The irrepressible Robert Stacy McCain must be eager to get into an argument with someone, since he is arguing with me about things I haven’t said. He objects to my writing that Republicans have been “haunted” by Willie Horton for a generation, saying that the ad was legitimate, George H.W. Bush won the 1988 presidential election, and 1988 wasn’t a generation ago.
Well. In geneaology, a generation actually can be as little as a 20-year interval, though given the age at which American women tend to have children, an average of 25 years normally applies. This is the only word I used that McCain decided to interpret literally. The rest he gives his own special interpretation.
I never argued that the Horton issue was illegitimate. I lived in Massachusetts under Michael Dukakis and am familiar with the facts of the case, the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune‘s award-winning coverage, and Al Gore’s role in making it an ’88 campaign issue. I do believe that the controversy surrounding the ads made Republicans more nervous about touching issues that can lead to charges of racism, even though Bush won the 1988 election. And I’m fairly sure that John McCain doesn’t want a Willie Horton controversy. You can call that “haunted” or use another word if you prefer.
Nowhere do I defend or take any position on Soren Dayton’s suspension. I only speculate as to why the campaign felt the need to suspend him. I don’t defend the video in its entirety because it includes random images of what are supposed to be scary black people, muddling its legitimate criticisms of Obama’s association with Jeremiah Wright with Public Enemy and black power salutes. But I note in the column that it was independently produced, as were the Horton ads.
Finally, the column is largely about (John) McCain’s squeamishness in trying to do to Obama what George Bush did to Dukakis: “McGovernize him in the eyes of Middle America.” It’s an analysis piece, not news reporting. But (Stacy) McCain can click through to the links and re-read the news stories if that’s not something he cares about.
And, no I’m not a big fan of (John) McCain, much less an unpaid adviser. My buddy (Stacy) McCain seems more interested in picking a fight than comprehending what I wrote. But at least he spelled my name right.
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