Weekend Spin Patrol

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THE PLANK MARCH 7, 2008

Weekend Spin Patrol

 

A couple campaign statements caught my eye, and I wanted to point them out before the weekend. First, John McCain says of his supporter, John Hagee, "I repudiate any comments that are made, including Pastor Hagee's, if they are anti-Catholic or offensive to Catholics." If they were anti-Catholic? Hagee called the Catholic Church "the great whore" and a "false cult system." So, yeah, that would seem to be pretty anti-Catholic. McCain construction is the classic non-apology apology -- I apologize if anybody was offended. Hey, some people might like being called "the great whore." Prostitutes, for example. But if others disagree, McCain feels their pain, too.

Second, Hillary Clinton's campaign says Barack Obama is "unable to make an affirmative case for his candidacy beyond ad hominem attacks." Meanwhile, her campaign is sending out a fundraising email saying "Stand Up to Attack Politics." Riiight... because if anybody is going to end attack politics, it's Hillary Clinton. If Clinton wins the nomination, the one lesson politicians everywhere will take from it is that attack politics don't work.

How do they say these things? All politicians, including Obama, spin. But the way the Clinton campaign says night is day is just especially audacious. It's as if they have internalized the attacks they suffered in the 1990s to such a degree that they believe to their core that the only way to win is to imitate their worst tormentors. I think Obama and his staff say things they at least believe to be essentially true. Working for Clinton has to be a soul-deadening experience.

--Jonathan Chait

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