Whither the Audacity of Hope?

This weekend, the McCain campaign began trying to change the conversation from the economic mess, which has cost them dearly in the polls. They announced they were taking the gloves off and were going to go after Barack Obama’s "character." Of course, it tells you something about the character of John McCain that he does not want to discuss the most pressing issue facing the nation. He would rather talk about William Ayers, a man who did evil deeds in the 1960s but who has been an education teacher for twenty years and who once sat on a board with Obama.

Obama had an opportunity to take the high road. "I want to lay out a vision for fixing the economy and John McCain wants to talk about something somebody else did when I was 8 years old. That is the choice facing the American electorate: someone concerned about you and someone concerned about nonsense." The American people, especially the undecided voters, would see the glaring difference between the candidates and choose accordingly.


Instead, the Obama campaign has launched into an attack on McCain’s prior associations, specifically his involvement in the Keating Five scandal in the late 1980s. The tactic may work in terms of the election. It may not. But, what it will not do is give Obama a mandate for governance if he wins. So much for the audacity of hope.

Michael Sean Winters


Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
9 years 7 months ago
Teresa, I never said people don't deserve to know the truth about Obama's ideological leanings. Of course they do. However, the information about Ayers is out there and has been for some time. The Times and any number of other outlets have done a commendable job putting it in context. To my mind, these inconsistent explanations about the nature of the link have come largely through Obama proxies and not the candidate himself, so there is a lot of static around it. Any Democrat these days risks being tarred by association with leftist crazies because the party draws its fair share of them. Works the same way in the GOP with the radical right-wing. What we are seeing now is nothing more than an extension of the Obama-is-a-secret-Muslim silliness. In any case, I would say if you do not know Obama's ideology by now, you have not been doing enough reading.
9 years 7 months ago
A while back I indulged in 30 seconds of naive daydreaming, imagining that if anyone could rise above the traditional toxicity of campaigning, it was these two. They didn't need it, after all. No incumbent in this race meant a clean slate where each candidate could sketch a vision of the future instead of scrawling obscene graffiti about the other guy. Why must every day of this campaign offer something else to be dismayed by?
9 years 7 months ago
I think it's a fallacy to equate the two attacks. Unlike the McCain campaign's attempt to establish "guilt by association" with Ayres, the Keating 5 scandal entails some actual guilt (or at least, as Sen. McCain himself admitted, poor judgement).
9 years 7 months ago
I agree with jrandom. There is a difference. And, although it would be nice to completely avoid this tactic, there is more potential for Senator Obama to be damaged by McCain's outrageous attacks. Look at the difference between the Rev. Wright situation and the Republicans' ministers/spiritual advisors John Hagee (McCain) and Thomas Muthee and Larry Kroon. (Palin) There is a double standard in this election. Like Jackie Robinson, Obama must take a lot without responding, but he is within his rights to point out such a glaring difference. If he starts to come out with really ridiculous attacks similar to McCain's, then I will be concerned about the audacity of hope. For now, I just see McCain as giving people more reasons to shy away from him, despite his stance on abortion.
9 years 7 months ago
The attacks may not be equivalent -- the question is, are they necessary? How do they serve the people? We are never enlightened by distraction politics.
9 years 7 months ago
It's not a distraction. The people with whom Obama has associated professionally, who have helped form his ideology and from whom he will be taking advice as president is an important question. It is worth asking. For my part, I haven't heard anything about Obama's past associates that has reassured me on this score. No one thinks that Obama is going to be rehabilitating the Weathermen, but the point is...what is his ideological mileu? If you don't feel people deserve to know the truth about that, then I fail to see how you're a Christian...the truth will set you free and all that. Oh, and besides the fact, as CNN - CNN!- has reported, Obama has consistently and specifically LIED about this association. When you lie about your associates, that makes me wonder, too. Glad to see the MSM picking this up.


Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

An official wedding photo of Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, center, in Windsor Castle, Windsor, England. Others in photo from left, back row, Jasper Dyer, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Doria Ragland, Prince William; center row, Brian Mulroney, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Rylan Litt, John Mulroney; front row, Ivy Mulroney, Florence van Cutsem, Zalie Warren, Remi Litt. (Alexi Lubomirski/Kensington Palace via AP)
A poll found that 66 percent of the British public declared they were not interested in the Windsor wedding.
David StewartMay 23, 2018
God simply is a triad of love: a going out in love, a return in love and thus, ever more, love itself.
Terrance KleinMay 23, 2018
The leaders sent a letter to President Donald Trump, administration officials and members of Congress.
Altar servers lead a Palm Sunday procession March 25 in Youtong, in China's Hebei province. (CNS photo/Damir Sagolj, Reuters)
The pope appeared to be alluding to the fact that since February there has been a crackdown by the Chinese authorities on religion in the mainland.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 23, 2018