"John McCain is a good man. He's an American hero. We honor his service to the nation. But he's made some bad decisions about the company he keeps." This magnanimous pronouncement from Barack Obama in February sounded noble at the time it was uttered. The country should reject Senator McCain not because of his biography, he argued, but because of his questionable associations—many of whom are wicked right-wingers like President Bush. With his remark, Obama unwittingly constructed a new standard of judgment that can, and should, be used against him mercilessly in the general election. An alarmingly large portion of the company Obama keeps seems to be a ragtag posse of unreformed leftists, race baiters, and blame-America-first polemicists. Although none of these individual associations will singlehandedly derail his candidacy, when considered in the aggregate, they will give many Americans reason to pause before pulling the lever for the unvetted freshman senator.
Countless columns have already been devoted to the subject of Obama's twenty year relationship with his crackpot pastor and spiritual adviser, Jeremiah Wright. Now Obama's "friendly" ties to unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers are emerging as another headache for his campaign. After all, voters may be curious as to why Obama countenanced a political friendship with a man who in 2001 told the New York Times, "I don't regret setting bombs...I feel we didn't do enough." Meanwhile, a procession of Obama aides have been forced to issue public apologies or resignations over controversial comments. Samantha Power's not-so-off-the-record denunciation of Hillary Clinton as a "monster" comes to mind. As team Obama seeks to shrug off these setbacks, the hits just keep on coming. New rhetorical fires seem to flare up every few days—and Obama is starting to get burned.
Last week Sen. Jay Rockefeller, an official Obama surrogate, told the Charleston Gazette that John McCain didn't sufficiently understand the human costs of war. "McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit. What happened when they (the missiles) get to the ground? He doesn't know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues," he pontificated. Bear in mind that the highlight of Rockefeller's own military record appears to be employing an inaccurate timeline of laser-guided missile technology while slandering someone who actually served. How courageous. Rockefeller was eventually shamed into offering a weak apology, asserting that he "profoundly respects" McCain's record of blindly bombing civilians for fun. The Obama campaign also issued a brief statement expressing Obama's disagreement with Rockefeller on the matter. Lame.
Left wing hack, radio host, and Obamite Ed Schultz has also been busy fending off criticism for his own verbal bombshells. Schultz ought not to be confused with fellow intellectual titan, Randi Rhodes, who recently parted ways with Air America radio after refusing to apologize calling Hillary Clinton a "f—ing whore." No, Schultz's message was far more nuanced: He accused McCain of being a "warmonger." He did so initially at an Obama campaign rally, then repeated the charge all over the talk show circuit. That McCain was brutalized and permanently scarred in North Vietnam does not dissuade Schultz from his studied analysis. The warmonger label still fits, he insists. The fact that McCain's own son is serving in a war that his father helped to "monger" also leaves Schultz unfazed. Following a public outcry, an Obama spokesman offered a characteristically tepid statement distancing the senator from Schultz's comments. Obama himself has remained mum on the issue.
In recent days, Obama has also added a powerhouse name to his long list of celebrity backers. Chalk up the coveted Jane Fonda endorsement to Senator Hope. Fonda, who infamously provided aid and comfort to the enemy during the Vietnam War, simply adores Barack Obama. This should come as no surprise; after all, Obama is a left-wing antiwar Democrat running against a Vietnam Vet—a group that Fonda once referred to as a bunch of "hypocrites and liars." While Fonda was posing for photographs and disseminating communist propaganda on behalf of America's enemy, McCain was fighting on behalf of the American people. Throughout the conflict, Fonda sided with McCain's captors and torturers—an act of treachery that remains thoroughly odious all these decades later. Although Hanoi Jane has no formal role with the Obama campaign, it is still telling that someone of her ilk is attracted to his candidacy. We're still awaiting word on whether Senator Obama will reject Fonda's support as he begrudgingly did with Louis Farrakhan, upon whom Obama's pastor bestowed a lifetime achievement award.
Barack Obama claims to be an agent of change who rejects the outmoded politics of personal destruction. Yet as St. Barack traipses across the country flaunting his political halo, his surrogates—official and otherwise—are launching vicious, shameful attacks on Sen. McCain. Obama has responded weakly (or not at all) to these smears. He implores Americans to judge McCain by the company he keeps. Fine, but his standard cuts both ways. Between the ranting reverend, the wannabe Che Guevara, the slanderous senator, the tasteless talker and the Tinseltown traitor, Obama's buddy list does not inspire confidence. "Guilt by association!" his supporters will bellow. Indeed. But Obama opened that door himself by questioning McCain's connections and constantly boasting of his own exquisite judgment. Two months ago, Obama taunted McCain about the awful company he keeps. Little did he know that this line of attack would open the floodgates of criticism that may ultimately doom his presidential aspirations.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography