Obama Calls on the Justice Department to Censor Oppo ad

Rick Moran
I have heard it many times from conservatives; Obama is not a tough guy, that he will wilt under the pressure of a national campaign.

I hate to break the news to my fellow righties but that's nonsense. Obama cut his teeth in one of the toughest political towns in America -- Chicago. He can go for the throat with the best of them -- as he is proving today by filing a complaint with the Department of Justice over an ad put out by an independent 527 group about his relationship with unreconstructed terrorist Bill Ayers. Ben Smith of Politico writes:

Sen. Barack Obama has launched an all-out effort to block a Republican billionaire’s efforts to tie him to domestic and foreign terrorists in a wave of negative television ads. Obama’s campaign has written the Department of Justice demanding a criminal investigation of the “American Issues Project,” the vehicle through which Dallas investor Harold Simmons is financing the advertisements.

The Obama campaign — and tens of thousands of supporters — also is pressuring television networks and affiliates to reject the ads. The effort has met with some success: CNN and Fox News are not airing the attacks.

Obama has also launched his own response ad, directly addressing Simmons' attempt to link him to domestic terror. The project is “a knowing and willful attempt to violate the strictures of federal election law,” Obama general counsel Bob Bauer wrote to Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Keeney last week in a letter provided to Politico.

Bauer argued that by advocating Obama’s defeat, the ad should be subject to the contribution limits of federal campaign law, not the anything-goes regime of issue advocacy.

Obama's response is being hailed as a monumental blunder. First of all, it is extraordinarily weak in that it 1) admits Ayers is a "radical;" 2) wonders why McCain is worried what happened 40 years ago when the issue is how Ayers feels now about what he did; and 3) mentioning that Obama was 8 years old when Ayers committed his terrorist acts is not only irrelevant, but weird - a jarring disconnect between the issues raised in the ad and any coherent response by the Obama campaign.

The question of why Obama is on a first name basis with a terrorist is a legitimate one to bring up. But Obama's first response was to try a little hardball and sic the Justice Department on the group putting it out. Not only that, Obama is threatening an advertiser backlash directly to TV stations that run the ad.

As I said, this is hardball politics as its played in the Windy City. And those who believe Obama can't get in the muck and root around with the worst of them are underestimating where this guy comes from and of what he is capable of doing if he falls behind.

I have more thoughts about Obama playing hardball and "The Chicago Way"
here.

Update -- D.M. Giangreco writes:

The interesting thing, though, is that this isn't Chicago where "the fix is in" and doesn't account for what happens if Mr. Simmons simply chuckles at the opportunity he is now presented with instead of being cowed.  

If he shoves back it will force news coverage of the pissing match and garner media coverage / discussion  -- "reach" -- far beyond what could have been accomplished through the dollars spent on the original ad.
I have heard it many times from conservatives; Obama is not a tough guy, that he will wilt under the pressure of a national campaign.

I hate to break the news to my fellow righties but that's nonsense. Obama cut his teeth in one of the toughest political towns in America -- Chicago. He can go for the throat with the best of them -- as he is proving today by filing a complaint with the Department of Justice over an ad put out by an independent 527 group about his relationship with unreconstructed terrorist Bill Ayers. Ben Smith of Politico writes:

Sen. Barack Obama has launched an all-out effort to block a Republican billionaire’s efforts to tie him to domestic and foreign terrorists in a wave of negative television ads. Obama’s campaign has written the Department of Justice demanding a criminal investigation of the “American Issues Project,” the vehicle through which Dallas investor Harold Simmons is financing the advertisements.

The Obama campaign — and tens of thousands of supporters — also is pressuring television networks and affiliates to reject the ads. The effort has met with some success: CNN and Fox News are not airing the attacks.

Obama has also launched his own response ad, directly addressing Simmons' attempt to link him to domestic terror. The project is “a knowing and willful attempt to violate the strictures of federal election law,” Obama general counsel Bob Bauer wrote to Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Keeney last week in a letter provided to Politico.

Bauer argued that by advocating Obama’s defeat, the ad should be subject to the contribution limits of federal campaign law, not the anything-goes regime of issue advocacy.

Obama's response is being hailed as a monumental blunder. First of all, it is extraordinarily weak in that it 1) admits Ayers is a "radical;" 2) wonders why McCain is worried what happened 40 years ago when the issue is how Ayers feels now about what he did; and 3) mentioning that Obama was 8 years old when Ayers committed his terrorist acts is not only irrelevant, but weird - a jarring disconnect between the issues raised in the ad and any coherent response by the Obama campaign.

The question of why Obama is on a first name basis with a terrorist is a legitimate one to bring up. But Obama's first response was to try a little hardball and sic the Justice Department on the group putting it out. Not only that, Obama is threatening an advertiser backlash directly to TV stations that run the ad.

As I said, this is hardball politics as its played in the Windy City. And those who believe Obama can't get in the muck and root around with the worst of them are underestimating where this guy comes from and of what he is capable of doing if he falls behind.

I have more thoughts about Obama playing hardball and "The Chicago Way"
here.

Update -- D.M. Giangreco writes:

The interesting thing, though, is that this isn't Chicago where "the fix is in" and doesn't account for what happens if Mr. Simmons simply chuckles at the opportunity he is now presented with instead of being cowed.  

If he shoves back it will force news coverage of the pissing match and garner media coverage / discussion  -- "reach" -- far beyond what could have been accomplished through the dollars spent on the original ad.