Monday, October 06, 2008


The global financial system is melting down, John McCain is planning to cut Medicare and Medicaid benefits if he's elected President in 27 days, and as he stabilizes at around 8 pts. behind Obama in the general polls and slaughtered in the Electoral vote polls (Obama is preferred over McCain over a much wider spread of the country than any recent Presidential candidates, indeed redrawing the map), how does he sell himself to the American public?

By late-game, vicious and desperate character assassination against his opponent.

The net effect may be to dirty up Obama, or it may just boomerang back on McCain himself. But whether it decreases or increases Obama's margin over him, it threatens to permanently sully the reputations of both McCain and his ultra-enabler, Sarah Palin.

Here's why:

Per TPM:

After John McCain delivered the central question of his speech today -- "Who is the real Barack Obama?" -- the first, and loudest, supporter seems to yell:


...McCain seemed to pause, and didn't denounce the epithet. I'd argue that there's no way to arrive at a conclusive answer as to whether he heard it or not, short of asking him and getting a frank answer. McCain could have been pausing to admire the pith and artfulness of his smear, or to bask in the adulation it brought. And McCain is not responsible for what some whackjob yells at his rally.

That said, the moment is uncomfortably revealing: McCain is now dabbling in the tactics employed in the most viral smears of Obama, if not to the same degree. No honest observer would dispute that McCain's speech today was about sowing fears of Obama as a risky, unknown, and vaguely sinister "other," and this supporter, at least, read the subtext, intended or not, loud and clear. And when McCain delivered that line there was a gratified, even visceral roar from McCain supporters, as if this attack -- fear the alien in our midst! -- was the gloves-off moment they'd been waiting for.
This is called the "Manchurean Candidate" offense, per Swampland's Michael Scherer:
You claim that you are the candidate people know, while your opponent is not who he seems to be. In fact, you argue, he has secret ulterior motives that he is trying to hide. You say he is a danger to all that the country holds dear.
The problem is that America has a history of political violence, particularly with regard to race as the ultimate other. Jerome Corsi is nosing around Kenya to try and smear Obama's father (my guess is as a Communist for having read some books as a student in 1950's Africa, like everyone else), Palin's introduced in Florida by a sheriff pointedly using Obama's middle name, a GOP columnist in Virginia is writing pure minstel show and fear-mongering racist "satire" imagining an Obama Presidency, and the Republican Party of Pennsylvania is emailing around "Obama is a Terrorist's Best Friend" (yeah, like Bill Ayres and he have been hanging out since Obama was eight).

The problem is that when they stir up fear, it stirs up hate. Per Glenn Greenwald:

And just now, John McCain -- speaking in New Mexico -- delivered one of the ugliest, nastiest, most invective-filled personality attacks a major candidate has ever delivered, blatantly designed to stoke raw racial resentments and depict Obama as a Manchurian candidate funded by secret Arab Terrorist sources -- a truly unstable and hate-mongering rant filled with lines like these, delivered with an angry scowl to screaming, howling, booing throngs, while Cindy McCain stood behind him shaking her head in disgust at each fact she heard about the Black Terrorist daring to challenge her husband:

I don't need any lessons in being honest with the American people, and if I did, I wouldn't seek it from a Chicago politician. . . . There's much we don't know about Senator Obama. For a guy who has authored two memoirs, he's not exactly an open book. Who is the real Barack Obama?

It's as if somehow the usual rules don't apply, and where other candidates have to explain themselves and their records, Senator Obama seems to think he is above all that . . . His campaign had to return $33,000 in illegal foreign funds from Palestinian donors, and this weekend, we found out about another $28,000 in illegal donations. Why has Senator Obama refused to disclose the people who are funding his campaign? Again, the American people deserve answers.

The problem is that it entirely encourages and leads to this:

"Now it turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," Palin said.

"Boooo!" said the crowd.

"And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,'" she continued.

"Boooo!" the crowd repeated.

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

When I referred to how McCain and Palin wish to leave their reputations, I didn't just mean should they lose after such vile speech, not just the choice of going rock bottom because you can't or won't or are incapable of debating the issues.

I meant should anything untoward happen to Barack Obama, any physical attack. Because if it were to happen, and if it were to be inflicted by anyone whiter than Osama Bin Laden, they'll be in a universe of boomerang pain.

Because unless they get off this tack immediately, should anything happen, the electorate, the nation and the world will hold them personally responsible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If McCain/Pallin are dangerous criminals in ratcheting up the attacks and if anyone tries to injur Obama (in any way), M&P should be charged as coconspirators. I wish the press would really get on them about yesterday's disgusting speeches and make them worry about what will happen to them if they inflame someone into going for Obama.