"Say it to my face." Obama baiting McCain?

In an interview with Charlie Gibson, Obama commented on McCain’s character attacks over the last week and notes that McCain did not have the sack to say it his face during tuesday’s debate:

I find this comment rather intriguing, and uncharacteristically frontal for Barack Obama. I have to wonder what his intent is. It’s like he’s directly daring McCain to bring up the swiftboat stuff during the last debate.

Could Obama be attempting a rope-a-dope here? Is he intentionall baiting McCain to go personal during the debate for some kind of tactical reason. It feels to me like he’s almost challenging McCain’s manhood. “Say it to my face, punk.” He’s almost leaving McCain no choice but to do it. If he doesn’t, then Obama can really call him a little bitch after the debate, and he won’t exactly be wrong.

But why would Obama want McCain to bring the Ayres garbage into the debate? That’s what intrigues me. Has he got something for John McCain’s ass? Or does he just know that it’s a losing move for McCain? The polls show that people respond very negatively to personal attacks during the debates. McCain has enough of a problem with his inability to look Obama in the eye, with his barely contained resentment, with “that one,” etc. Is Obama putting McCain in a position where he has to either look like an asshole or be called out as a pussy? I think maybe he is. If so, I think it’s a brilliant tactic.

To me, it’s kind of like (beware, football analogy) putting 8 in the box and daring the QB to throw the ball. Not something you’d try against Peyton Manning, but maybe Sage Rosenfels.

Possibly, he just thinks that someone who approved bullshit attacks like that should own them instead of letting “the campaign” or his surrogates take the heat. By law, McCain had to approve the new 90-second attack ad on Ayers. By custom and a basic understanding of responsibility, McCain had to approve what his surrogates are saying about Ayers. Perhaps Obama just believes that Truman had it right. McCain isn’t stopping any bucks.

Or maybe Obama is just trying to get him to blow his top on national television. Which would be sweet, actually.

I agree with you. I think it’s a win-win move for Obama. It makes him look like he’s not afraid of anything-- “bring it on, bitch.” And the more Obama can point out that McCain isn’t talking about the economy, it makes everyone who’s affected by the tanking economy realize that McCain isn’t talking about the economy.

It’s like the stupid bully in high school talking about you behind your back. You’re ready to pound the snot out of this guy for the shit he’s saying. So you confront him and say “Say it to my face.” Now the bully has to either walk away defeated, or get his ass whooped.

And like you said, if McCain brings it up, it hurts him with the undecideds. If he doesn’t bring it up, it makes him look like, well, like you said, a pussy.

I really hope at the debate Obama opens with “You and your running mate have been insinuating a lot of disgusting things about me in both your ads and stump speeches. Do you care to address Ayers with me tonight on national TV?”

He should bring it up in the next debate, live, on camera. “You’ve said this and thus about me in your campaign ads, which you’ve personally approved. Please repeat these charges here and now, and provide proof that they are true.” When McCain waffles and shuffles, Obama should then tell him what a coward he is for not repeating the slander.

Of course it’s a loser move for McCain. If McCain says anything about it to Obama’s face, he’ll get the chance to point out that he was 8 years old when Bill Ayers founded the Weather Underground and that he only met the man after he turned away from that group when both of them were working on education reform.

As soon as he lets Obama put the facts side-by-side with his blustering idiocy, it’s a losing proposition.

He’s leaving McCain with three bad choices:

  1. Knock off the mudslinging. This deprives McCain of what seems to be his last Hail Mary shot at the election.

  2. Bring the mud onto the floor of the final debate. Judging from the reactions to attack statements in previous debates, this would repel everybody except the hardcore Republican base.

  3. Continue slinging mud on the trail and stick to the issues during the debate. This makes McCain look like a cowardly guttersnipe.

Biden’s saying it now too: “Say it to his face.”

I think it’s a brilliant move by Obama. As has been said above, McCain either needs to own this accusation or drop it. It’s not like we’re talking about difference in policy here. His campaign is basically calling Obama a terrorist sympathizer. If McCain really believes that, he needs to man up and say it to Obama’s face. If he doesn’t (and we all know in his heart that he doesn’t), he needs to tell the Dingbat Housewife to STFU and GTFO.

If he’s coordinating this message with Joe, then it’s not just an off-the-cuff interview snippet. This is definite campaign strategy.

Yes, Obama’s setting McCain up to run headlong into a pit of his own making. Steve MB has the three routes to the pit just right.

