Does McCain Cancer Ad Go Too Far?

Hot from Talking Points Memo:

MSNBC has notified an independent group running an ad questioning John McCain’s health that it will no longer air the spot, only a half day after Fox’s Bill O’Reilly attacked NBC’s corporate bosses on the air over the ad, the group tells me.

The spot, which has been running on MSNBC since yesterday, is the work of Brave New PAC and Democracy For America, which is headed up by Howard Dean’s brother. It demands that McCain release his medical records and quotes doctors saying that McCain’s age and bouts with cancer should raise concern, with one saying that another round of cancer would “profoundly impact his capacity to lead.”

MSNBC informed the ad buyer for the two PACS today at around noon eastern time that the network was yanking the spot, Brave New PAC spokesperson Leighton Woodhouse tells me. The network said that the reason for their decision was “viewer complaints,” Woodhouse says.

The spot is hard hitting, controversial, and goes where few others will go — the Obama campaign was quick to point out that it has nothing to do with the spot. But it isn’t hate speech, and MSNBC didn’t question the ad’s accuracy, Woodhouse claims…

We know no better arbiters of “too far” than our astute readership. Poll follows.

Is this ad over the top?

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65 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. sxp151 says:

    And I came in fourth place in the incivility poll! I can understand wanting to remind people that McCain has a chance of dying in office and thus Palin is a bad choice for VP, but I can’t think of any tasteful way of doing it. And while the “release your records!” thing is a standard and acceptable FUD tactic, the testimony of the doctors about the details of McCain’s condition makes me a little uncomfortable.

    All that said, if MSNBC thinks pulling this will impress Bill O’Reilly, they’re a bunch of idiots.

    • One Queer Dude says:

      reminds me of Dr. Bill Frist doing his diagnosis of Terri Schiavo’s condition because he saw a video clip of her.  

      • divad says:

        …doctors discussing a condition that McCain happens to have–not John McCain’s condition.  

        The same way if someone were to post about ESRD here, they would be talking about a condition that I happen to have, not my specific condition.

        • sxp151 says:

          it would become mainly about your condition specifically.  

          • divad says:

            …does release his records to those who have a legitimate interest in seeing them–and the patience to slog through reading the many, many pages.  

            The citizens of this country have a legitimate interest in John McCain’s medical history/records due to the position he is seeking.  

            These days, right or wrong, when you choose to run for POTUS, you give up the expectation of privacy that the rest of us have.  However, it remains a choice.  And he made that choice.  

  2. Arvadonian says:

    Yes.  Does it raise a valid issue?  Probably.  Has this issue been made even more prominent by McCain’s choice of VP?  You bet…

    • One Queer Dude says:

         It showed an empty desk in the Oval Office, and pointed out that 3 of the last 8 presidents (at least, up until 1988) left office before their terms expired and were replaced by their V.P.s.

        the tag line:  “Let’s hope we never find out what a lapse of judgment George Bush had in selecting Dan Quayle as his V.P.”

  3. Danny the Red (hair) says:

    72 year old man with 4 bouts of cancer who chooses former beauty queen who answers interview questions like she is a finalist in a pagent, and people think this ad is in bad taste?

    How about comparing Max Cleland to Bin Laden?

    Or lying about Kerry and his heroic service?

    Give me a break.

    • Bondo says:

      I certainly would not approve that message, but it is not fundamentally unfair. Thus it is a bit rich of O’Reilly to rant about it considering the crap that Fox News allows to be aired that is neither tasteful or accurate.

      Just another sign that liberals (or in the case of NBC perceived liberals) have to play by a different set of rules because they are expected to have standards of decency and honesty while Republicans are not.

    • Laughing Boy says:

      that the Cleland ad “compared” him to Bin Laden.  Not if it’s the same one that was posted last week.

      Kerry hasn’t been able to dispute the Swiftboat attacks.  Sorry if that’s embarrassing to him, but I feel like when he came back and made up stories of having witnessed atrocities that he left himself open forever from Vietnam-era vets that did nothing wrong other than serve his country.

      T.Boone still has $1 mil on the table if Kerry just comes to get it, I believe.

      This ad is over the top and inappropriate, IMO.

      • sxp151 says:

        T. Boone welched. On both Kerry and an independent group.  

      • ClubTwitty says:

        and put this to rest.  But he won’t.  What is he hiding?  Given the scary thought of a Palin presidency, doesn’t he owe it to a nation when he pledges to put ‘Country First’?

        Here’s a link

        T. Boone Pickens rejects submissions refuting Kerry swift boat ads

        Dallas billionaire T. Boone Pickens has rejected contentions from 10 men who served in Vietnam with John Kerry that information in the controversial Swift Boat campaign during the 2004 presidential race was false.

        That means the men won’t be paid the $1 million that Mr. Pickens offered last fall to anyone who could prove that the anti-Kerry ads – which he helped bankroll – contained falsehoods.

        And another:

        T. Boone Pickens is not giving up his million dollars.

        That’s how much he had offered to pay anyone who could disprove any of the accusations the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth made against Senator John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election – attacks Mr. Pickens, the billionaire Texas oilman, helped finance.

