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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Whine and Smear: Second Thoughts on the Right

Today’s 9/11 commemorations have created a temporary lull in the McCain campaign’s Fall Offensive of whining about the alleged victimization of Sarah Palin and smearing Barack Obama with tactics that might embarass Karl Rove (if it weren’t his own proteges directing the whole effort). And the Offensive is now so over-the-top that even some conservatives are having second thoughts about it.
Over at National Review’s The Corner blog yesterday, Kathryn Jean Lopez, usually among the most reliable cheerleaders for the ideological and party Cause, expressed unhappiness over the Victim Card, recalling that Palin herself hadn’t liked what she called the “perceived whine” over media sexism by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Lopez’ piece concludes with this interesting prophecy:

[B]efore this election is over, some 25-year-old press aide, or political ally, or candidate is going to innocently refer to the Obama campaign with the phrase “the pot calling the kettle black.” And if GOP complaints about Democrat sexism continue, by then we’ll have lost the moral high ground in the whining wars.

Later in the day, at the same site, Ramesh Ponnuru echoed Lopez’ revulsion:

[T]he Republicans are coming across as whiny grievance-mongers. Don’t they realize that this harping on ambiguous slights is what people hate about political correctness?

On the other hand, there seemed to be no particular concern at The Corner about Team McCain’s broader campaign of substance-free smears against Obama. But to his credit, Ross Douthat, as enthusiastic a Palin booster as you can find, thought the “lipstick” and “sex-ed” ads went over the line and showed weakness rather than strength:

[T]he sex-ed ad…feels more appropriate to a failing, flailing right-wing campaign than a confident, rising conservative ticket….
And even if aspects of the sex-ed claim are technically defensible, the whole thing just feels bullshitty and gross – like a parody of a culture-war ad. I have no problem with campaigning on culture war issues, and God knows Obama has vulnerabilities, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it, and this ad falls into the second category.

Since there’s no particular reason to expect the McCain-Palin campaign to clean up its act anytime soon, it will be interesting to see if Whine-and-Smear continues to draw occasional expressions of conservative regret.

3 comments on “Whine and Smear: Second Thoughts on the Right

  1. bacaangel on

    “Liar, Krugman of NYT, blasts McCain With the Truth”
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/9/12/01115/6334/278/595686
    Republicans Hijacked 911, by Keith Olberman, Courage to Speak Truth!
    http://www.jedreport.com/2008/09/special-commen
    How many more Journalists & Reporters will show courage and begin to do their duty and Inform the public as to truth and falsity? We should never again be lied into a False & Phony war by a President you want to have a beer with! Republicans strong on National Security? I don’t think so, after all 911 happened on their watch, but they have been allowed to distort the facts and public perception that it is the Democrats who are weak on national security! They have failed to properly enact the 911 Commissions recommendations which would make us a lot safer! Politicans who willfully and intentionally lie to the public are engaged in a betrayal of the public trust and such distortion should be deemed unethical and in some cases, criminal! We need a Media to be the third-wheel of democracy again and not a parrot of those who are corrupt, unless they are corrupt too!
    Republicans are just as dismal on economics. It is an outrage or should be that the government can give millions of dollars to CEO’s from the failed Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac and yet, cannot give a second stimulus check to American citizens in these hard economic times? Republicans say No to a second stimulus while the Democrats say Yes to a second stimulus! Is the Republican Congress working for CEO’s or are they working for you, the people? We need a Government and a Congress to work for the People, not lie to the people, not bail out their own special interest groups and leave the people hanging. We need a government to put the burden of taxes on the rich where they belong and stop putting the tax burdens on the middle class and poor, those who can least afford it. We need a government who will put money into education and make that a national priority again, both lower and higher education and give more Pell Grants and less loans so that young people can once again achieve a higher education, get a good job and lift everybody up out of poverty. We need action and not more spin, talk and lies. We need a Congress who will vote Yes to bridges, roads, schools, health care. Who will invest in America and not in Iraq and in themselves and their special interest groups. America is dying. We need Change!

    Reply
  2. James Vega on

    The moment McCain clearly pulled into the lead in the Republican primaries last winter there were three predictions that could be made with absolute certainty.
    1. That McCain’s unique biography would have tremendous appeal for those voters who didn’t know his history and choose their candidate based on personality rather than positions on major issues.
    2. That, if a “high road” campaign did not seem to be doing the job by summer, Bush-Rove operatives would be called in to run a nasty, “swift-boat” style media campaign for the fall.
    3. That religious and cultural conservatives would be extremely unhappy and unenthusiastic with McCain as the candidate but – recognizing the huge threat posed by Democratic victory – – would somehow rationalize a way to actively support him after the conventions.
    Seen in this light, the only real surprises in this campaign have been (1) that Obama actually proved himself to be extraordinarily compelling and attractive as a candidate and orator – much more than anyone anticipated last February – and (2) that John McCain found a Vice-Presidential choice who is every bit as “rock star” mediagenic and attractive to her natural conservative audience as Obama is to his.
    Now sure, it would have been lovely if McCain had continued to run a lackluster campaign, chose a conventional and very boring vice-president, refused to go nasty and negative and continued to reject the religious and cultural conservatives as “agents of intolerance” – but was there really any reason to think this would actually happen?
    Not a chance. After a very slow start, the Republicans are just reverting back to form – avoiding the issues, blatantly lying about their opponents, appealing to “Us vs. Them” rhetoric and stereotypes.
    Let’s face it, aren’t these the tactics and isn’t this the battle we knew we’d be in from the very beginning.
    Yeah it’s ugly, but it isn’t a surprise.

    Reply

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