Saturday, October 11, 2008
McCain Claims Spouses Are "off limits." Then attacks Michelle Obama over Ayers.
The McCain campaign is now broadening their attack on Obama's past association with William Ayers to include Michelle Obama -- even though McCain has repeatedly said spouses should be off limits during the campaign.
The attack? Bernardine Dohrn, Ayers' wife and fellow former Weatherman, went to work in 1984 for the major Chicago-based national law firm of Sidley & Austin, and three years later, Michelle joined the mega-firm as well.
That's the entire attack. We wish we were joking. But we aren't.
In launching this latest, McCain is ditching yet another formerly-claimed principle as he faces the growing likelihood of defeat. In a statement back in June, the McCain campaign said: "Senator McCain agrees with Senator Obama that spouses should not be an issue in this campaign, and he has stated that position frequently."
The attack on Michelle came on a McCain conference call with reporters this afternoon featuring John Murtagh, who has been hitting Obama over the Weather Underground's attack on his family's home back in 1970. Murtagh noted that Dohrn and Michelle Obama had both worked at the firm starting in the late 1980s.
The firm's Chicago office currently employs more than 500 lawyers.
Murtagh didn't even bother alleging that the two even knew each other, instead suggesting that they might have. If so, he said, the Obamas have known the two longer than suspected.
"If it is true" that the two women knew each other, Murtagh said, "the relationship is almost a decade older than Senator Obama has acknowledged. And that can very easily be resolved by Senator Obama, by Mrs. Obama, by Mr. Ayers and by Ms. Dohrn."
"And incidentally, I would emphasize that we've all been focusing on Senator Obama," said Murtagh. "I think we need to speak to his wife."
Keep in mind that this wasn't any surrogate speaking off the cuff. He was on a call organized by the McCain campaign, and he was apparently reading from a prepared statement, which would of course have been vetted by McCain aides. And so another once-cherished McCain principle gets junked in the service of self-parody.
Here's the audio of the call:
Late Update: To clarify, we don't know that the McCain campaign vetted Murtagh's statement attacking. But it was made on a campaign conference call, and it constitutes the McCain campaign's official position until the McCain campaign says otherwise.