March 30, 2008

On Friday, John McCain’s campaign unveiled its first general-election TV ad — the one that uses the word “American” one too many times — and the Democratic National Committee did what was expected: it responded by criticizing John McCain.

It wasn’t even an especially hard-hitting criticism. The DNC statement quoted Howard Dean calling McCain “another out of touch Bush Republican who promises four more years of the same failed leadership.” In light of the interrogation footage from Vietnam included in the ad, Dean added, “While we honor McCain’s military service, the fact is Americans want a real leader who offers real solutions, not a blatant opportunist who doesn’t understand the economy and is promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years.”

This seemed pretty routine, which is why I found the Republican National Committee’s overheated response rather odd.

Frank Donatelli, the deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), sought to drive a wedge between Dean and Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) over the comments.

“Howard Dean owes John McCain an immediate apology and both Senators Clinton and Obama should unequivocally denounce this disgraceful attack,” said Donatelli.

The RNC added that Dean’s remarks amounted to a “character smear.”

Really? The Republican National Committee, of all people, believes it’s beyond the pale to call someone a “blatant opportunist”? Especially when the person is a “blatant opportunist”?

The RNC may protest, but McCain is probably the most shameless “blatant opportunist” in American politics today. Have Republicans even seen McCain’s flip-flop list? Does it not occur to them that he abandoned his principles — including rejecting legislation that he’s personally co-sponsored — for partisan gain?

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