Monkeys with Molotovs: The gutter politics of McCain, Palin, Rove & Co.
The monkeys are at it again. Lacking substantive issues on which to wage a presidential campaign, they’ve resorted to lobbing cheap incendiary devices at their opponent, in the hope that one will hit the mark and bring Obama’s candidacy down in flames. Fact is, on the issues, the McCain ticket had already self-destructed before Sarah Palin arrived on the scene. Bereft of anything to offer, other than a shoddily re-packaged version of the fatally flawed Bush Administration, the McCain team has long since lost credibility as an agent of change, maverick or otherwise.
Palin’s addition to the ticket adds nothing, beyond the squallorous baggage of her lie and scandal-ridden Alaska politics, which have perversely served to polarize this country even further from discussing solutions to the calamitous problems we face. Here, the McCain-Palin political team is proving to be a perfect match, uniquely-suited to make a seamless transition from the Bush-Cheney years. Neither McCain nor Palin has enough respect for the merit of their own credentials to run on them, so they’ve instead reinvented and embellished their records, weaving a myth, of sorts, that they are all-American mavericks, set to shake-up Washington politics, even as their campaign — run by Bush-league lobbyists and Karl Rove minions — is exactly what has so infected Washington politics over the past 8 years. Neither candidate has enough respect for their self-described maverick credentials, because neither can prove that they are any different from the same-old, same-old reckless cowboys, not mavericks, that have been running this country for the past 8 years.
McCain’s voting record, particularly over the past 4 years, has been lockstep with Bush-Cheney. His spell as a maverick with the Bush Administration happened only briefly, after the 2000 election, when a bruised McCain was so angry at Bush, he considered switching parties as payback. Despite that his maverick record doesn’t even exist, he runs on the claim, bolstering it with self-serving reminders of his military service, which he delivers in the countless wrenching retellings of his POW experiences — stories which, in the minds of many fellow vets, play more like shameless pandering, as John McCain’s own voting record on veteran issues is no less than deplorable. Palin, for her part, brings to the ticket a thin career in Alaska politics, riddled with lies, cronyism and scandal.
Neither Palin nor McCain have shown that they own the scruples or vision to think outside of their narrow worldviews long enough to consider that they are running for high office in a country that has been left bleeding, in shambles, from the collateral damage of the past 8 years under the Bush-Cheney Administration. Neither candidate has bothered to take notice that the last thing this bleeding country needs is more blood. Yet, the two candidates are nothing, if not shrewd. They both know that — when it comes to influencing people — if you scare the hell out of them, you can bring them, lockstep, into your camp, so long as you promise to protect them. Bush, Cheney, Rove & Co. were masters at this tactic.
Sad thing is — and despite that this tactic is cheap, ugly and transparent to many Americans — this tactic really, truly works on a large number of voters. And the beauty of it is that, the dirtier the tactics, the better the trap they lay for their opponent. We’ve seen this over the past 12 days, as the McCain camp’s dirty bombs have escalated, leaving Obama but two choices: respond in kind, or take the high road, adhering to the strength of his issues and the authenticity of his campaign. Translated, in Rovesque terms, this means that Obama has a choice between appearing either weak or tough on terror. And, make no mistake, the McCain-Palin tactics more closely resemble terrorist tactics than the strategy of respectable, statured politicians trying to win an election. (To see an example of the latter, you’d have to study the example of the Obama campaign over the past 18 months). The only hope for the McCain-Palin team is that they can lure Obama into an even bigger trap, in which dirty does battle with dirty. And, as anyone in Washington can tell you, there’s no one can trump Rove when it comes to dirty politics.
Excerpt from an interview with McCain on Karl Rove tactics:
QUESTION: His tactics don’t, you don’t disapprove of them? They don’t make you nervous?
MCCAIN: It’s not so much whether I approve of his tactics or not. It’s that he has a very good, great political mind. Any information or advice and council he can give us, I’d be glad to have. I don’t think anybody denies his talents. So I’d be glad to get any advice and council. We would obviously decide whether to accept it or not.
McCain and Palin have shown their adeptness at playing gutter politics, with no lie, no slander, no blow too low or too outrageous, so long it serves to discredit their opponent or scare the American people. After all, their team includes Karl Roves brightest protege, a man named Steve Schmidt, a master of gutter politics. McCain and Palin have also shown that they are adept at waging a petty, senseless, pre-emptive gutter war — a war waged for the sole benefit of their campaign agenda, at the expense of everyday Americans who are facing calamitous changes in their lives. Will these same Americans take the bait, as they’ve done for the past 8 years? Are Americans still so blinded by swaggering bravado, that they see strength in a leader throwing gasoline on a fire? Will they again choose the monkeys with Molotovs, or will they choose the candidate who’s fighting like hell to wage a campaign that offers tangible solutions to the very real and tangible problems we face as Americans? Only time will tell.
by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers
For more reading:
New York Magazine: The Low Road Warrior – Many of McCain’s advisers from 2000, such as John Weaver and Mike Murphy, express qualms about the campaign’s newly nasty tone. (One can only imagine the sigh of relief emanating from Mark McKinnon, the heralded adman who helped McCain win the nomination but whose aversion to taking a cleaver to Obama caused him to sit out the general.)
Huffington Post: While Rome Burned… They Talked About Lipstick
Huffington Post: Bob Cesca: Fooled Again