There is a country in which the ruling party has made a concerted effort to keep a factually accurate advertisement by the largest opposition party off TV by appealing to the owners of TV stations to prevent the ad from airing.
No, not Zimbabwe. The USA.
Today the RNC sought to prevent the DNC from airing its anti-McCain ad by calling on TV stations not to air it. The DNC responded immediately.
Gov. Howard Dean and Joe Sandler, the DNC's General Counsel, held a telephone press conference a few minutes ago. (As it was a last-minute deal, even I got to listen in.) They started by categorically denying the RNC's charge that the DNC's ad was in any way coordinated with either the Clinton or Obama campaigns. Dean said “I know of no conversations of any kind that have taken place with the campaigns” about the ad. (Had the ad been coordinated, it would count as an in-kind contribution which would have legal consequences; if it's fully arms-length, it's a legal independent expenditure.)
Sandler said that so far none of the networks running it (MS-NBC and CNN) have said they will pull the ad. So far, the ad is slated for cable only. From which I deduce this isn't a hugely expensive ad buy. Ordinarily you would not expect the RNC to add oxygen to such a small flame; tying McCain to his own remarks about Iraq must really hurt.
The RNC also claimed in its publicity blitz that the ad is false, and thus could expose stations that run it to some sort of liability. That's a weak argument, since the ad uses McCain's own words, and DNC Chairman Dean made hay with it. “I understand the RNC thinks it is illegal to criticize Sen. McCain,” Dean said, and he basically invited them to sue.
Here's one bet that they won't: this is just scare tactics. And if they do sue, they'll lose. (Outside Zimbabwe.)
The DNC needs to step up the ad buy and hit hard across the country with this ad. If they keep it up, it will hurt McCain.
Make another ad accusing the RNC of claiming that it is illegal to criticize McCain. Ask the netroots to fund airtime for both ads. Run them repeatedly with variations right to election day. If any station pulls the ad pull all Democratic advertising from them for a few days and run hit ads against the station.
Another variant to run would be to attack the whole statement on the basis that even McCain knew he had unintentionally made a blunder. Then point out that the war is going to continue as long as the Iraqi civil war continues. Could also point out that the factions we are backing in that war actually have closer links to Al Qaeda then the people we are fighting and other factions we are backing have closer links to Iran.
At the end of the day the most fatuous claim is that the US could possibly occupy the worlds second largest oil field for a hundred years without military opposition from the local population.