Will Wright Matter?

A campaign blog.
April 23 2008 7:52 PM

Will Wright Matter?

I’m generally skeptical about suggestions that this general election will be more civil than most. Just look what happened to the Democratic race, which back in 2007 felt like an ice cream social compared with the GOP race. But there are signs of hope.

Today, the North Carolina Republican Party unveiled a new ad criticizing two gubernatorial candidates for endorsing Barack Obama, who, thanks to his association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is "just too extreme for North Carolina." (Watch it here .) But before they even announced it, John McCain had sent a letter to the state GOP chair asking the party not to air it: "The television advertisement you are planning to air degrades our civics and distracts us from the very real differences we have with the Democrats. In the strongest terms, I implore you to not run this advertisement."


It didn’t work . Despite pleas from both McCain and the RNC, the state party will still run the ad.  

But the fact that McCain tried matters. One of the strongest of Hillary Clinton’s dwindling set of arguments is that Obama will be vulnerable to GOP attacks in the general election. Between Wright and "bitter" and the flag pin, he has already given them enough fodder for three elections’ worth of attack ads. So if McCain has decided not to make an issue of Wright, that’s a big deal. Presumably that means other, equally tenuous lines of attack would also be off limits, too.

Now keep in mind that McCain is no innocent when it comes to exploiting gaffes. He’s on the record calling Obama’s "bitter" comment "elitist." (Although many would argue those comments are fair game.) And it’s possible McCain realizes he doesn’t have to exploit something like Wright—that the damage is done.

But if you’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, this could bode well for future campaign civility. Remember that McCain’s 2000 presidential bid suffered after rumors circulated that he had fathered an illegitimate black daughter.

Obama doesn’t seem quite ready to let McCain off the hook, though: "I assume that if John McCain thinks that it's an inappropriate ad that he can get them to pull it down since he's their nominee and standard bearer," he said today. My guess: Take this series of events (attack, umbrage, apology, attack), put it on replay, and you’ve got yourself a general election.



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.