Thursday, October 09, 2008

Only hateful GOP fringe and unapologetic racists remain in McCain coalition

The McCain campaign made the decision to go dirty on Barack Obama. Many pundit types grimly suggested that this was the right decision for the McCain campaign given his increasingly abysmal situation in the polls. The line was that he needed to do something to shake things up. He needed to change the conversation, refocus the media off of issues and onto trite matters of personality.

So the McCain camp did just that. They sent out Sarah Puppet to suggest that Barack Obama condones terrorism, supports terrorists, or is one himself. They whipped up their rally crowds into animalistic frenzies and did nothing to discourage taunts of "kill him" and worse. They pushed this extremely dubious Ayers connection in the media and hoped it would draw ratings and dominate the news cycle.

Basically, they felt out the strategy. They tested the waters.

From my view, it didn't seem to have stuck. The media played with it and it got no ratings and provoked no equal and opposite reaction from the Obama camp.

McCain didn't bring it up at the debate.

But really what may have happened was that the McCain campaign was testing not so much whether or not they could get the Ayers connection into the narrative but instead were feeling for the limits of mainstream acceptability. The shouts of "kill him" and the "palling around with terrorists" line indeed provoked some rebuke from mainstream media bigwigs. They called it "ugliness," but I think what the McCain campaign saw was that there were a few more inches to take.

That's why today, we have absolute filth like this, which I refuse to embed.

Whether or not it makes any difference to the electorate is dependent on the media's willingness to call these lies out for what they are. Otherwise, the McCain camp will continue to inch forward with increasingly hateful smears.

Overall, I think the public and the media will be pretty sickened by this and the strategy will ultimately yield the same results as much of the Steve Schmidt era:

The GOP base and affiliated racists will be angry and fired up and most everyone else will be totally turned off.

Ultimately this has been the net effect of Palin's spot on the ticket, for instance.

The risk that McCain is taking here is that should he cross the threshold of acceptability with the center-right mainstream media, he's taking down the entire GOP with him. It's not just his legacy he's putting on the line for this election, it's the party backing him.

While it is possible that these attacks might change the dynamics of this election, isn't it more likely that the erratic and poorly organized McCain team crosses the line blatantly enough for the whole strategy to backfire in their face?

If the GOP brass were smart, they'd let John McCain know that there is a limit to what he can get away with in terms of media reaction without damaging the party for the next election cycle.

If the media backlash against the hatefulness of the GOP is large enough, if they pander too much to the fringe, doesn't the GOP risk some degree of political marginalization in a new Washington dominated by the Dems?

The few extra points he might get in the tracking polls probably isn't worth the risk given that he's down nearly double digits, even if the pundit class claim that his negative smear campaign has been "working."

Friday A.M. Update: Here's a new despicable ad from the McCain camp that sticks to the same sordid insinuations but seems slightly dialed back compared to the absolute abomination from yesterday.


Mark Folse said...

"I'm John McCain, and I approve this message." Fuck. I have an ugly feeling about how this election will end. I can see these angry mobs from the Palin torchlight rallys in the streets if it doesn't go their way.

And if they try to pull 2000 again, if we don't take to the streets it will be time to consider emigration, as I choose to live in a Democracy.

E said...

I'm with you 100%. I won't stand for a dirty McCain victory.