        A group of Swift boat veterans sympathetic to Mr. Kerry sent Mr. Pickens a letter last week taking him up on the challenge. In 12 pages, plus a 42-page attachment of military records and other documents, they identified not just one but ten lies in the group’s campaign against Mr. Kerry. They offered to meet with him to provide Mr. Kerry’s journals and videotapes from Vietnam and a copy of his full military record certified by the Navy – a key demand of Mr. Pickens and veterans who believe Mr. Kerry lied about his service to win his military decorations.

      • BlueCat says:

        the swift boat groups completely undocumented claims. Just one example: They say he got his silver star by writing a report about himself, claim it has his initials.  Total documented lie.  Not one of the initials on the report matches one of his not to mention how ridiculous it is to believe such a junior officer can just write himself up  bronze and silver stars.  That’s for the big brass.

  4. Whiskey Lima Juliet says:

    I agree, Sarah Palin made this a valid campaign issue.  

    This election cycle has made me realize that the Republicans will do anything to keep power and money.  And, ironically, it is a battle they can not win due to the changing demographic in the world and sharing of information.

    Watch Fox for an hour today.  They are actually talking like the last week has been their crowning glory and John McCain the air to the crown.

    It honestly makes you think you are no longer on earth in 2008.  Craziness!

  5. bob ewegen says:

    when elected to his 4th term in 1944.  If he had not replaced far-left vice president Henry Wallace with Harry Truman on the ticket, Wallace would have become president in April, 1945.  Wallace, not Truman, would have presided over the Berlin blockade and would probably have never help form NATO, or resist North Korean aggression. Under Truman, we fly the Berlin Airlift, built NATO, contained communism, and led the United Nations’ successful fight to preserve the freedom of South Korea.  A communist victory in Korea might even have led to a communist puppet regime in Japan and at least the “Finlandization” of Western Europe.

      And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why the health of a presidential candidate and the quality of the man or woman running for vice president on that ticket is a very legitimate issue for public debate and disclosure.

  6. Laughing Boy says:

    From RedState:

    Drs. Michael Fratkin & Noah Craft, Stand Up And Be Recognized

    Posted by: Erick Erickson

    Friday, September 26, 2008 at 02:12PM


    Now, you may not know who Micheal Fratkin and Noah Craft are, but you might have heard of them.

    They are two doctors appearing in an advertisement paid for by Brave New PAC and Democracy for America.

    In the ad, the doctors, who have never treated John McCain, claim they are just “expressing concern” about John McCain having had skin cancer. They then try to scare people into believing that McCain could be hiding something.

    Nevermind that John McCain’s medical records indicate his last cancer problem was 6 years ago and his regular checkups since have shown him to be cancer-free. Nevermind that fact at all.

    You may have a skin condition or internal problem you are worried about. Since Drs. Fratkin and Craft can apparently diagnose you without ever seeing you, you might want to ask them about your condition.

    Dr. Michael Fratkin can be reached at

    Dr. Noah Craft can be reached at

    And while you are emailing them, you might want to email the UCLA Board of Directors and ask them if they think it really is professional for a doctor who has never seen a person to participate in a political hit job against that person while hiding behind their medical degree.

    You can reach the board at these email addresses:,,,,,,,,

  7. Progressive Promoter says:

    I saw it last night and predicted it would kick up a dust storm today.  Yes, I thought it pushed the envelope.  Yes, it made me feel uncomfortable. But given McCain’s choice of Palin for VP, i have to say yes, it is totally in bounds.

    Anyone with half a brain who saw Palin’s rambling interview with Katie Couric has to admit that Obama is the only sane vote.  Consider some of these incoherent nuggets.

    On her foreign policy experience with Russia:

    We have trade missions back and forth. We, we do, it’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to, to our state.

    And the investment banking mess:

    But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Um, helping, oh — it’s got to be all about job creation too. Shoring up our economy, and putting it back on the right track. So healthcare reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions, and tax relief for Americans, and trade, we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, um, scary thing, but 1 in 5 jobs being created in the trade sector today. We’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All of those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

    Even righty columnist Kathleen Parker writes that “if BS were currency, Palin could bailout Wall Street herself” in the National Review. (

    So yeah, I think voters need to be reminded that if–heaven forbid–Senator McCain’s cancer recurs, that not-ready-for-prime-time Palin would be the next President of the United States.  What an unmitigated disaster that would be…

      • Danny the Red (hair) says:

        like the economy

        Or flailing.

        like the she was in the couric interview.

      • Progressive Promoter says:

        Look LB, we disagree on a lot of things, but I consider you a sane individual.  I simply can’t believe that if you’ve watched her interview performances that you think she’s even remotely qualified to be leader of the free world.

        I’ll grant you that she’s attractive and sassy. But on the national stage, she’s overconfident and underprepared.  She uses the same talking points ad nauseum (whether or not they relate to the subject at hand) instead of answering actual questions with reasoned replies.

