Atlantic Monthly political blogger Marc Ambinder wrote this past Friday morning that
a faction within the McCain campaign...has come to believe that [Sarah] Palin, perhaps unwittingly, subconsciously or otherwise, has begun to play Sen. McCain off of the base, consistently and deliberately departing from the campaign's message of the day in ways that damage McCain.
Ambinder cited "palling around with terrorists" as one example of a line that the faction believes "escaped HQ's vetting" (Ambinder's words).
On Friday afternoon, McCain's chief foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, responded to Ambinder with this little rant:
Just read your post. This is on the record. This is cleared by HQ. It is a fact that Barack Obama was palling around with terrorists. It was a fact before Governor Palin said it in a fully vetted speech and it is fact today. It is bullshit to claim or write anything else.
In fact, the Weathermen bombings in which Bill Ayers participated nearly 40 years ago --- between 1969 and 1972 --- more aptly are described as "extreme vandalism" than as "terrorism." But even if one insists on defining these acts as "terrorism" and Bill Ayers's involvement in these acts as the involvement of a "terrorist"...
By the time Barack Obama met Ayers in 1995, the Weathermen had long since disbanded, and Ayers had not engaged in such acts for 20-plus years.
So, contrary to what the McCain campaign implies and Scheunemann insists: Bill Ayers is not a "terrorist" now. Bill Ayers was not a "terrorist" in 1995. At no point was Barack Obama "palling around with" --- or otherwise working with, talking to, or being seen in the same room with --- a current "terrorist." At best, Obama had a passing friendship with a professor in his 50s who was a "terrorist" in his 20s. Which is to say, Obama had a passing friendship with a rehabilitated "terrorist."
Of course, that reveals a key difference between Obama and McCain. Obama believes that people can be rehabilitated. McCain doesn't. For McCain, it's "once a terrorist, always a terrorist," because there is no such thing as redemption --- at least, not during a presidential campaign, when there are robo-calls to be placed and television ads to be run.
But wait. Does John McCain really believe that there is no such thing as redemption?
* No redemption from his participation in the Keating Five?
* No redemption from his flying down to Santiago and meeting privately and "without preconditions" with Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet --- and keeping hush about Pinochet's brutality --- in December 1985, at the very time that "the U.S. Justice Department was seeking the extradition of two close Pinochet associates for an act of terrorism in Washington D.C., the 1976 assassination of former ambassador to the U.S. and former Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier," a "car bombing on Sheridan Circle in the U.S. capital" which "was widely described at the time as the most egregious act of international terrorism perpetrated on U.S. soil by a foreign power"?
* No redemption from his palling around with Gordon Liddy?
Indeed: No redemption for the fact that he picked, as his chief foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann himself? Randy Scheunemann, a leading neoconservative light, a guy who --- in authoring the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, and through his subsequent involvement with Bill Kristol's Project for the New American Century --- became one of the most prominent drum bangers for the Iraq War?
If that's the case --- if there really is no redemption for these things --- it would seem that John McCain should pack up his marbles or his tent or whatever, and just take it back to Sedona right now.
Otherwise, it's long past time for Randy Scheunemann and John McCain, both, to shut the f*** up about Bill Ayers.