Monday, November 10, 2008

Why taking Rev. Wright off the table was dumb

Here's a behind-the-scenes story from the McCain camp that clearly illustrates how McCain's decision not to bring up Rev. Wright handcuffed his campaign and made his surrogates look like idiots sometimes.

In an appearance with Rick Sanchez on CNN in the final days of the campaign, Goldfarb had accused Obama of hanging out with anti-American and anti-Semitic figures and cited PLO sympathizer Rashid Khalidi as an example. Sanchez wanted more.

SANCHEZ: Can you name one other person besides Khalidi who he hangs around who is anti-Semitic?

GOLDFARB: Yes, he pals around with William Ayers who is an unrepentant domestic terrorist.

SANCHEZ: No, no, the question I asked you is can you name one other person who he hangs around with who is anti-Semitic? Because that is what you said.

GOLDFARB: Look, we all know there are people who Barack Obama has been in hot water--

SANCHEZ: Michael, I asked you to name one person. One.

GOLDFARB: Rick, we both--

SANCHEZ: You said he hangs around with people who are anti-Semitic. Okay. We got Khalidi on the table. Give me number two. Who's the other anti-Semitic person that he hangs around with that we quote, "All know about"?

GOLDFARB: Rick, we both know who number two is.

SANCHEZ: Who? Would you tell us?

GOLDFARB: No, Rick, I think we all know who we're talking about here.

SANCHEZ: Somebody who is anti-Semitic that he hangs around with?

GOLDFARB: Absolutely.

SANCHEZ: Well, say it.

GOLDFARB: I think we all know who we are talking about, Rick.

Goldfarb had done the interview from a studio at the campaign headquarters in Crystal City, in suburban Virginia outside Washington, D.C. His exchange rocketed around the Internet and quickly became a favorite of left-wing bloggers--who alternately accused him of playing dirty by making charges he couldn't back up and wimping out by refusing to name a second anti-Semite. Others wondered whom Goldfarb was talking about.

If it wasn't obvious to them, the identity of "number two" was clear to those inside McCain headquarters: Reverend Jeremiah Wright. McCain had pledged last spring that he wouldn't use Wright's hate-filled sermons against Obama, who had listened to them for 20 years in the pews of Wright's church. But virtually no one on McCain's staff agreed with the candidate's restraint. Goldfarb had joked before the appearance that he was going to "go rogue" and bring up Wright's name in the interview. He didn't--barely--thereby preserving his job at the cost of looking a bit ridiculous. But when he walked into the campaign's common area after his exchange with Sanchez, his colleagues gave him a standing ovation.

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