Yesterday I bemoaned the state of mudslinging in the campaign and laid the blame squarely in the McCain camp. While I'm still moaning (and still blaming McCain), I also want to level some criticism at the Obama campaign, in the interests of fairness.
Personally, I'm of the opinion that the Keating Economics video that the campaign is circulating is similar in spirit to the Ayers accusations that McCain and Co. are throwing at Obama. Of course, there are numerous differences. McCain was involved with Keating at the time that he (Keating) was doing bad things. Obama was 8 when Ayers was doing his dirty work. There was an investigation into McCain's dealings with Keating and he was chastised by the Senate Ethics Committee. But that investigation is exactly the point I want to bring up. Remember, the investigation found that McCain did nothing wrong. His judgement was poor and that allowed him to be put in a position where it looked like he might be doing something wrong, but he didn't take part in any wrongdoing himself. As we start throwing criticisms around, we should remember that facts matter. Any unfounded attempts to paint someone with the guilt by association brush are lamentable, no matter which side they come from.
Clearly McCain started this round of character attacks (he even said he was going to be). But saying, "He started it" isn't a great reason for doing something. I'd also like to point out that the "Oh yeah?" response isn't really a recipe for raising the level of political discourse. If I were advising Obama I'd say to focus relentlessly on the fact that McCain isn't putting forward any plans to help the middle class or to end the war in Iraq. Every time McCain says anything I'd say, "Once again, Senator McCain chooses to focus on X rather than present a plan for how he's going to help the middle class and end the war in Iraq." That's a change we can believe in.
On a slightly related note, you should really read this article from the New Yorker. It's their editorial board's endorsement of Obama for president. It presents a comprehensive, thoughtful, and thorough take down of the McCain campaign and at the same time builds up Obama's. It was one of the clearest articulations of the choice in this election that I've seen. Just brilliant. I didn't even know the New Yorker did endorsements.
Of course, for a candidate being accused of East Coast liberal elitism, the New Yorker endorsement may not be the most coveted one out there.