I thought I’d become inured to the bare-knuckle style of presidential campaigning. Campaign ads mostly distort the records of candidates. The ads are often ludicrous and insulting.
But this latest McCain "dirty trick" ad (see below) that mischaracterizes Barack Obama’s education record crosses a line in the sand. It’s reprehensible. It’s a new low in a campaign full of record-making lows, and the ad dismantles the "honorable hero" myth so painstakingly constructed around John McCain.
There comes a time when ads are so false, so despicable, that network affiliates should refuse to air them. This is one of those times.
Why? Because the ad links Obama to children and sex in the viewers’ subconscious. The ad is shaded with implications of pedophelic tendencies.
The McCain hit will air primarily on Fox News and in select markets in battleground states.
But even Fox News’ Mosheh Oinounou calls the ad "misleading" and said this:
While the new TV spot leads most voters to believe that Obama supports teaching five year olds about the birds and the bees the legislation, which never passed by the full state senate, called for an “age appropriate” curriculum intended to teach young children how to avoid predators and pedophiles. The bill was supported by a number of prominent state health advocates and also allowed communities and families to opt out if they were not comfortable with the curriculum…
The K-12 sex-ed attack point was previously used against Obama by Romney last June who saw it crumble when it turned out supported similar legislation in Massachusetts.
A number of states also have similar education laws, including California, Iowa and Michigan.
Unsportsmanlike conduct! saysMcClatchy’s Margaret Talev in the Kansas City Star:
Throw the flag against: The McCain-Palin campaign.
Call: Unsportsmanlike conduct.
What happened: A new 30-second TV ad attacks Barack Obama’s record on education, saying that Obama backed legislation to teach " ‘comprehensive sex education’ to kindergartners." The announcer then says, "Learning about sex before learning to read? Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family."
Why that’s wrong: This is a deliberately misleading accusation. It came hours after the Obama campaign released a TV ad critical of McCain’s votes on public education. As a state senator in Illinois, Obama did vote for but was not a sponsor of legislation dealing with sex ed for grades K-12.
But the legislation allowed local school boards to teach "age-appropriate" sex education, not comprehensive lessons to kindergartners, and it gave schools the ability to warn young children about inappropriate touching and sexual predators.
Republican Alan Keyes tried to use Obama’s vote against him in the 2004 U.S. Senate race….
We have too many important issues facing this country to be wallowing in this junk.
ETA: ABC’s chief political correspondent Jake Tapper said claims made in the ad were "false" and he added:
The idea seems to be to paint Obama as an insanely liberal sleaze ball who wants to teach young kids who don’t even know how to read all about graphic sexual information.
That’s not fair and it’s not accurate.
One can only imagine what the John McCain of 2004 – who called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads “dishonest and dishonorable” – would say about this ad.