McCain Tones Things Down?

I don’t know if it’s sincere, or if he’s just playing Good Cop to Palin’s Bad Cop, but McCain apparently made some real effort to tamp down the lynch-mob thing today. From Ana Marie Cox: McCain Denounces Pitchfork-Wavers:

But then something weird happens: He acknowledges the “energy” people have been showing at rallies, and how glad he is that people are excited. But, he says, “I respect Sen. Obama and his accomplishments.” People booed at the mention of his name. McCain, visibly angry, stopped them: “I want EVERYONE to be respectful, and lets make sure we are.”

The very next questioner tried to push back on this request, noting that he needed to “tell the American the TRUTH about Barack Obama” — a not very subtle way, I think, to ask John McCain to NOT tell the truth about Barack Obama. McCain told her there’s a “difference between record and rhetoric, and I plan to talk about his record, respectfully… I don’t mean that has to reduce your ferocity, I just mean it has to be respectful.”

And then later, again, someone dangled a great big piece of low-hanging fruit in front of McCain: “I’m scared to bring up my child in a world where Barack Obama is president.”

McCain replies, “Well, I don’t want him to be president, either. I wouldn’t be running if I did. But,” and he pauses for emphasis, “you don’t have to be scared to have him be President of the United States.” A round of boos.

And he snaps back: “Well, obviously I think I’d be better. ”

Of course, this is kind of the best of both world: Crazy base-world gets to bring up Ayers and whatever else, really, and he gets to say, “Be respectful.” But I think he means it.

UPDATE: Indeed, he just snatched the microphone out the hands of a woman who began her question with, “I’m scared of Barack Obama… he’s an Arab terrorist…”

“No, no ma’am,” he interrupted. “He’s a decent family man with whom I happen to have some disagreements.”

As I said, I don’t know how much faith to put in it. But it’s a good thing, regardless.

Update: Josh Marshall’s take: Weird. Sad. Surreal. Includes this video:

Marshall is fairly dismissive of McCain’s motivation. But, I don’t know; call me a putz, but I had pretty much the same reaction to this footage that I had to Hillary tearing up in the final days of the primary campaign in New Hampshire: it affects me on an emotional level. When McCain shakes his head at that woman at the end of the clip, takes the mic back from her, and tells her no, that Obama is a “decent family man,” I found myself feeling proud of McCain.

Which is not at all what I expected to be feeling toward him tonight.

12 Responses to “McCain Tones Things Down?”

  1. knarlyknight Says:


  2. ymatt Says:

    It strikes me as sincere, and he’s a good man for saying it.

  3. enkidu Says:

    finally, a tiny bit of the pre-2000 McCain peeks out

    this was getting out of hand and it still could get uglier, but at least the McCain campaign is finally noticing that bandying about the label of terrorist for Obama is not a smart move (the IND voters are giving it a thumbs down)

  4. shcb Says:

    I guess I don’t understand what is so shocking about McCain’s actions, this is who he is. I’m not surprised at Palin’s actions either, this is just their personalities. McCain is an honest and good man. Palin likes to mix it up a little.

    There is also nothing wrong with questioning Obama’s ties to Ayers especially since there is a curious pattern of Ayres, Wright, the black separatism of his (or his wife’s) chosen church of 20 years. Comments of his wife and his paint a picture of a man. It is then up to voters to decide if they like that picture. Likeminded people will like it. Others will find it repulsive. Calling him a terrorist is of course over the top, he is no terrorist, Ayers is.

  5. adam_blust Says:

    Sorry, I don’t give McCain much slack on this. I think it was just his way of trying to staunch the bleeding now that these over-the-top attacks have backfired on the campaign. “Obama is a scary black terrorist” has been the underlying theme of McCain’s campaign for some time. When you have your running mate saying with her usual perky derision that Obama is “pallin’ around with terrorists,” how do you think your rabid fans are going to react? Watch the videos for some chilling examples.

