John McCain was on tonight–sharp, confident, and powerful. I think he won this debate, although only on points. True, McCain needed something more than a narrow win, but I still think he did himself some good. On the other hand, even when Obama is on the defensive, he radiates calm and confidence. That helps him, regardless of who wins or loses the argument on the issue at hand.
On ACORN, I continue to be stunned by Obama’s denials of his extensive ties to this execrable group. The fact that ACORN came up at all is good. Most folks still don’t know what ACORN is, how bad it is, and how deeply it’s tied to the financial meltdown. John McCain needs to make sure the public learns about ACORN and Obama. Obama’s dissembling on his ties to ACORN shows that he recognizes his vulnerability on the issue.
ACORN is a powerful example of an Obama “association” that has immense policy implications. ACORN is a genuinely radical group. It believes in economic redistribution, the same question raised by the “Joe the Plumber” controversy. And ACORN’s campaign to undermine credit standards in this country was an extremely important contributing cause of our economic meltdown. So Obama’s ACORN ties are part and parcel of the core issues at play in this campaign.
Bill Ayers? As McCain noted, Ayers and Obama together gave hundreds of thousands of foundation dollars to ACORN. That needs to be unpacked, but McCain’s point begins to get at the real issue. This is not about what happened when Obama was eight years old. Ayers and Obama both believe in a redistributionist economic policies. Together Ayers and Obama backed radical community organizers like ACORN, a key player in the mortgage crisis. ACORN’s assault on credit-standards was driven by its redistributionist philosophy. So Obama’s radical associations reveal the truth of his economic policies. It’s all of a piece. But this critical point has not been made.
People still speak as though the “associations” issue and the economic issue are two different things. They’re not. ACORN wants to spread Joe’s wealth around. So does Bill Ayers. That’s why Obama worked with both ACORN and Ayers. Someone needs to explain all this to Joe.
What McCain’s campaign needs to do is take an “all of the above” approach. Make a positive economic case, and press the “associations” issue at the same time. But above all, McCain needs to draw the links between both lines of attack. The economic differences between Obama and McCain both explain, and are explained by, the Obama’s history of radical political alliances. However much he may try to hide it, Obama has a strongly left-leaning worldview on economic and other issues. Those views place Obama much to the left of the public as a whole. Obama’s current policies and his past political alliances and associations are part of a broader picture. In the time remaining, McCain needs to connect those dots.