Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The GOP Recipe: ‘Tear Him Down’

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

Republicans are already getting lots of advice in the media on how they can win in November. And the surprise winner? Go negative, go personal, go nasty.

Gosh, like they’ve never done that before.

Gosh, like they weren’t going to do that anyway.

Anyway, there was CNN "senior analyst" Jeffrey Toobin, on Wolf Blitzer’s "Situation Room" Tuesday:
Well, I think there’s a paradox here, which is that McCain has always been a politician who really has been about the issues, about his stands on campaign finance, immigration, whatever he happens to be identified with at that moment. But the way to beat Barack Obama is not on the issues, because the issues support him. He’s the one who has the majority support for the issues he cares about.

The way to attack Obama is to attack him personally, to tear him down, make him seem risky, different, just too unusual a person to be president.

That’s McCain’s challenge if he wants to do it. It’s not something he’s done before. We’ll see if he takes it on this time.
Yeah, because it’s his duty as a Republican, you know. (And for what it’s worth, McCain has run the McNasty style of campaign on more than a few occasions already in his career; but Toobin has a Maverick Man narrative to sell here, and annoying facts have no place at such times.)
BLITZER: If he doesn’t do it, there will be plenty of groups out there, unaffiliated with the campaign, that will be more than happy to do it, right, Jack?
CAFFERTY: Well, yes, I would assume that they will. But you have to be a little careful with some of this stuff, because Barack Obama is a very popular fellow among the average middle class folks in this country. And, again, I go back to that 84 percent who think the country is on the wrong track. McCain is identified as part of the Washington establishment. He’s been there for 26 years. And the way he flip-flops around on the issues, I’m not sure up you can even talk about him being a maverick anymore. It seems that he’s much more politically expedient than maybe used to be.

So I think you’ve got to be a little careful about just coming out and just bashing Barack Obama for the sake of doing it. It could backfire.

TOOBIN: I’m not sure. You know, we often think it’s going to backfire. But going into the last election, who would have thought that John Kerry, the war hero, the Bronze Star winner, could have been attacked on his military record?

That seemed like the one area he was completely bullet-proof. But of course we know about the swift boat attacks. Negative attacks work and it’s something that I think if the Republicans want to win, that’s what they’re going to have to do.
I think the little photoshop job above — which is everywhere on wingnut blogs and websites, a very popular little item — pretty much encapsulates the GOP campaign this fall. No, that’s not a parody.

But it’s a joke to think that McCain is going to have to get his hair mussed. As Cafferty and Blitzer suggest, guys like Floyd Brown and his crew of wack jobs are going to be setting the tone, letting McCain keep his deniability plausible.

And it’ll be "mainstream" pundits like Toobin who will look on approvingly as they do, maintaining their own deniability. Because, you know, they’re just disinterested observers who want to see the most vicious, nasty, ratings-friendly campaign possible — especially if it helps keep those increasingly crumbly Village walls intact.

You know, it’s too bad we can’t vote our pundits out of office at election time too.

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