Ineffective, Irresponsible, and Dangerous

People are scared.  The economy continues its tailspin, closing today below 9,000 points, losing nearly forty percent since the record high last year over 14,000.  People are watching their 401(k)s evaporate; my wife tells me that we’ve lost twenty-thousand dollars in a year…  I didn’t even know we had twenty-thousand dollars combined in our name.  The gallows humor of onions tied to belts, bread lines, bum fights, and concrete nosedives expressed in places like Wonkette is quickly beginning to look like a near inevitable reality.

And McCain still insists that he wants to talk about William Ayers.

As polls continue to show, the kitchen sink strategy that the McCain campaign just isn’t working.  The McCain campaign has taken the politics of personal destruction further than even his predecessor did (Bush rarely let his name or fingerprints be found attached to the most heinous attacks against Kerry), and yet they have proven thus far to be ineffective at moving the needle even remotely in McCain’s direction.

The obvious reason behind this is the blatant disconnect that this shows to the American people.  People are truly and seriously frightened by the crisis on Wall Street, but when they turn to the Republican candidate for the presidency, to one of the two men running for the job of leading us through increasingly dark times, what they find is a man who is trying desperately to gin up boogeymen in his opponent’s past.

It’s the same effect as reading a book on how to build a house, when all of a sudden someone throws a paragraph in there about bird watching or whale hunting; it just doesn’t belong, and nobody cares.

But there exists less obvious factors behind why this tactic just isn’t working.  For one, Obama has wisely not adopted the Kerry strategy of simply ignoring the attacks and hoping they’ll just go away.  He has employed the political jiu jitsu that he is so well known for in this instance and has used the attacks to paint McCain rightfully as out of touch, shrewdly repeating the comments from McCain staffers where they telegraphed that they wanted to “turn the page on the economy,” and if they continued to talk about the economic crisis, they would lose.

In other words, the thing that Democrats were afraid Obama wouldn’t do, defend himself effectively, is exactly what he is doing, and stealing at least some of the fire from this current tactic the McCain camp is employing.

Another reason why this is proving ineffective could be reasonably blamed on McCain himself.  He intentionally alienated the press, and then engaged in a strategy that required that very same press to be a complicit partner.  In order for the kitchen sink strategy to really grow legs, it would require the Mainstream Media to report on it in much the same way they reported on the Jeremiah Wright issue back in the spring of this year.  It needed to be reported as though the accusation was an unknown and therefore a story.

Instead, the media reports on the attacks with a healthy dose of skepticism, and with hardly any of the fervor that McCain needs them to.

Finally (and I’m sure there are more reasons why this tack is ineffective), the troops and lieutenants aren’t even on the same page.  McCain appears to want to lead with Ayers, but among the chattersphere everyone seems to be uncoordinated and unable to decide on if they want to push Ayers, ACORN, or that Obama was actually a member of a socialist party (no, I’m not linking to a single one of these things intentionally).  The result is that there is not only a lack of message coherence, but also gives the entire movement from the ground on up to the tippy top the appearance of a bunch of conspiracy theorists.  Given that McCain’s credibility is already highly in doubt, there’s simply no reason to imbue these narratives with any more credibility than one would the idea that Bill Clinton murdered a couple of teenagers by running over them with a train!

Further, there are dissenting voices within the conservative ranks that further hinder the kitchen sink strategy.  Dissenters such as David Frum and George Will rightly point out the follies in this chosen line of attack.

But it is Frum’s post that points not only to the futility of the attacks, but also how highly irresponsible they are:

Those who press this Ayers line of attack are whipping Republicans and conservatives into a fury that is going to be very hard to calm after November. Is it really wise to send conservatives into opposition in a mood of disdain and fury for a man who may well be the next president of the United States, incidentally the first African-American president? Anger is a very bad political adviser. It can isolate us and push us to the extremes at exactly the moment when we ought to be rebuilding, rethinking, regrouping and recruiting.

The direction that many, including McCain himself, want to take the final weeks of this election is one that promises to inflict terrible wounds on an already scarred nation, and this at a time when we are under attack by our own economy.  Whether Obama or McCain become president, the other should not be taking things to such an extreme that the next president is constantly under attack by his own people.

But that’s exactly where this irresponsible path that McCain is leading; into abject danger.  Already we’ve heard some sickening and terrifying epithets shouted at McCain’s rallies.  “Terrorist!” “Treason!” “Kill Him!” “Sit Down Boy!”

Since I wrote about those just a few days ago, we can also add, “Off With His Head!” and perhaps the most sickening, a young boy saying, “you need gloves to touch him.”  McCain is not doing anything to help himself win the election, but he’s doing everything he possibly can to stir up the anger among his own supporters to a terrifying and dangerous point.

The video you see coming from the last link is from here, from an Obama supporter who took his camera down to a McCain campaign rally, started rolling, and simply asked if Obama was a terrorist.  The responses are chilling, and enough to make one sick.

And yes, McCain is responsible for this because he’s instigating it.  He’s showing no regard for personal responsibility, and given that Obama currently has a near 90% chance of being the next president, he’s not even showing that he can put country first.  This is McCain first all the way, and in the process, I fear that he’s putting his opponent’s life at greater risk than it already is.

The absolute worst part of this?  McCain doesn’t even have the courage to say any of this to Obama’s face.  Folks, these aren’t the acts of a hero, these are the acts of a coward who feel the presidency is his by right.  If that weren’t true, McCain would be talking about what people care about, what’s scaring them, the economy.

(edited by DrGail)

2 Responses to “Ineffective, Irresponsible, and Dangerous”

  1. Kris says:

    The only bright spot is that McCain and Palin are digging their own graves, politically. At least I can hope for that. Of course, the far right wing wackos who go to these rallies and support this kind of rhetoric and idiocy will always be out there. But if he loses and Obama manages to instigate a period of political and social calm and attempts to build bridges between the parties, maybe (and it’s a big maybe, I know) we can move past the appalling divisions in this country. I am not hugely hopeful on this issue, but I have more hope with Obama in office than I have ever had before.

  2. Dynamic says:

    That video is utterly disturbing. I’ve seen that sort of thing far too often and it’s scary how fast these things can take people over. :\

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