Marc Ambinder's selective outrage

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Marc Ambinder:

It's probably a little scuzzy for the Obama campaign to relitigate the Keating Five -- after all, it happened seventeen years ago, McCain was never charged, and he's acknowledged misjudgment -- what more can some reasonably expect out of him?


The Obama campaign's Keating Five criticisms are factual statements about actions McCain took as a public servant - he met with regulators on behalf of his wife's business partner, who had generously funded McCain's campaigns and flew him to lavish vacations on his private jet.

The criticisms have to do with a banking collapse that was at least partially a result of deregulation, making them relevant to both the current financial situation and to McCain's general opposition to regulations. (Ambinder knows this: in a previous post, he wrote: "the Keating Five was a banking and financial scandal. So it fits better with the political environment than sudden attempts to re-raise Obama's associations with Ayers and Wright.")

And, though the Keating Five happened years ago, it's a safe bet that the majority of voters don't know key details - such as the fact that McCain's wife was a business partner of Keating's - because the media has been politely ignoring the scandal for the bulk of this campaign.

And Marc Ambinder says it's "scuzzy" for the Obama campaign to bring Keating up. That's laughable on its own merits - McCain was involved in what may be the most famous scandal in the history of the U.S. Senate, and his opponent isn't supposed to mention it? - but it is even more absurd in the context of Ambinder's reaction to recent attacks by McCain and his campaign.

In three separate posts today, Ambinder notes the McCain campaign's criticisms of Obama's relationship with Jeremiah Wright - something that had nothing to do with actions Obama took as a public servant. In none of the three does Ambinder call the criticisms "scuzzy." The closest he comes to criticizing the McCain campaign for talking about Wright is saying it doesn't fit well "with the current political environment."

Bill Ayers is mentioned at least in passing in five different Ambinder posts today. In none of them does Ambinder say it is "scuzzy" to bring Ayers up - even though the attack has nothing to do with Obama's performance as an elected official, even though Obama had nothing to do with Ayers' anti-war activities decades ago, and even though the McCain campaign has not been honest about Obama's relationship with Ayers. (Indeed, on Saturday, Ambinder repeated Sarah Palin's false description of Ayers as a "Pal" of Obama's, despite the fact that the New York Times article on which Palin based her comments specifically concluded that the two men "do not appear to have been close.")

So: The McCain campaign is attacking Barack Obama not for things he has done as an elected official, but for things people he knows have done. And they are doing so dishonestly. But Marc Ambinder thinks it is "scuzzy" for the Obama campaign to make factual statements about things John McCain himself did - his use of public office on behalf of his wife's business partner and his political and personal benefactor.

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