Get Ready For the McCain-Palin Slime Machine
The only thing slimier than a Republican candidate is a Republican candidate who is losing. That is the position that John McCain and Sarah Palin find themselves in today. Barack Obama has opened up a sizeable lead over McCain. A couple of days ago, the McCain campaign cut and ran from Michigan, which it had formerly considered a battleground state. And now McCain's campaign has hunkered down in formerly Republican states like Florida, Missouri, Virginia, and even Indiana, ones that George Bush won (and, in the case of Indiana, which Republicans typically win handily), treating them as the battleground states. When you're fighting just to hold onto your base (as Sarah Palin seems to do with each appearance), you're in big trouble.
This means that the McCain-Palin campaign has only one tool left in their arsenal -- to turn on their slime machine against Barack Obama. I thought of this last night, and, lo and behold, there's a news article on the Washington Post's website this morning confirming that "McCain Plans Fiercer Strategy Against Obama." The sub-headline reads "GOP plans to focus on Democrat's judgment, honesty and personal ties."
The slime tactic from Republicans is nothing new. Republican campaign operative Lee Atwater honed his dirty campaign tricks while working for Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, and then perfected them during George H.W. Bush's successful 1988 Presidential campaign against Michael Dukakis. The result was the infamous Willie Horton television ad. After Lee Atwater died, his protege, Karl Rove, took over the Republican slime machine, and we all know what happened. First, Rove helped George W. Bush defeat John McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary using Atwater's dirty tactics. The Bush-Rove smear campaign against McCain in 2000, which included "push polls" spreading the false implication that McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child, reportedly caused a bitter rift between Bush and McCain that to this day has not healed. Bush and Rove successfully used similar tactics against Al Gore and John Kerry in the 2000 and 2004 elections, culminating in the false "Swift Boat" campaign against Kerry that helped Bush win re-election in 2004. About the principal "Swift Boat" ad that ran against Kerry, McCain said at the time, "I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable."
Ah, but what a difference four years makes. McCain has now hired Rove's own proteges, such as Steve Schmidt. Amazingly, McCain's hires include some of the very people who falsely slimed McCain in 2000, such as Charlie Condon. A month ago, McCain hired another of the South Carolina Dirty Tricksters, Tucker Eskew, about whom McCain previously said "there is a special place in hell," to work for Sarah Palin. It is now obvious that McCain intends to use these same Bush-Rove operatives who destroyed McCain's character in the 2000 primary to do the same to Barack Obama.
I have no doubt that, after observing what the Republican slime machine did to John McCain in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, Barack Obama is ready for the most vicious, sleazy, tawdry, false attacks imaginable. Are you?
(Obama "HOPE" image by Shepard Fairey)