A top adviser to John McCain has apologised for stating the obvious, but very unfortunate, observation that a terrorist strike on the US would benefit the Republican presidential candidate, reports the BBC.

The controversy erupted Monday, reports The New York Times, when Fortune magazine ran an article about McCain in which Mr. Black was quoted as saying that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an “unfortunate event” which helped the campaign in New Hampshire because “it reemphasized that this is the guy who’s ready to be commander-in-chief.” The magazine added that when it asked Black about the effect of another domestic terror attack, he conceded “with startling candor” that it would help McCain, quoting him as saying, “Certainly it would be a big advantage to him.”

McCain said he found it hard to believe Mr Black had made such comments with which he “strenuously disagreed”. And interestingly, while the Obama camp has pointed out that the gaffe is just another reason why the US needs a new brand of politics, they’re not refraining from discussing the blooper. Instead, they’re bringing it up again, and again, and again…

(Off) Message of the day Not only did the controversy distract McCain from his message of the day (that $300 million prize for inventing a new car battery), but it also resurrected the politics of 2004, which as we’ve argued before might not benefit McCain’s prospects. But for what it’s worth, there’s been chatter among some Democrats that the big fear Obama aides have is just what Black spoke about — some sort of national security crisis popping up in October. This is why most Democrats who have given their two cents to the Obama VP vetters seem to come away convinced Obama will picked a No. 2 who has obvious national security credentials. — First thoughts, MSNBC

Obama drops ‘silly’ presidential seal: White House contender Barack Obama will no longer be using a campaign seal that critics called an arrogant imitation of the president’s official emblem, according to reports Monday. The seal was first seen on Friday at a meeting between Obama and Democratic state governors, causing tongues to wag owing to its close resemblance to the eagle logo displayed on the lectern whenever the president speaks in public. The Obama seal had the same bald eagle clutching arrows and an olive branch, denoting war and peace, but inserted the words “Vero possumus” — a loose Latin translation of the Democrat’s campaign slogan “Yes, we can.” One Obama aide told Fox News that the widely panned seal was intended as a one-off for Friday’s event. But Atlantic.com reported that the candidate himself felt the image had been a “silly mistake.” …The seal was greeted with universal derision by US media, and the campaign of Republican candidate John McCain called it “laughable, ridiculous, preposterous and revealing all at the same time.” — AFP

McCain won’t wash with conservatives? McCain’s problem with the Republican base is not his lack of conservative credentials. The Arizona senator’s 82 percent lifetime rating from The American Conservative Union is roughly comparable to the 86 percent rating for former Tennessee senator and 2008 GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson, once the object of conservative dreams. Barack Obama’s rating during his brief Senate tenure is 8 percent. But conservatives ultimately found Thompson and every other Republican candidate wanting. They have even turned on their onetime hero President Bush, a sure sign of a movement in disarray. In the unkindest cut of all, the late patriarch William F. Buckley said of Bush in 2006, “If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we’ve experienced, it would be expected that he would retire or resign.” — Allan J Lichtman, Politico

Riding the Dem wave: Barack Obama is riding the leading edge of a Democratic wave, benefiting from a potential — although by no means certain — cyclical shift in the partisanship of American voters which could last at least through 2016, if managed carefully. Extensive studies of past elections by scholars show that there is an ebb and flow in patterns of partisan dominance, periods during which a majority of the public is inclined — not guaranteed — to vote for the more liberal Democratic Party, and then shift back to the more conservative Republican Party. — Thomas Edsall, The Huffington Post

GOP and the interwebs John McCain is having a town hall meeting tonight. Nothing necessarily remarkable about that; he has them all the time. But in this case, he’s holding it by telephone. The use of the old-fashioned phone, a dial-a-thon, comes as Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is taking a bit of heat for having said earlier this month that he was computer “illiterate.” — The Caucus, New York Times

Obama take note…here is the difference between McCain and Obama — and Obama had better pay attention. McCain is a known commodity. It’s not just that he’s been around a long time and staked out positions antithetical to his Republican base. It’s also — and more importantly — that we know his bottom line. As his North Vietnamese captors found out, there is only so far he will go and then his pride or his sense of honor takes over. This — not just his candor and nonstop verbosity on the Straight Talk Express — is what commends him to so many journalists. Obama might have a similar bottom line, core principles for which, in some sense, he is willing to die. If so, we don’t know what they are. Nothing so far in his life approaches McCain’s decision to refuse repatriation as a POW so as to deny his jailors a propaganda coup. — Richard Cohen, The Washington Post  

Bush’s staggering abuse of power We have witnessed a staggering abuse of power by this president. Even former Bush Justice Department officials now charge President Bush with trampling the Constitution. Bush has claimed the prerogative to declare an endless war without congressional approval, to designate someone an enemy without cause, to proceed to wiretap them without warrant, arrest or kidnap them at will, jail them without a hearing, hold them indefinitely, interrogate them intensively (read torture), bring them to trial outside the US court system. He claims that executive privilege exempts his aides — even the aides of his aides and his vice president’s aides — from congressional investigation. He claims the right to amend or negate congressional laws with a statement upon signing them. And much more. — Robert L. Borosage, The Huffington Post

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Peter Fray
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