What Their Knives Will Be

Over the weekend, there was mixed reception regarding Senator Obama referencing The Untouchables, when he vowed that if the Republicans brought knives, he would bring a gun.

Upon catching a brief glimpse of the uproar coming from the right, I just had to chuckle a little bit.  They were making the same arguments that the Clinton campaign had made back in the day.

Thus, I suppose a quick remedial for those not in the know regarding the “politics of hope” is needed.  Even in the book Audacity of Hope, Obama recognizes the necessity of the “rough and tumble” of politics.  After all, people are passionate about their ideas, and the exact boundaries of what is fair play and what is not fair play in politics has always been kind of hazy.

As a result, the politics of hope were never intended to be the kind of politics where you hand your opponent chocolates and flowers while he or she proceeds to beat you senselessly about the head neck and shoulders.  Instead, the new kinds of politics, at least in part, is about not flinging mud.  It’s about not stirring up whisper campaigns and rumors about your opponent that has no founding whatsoever in the relevance of whether or not they can serve in office (for instance, starting a rumor that John McCain beat his first wife would be TOTALLY uncalled for in the new politics, but making hard edged statements about your opponents’ positions on the stances are totally fine).

Just like with the “old politics”, the line of decency in the “new politics” can get a little hazy.  Still, it at the very least strives to be very far away from the old line.  No, John McCain can take heart in knowing that Team Obama will not be going through back channels to commission a push poll intended to imply that John McCain fathered an illegitimateblack child out of wed lock.  However, no one, from John McCain to those who can’t stand to vote for John McCain, but are planning on beating Barack Obama on sheer hate and smear alone, should ever get the impression that Obama has a glass jaw, or will allow himself to get pushed around.

Hence the rather chic movie reference.

And what will the Republican knives look like?

According to ABC News, those knives look like smears aimed at prospective first lady, Michelle Obama.

At this point, I wanted to make an observation that I’ve stifled for some time out of the fear that people’s heads may just start exploding.  So, particularly for those Democrats who have been especially invested in the Democratic primary, you may want to skip to the end of this piece where I start talking about guns.

But I’ve always found quite a bit of similarities between Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton, and yes, I mean that in a very good way.  Long before Obama launched his presidential bid, one thing that struck me was that inside DC, many politicians and insiders seemed to have an extremely high opinion of Michelle.

Obama has often credited her with being the more talented and graceful of the couple, and this is a sentiment that has been echoed more than once by others.  Now I wouldn’t dare to say if this was heartfelt sentiment, or just a kind of common grace not oft reported among colleagues, but I have to admit to being quite impressed with Michelle myself.

Like Hillary, Michelle is in her own right a very accomplished woman, a strong woman with a penchant for speaking her mind.  Both are incredibly brilliant, and wildly successful professionals, while at the same time being fantastic mothers to beautiful daughters in their own right.  Of course, no one could ignore the fact that both women are married to men that have each been noted for their political brilliance and star power, and yet, despite the brilliance they both stand next to, both women define themselves, and are in their own way forces of nature.

In short, these are the kind of women that I want to see my daughters grow up to be.

They are also the kind of women that conservatives really love to hate.  Not to disparage all of the followers of an entire ideology, but one does have to wonder where the strange fixation with these women comes from.  Is it that they challenge a conservative world view?  Is it just blatant misogyny?  Maybe we just hit the lottery and came across two women who, as individuals, have incurred the ire of the right like no other?  Or maybe, just maybe, out of craven political cynicism, they just seem like easy targets.

I really don’t know, but what I do know is that I didn’t need the ABC story to tell me that Obama is target number one in this presidential election, which is strange, methinks, given that the side of the political divide that is all about family values has once again chosen to go after a never divorced family raising two beautiful girls as opposed to the guy who cheated on his wife, and later married the woman he cheated with.

Then again, to not really get this means that you fail to see the irony in someone like Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh talk about the sanctity of marraige and family values.

In any case, that’s what the knives will look like.  As for the guns?  I’m sure we’ll see plenty over the next five months, but two have already popped up online, that I think bear mentioning.  With the general election barely underway, two websites have already popped up which are dedicated solely to fighting the swiftboat load of smears and mud we know we have coming our way.

Fight The Smears, and Michelle Obama Watch.

Both are dedicated to rapid response, and my (well informed, in my opinion) guess is that these two websites will be kept more than busy between now and November.

But websites are not going to be enough, and a lot is going to have to depend upon how Obama himself deals with attacks.  We already know his modus operandi (refute, ping his opponent for “old politics”, and deliver a counter punch), but what is yet to be seen in full will be his judgement on which smears to deal with personally, and which to let go of.

Every time you address a smear, after all, you run the risk of granting it more attention than it warrants or deserves.  If Obama can tune his game to address only those smears that need addressing, that alone could be a very big gun indeed.

It’s definitely a gun I wish Senator Kerry would have brought to the knife fight in 2004.

2 Responses to “What Their Knives Will Be”

  1. Shimmy says:

    But this also is Michelle’s first effort, as Democratic wife, to come to grips with coiling all the fingers towards the center of the palm with the thumb.

    Don’t forget she told a cheering crowd in February: “For the first time in my adult life, I’m proud to live live in a labyrinth of grim corridors lined with terrorist-fist-jabs.”

  2. Mike in NYC says:

    “Both are incredibly brilliant, and wildly successful professionals, while at the same time being fantastic mothers to beautiful daughters in their own right.”

    I guess you decided to cast whatever restraint you had been showing to the wind and “let it rip” here.

    Michelle does not even remotely strike me as “brilliant,” let alone “incredibly brilliant.” (You really should be ashamed of that last one.) Neither does HRC, although, despite her character flaws and copious personal and political baggage, I do find her impressive, in some odd, perverse way.

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