This weekend Sarah Palin unleashed the McCain campaign’s new strategy (or tactic — we always get those mixed up): tie Obama good and tight to his terrorist pal, former weatherman Bill Ayers.
How quickly could the hacks, flacks, bloggers and buggers of the right get this meme in play? We checked its progress on Google Trends, which showed us the frequency with which the words “William Ayers” appeared on the web over the past year, and the answer is, pretty darned quick:
As you can (barely) see here, Ayers mentions registered a much bigger spike over the past month than they showed during Ayers’ last vogue in April.
That was when Obama was running hard against Hillary Clinton and some Democratic operatives joined rightbloggers in dragging the pal-around-with-terrorists thing ’round the block to see who’d chase it.
That was amateur hour. This one’s strictly by the pros from Dover and lined up good and proper. There was a nice New York Times story about Ayers and Obama last week, which was perfect, because that allowed rightbloggers to benefit from the Times‘ attention to the story while simultaneously denouncing the paper for “whitewashing” Obama.
More important to the success of the strategy, though, has been the failure of the McCain campaign. As Obama has cruised to a lead that the Palin debate did nothing to stop, desperation became palpable, and stoked conservative operatives to tell America to forget the economy, Iraq, health care, and all that nonsense because the important thing is that Obama’s a traitor.
Will it work? Can’t say for sure, but we will direct you to another Google Trends graph from the same period:
This one is for the words “Keating Five.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 6, 2008