Bout a month ago, I started a thread called "Oh fer chrissakes"
. How low can the media chatter go, I asked? How vapid can people get? And, I'll add, how easily can the 'journalists' who provide the TV infotainment for these elections be spun by campaign flaks into jumping on every bit of idiocy they throw out?
Responding to the mindboggling inanity of the McCain campaign's hissy fit about Obama using the expression "lipstick on a pig," Obama finally had enough today, and said the same thing. "Oh fer chrissakes!"
OK, he used better words. Here he is:
"Some of you may have -- I'm assuming you guys have heard this, watching the news," Obama said. "I'm talking about John McCain's economic policies, I say, 'This is more of the same, you can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig.' And suddenly they say, 'Oh, you must be talking about the governor of Alaska.'
"See it would be funny, it would be funny except -- of course the news media all decided that that was the lead story yesterday. They'd much rather have the story -- this is the McCain campaign -- would much rather have the story about phony and foolish diversions than about the future.
"This happens every election cycle. Every four years. This is what we do. We've got an energy crisis. We have an education system that is not working for too many of our children and making us less competitive. We have an economy that is creating hardship for families all across America. We've got two wars going on -- veterans coming home not being cared for -- and this is what they want to talk about. This is what they want to spend two of the last 55 days talking about."
"You know who ends up losing at the end of the day? It's not the Democratic candidate. It's not the republican candidate. It's you, the American people, because then we go another year or another four years or another eight years without addressing the issues that matter to you. Enough."
(Via Steve Benen
AMEN to that.
behind the recent torrent of bullshit issues spun into the daily news cycles by the McCain campaign? I mean, election campaigns by definition come with the freakshow spectacle of whatever outrage du jour has the pundits in a tizzy. Nature of the beast - it's in the nature of campaigns, and of punditry. And in a ratings-driven, zapping, low-attention span world, it's only getting worse. But the way the McCain campaign is slinging one after the other into the conversation is still pretty damn striking.
I mean, Obama is too much of a celebrity? That was silliness - does it make him any less qualified to be President? Obama used the expression "lipstick on a pig", and the Republican party works itself in a froth even the most PC liberal language crusader would be jealous of? That's silliness too.
And I mean, going after Obama, in an attack ad on TV
, for having supported a bill that would have ensured
that sex education classes already being taught now were "medically accurate"? Going after him for having defended
giving kindergarteners "age-appropriate sex education" to teach them about what is appropriate and not appropriate touching by adults? Under the nomer that Obama is for "comprehensive sex education" to kindergartners, and wants them to be "learning about sex before learning to read"?
Are they serious? That's an argument
? And moreover, it's an argument the elections should be about in this time of economic crisis and war?
But there's a logic behind this madness. Rick Davis, one of McCain's campaign managers, explained to the WaPo editors
that "we are in the worst Republican environment since Nixon in 1972 .. We take that seriously." He's right. Even aside from Bush's personal impopularity and the corruption and sex scandals that have afflicted Republicans especially in the last couple of years, Republican policies are just not very popular right now. On issue after issue, the Republican solutions are less popular than the Democratic ones.
So what to do? Well, the presidential race will just have to be decided over personalities rather than issues. That's the only hope they got. This is what Davis said about that: "This election is not about issues .. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates."
And hence the freakshow now. The endless barrage of trivia meant to make Obama's personality and character seem suspect. Cause that's the only shot they have. As a blogger at cogitamus put it: "The GOP does not have a single winning issue in its bag of tricks at the moment. Hence, the bullshit fest to follow."
A month ago, a blogger at the conservative National Review sketched the path ahead
. "It's of course important to criticize Senator Obama on the issues and on his philosophy," Peter Wehner dutifully wrote; "but in politics, campaigns need to provide its [sic] supporters, and undecided voters, with a thematic " a broad truth about a candidate .. Those who control the narrative often control the outcome of a race." So forget about issues and political philosophies, push on with ads like "The One", which had just gone on at the time, mocking Obama for being too much of a celebrity. They may lack all substance and be entirely about style, but "when a clever and/or humorous charge embodies a widespread feeling or concern about a candidate, it can be extremely effective, and sometimes even crippling."
In short, forget about promoting or defending the actual policies you'll enact once you get elected, since the voters wont like the ones McCain is thinking of anyway. Instead, make it all about what "feelings" people might have about his opponent that you can use to turn them against him. No matter how far-fetched or irrelevant the examples you need to bring up for it.
Or as blogger Roy Edroso summarised it
SHORTER PETER WEHNER: Without bullshit, we're fucked.