February 15, 2008

A low-down dirty trick--campaigning on issues and facts!

I found the tone and style of this piece, AlterNet: What Will Obama Do When There's No Hillary Firewall?, by Earl Ofari Hutchinson utterly fascinating for the way it openly assumes that attacking a candidate on the issues, and the way he has voted in the past, is dirty politics, and in some never-specified way "over the line." (Thanks to Glenn.)

I think this is going to be a major theme in the up-coming election. To campaign on a Democrat's issues will be called "swiftboating." (Which is portrayed as a scoundrel trick when, in fact, the Swifties did nothing wrong, Kerry was never able to refute them, and had to admit to one major lie.) And, psychologically, it's preparation for a defeat to come--"We are going to be stabbed in the back. So there will be no need to re-think."

...If her campaign goes down, so will Obama's Hillary firewall. The gloves will be off and it won't be pretty.

There was an early hint of the dirty stuff that will come his way. The instant that Obama announced his campaign last February, National Rifle Association executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre wasted no words when asked about Obama's strong support for a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, and severe limits on handgun purchases during his tenure in the Illinois Senate. [Why is this "dirty stuff?" If Obama believed in it and voted for it, shouldn't he and his supporters be proud?]

He called Obama's pro-gun control stance "bad politics." LaPierre's admonition was an ominous warning that the powerful gun-lobby group would oppose Obama, and so would millions of other passionate gun owners that take their cue from the NRA. [Isn't that what's supposed to happen in a democracy?]

That's just the start. His votes and views during his days in the Illinois Senate on taxes, abortion, civil liberties, civil rights, law enforcement and capital punishment have so far drawn little public attention, because of the media and a big chunk of the public's obsession with nailing Hillary. But in a head to head match up with the likely GOP presidential nominee John McCain, Republicans and conservative interest groups will surgically dissect his state Senate votes and they will find much there to pound him on. [And he's going to proudly defend his record, right? Stand up for his beliefs, right? And you too, Mr Hutchinson? You will be wearing your candidate's record like a badge of pride, right?]

The National Taxpayers Union will pound him for voting to impose hundreds of new taxes and fees on businesses in his last year in the state Senate. Though the tax hikes were deemed necessary to help close Illinois's crushing budget deficit, business and taxpayer interest groups screamed foul. ["Were deemed." I love the passive voice. Were "deemed" by who? God? So, if something has been "deemed," it's wrong to oppose?]

Obama's vote to raise taxes and his consistent pro-labor votes marked him as another tax and spend Democrat. This has been the dread label that Republicans have tagged Democratic contenders with in elections past. This always strikes an angry chord with millions of voters who equate higher taxes with government waste, inefficiency and pork barrel favoritism. And even more insidiously, equate high taxes with special interest giveaways to minorities and the poor. ["Dread label." You have not argued that he is NOT a tax-and-spend Democrat, so shouldn't you call it an "honest label?" Next you will object to him being "tagged" as a "Democrat!" Insidious, those Republicans.]

Obama got a perfect rating from the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council. In 2001, he backed legislation that restricted medical support in certain types of abortions where the fetus survives. Pro-life groups interpreted that as a vote to strengthen abortion rights. ["Interpreted?" You mean it's not that? Actually, bad news pal, us insidious right-wingers are going to "interpret" it as INFANTICIDE. Which it is.]
His vote and views on choice will make him a prime target for pro-life groups. He got a zero rating from the National Right to Life Committee for voting for stem cell research, for funding abortions abroad, and against parental notification in the U.S. Senate.

Obama's pro-civil liberties votes on capital punishment and police power and the 100 percent rating he got from the ACLU won't help him dodge the soft-on-crime label on the issue of crime and punishment. [Are you claiming he's NOT soft on crime?]

McCain and the GOP hit squads will go for the political jugular and lambaste him as an anti-police, anti-business, pro abortion, pro labor, pro-gun control, tax and spend liberal Democrat. Conservative interest groups will tar him as a liberal Democrat who will bend way over to pander to labor, minorities, and women. Obama's record on civil liberties, civil rights, abortion, and spending will endear him to millions of voters, but not in the South and the heartland states. ["Obama's record"--exactly. You admit it's his record that will be "lambasted" by "hit squads." So perhaps you ought to call them "GOP TRUTH squads?"]

Then there's the personal dirty stuff. They'll hammer him for his dealings with an indicted Chicago financier, for possible conflicts of interest in other financial dealings and legislative votes, and for his fuzzy, oftentimes contradictory, statements and actions on the Iraq War and terrorism. Then there's the ultimate ploy: the race card. [Uh, Obama's whole campaign is a "race card." He'd be a minor politician if he weren't black.] The GOP hit squads will dig, sift and comb through every inch of his personal life and poke through his voting record to find any hint of personal or political muck.

Actually, what I think is most important here is that there's not a hint that Mr Obama might have a political philosophy, or core values, that he is willing to stand for, or defend openly and unashamedly. Nihilism is just assumed to be the normal human condition.

Posted by John Weidner at February 15, 2008 9:16 AM
Weblog by John Weidner