Negative Advertising v. Negative Advertising
As we enter the last week of the presidential election campaign, much has been made and much continues to be made of "negative campaigning." The mainstream media makes much of the issue, even though it has a long-standing tradition in American politics going back to the early 19th century. But I'm confused. The MSM's usual take on what's going on is "a plague on both your houses," as if both campaigns were engaging in the same kind of campaigning that can described as "negative." So the McCain campaign says Sen. Obama is a "socialist" while the Obama campaign says that Sen. McCain voted for Bush policies 90% of the time. Sarah Palin says that Sen. Obama has been "pallin' around with terrorists," while Sen. Obama points out that Sen. McCain's proposed tax cuts benefit only the wealthy. A McCain Minnesota robo-call, which ends with the statement "this call as approved by the Republican National Committee and Sen. John McCain" says that Sen. Obama was a "close associate of the terrorist [Prof. William] Ayers," (demonstrably untrue) while Sen. Obama points out that Sen. McCain is on record as proposing to appoint Supreme Court justices who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Somehow I don't see these two kinds of ads as comparable. McCain/Palin attack Obama with half-truths, fully un-truths and character assassination (while letting people at their rallies scream death threats with very infrequent comments from the podium). Obama attacks McCain on policy issues and yes, sometimes does use the word "erratic," one that many Republicans have used to describe his behavior during the campaign. Since McCain has made "suitability for the office" a campaign issue (and with his choice of Palin it surely is), it would seem that "erratic" is a word hardly in the same category as "terrorist." But I guess that I must have missed something. Because the MSM continue to tell us that this is a negative campaign and that both sides have contributed equally to the negativity.
On to ACORN
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (now that's a scary name, isn't it?), has become the whipping boy for the Republican Party and their media hacks as they maneuver to find a cover for their obvious attempts to suppress Democratic votes once again and once again steal the election (as they did in 2000 and 2004). Actually, if you listen to the Fox "News" Channel, otherwise known as the Voice of The Republican National Committee (and I do, along with listening to Limbaugh and Hannity in admittedly small doses --- gotta know what the Republican Radical Right is really saying), you would think that their role in registering voters is one of the top ones in this campaign, if not THE top one.
First the Republican Scream Machine, as with the Fannie and Freddie fiction, led by Hannity and the self-same Fox "News" Channel. Then, again, McCain-as-echo-chamber himself in that last debate. "ACORN is fraudulently registering voters." We are going to hear this right up to Election Day, and very likely well after it, for the Republicans seem to be gearing up, gearing way up, to try to steal yet another election. The problem with this one is that ACORN does not register voters. Only election boards do that. ACORN simply circulates forms and submits the filled-out ones to the local Boards of Elections, which then make their decision on the qualification of the applicant in each individual case.
Yes, some of their overzealous workers (overzealous for a variety of reasons, for they do get paid by the piece) have submitted or attempted to submitted fake forms. But: A) state laws require ACORN to submit every form they collect, B) ACORN itself flagged all of those forms they determined to be even possibly fake, and C) ACORN has fired workers caught doing the wrong thing.
Again, Obama chose not to bring this one up in that last debate, or since. The obvious strategy, which has been there since the beginning against HR Clinton and all her charges of "inexperienced" and "questionable character" (Wright and Ayres), has been to stick to the issues, and in the debates to "look Presidential" by doing so. So far it is working. Let's hope that it continues to do so, through Election Day and with enough votes, both total and in the key states, to overcome the Republican Election Theft Machine, now obviously operating at full throttle.
Kristol v. Kristol
Bill Kristol has had a major influence on this presidential campaign. He was one of the Right-Wingers who discovered Palin on a political vacation in that neighbor of Russia - Alaska -- in 2007. In his Sept. 29, 2008 column in The New York Times, Kristol laid out just how McCain could win. By doing things such as hustling back to Washington for the first meeting on the "bailout" (in which he apparently sat there and said nothing of significance -- anyway how could he? He knows little about economics by his own admission); "liberate" his running mate; reintroduce the Rev. Wright to the conversation; and go on the all-out attack against Obama as an all-out "liberal." This was all to be managed by McCain's great campaign leaders, Rick Davis and Steve "Bullet Head" Schmidt.
Then comes Kristol on October 13, 2008, in The Times. "Fire the Campaign," the headline read. McCain and Palin should go back to being their "cheerful" selves (not there is any public evidence that either is very cheerful, even though Palin smiles a lot. There is the real danger, heaven forefend, of a Democratic Presidency AND a Democratic Congress (which Republican operatives such as David Frum said over a week ago on the Rachel Maddow show, where he made a complete fool of himself). Seems to me that Republicans didn't fuss about that issue for the first six years of this decade, but you know, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. Boy I tell you, ol' Bill makes powerful (sic) arguments on both sides of the question.
Like McCain/Palin telling us in one breath all of the things they are going to do when they have control over the government to fix "what has been wrong with the last eight years," in the next telling us that "all that has to be done for the American people is to get government out of their way," and in the next reading from the Obama Agenda of things that need fixin', such as health care and education (especially for special needs children) and the environment, all apparently at no cost because they are going to continue the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy while continuing on with the $12 billion per month Iraq War, until "victory" is achieved.
And then on Monday of this week, after two weeks of McCain/Palin burrowing further into the muck and obviously not taking his second set of advice but continuing on with his first set, Kristol is still at it (The New York Times, Oct. 27, 2008). "Remember the Marne (referring to a famous battle at the beginning of the First World War): A Battle Plan for John McCain." There is no sign that McCain/Palin are going to start anytime soon just "being themselves," in Bill's current terms. Following his original recommendations, the real ones do seem to have come out already. It couldn't be that Kristol is just trying to cover his behind so as to have some hope of still maintaining a modicum of influence in a Republican Party that is increasingly going in the direction of slime-all-the-time. Could it? Hey Bill, that's going to be tough. Maybe you had better go back to your first recommendation, real quick, before Coulter and Limbaugh and Hannity totally dominate the "it's The Liberals" who are the cause of every single one of our country's problems, and "Something will have to be done about Them" school of Republicanism.
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and a www.TPJmagazine.us Contributing Author; a regular Columnist for BuzzFlash; a Special Contributing Editor for Cyrano's Journal Online; a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century, POAC; and a Featured Writer for Dandelion Salad http://dandelionsalad.