Slime And Smear

Just when I thought I had lost my capacity to be appalled:

Two liberal groups – one of them directed by a brother of the Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean – will begin running a graphic attack advertisement Thursday morning raising questions about Senator John McCain’s health. Showing vivid and unflattering images of the fresh scar that appeared on Senator McCain’s face immediately after his last operation for melanoma skin cancer eight years ago, the commercial ends with a screen headline that reads, “Why won’t John McCain release his medical records?” (Mr. McCain, 72, did invite a limited group of reporters to inspect more than 1,100 pages of his medical records in May, though he gave them only a three-hour window in which to review the documents.)

[. . .]

The commercial is among the harshest to run against Mr. McCain yet, seeking to exploit the sensitive issues of health and age. Officials with the groups running the ad, Brave New PAC and Democracy for America, said they were only showing the spot initially on MSNBC over the next few days, a limited run intended to draw news media attention on a network that has increasingly catered to liberal tastes.

[. . .]

Democracy for America has as its chairman Howard Dean’s brother, James H. Dean. Federal rules prohibit coordination between outside groups and campaigns or parties.

Raise your hands if you actually believe that Howard Dean and his brother are not coordinating in private.

The spot opens with a photograph of Mr. McCain sporting a band aid over the scar on the left side of his face that caused by his surgery to remove the skin cancer in 2000, and the words, “John McCain is 72 and had cancer four times.”

One of two medical doctors featured in the spot, Dr. Michael D. Fratkin, says, “The relevance of knowing the details of his course with melanoma are very important.” He adds that another bout of cancer would “profoundly impact his capacity to lead.” The spot goes on to show two other unflattering pictures of Mr. McCain’s fresh scar.

Is it just me or does anyone else feel unbelievably grossed out by this? Just reading about this tactic makes me want to take a shower. And of course, the medical alarmism is nonsensical:

In May, Mr. McCain’s doctors said he was in excellent health and that there was no recurrence of melanoma. That came at the same time that Mr. McCain’s campaign shared his medical records with reporters, though it restricted the review of 1,173 pages of documents to three hours by about 20 journalists who were not permitted to take photocopies. Outside experts had suggested that Mr. McCain’s initial prognosis may have been bleaker than his doctors had concluded, but Mr. McCain’s physicians said in May that they were heartened because the senator had gone seven years without another bout. They put the chances that the skin cancer would return at 10 percent.

Notice as well in the story that the PAC associated with this smear has a relationship with a foundation with Larry Lessig, who I liked when I took a course from him and Stephen Holmes on constitutional law in France and Germany when they were both at the University of Chicago and I was getting my Master’s degree there, but who nowadays has done things that quite frankly are embarrassing. I recognize that PACs on both sides are going to get their chance to shiv the candidate on the other side, but when it comes to the Obama Special Forces, can’t anyone play this game?

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