You may be wondering today: Besides being a despicable sexist, what else about Barack Obama is disturbing? Well, you’re in luck, because John McCain’s latest semi-honest ad reveals that Obama wants schools to teach kindergartners “comprehensive sex education.” “Learning about sex before learning to read?” the narrator asks incredulously. The Obama campaign, which has faced these accusations before (from Alan Keyes in 2004 and Mitt Romney during the primary), maintains that the bill Obama supported promoted “age appropriate” sex education, including awareness of abuse. Added to a string of other recent distortions by the McCain campaign, and the dawning realization that we will almost certainly never talk about a real issue again, some in the political commentariat can barely maintain their composure.
• Joe Klein, increasingly exasperated lately, preemptively declines the apology he expects McCain to offer after the campaign is over for his dishonorable conduct. The education ad is “one of the sleaziest ads I’ve ever seen in presidential politics” — so sleazy he refused to link to it. [Time]
• Josh Marshall is not surprised by the ad because he has decided “McCain is pure sleaze.” Any other interpretation requires “willful obliviousness or an embrace of the fantasy that he somehow doesn’t know what his campaign is doing in his name.” [Talking Points Memo]
• Marc Ambinder writes that the “gap between the implication (Obama has liberal, radical views about sexuality) and the reality in this ad is pretty big and fairly consequential.” [Atlantic]
• Kevin Drum suspects “Lee Atwater must be chuckling … from wherever he’s warming his toes these days.” It’s now clear that McCain is planning to “spoon out” this kind of “swill” for the next eight weeks, though it’s unclear exactly how Obama should respond. [Mother Jones]
• Allahpundit grudgingly defends Obama’s honor, saying that while the bill Obama backed “would go no further than teaching them what constitutes inappropriate touching by adults,” the ad makes it seem as if “Barry wants to give them coloring books titled, ‘Why Does It Burn When I Pee?’” [Hot Air]
• Jim Geraghty isn’t so sure. While “it’s possible that Obama had the best of intentions,” the bill still included education on STDs. You can argue “that the ‘good touch-bad touch’ stuff could start that early, but the nitty-gritty about exchanging bodily fluids could wait until the kids are at least a little closer to double digits.” [Campaign Spot/National Review]
• Steve Benen claims the ad is “arguably the most offensive campaign commercial of the cycle,” and reflects poorly on McCain. His “clear strategy” in the “homestretch” is to throw sleazy accusations out there and let Obama either respond to them or ignore them. Either way, McCain wins because Obama’s own message is silenced. [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]
• E.J. Dionne is “genuinely surprised that John McCain and his campaign keep throwing out false charges and making false claims without any qualms.” The “truly vile” education ad is just the latest in a string of lies that makes Dionne “miss the old John McCain and wonder what became of him.” [Post Partisan/WP]
• Frank James, as a parent, knows “exactly the fears this ad is meant to trigger.” But “the way it contorts the truth is pretty shocking from a candidate who has promised to bring change and reform to Washington, a man who’s urging Americans to live for a cause larger than themselves.” [Swamp/Chicago Tribune]
• Jonathan Martin, in his eulogy for this campaign, thinks McCain’s campaign has “plainly made a decision with regard to their ads that the naysaying of impartial fact-checkers and reporters is far less important with under 60 days than the political benefit of driving their preferred (if factually-shaky) message and inviting Obama into a tit-for-tat on that same turf.” [Politico]
For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.