        Even Kathleen Parker WHO IS ON YOUR TEAM says she’s COOHL–“Clearly Out Of Her League.”  C’mon, admit it–you’re praying for her to drop out to “spend more time with her family.”  

        • bob ewegen says:

          you want Biden to withdraw to make way for Hillary, PP?

          I guess we’re officially in the silly season.


          • cologeek says:

            Biden does have a history with aneurysms, maybe he should step down for the good of the Party, given his health problems?

            • Progressive Promoter says:

              Good thing Obama is a healthy, young man–Biden’s health problems are much less of a concern.  But if you want to consider that in your decision-making calculus, cologeek, go for it!

              The worrisome thing is that McCain is a 72-year old man who has been treated for cancer multiple (4?) times.  That makes the stakes a lot higher on the R side.  Palin was an irresponsible pick.  

          • Progressive Promoter says:

            I stand by Biden.  Even though he sometimes gets tripped up showing off how much he knows, Biden definitely understands foreign and domestic policy.

            There’s just no excuse for McCain tapping Palin with appalling lack of background knowledge on all the real issues facing us.  

            CNN’s cranky Jack Cafferty’s on his soapbox about this, too, I see:

            • bob ewegen says:

              When McGovern dumped Eagleton as his running mate in 1972, his campaign went from flying high straight into the toilet.  McCain dumping Palin would likewise make him look like a buffoon and guarantee an Obama victory.

              I know that’s what you want, but don’t pretend to urge McCain to dump Palin because you care about the future of either the McCain campaign or the “Amurican people.”  

              And obviously, the rumors urging Biden to step down in favor of Hillary are just as dumb.

              • Progressive Promoter says:

                McGovern was a young and healthy man in ’72.  Unfortunately back in those bad old days, the stigma of mental health problems was enormous and I guess McGovern felt he had no choice but to dump Eagleton.  A shame, for sure.  

                But this is about McCain’s age and health status.  There’s a higher-than-usual probability that his VP actually could take his place.  So he’s in a pickle.  His impulsive choice of Palin was a huge error in judgment.  Now he’s going to have to pay the price, whether it’s sticking with a woefully in appropriate Palin or subbing in someone else who is well-versed and ready.

                BTW, enjoyed your column in the RMN this morning! 🙂

            • The realist says:

              during the interview, as if looking at some notes or talking points.  So, maybe she had a list of things in her bulleted notes — health care, trade, reducing taxes, job creation, etc. — and didn’t know what to do with them except try to fit them into an answer to a question about the proposed Wall Street bailout.  I have to say it is shocking that she can do no better than this in an interview – an interview where the questions are fair, and expected.  

  8. OneEyedOwl says:

    Everybody knows that the president — no matter who it is, how old the person is, or how many skin lesions the person has had removed — isn’t necessarily guaranteed to survive the term. That’s why we pick a VP. In terms of the ad, it would be better, and probably more effective, simply to run snippets of VP Palin’s horrible interview with Katie Couric. The big problem with the McCain/Palin ticket would be crystal clear to anyone who watched.

  9. Go Blue says:

    NO. Not even close. While the Rethugs are comparing Democrats to terrorists, red-baiting, race-baiting and calling them un-American and un-patriotic. F

    This ad doesn’t go any near as far as the slime the Rethugs are spewing out.

  10. DavidThi808 says:

    Put aside who is doing it, who it supports, what others have done, who was complaining. Put all that aside and look at the basic question it raises.

    The question is, for a person of that age with that medical history, a re-occurance of cancer is a real concern. No medical insurance plan would take him at present.

    In this situation, I think it is a very valid issue to say we need all medical information on the candidate. And not asking for it because it makes us a little queasy is an abrogation of our responsibility to weigh all pertinent info about the candidate.

    Yes it should run. And yes, McCain should release his full records. Because we don’t vote hoping that the candidate will make it through 4 years, we vote assuming they will.

  11. colorado76 says:

    This is below what we should expect in public discourse.  

  12. divad says:

    …and see what you think about the man’s health and whether it is a legitimate concern.

  13. Ralphie says:

    It’s an awful ad.  It has no place in this campaign.  It pissed me off, and I’m an Obama supporter.  I can only imagine what it would do to an uncommitted voter.

  14. dwyer says:

    As I understand it, the ad is from a 527 and the Obama campaign cannot have any contact with the 527, by law.

    So the criticism can reflect negatively on Obama and he cannot do a damm thing about it.

    I found the ad offensive. First, McCain did release his records, albeit for only a few hours.  Second, how the hell did anyone get a photo of his face, post operative??? That was like an evasion of privacy…

    Plus:  the discussion is on the merits of running the ad, not on McCain’s health, see above.

    Health is a real concern.  Some cancers are indicative of environmental exposure. Melanoma is due to sun exposure at a young age….sunbathing with celtic skin on the equator. There are two legitimate questions:

    1) Given known history, what are the statistical chances of a third melanoma or a finding that one of the earlier ones has spread or reoccurred?

    2) Is the every three month check up sufficient to “catch” a melanoma before it “spreads?”

  15. MADCO says:

    get the hell off my lawn!

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