The War Room’s Gabriel Winant: “When McCain asks, ‘Who is the real Barack Obama,’ and later says, ‘You need to know who you're putting in the White House -- where the candidate came from and what he or she believes,’ he appears to be attempting to use the scurrilous rumors and fears about Obama for his own political advantage. To underscore the point, [in video footage] of the remarks, when McCain asks, ‘Who is the real Barack Obama,’ one member of the crowd shouts, ‘Terrorist!’”
Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald: “And as these flames engulf America's foundations, what is the Right doing -- the movement that brought us all of this through their virtually absolute control of our Government for the last eight years? They're spending all their time chattering with each other about an aging 1960s radical and giddily cheering the increasingly repellent Sarah Palin as she skips around the country in front of rambunctiously booing right-wing crowds accusing Barack Obama of palling around with The Terrorists and pointing out that he doesn't see America the way all the Normal, Good Americans do. The behavior of the last couple of weeks isn't unconventional; it's unstable, and increasingly quite ugly, even by the standards of GOP campaigning tactics.”
After a paragraph detailing the real important issues and crises facing America, the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson observes:
But John McCain wants us to talk about Barack Obama's acquaintances. He and Sarah Palin are going to try their best to make us talk about anything but the big issues facing our country, because most Americans think Obama's solutions are better than McCain's.
We all understand that the strategy of the McCain campaign is one of distraction -- his campaign aides have acknowledged that they want to shift the focus from the economy to character, which means personal attacks against Obama. Lacking any fresh mud to sling, the McCain people are trying to exhume guilt-by-association charges that were exhaustively examined months ago during the primaries. This is pure mudslinging and nothing but a cynical campaign tactic, but that doesn't matter to the McCain campaign. What matters is that we're writing and talking about this extraneous stuff -- and not about the issues that polls say voters really care about. The McCain campaign has made clear that it wants to change the subject. We can, and should, change it back.
A New York Times editorial: “Mr. McCain made clear on Monday that he wanted to make the final month of the race a referendum on Mr. Obama's character, background and leadership -- a polite way of saying he intends to attack him on all fronts and create or reinforce doubts about him among as many voters as possible.”
The Boston Globe said Obama was “facing a broad new assault on his character from rival John McCain and the Republican Party.”
USA Today: "As they prepared Monday for Tuesday night's presidential debate, John McCain attacked Barack Obama's credibility. But some of McCain's fellow Republicans say the aggressive tack may not offset the damage to his candidacy from the sinking economy."
Former McCain strategist Mike Murphy, in his blog for Time magazine, writes: "Meanwhile the McCain campaign retains its lamentable focus on press tactics at the expense of a real strategy... Over the top negative attacks and a campaign message that too often seems to be little more than sarcasm and suppressed anger has damaged McCain's priceless and hard earned 'brand' as a different kind of Republican. McCain's best option now is to ditch the chainsaw and offer a scared and angry country what it badly wants; hope and leadership. And Palin should drop the braying attacks on Obama's aging hippie radical pals…”
And finally, from American Prospect's Ezra Klein: "If his campaign's final assault is defeated, it will be read as a repudiation of these politics. It will be understood as firm proof that you can no longer purposefully shatter this country's uneasy sense of tolerance and consensus and be assured that your pieces will be bigger . . . McCain, a man who once fashioned himself as among the country's most decent leaders, will have to live with the knowledge that history will remember him as having been unable to stand against bigotry and fear when they presented a political opportunity."