The Audacity of Blame


John McCain's latest ad is a marvel of modern political audacity.

Called "Week"--and said to be airing nationally--the spot features McCain standing in someone's darkened living room, apparently late at night, and speaking directly to the camera about the current financial crisis. "What a week," he says, bemoaning the partisan rancor in Washington. "Democrats blamed Republicans. Republicans blamed Democrats. We're the United States of America. It shouldn't take a crisis to pull us together."

Damn right, senator. I mean, what kind of person would shirk his bipartisan duty and use the impending economic apocalypse as an opportunity point fingers at his political opponents? (Other than, say, the unapologetically--and inanely--partisan Nancy Pelosi.)

Seriously. What kind of person would demand an end to the blame game ("Now is not the time to fix the blame, it's time to fix the problem") exactly one sentence after blaming his Democratic presidential rival for torpedoing the House bailout bill ("Senator Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship into the process"), like so:


And what kind of person would deny that he'd blamed Obama and Co.the very next day, saying something like "history will judge who was to blame" only hours after his campaign released an ad that (wait for it) blames "Democrats" and "Mr. Obama" for not supporting or even "block[ing] the reforms" that would've stopped "the bubble [from] burst[ing]," like so:


Oh wait. Is that John McCain in those clips? I get that the guy wants to seem above the fray while still scoring political points. But Greg Sargent summed it upnicely. First McCain "blames Obama and Dems while calling for no more finger-pointing." Then he "denies having blamed them while releasing an ad blaming them." Finally, he releases an ad blaming everyone else for blaming everyone else and presents himself as the only person who can "pull us together." Apologies, but the whole thing strikes me as a little hypocritical.

Call it the audacity of hope--the hope that no one's actually listening.

UPDATE, 5:01 p.m.: Politico's Jonathan Martin peeks behind the curtain:

Judging from the public polling, hammering Obama hasn't been effective nor was suspending the campaign. So now they're taking a bipartisan posture, trying to portray McCain as somebody who will put politics aside and lead in a time of crisis. The change in message is a reflection of just how problematic the financial crisis has been for McCain's campaign.  They would not have sent a camera crew to Iowa and taken McCain off the campaign trail mid-week to cut a new ad if their internal polling numbers weren't also showing real danger signs.  

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