McCain/RNC Robocall Disgrace

If anyone was wondering to what depths the McCain campaign and the RNC would stoop in the face of their desperate electoral prospects the truth is now revealed:

We now have documented four McCain/RNC robocalls, some known to be running in multiple states:

One that questions Obama's patriotism by saying he put "Hollywood above America" during the financial crisis.

One that says that Obama and Dems "aren't who you think they are" and claims they merely "say" they want to keep us safe.

One that attaches him to "domestic terrorist Bill Ayers," whose group "killed Americans."

And, now, the above, which dishonestly paints him as indifferent to the lives of babies.

These aren't the work of any fringe groups. Every one of these is paid for by the McCain campaign and the RNC. It looks like there's a huge wave of them blanketing the country.

Greg Sargent - Latest McCain Robocall Alleges That Obama Denied Babies Medical Care TPM 16 Oct 08

These robocalls are demonstrably false accusations framed in insinuating language which would probably be grounds for a libel suit in any other context than a partisan political campaign.  But as we have often observed there is no ethos of integrity in the modern Republican party, and the presumption of 'honour' so widely promoted as the McCain mystique and employed liberally in his campaign rhetoric is merely a ploy behind which it is 'business as usual' for the GOP we have come to know so well:

When McCain/Palin offer sleazy attacks in a speech, it's easy to hold them accountable. When they offer scurrilous lies in a television ad, it's almost as easy, especially with the whole "approve this message" line and media scrutiny of campaign advertising.

But McCain, Palin, and the Republican Smear Machine save some of their most offensive work for automated robocalls, which fly just below the radar screen. It's obviously abject cowardice, but decency and honor are the last things McCain is worried about now.

Steve Benen - The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel... Washington Monthly 16 Oct 08

This robocall offensive is a major initiative of the McCain campaign and an obvious priority in their allocation of limited resources.  This is the McCain campaign revealed in harsh light as typically underhanded, a campaign which will 'do anything and say anything' to win an election no matter what the methods; without integrity, oblivious of the consequences of it's actions and certainly bereft of honour.  These are the right-wing zealots manipulating our collective political process with falsehood and insinuation, dividing our nation and questioning our patriotism all the while.

The text of these messages grows progressively worse and approaches the emotive and slanderous polemics we are more accustomed to seeing on right-wing blogs:

The first round of calls was in line with run-of-the-mill Republican nonsense.

The robocalls [in North Carolina, Missouri, Colorado, and Wisconsin] hit Obama for attending a celebrity fundraiser in Hollywood while efforts to address the financial crisis got underway in Washington.

A second round of robocalls, also from McCain and the RNC, hits Obama as a tax-hiker, and stops just short of criticizing the big bailout package that McCain has repeatedly taken credit for helping get passed.

The second round cranked up the sleaze a bit.

"Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats aren't who you think they are," the call says. "They say they want to keep us safe, but Barack Obama said the threat we face now from terrorism is nowhere near as dire as it was in the end of the Cold War. And Congressional Democrats now want to give civil rights to terrorists."

And the third round, which is reaching households in Wisconsin, New Mexico, Northern Virginia, Maine, Florida, Missouri, and North Carolina, says a lot more about Republicans than it does Obama.

"You need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge's home, and killed Americans. And Democrats will enact an extreme leftist agenda if they take control of Washington. Barack Obama and his Democratic allies lack the judgment to lead our country."

This isn't just some media stunt, intended to generate free media. It's actually the opposite -- McCain and the RNC are investing heavily in these disgusting calls, hoping to avoid the kind of scrutiny that comes with television ads.

Steve Benen - The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel... Washington Monthly 16 Oct 08

The fourth robocall is probably the worst:

The call concerns the now-notorious Illinois legislation -- opposed by Obama -- that would have required doctors to provide life-saving care to such newborns. Script:

I'm calling on behalf of John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama and his Democrat allies in the Illinois Senate opposed a bill requiring doctors to care for babies born alive after surviving attempted abortions -- a position at odds even with John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama and his liberal Democrats are too extreme for America. Please vote -- vote for the candidates who share our values. This call was paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee at 202 863 8500.

McCain himself brought up this charge for the first time at yesterday's debate, and this call suggests it's going to be a key closing attack for him. But as has been amply demonstrated already, the charge is highly dishonest.

Greg Sargent - Latest McCain Robocall Alleges That Obama Denied Babies Medical Care TPM 16 Oct 08

And these aren't webvertisements to mesmerise the punditry and bigfoot a news cycle either, they have appeared without public acknowledgement or comment from the campaign, beyond the obligatory identification in the messages themselves.  If it weren't for the efforts of TPM and the progressive blogosphere these calls might have passed unremarked.  However this is not a minor effort, it is apparently what the McCain campaign has been hoarding it's remaining funds for in the last weeks of the campaign:

While Barack Obama may be drowning out his opposition on the airwaves, spending copious amounts of cash on television advertisements in key markets, evidence suggests that John McCain is well ahead in one form of political outreach.

