Editorial: Obama's Attack Ads Hypocritical After Denouncing McCain's Tactics

This story was written by Editorial Board, Daily Nebraskan


Shame on you, Barack Obama.

Just days after the Obama campaign decried John McCain's new campaign ads focusing on Obama's tenuous association with William Ayers, a former member of the radical Weather Underground, as a "smear campaign," it released its own round of character attacks.

We were pleased when we saw Obama disavow negative campaigning in the primaries and then rail against them again last week.

How quickly things can change in politics.

On Monday, the Obama campaign rolled out its own character attacks. In an e-mail to supporters, the campaign introduced the Web site http://www.KeatingEconomics.com to the public. The site contains a 13-minute video designed to attack McCain's long-ago relationship with Charles Keating Jr., a player in the 1980's savings and loan debacle.

Obama tried to take the high road by saying that McCain was trying to "turn the page" on the economy -- to distract from the real issues facing the country by launching negative ads.

Perhaps the Obama campaign doesn't understand that claiming the moral high ground only works if you refuse to practice the tactics that you decry. It does not work if you use those very same tactics yourself.

We understand the point of negative campaigning: it has a long history of proven results. With McCain hoping to regain lost momentum in swing states and Obama going for the knockout punch, both are looking to a tried-and-true method of winning votes.

Both see these ads as essential to their strategy, and it's likely that we will see even more of this as Election Day creeps closer.

But now is not the time to be launching character attacks.

We face an unparalleled economic crisis that is causing financial markets to nosedive, both in our country and around the world. Central bankers of developed nations across Europe, Canada and the United States ordered emergency interest rate cuts in order to stimulate the economy.

Our country is involved in conflicts in two separate nations, trying to both pacify insurgents and restore vital infrastructure in both countries.

America's national debt now amounts to trillions of dollars. This number will only increase in the next few years.

Over the next 20 years, the federal government will have to meet a massive promise it made to millions of baby boomers in the form of Social Security and Medicare.

Tens of millions of Americans are uninsured; millions more have far too little coverage in the event of a crisis.

And what do our candidates for president do in the face of these problems?

They trade ad hominem attacks that do nothing for our country. They take valuable time away from a discussion that we as Americans desperately need to hear.

We have to do better than this. We must do better than this.

A nation is waiting.
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