    Too little, too late, McCain. You’ve already sold your soul.

  6. Sven Says:

    Not surprisingly, McCain’s comments to the woman who tried to say Obama was an Arab are not sitting well with Arab-Americans. His inference seemed to be that Arabs are not decent family men.

    Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, says, “Enough is enough! From the beginning of this campaign there have been those who have used Muslim and Arab in an effort to smear Barak Obama. This exploitation of bigotry and the stoking of racist fires to forward an agenda is reprehensible. This is not only offensive to the Arab Americans, but to all Americans. As any ethnic group who has ever been used to scare the electorate knows, this is a dangerous game that tragically can ends with innocent people being hurt.”

  7. ymatt Says:

    Oh come on. While I don’t disagree with their point and the lady in question certainly was implying that Arabs and terrorists are synonymous, McCain was not. He was obviously responding to the widespread nonsensical rumors of ill intent that she was referring to, not the word “Arab”.

    This is like Greenpeace going after Apple, not because they’re the most environmentally insensitive tech company out there (much to the contrary), but because they’re a high-visibility target.

  8. Sven Says:

    Well, while I initially agreed with you on this ymatt, and was thankful he spoke out against the woman, I’m not so sure anymore. I’m kinda leaning more towards Adams view now that McCains comments were too little too late. I think he needs to say a lot more than that to get his campaign out of the mud. Especially after this weekend where someone brought a monkey with an Obama turban to a McCain / Palin rally, and nicknamed it “Hussein”… Just sick.

  9. enkidu Says:

    “erratic” would indeed describe the McCain campaign to a T

    This weekend McCain promised to “whip his you know what”
    While you can certainly try for the apologist view that ‘whup his ass’ is a common phrase and not disrespectful or racist in any way, I would have to say that it leans more towards the racially charged invective than innocuous turn of a phrase.

    Combine that with McCain refusing to disown someone making the Obama just like Osama comparison (they both were pals with someone who bombed the Pentagon!). You stay classy McCain!

    Mix that together with some email campaigns of out and out lies and distortions and a good bit of the R base is being “whipped into a froth” (a phrase which here means like an animal whipped to a frenzy, rather than any culinary meaning) which is going to turn ugly every chance it gets.

  10. knarlyknight Says:

    yes, “erratic” and the antithesis of “presidential”…

    I was “wowed” that he did anything giving my low expectations for McCain to rise above the crap; but wholly agree it is far too little too late. It’s done nothing to change the tone of his campaign’s attacks to anything resembling a mature discussion.

  11. enkidu Says:

    At rally in PA today:

    Each time the Republican candidate for the seat in the 10th Congressional District mentioned Barack Obama the crowd booed loudly.

    One man screamed “kill him!”

    Supporters have been noted shouting “kill him,” “terrorist,” “off with his head” and other equally incendiary terms about Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Others have directly suggested Mr. Obama is a Muslim, which he is not, or a traitor. Some comments even drew rebuke from Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

    Now McCain is claiming that he has heard equally ugly shouts from the crowd at Obama rallies. Really? Let’s see it on youtube. Why don’t we hear of it in the papers? Because it isn’t happening. It is a lie that people are yelling the same ugly stuff at Obama rallies. In fact Obama was giving a speech the other day and when he mentioned McCain, the crowd booed. “no, no, we don’t need that” was what Obama said. All the Rs have left are smears and lies. Oh and pretending ACORN stole the election (what a joke).

    People want change. They want an end to the divisive rhetoric and kill em all shoot from the hip bush years. We’ve had eight long years of morans running the country. Can we please try a few years with smart, dedicated, principled leadership?

    ps – markets do better – much better – under D presidents (I think the numbers were +12% for Ds and +1.6% for Rs… note that this does not include the recent stock market implosion)

  12. NorthernLite Says:

    Well, shcb would be glad to know that us socialists up here Canada just re-elected our Conservative government yesterday.

    We did our part…


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