Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Big Lie

Sarah Palin is a shiny metal object.

Shiny metal objects are meant to distract you.

Fall for the trap at your own peril.

Joe Klein has taken a beating from the left over the past few years. His momentary support for the Iraq War--which he has since apologized for made him a poster child for being part of the clueless media elite that helped enable this administration's disastrous policies.

Recently however, Klein has been very clear-eyed about what's going on, and the changes in the character of his once friend, John McCain.

In his latest post, Klein explicitly calls out Steve Schmidt for practicing the kind of dangerous Orwellian game that I wrote about a couple of days ago, and Jon Taplin summarized yesterday.

Specifically, Klein asserts:
The tabloid media are treating her precisely as the tabloid media treat everybody. Steve Schmidt has done a brilliant--fabulously dishonest--job of setting up straw men, but it's a smokescreen to hide the fact that McCain rushed into this choice and didn't vet her properly.

But to what end? To distract from the real issue of this election: the economy, and more specifically the dreadful record of the past eight years of Republican rule.


They practice Orwellian politics of the crudest sort. They are trying to sell a big lie--that the election is about the social issues of the 1960s, or Barack Obama's patriotism or his eloquence, or the "angry left," when it's really about turning toward a more moderate path after the ideological radicalism and malfeasance of the past eight years.

The McCain campaign has gone on a carpetbombing attack, flooding the airwaves with advertising that spreads blatant falsehoods about Obama's economic policies.

In his post "Swift Boat Economics," Dean Baker notes: (h/t Paul Rosenberg)
Senator McCain is filling the airwaves with commercials telling the public that Obama's tax increases will slow growth and cost the economy jobs. It's pretty scary stuff to anyone who takes it seriously.

Of course, there's no truth to Senator McCain's Swift boat economics.

So what's really going on? While enmeshing the media in the Palin sideshow and non-stories like attacking Oprah over her political biases, the McCain campaign is able to propagandize at will, unchecked by a distracted media whose credentials are being attacked daily.

This is exactly what McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis means when he said that this election is not about issues.

And this is exactly the kind of politics that needs to be defeated in this election, once and for all.


Chris said...

why i still think the palin pick was not a disaster:

1. the smokescreen distraction reason you just outlined.

2. while it eliminates the experience argument, we saw how the "experience vs. change" contest played out in the primaries. it wasn't a winner.

3. their argument, if you can call it that, has become a cultural one: small town values vs. cosmopolitan elites. not fair, but i bet it will play well in rural ohio and pennsylvania.

4. with, say, pawlenty as the pick, half as many people would have watched the last two days of the republican convention, and half as many people would be subjected to hours of their propaganda.

5. with any other pick, other than KBH or snowe, biden and obama could come out swinging hard against the VP. there was already a built-in attack against romney that would easily stick. "operation ignore" means every news cycle about palin has a mccain camp quote supporting her and no counterbalance quote from the obama camp.

6. america elected and re-elected george w. bush. they will ignore how qualified the person is if they relate to them as a regular person. obama is hard to relate to, and is definitely not a regular person.

7. expecting a major gaffe is not a guarantee. the amount of times she'll answer direct hard questions will be minimal, and they're already making her memorize the pat 3-sentence answers for every foreign and domestic issue (like they did with bush) so in a debate when they ask about iran she can regurgitate the thought and exceed expectations.

8. never underestimate america's love for the idea of Mom President.

however, she infuriates democrats, and there are more democrats than republicans this year, so it probably will still end in them losing. but i don't buy that this pick was a disaster.

the only other side benefit i can see is that now nobody thinks hillary secretly wants obama to lose.

Sood said...

A rebuttal:

Obviously there has been a tremendous influx of energy to the McCain ticket--while that energy was lacking it is still less than clear that, as some pundits have put it, getting your fans to clap louder will win you the election.

The question remains, how does Palin play with the independents. Clearly, given her ratings, they tuned into hear her speak. Whether or not her decidedly non-independent friendly polemic registered is not something we're going to be able to asses for sometime, anecdotal evidence--as well as a less than impressive tracking poll bounce for McCain hasn't been terribly encouraging.

As for the experience vs. change argument, don't forget that a.) it almost worked and that b.) John McCain, with 26 years of congressional experience is a more credible purveyor of that argument than 8 year vet HRC.

In citing George W. Bush, you are discounting the simple fact that some decidedly non-zero amount of the electorate voted for Bush in 2004 and are now opposed to his Presidency. Obviously they are not all defecting to the Democratic ticket, but at the same time, I would think it's hard to argue that wouldn't be as accepting of his credentials if he were running today. Also see: the decline of Republican self-identification.

I agree that waiting for a gaffe is a losing strategy. On the other hand, do not underestimate the effect that the first major gaffe (and not just in the debates) that Palin makes will have. The media is infuriated with the way they're being attacked and bullied by the McCain camp. When she screws up, they will pounce. Now that may not effect the die-hard conservatives (and in fact, will rally them to her cause), it will have an effect at the margins on the low-information voter as well as the independent/undecided.

As much as Palin is energizing her base, she is energizing and uniting the Democratic base as well. Let's see who grabs the middle first. (And yes, a fully committed HRC helps.)