Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Palin/McCain Mudfest: Are They Conceding?

Wow: I go away for a few days and come back to a complete Palin/McCain shitstorm. It's taken me a while just to sort through all the crap they're slinging.

Obviously, Obama's nine-point lead and stories like these about their declining fortunes in key battleground states have rattled the Republicans.

I'm a bit puzzled by this line of attack. Clearly, their polls tell them that voters have racial hesitations about Obama, and they've decided to play up the scary terrorist black dude meme.

But I don't see how this wins them any swing voters. In fact, my sense is it clearly is driving swing voters away. Most rational people looks at Palin and McCain pushing the Ayers story and have this reaction. Basically, yeah, Obama might have crossed paths with an ex hippie radical. Yeah, that might mean he runs in liberal circles. But come on, politics is full of weird associations, and this has about as much currency as making an election issue of Palin's preacher. And calling Obama "a terrorist" is just crazy.

I just can't figure out the McCain campaign. They have made so many critical mistakes along the road: the Phil Graham flub, picking Palin, mishandling the economic crisis, and now, in my opinion, this shitfest will be the final nail in the coffin. They are starting to look as incompetent as the Bush Administration. Hey - maybe they ARE the Bush administration. And as that realization dawns on people, the campaign just sinks further.

If they wanted to go on the offensive, they could have done a number of things: a) tied Democrats more clearly to FANNIE/FREDDIE, b) go on more about a more credible Obama gaffe, like some of the campaign distortions and c) finally decide on a single clear, thematic message and STICK TO IT.

You can't get elected claiming the other guy is a terrorist while we're in the middle of an economic Great Depression. Even conservative writer David Frum concedes that tying Ayers to Obama doesn't resonate, and offers an alternative: painting Obama as a "Chicago pol." But again, pick a realistic tactic and stick to it.

Obama is having success because he's sticking to a single message: McCain's policies are a repeat of Bush. That message is clearly sinking in. But what has been McCain's message other than that he's a crazy old coot who'll say anything to get elected?

So I'm having questions like I used to have about the Bush administration. Either the McCain campaign is a) entirely incompetent or b) they have another secret agenda.

I tend to think it's a.

But for fun, what if it were b? What would be the secret McCain agenda?

Could it be that they are trying to get Obama assassinated? Their odious calls of "terrorist" only seem to be ginning up the rabid base, while alienating the middle.

I wouldn't go that far. But I do think it's possible that the Republicans have realized they are going down in defeat. That the economy will be the story for months. That they have, with this latest shitfest, conceded the election. And so they are falling back on plan B: creating a kind of "brownshirt" set of shock troops with core, right-wing voters, and feeding them the red meat that will turn them into rabid, thoughtless followers.

They know that the old Republican coalition has fragmented. They know they are destined to be a minority party now for years. So what they have left is to create a kind of highly racially/socially charged, impassioned set of core "true believers" who will dog the Obama Presidency at every turn.

They are, in a sense, becoming a religious cult. A cult of crazies. This is their plan B: to wait until the election, then unleash their zombies to wreck as much havoc as they can.

Considering that otherwise it seems like McCain is essentially throwing away his last and only chance, it's the only plan to me that makes any sense.

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