My personal fave would be for Obama at the third debate to walk right up to McCain, look him straight in the eye at arm’s length, and calmly, coolly dare him to repeat the smear, face to face, man to man.

Interesting tactic. Seems like the unanimous consensus on the Ayers and “Who is Barack Obama?” ads is that they aren’t working. So it looks to me that Obama is trying to dismiss the content of the ads and increase McCain’s negatives with the greater attention, reinforcing the view that McCain is attacking because he has no idea how to handle the economy or any other major issue.

This is pretty aggresssive. I said this during the debate- Obama’s really feeling his oats right now. This is his version of stepping on the gas as the finish line approaches.

ETA: You’ve got to be feeling your oats when for practical purposes, you’re calling John McCain a chicken.

One of the interesting things of this campaign is that polls are showing that the negative attacks are hurting the candidates who make them, not helping them like in previous election campaigns.

So yes, he is baiting McCain to make the personal attacks face-to-face, knowing that such things are only hurting McCain. Like Slacker said, it forces McCain to either own up to it and look like an ass on national TV, or back away and look like a cowardly bully.

I disagree with EDT on the “walk up to him” bit. That would come off as confrontational and an attempt at physically intimidating a frail old man. Obama should very calmly and even with a smile on his face challenge McCain to own up to and repeat the smears, while sitting back a respectable distance in a relaxed posture. But unlike his reaction to the “green behind the ears” comment in the last debate, he should not turn away from McCain or look away from him during his response. Keep looking straight at him, calm, cool and collected. Don’t show any anger or irritation, or it will distract from McCain’s asshattery.

The Pubbies made a huge mistake recently of telegraphing their move of turning the page on the economy and going negative. Obama was then ready to make them look absurd.

But I wonder if Obama is making a similarly bad move with this “Say it to my face,” stuff. That’s giving McCain and company until next Wednesday to formulate a deadly reply. I have no idea what it might be, but those guys are so cunning, whatever it is, it’s bound to be effective.

However if it turns out that Steve MB has it figured correctly, I’ll be overjoyed.

Obama is responding to the attacks by daring McCain to say it to his face, knowing that McCain cannot bring himself to look Obama in the eye. Kerry and Dukakis failed to adequately respond to personal attacks, and Obama is not going to make that mistake. He and Biden are making the rounds daring them to say it where they would have an undecided crowd and implying that it is not true and that McCain is a coward for hiding and saying it. Thus attacking McCain on his daring maverick image and possibly getting McCain to do something really, really stupid on live national TV.

Game and set to Obama.

Bolding mine, i don’t know what could make you think that so far in this campaign. Obama has been the cunning one and has outplayed McCain at every turn, the last mistep i can remember him making is the “clinging to guns and religion” comment way back in the primaries.

Obama’s feeling confident, but you’re never going to see him get that mad in public. Not during this campaign, anyway. Looking right at McCain is about as much as he’d do.

“My lord, I have a cunning plan…”
Are you watching the same campaign I am? Lately it’s hard to think of anything “those guys” are doing right. What Obama is doing, really, is playing the ‘I dare the other side to talk about the issues’ game, which you see a lot.

I love this. I will have to look back over the last few weeks and try to pinpoint the moment when the campaign transmogrified from Regular Old Politics to Epic Opera. No matter what happens, this is truly a campaign for the ages. It’s going to be studied for decades.

Also, in the thread for the first debate, when people were wondering why Obama wasn’t being more aggressive, I pointed out that his approach all along has been to play the Long Game, to follow an extended strategy that was laid out from the beginning of the season to the climax of the election. It seemed to me then that Obama was very aware that the first debate was merely the first of three, and that a knockout punch there would be premature; more likely that he would save his body blows for the end. That, I think, is exactly how things are playing out. In the final debate, Obama will get right in McCain’s face (metaphorically: I agree with Chimera that a physical confrontation would be crude and ineffective at best) and tell him to put up or shut up. Checkmate. Start interviewing prospective artists for Obama’s presidential portrait.

I’m all a-tingle. :slight_smile:

I disagree that Obama should directly challenge McCain during the debate. He has already effectively done that. It will still be hanging in the air on Wednesday night. Everybody will already be aware of it. I think it would be overkill and look unnecessarily confrontational for Barack to further call him out at the debate.The gauntlet is already thrown. Obama should proceed at the debate as if nothing is out of the ordinary and leave it to McCain. It will make any frontal attack by McCain look that much worse, and any unwillingness to “say it to his face” can still be duely noted as chickenshit after it’s over.

Okay, I’m wrong and being overcautious.

I hope.