There have been three times as many robocalls placed on behalf of McCain's candidacy as those placed on behalf of Obama, as reported to the National Political Do Not Contact Registry.

The outlets responsible for the 12 documented McCain-favorable calls include the RNC, the McCain campaign itself, and third party organizations. Their work, not surprisingly, is being done across a wide swath of swing states: Michigan, North Carolina, Minnesota, Missouri, Colorado, Wisconsin, Virginia and New Mexico.

Sam Stein - GOP, McCain Appear To Dominate Robocall War Huffington Post 16 Oct 08

This is the Republican party revealed, irrespective of their manipulative media narratives, falsely proclaimed equivalances and self-righteous denials of negative campaigning.  The only appropriate response is to drag these messages into the light where they can be exposed and condemned for the scurrilous and inflammatory lies they are.  These are our self-proclaimed defenders of Christian values and the ethos of patriotism?  There is no 'big lie' big enough to hide behind in cases like these.

Tags: Barack Obama, Election 2008, John McCain, robocall (all tags)



is there any evidence...

that these robocalls work?  Obviously, somebody must think they work, but do they?  Anecdotal evidence that I've read suggests that they offend as many as not.  

It would be pretty cool if someone could figure out how to loop these calls back to flood that 202 863-8500 RNC number.

My friend, you're forgetting that campaigns are tough, very tough (McCain's favorite robo response when confronted on this sleaze).  

John McCain has become Bob Dole.    

by mboehm 2008-10-17 04:43AM | 0 recs
Re: is there any evidence...

Yeah, they are tough but the discordance between these tactics, carefully timed to follow the last public debate, and McCain's false mystique in the media is the annoying thing.  They were planning this all along, of course.  Personally I think this campaign will fail, but not for want of trying:

The Huffington Post received dozens of emails from voters who had either received the call or gotten a voice mail with a recording. Reports came from Ohio, Colorado, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Missouri, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, West Virginia, Maine, New Hampshire, Indiana, Delaware, Illinois, Georgia and even Canada.

Several readers in Minnesota also reported receiving the call, which could be a violation of that state's laws.

Sam Stein - Wave Of McCain Robocalls Reported, Some May Violate State Law Huffington Post 16 Oct 08

I just want to see this robocall blitz exposed, that's all, and the McCain campaign demoted to the kind of typical sleazefest we are accustomed to from Republicans, rather than maintain this bizarre perception of some shred of integrity to which the mainstream media still seems susceptible.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-10-17 05:11AM | 0 recs
these calls...

may be able to penetrate local media with some backlash.  The national press is blase.   Robocalls, whatever.

Unrelated PS- It looks like Colin Powell is going to stand up for Barack on Sunday.  

I'd say next to Caroline Kennedy, Ted Kennedy and John Lewis, a Powell endorsement would mean more personally to Obama than others.

by mboehm 2008-10-17 05:38AM | 0 recs
Re: these calls...

We'll see, but I expect at least a bit of blowback regarding these calls in the national media and on cable due to the apparently massive resources dedicated to the effort and the contradiction they create with McCain's presumed 'character' and recent  dropping of the Ayers narrative in his and Palin's public appearances.

As for the Powell endorsement, where did you get that nugget?  It would certainly be welcome, at least for the entertainment value of conservative derision and discord if nothing else.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-10-17 05:49AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain/RNC Robocall Disgrace
I have written my senators urging them to speak out against these calls. Since they are both Republicans, I pointed out that these calls - in the name of the RNC - hurts them as well as the entire Republican Party. I'm expecting a response from Cornyn and Hutchison any moment now....... Anyone living in Nebraska that could write Hagel?
by royce 2008-10-17 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain/RNC Robocall Disgrace

I'd rather insure that people get out to vote for the Dem ticket..

But why not Jam up the RNC's phone lines with Legitimate complaints?

McCain RoboCall coming from 866-520-5769.

Company Name: Republican National Committee (McCain Palin campaign)

Corporate Phone Number: 202-863-8500 (or call 202-863-8743 to have them remove your number from their call list or make a complaint

by mrJJ 2008-10-17 06:08AM | 0 recs
You think that's bad...

you should see the two mailings I got today here in New Hampshire.

The first, from the RNC, is this vicious Ayers piece that pretty much calls Obama a terrorist.

The second, from the state Republican committee, is all about how, while the financial crisis was happening, Barack was in Hollywood partying with his buddies, like Barbara Streisand and Leonardo DeCaprio.

I hope to find time to scan them in for a diary soon.

by Travis Stark 2008-10-17 04:54PM | 0 recs
Re: You think that's bad...

Please do.  I was gratified to note the robocall story hit the 'bigs' yesterday with uniformly negative reporting.  It's that kind of exposure which helps diminish the returns of these activities from the perpetrator's perspective.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-10-18 01:17PM | 0 recs


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