Monday morning politics

I didn't mention it at the time, but I was struck by something about Obama's response to McCain during the tire pressure dust up. Here's what Obama had to say:

The punditocracy got a good laugh out of the proud-to-be-ignorant remark, and of course this sparked another round of backlash rope-a-dope[1], but what really got my attention was that Obama used the L word. Just before getting into his explicit defense of the idea of inflating your tires, Obama says, "One, they know they're lying about what my energy plan is."

And then, this weekend, the Obama camp released this web video which goes through a McCain attack ad point by point before reaching the conclusion that, "In short, this ad is a lie."

It seems to me that this is a watershed, and I'm surprised that it hasn't been remarked upon. In 2004, some members of the Democratic base called on the Kerry campaign to make an issue of the pervasive dishonesty of the GOP machine, but they were roundly rejected. Tom Friedman even went so far as to write a column arguing that liberals should avoid calling Bush a liar because doing so would coarsen our political discourse and undermine the electorate's trust in government. I disagreed with Friedman then, and nothing since has changed my mind.

It's refreshing to see the Obama campaign break from past practice here. For too long, Democrats have let the pundit class talk them into trying to fight the GOP slime machine with sugar, spice, and comity. I don't know that it's necessary for the Obama campaign to climb all the way down into the mud[2] in order to win, but they do need to at least make sure that the low road has speed bumps. It looks like they're ready to do that.

1 -- Holbo's must-read post does a good job of identifying and explaining this strategy. Holbo is talking specifically about race card rope-a-doping, but his point seems generalizable.

2 -- Unless, that is, framing McCain as old, cranky, and out of touch counts as dirty politics.

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