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Mavericking The Maverick

By Jesse Taylor
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 0:10 EDT
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imageWith Fox News and Karl Rove both going after John McCain for lying about everything that crosses his mind, there’s a nice bit of irony at work here. Republicans and Republican organs are actually gaining independence from the Republican Party’s sleazy methods by attacking the maverick whose entire appeal is talking about how much he distanced himself from the Republican Party’s sleazy methods. The Maverick has become the path to Maverickdom, and Republicans can now safely attack him to divorce themselves from what the GOP is churning out.

It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is to stop lying about every fucking thing on earth, like the fact there are only 2,298 spoons and an extra 300 sporks. Asshole.

Mickey Kaus, of course, gives a plethora of reasons why attacking John McCain as a liar is a horrible idea. To clarify things, there’s only one reason: John McCain isn’t a Democrat.

a) MSM outrage doesn’t sway voters anymore. It didn’t even back in 1988, when the press tried to make a stink about George H.W. Bush’s use of “flag factories,” etc. After this year’s failed MSM Palin assault, it certainly won’t work;

Yep, the media’s incredibly bad at pushing attacks into the mainstream. Sarah Palin is also a policy wonk and the handlebar mustache is making a comeback in the annals of facial hair lore.

b) When Dems get outraged at unfairness they look weak. How can they stand up to Putin if they start whining when confronted with Steve Schmidt? McCain’s camp can fake umbrage all it wants–the latest is that an Atlantic photographer took some nasty photos that the mag didn’t run!–and nobody will accuse MCain of being weak. That’s so unfair. A double standard. Dems can learn to live with it or complain about the unfairness for another 4 years. Their choice.

In other words, Democrats are whiny and everyone knows it, and Republicans are whiny too, but that’s okay, because if Democrats point out they’re being whiny, that makes them doubleplus whiny which, ergo, means that Democrats are whiny, which was made obvious by the quadruple whining they did the whole time. This one had no point, but don’t whine about it.

c) It’s almost always impossible to prove that a Republican attack is a 100% lie. Either there’s a germ of truth (Kerry did hype his wartime heroism at least a bit) or the truth is indeterminate (i.e., there’s no way of knowing what Obama meant by “lipstick”–just because he and McCain used the word earlier doesn’t mean he didn’t think using it now, after Palin’s speech, didn’t add a witty resonance).

You know, it’s really hard to prove that “there was no Holocaust” is a lie, because there was, in fact, a Holocaust.

d) Lecturing the public on what’s ‘true” and what’s a “lie” (when the truth isn’t 100% clear) plays into some of the worst stereotypes about liberals–that they are preachy know-it-alls hiding their political motives behind a veneer of objectivity and respectability.

You know, by this standard, the way that a liberal wins an election is by simply wandering around outside, saying nothing and looking expectantly at people and hoping they get it, but not judging them if they don’t. It’s the sad puppy method of electioneering.

e) Inevitably the people being outraged on Obama’s behalf will phrase their arguments in ways well-designed to appeal to their friends–and turn off the unconverted. (‘This is just what they did to John Kerry and Michael Dukakis!’ As if the public yearns for the lost Kerry and Dukakis Presidencies. ‘Today’s kindergarteners need some sex education. Just because Republicans are old fashioned …’ etc. Or ‘These are Karl Rove tactics,’ which signifies little to non-Dem voters except a partisan rancor they’d like to put behind them.)

Lots of people like bad Disney movies, and don’t like the kind of people who sneer at bad Disney movies.

…Right.

So, to sum up, what Democrats need to do in order to effectively sell an anti-Republican message that resonates with the American people is to:

  • Not get their message covered by the media
  • Not be angry or forceful
  • Not deny anything that Republicans say, because it’s too difficult to prove one way or the other
  • Not actually make the case that anything is actually good or bad or true or false, because people don’t like hearing that
  • Not refer to anything in a way that will appeal to Democrats

Which, in turn, leaves us with the option of a Democratic presidential candidate shoving a screwdriver in his ear when he even thinks about speaking. It polls well.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
 
 
 
 
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