Keating mug shot - 1990 Ayers mug shot - 1968
There have been four recent talking points between the campaigns, two on each side. Specifically, "Keating" and "Erratic" have been leveled by Obama against McCain. McCain has leveled "Ayers" and "Inexperience" against Obama. Although, Obama's camp has not hammered away as much on Keating as I would have thought they would. Also, in the last debate when Ayers was brought up it would have been easy for Obama to go to Keating, Rick Davis or William Timmons. Obama did not. Probably because a campaign won't go that negative unless it has to, usually when it's losing. I understand that there other talking points like on the economy, McCain=Bush, Obama=tax spend liberal, ect. But those are boring. I wanted to take a look at these specific talking points' effectiveness. By effectiveness I mean who is gaining traction, if any, in the polls by hammering at these talking points.
Williams Ayers is a 60's and 70's radical, domestic terrorist that bombed federal buildings. Obama served on a board, by invitation, for an organization founded by a conservative Republican, on six occasions Ayers advised the board on education issues. One incident is hammered on by the McCain camp. Namely, Obama attended a gathering at Ayers' house where then State Senator Alice Palmer told those there that she was stepping down and Obama was going to run for her seat. This was not the first such gathering that Palmer organized to introduce Obama around and it was not the last. A New York Times article does a good job of exploring the relationship.
Obama's camp has since said that Obama did not know Ayers' background until after they had first met. Obama does not consult Ayers for advice. Obama was a pre-teen when Ayers was committing criminal acts. Obama has denounced those crimes.
McCain was friends with Keating. McCain and Keating would vacation together, with their families. When Keating's sham Savings & Loan was being investigated one the first peopled Keating called to try to call off regulators was McCain.
Keating cost his customers their money and contributed to the cost to U.S. taxpayers, about 125 billion dollars to bail out S&L's in the early 1990's. McCain was a U.S. Senator when this occurred. Lack of oversight and regulation is what allowed Keating to commit his crimes. Until the latest financial crisis McCain was for deregulation.
Obama says McCain is erratic. I think erratic is code for a hothead. Who looked more "presidential" during first week of the economic crisis? McCain first said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong, then nine days later called the economic situation the worst since the Great Depression, "suspended" his campaign ("suspended" is in quotes because commercials continued to run and his surrogates still went on all the talking heads shows), called on (demanded) that the President call a bipartisan meeting including himself and Obama (a meeting that amounted to nothing more than a photo op for McCain since he apparently said and asked almost nothing), flew to Washington to grandstand and took credit for a bailout that did not pass. Obama told people to stay calm and only went to Washington after Bush requested his presence at the bipartisan meeting, during which, according to those that attended, Obama peppered Treasury Secretary Paulson with questions.
Here are some examples of McCain being "erratic", again, which I think is code for a short temper:
McCain says Obama is inexperienced. Is experience everything? No, but it helps, kind of, sometimes. And not this time. McCain definitely has more experience. Just not all of it's good. See the above S&L scandal. Sometimes a candidate without a long track record is better suited for the political climate. Such is the case now with the economy doing so poorly. Clinton happened into the same good luck against H.W. Bush in 1992. Obama has come upon the scene when being the "inexperienced" candidate is good. Obama just took "inexperienced" and morphed it into "change". McCain tried to wrest the "change" mantra from Obama. But, that is hard for McCain to sell to independents and Reagan Democrats who have had at least a faint understanding that he's been around for a while.
End all be all for McCain is that he has not been able to gain any traction in the polls using these talking points, namely "Ayers" and "Inexperience". In fact, according to the polls Obama's lead has increased, especially in some key swing states. Again, that is if you trust the polls. Ultimately, it may not be so much that these talking points for McCain are absolutely without any teeth. It is more likely that they're overcome, over shadowed and overwhelmed by a political landscape dominated by the economy. And McCain has yet to be able to gain any traction on this economy shaped landscape.