Oct 162008
Authors: Gabriel Dobbs

(U-WIRE) — After an exhausting and masturbatory 20-month-long election cycle, thank God, the end is finally in sight. Presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain are approaching the last mile of this marathon, and despite a flurry of new attacks and policy proposals, Obama has cleared the hurdles placed before him.

Some discouraging numbers for those who value their constitutional right to shoot wolves from helicopters: Averaging recent polls, Obama is up almost 8 percent nationally (the past two elections have been decided by a margin of less than 3 percent). Recent polls show Obama is liked by 71 percent of Americans, versus 54 percent for McCain. The eerily accurate Intrade political futures market correctly predicted the outcome of every swing state in the 2004 election (in the face of many polls that predicted a Kerry win on election day). Intrade is now offering a four to one payout for any soul brave enough to put their beans in McCain’s electoral basket.

Things look bleak for the Mac Attack, but as they say, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. After performing so-so in the past two debates, McCain was not relying on a slam-dunk performance at Hofstra to swing momentum in his favor. But with time running out, there are few avenues left for a Republican victory this November. McCain’s campaign has struggled throughout the primary and general election season to find a unifying message to rally the American people.

In an election defined by the change mantra, many Americans aren’t buying the 26-year veteran of the Senate’s pitch that he is a “maverick” here to “shake up Washington.”

After all, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. So what does an old dog do when he’s backed into a corner by the new, hotshot pooch in town? He bites back. In the final days before Nov. 4, the McCain campaign has made clear with little subtlety that their attacks on Obama will intensify.

The recent national spotlight on the economy has led many to the astounding realization that maybe intellectualism isn’t such a bad thing.

McCain’s long history of deregulation and his connection to the ever unpopular Bush presidency isn’t exactly helping him lay the blame for the economic mess on the junior senator from Illinois. So according to a senior McCain aide, their campaign’s last best shot is to attack Obama’s character: his trustworthiness, honesty and past associations. Enter Bill Ayers, the radical, 1960s militant anti-war activist. By making the case that Obama is an unknown with a questionable background, McCain is making a thinly veiled attempt to characterize Obama as a radical, someone who is “not like you and me.”

The problem with this last-ditch effort to paint Obama as a man who sips martinis with terrorists is that guilt-by-association arguments are too often contrived and unconvincing. Here is an example of a logical fallacy based on an irrelevant association: Hitler was a vegetarian.

Hitler was also a Nazi. Therefore, all vegetarians are Nazis. Not convinced that McCain is using this argument? Ayers is on a charitable board focused on education. Ayers was also a 1960s radical. Because Obama was on that same philanthropic board, he too must be a 1960s radical (despite the fact Obama was 8 years old at the height of Ayers’ “terrorist” activities). For the sake of argument, if past associations did matter, it is not difficult to prove that McCain’s buddies haven’t exactly been saints either.

As a politician, Obama and McCain have each connected with literally thousands of leaders across the country with personal histories and philosophies across the political spectrum.

Why should we hold politicians responsible for every single stupid thing that their acquaintances have done or said? I know people who steal; does that make me a thief or even someone who promotes stealing? The only friends, acquaintances or board members whose character should matter in the upcoming election are those who the next president chooses as advisers and members of his cabinet.

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