in a style reminiscent of Spiro Agnew.’

“In an item dated Sunday morning, AP writer Douglass Daniel slammed Palin’s attack as ‘unsubstantiated’ and carrying ‘a racially-tinged subtext. … Palin’s words avoid repulsing voters with overt racism. But is there another subtext for creating the false image of a black presidential nominee “palling around” with terrorists while assuring a predominantly white audience that he doesn’t see their America?’ Bill Ayers is white.

“Also on Sunday morning, CNN ‘truth squadder’ Josh Levs rejected Palin’s charge as ‘false,’ apparently because she used the wrong verb tense: ‘There is no indication that Ayers and Obama are now “palling around.” … Also, there is nothing to suggest that Ayers is now involved in terrorist activity.’ So while Ayers’ group bombed the Pentagon and Capitol, it’s time to forgive and forget?”

Ayers vs. Keating

“So the Obama campaign is now playing the Keating card - launching a [Web site], keatingeconomics.com, that features a 13-minute documentary on McCain’s involvement in the Keating Five scandal. I’m not a fan of this move,” the New Republic’s Jason Zengerlewrites in a blog posted Monday at tnr.com.

“I don’t doubt that the Keating Five is a legitimate issue for Obama to raise. First, as Ben Smith notes, ‘the story of McCain and Keating is not guilt by association; it’s guilt by guilt.’ Second, anything that highlights McCain’s zeal for deregulation of the financial sector - as his going to bat for Keating’s S&L certainly did - is obviously relevant in the current political climate. But I question the timing of Obama playing the Keating card, coming immediately on the heels of the McCain campaign’s decision to make Bill Ayers an issue,” Mr. Zengerle said.

“On a day when the Dow has dipped below 10,000 for the first time in four years, Obama has a real opportunity to take McCain’s Ayers gambit and use it as yet another example of McCain being out of touch. Obama could cut one of those one- or two-minute ads that show him speaking directly to the camera and saying something like, ‘On a day when we appear to be teetering on the brink of a global recession and people are worried about their economic futures, John McCain wants to “turn the page” and talk about the 40-year-old actions of a man whom I barely know and whose actions I’ve deemed despicable …’ and then pivot to a discussion of his economic plan. Such an ad would [reinforce] the thing that’s most distinguished Obama from McCain during the financial crisis: Obama’s sober, serious side. Why not continue to play that up?

“Instead, the Obama campaign decided to bring up Keating - which, while a legitimate issue, runs the risk of being interpreted as a case of tit for tat: I’ll see your Ayers and raise you a Keating. That’s the way it was cast on NPR this morning (after a mention of the day’s top story about our impending financial ruin). And at a time when voters are freaking out about losing their life savings, the candidate who makes a point of not playing politics - or at least of seeming not to play politics - is the candidate who’s making the smart political play. Obama’s made a lot of smart political plays up to this point; I’m surprised he didn’t make this one.”

In the comics

The life stories of presidential candidates Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama hit comic book stands Wednesday - and the company behind the illustrated bios hopes plenty of adults will buy them.

IDW Publishing, a San Diego-based company, said it produced the comic book biographies of the two candidates to capitalize on the election. The two biographies will be sold separately in comics stores, and together in a bound edition at bookstores.

In his comic, Mr. McCain, the Republican nominee for president, is shown being struck by captors in a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp. Mr. Obama, the Democratic nominee, is portrayed as a community organizer sitting around a kitchen table listening to Chicago residents.

“It really is a kick to do something that is something so out of the norm for comic books,” Scott Dunbier, special projects editor with IDW, told Reuters news agency.

Mr. Dunbier said he came to appreciate the two candidates more after fact-checking their biographies.

“Both men have very compelling stories,” he said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes .com.

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