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.