Sunday, August 03, 2008


By Ivan G. Goldman

The Karl Rove attack dogs that have taken over the McCain campaign have already managed to choose the chief topic of the 2008 presidential race: Why does Barack Obama hate America?

Republicans aren’t much good at governing, but they know how to run an election campaign in a nation that loves simple, ugly scandals even if they're untrue.

McCain and his creatures can’t say out loud what their two-part program is for this country, which is to make the rich richer and screw everyone else, paying particular attention to punishing the downtrodden. Consequently, they stay away from issues of substance or skulk up to them with tangential asides that pose as issues. The thrust of their election strategy is to replace the topics that matter by substituting personal attacks, often leveling charges that are totally invented and repeating them even after they're proved false.

The media, trained to look for the sensational, rather like this sort of campaign and reflexively become its tools. A few of their members question why they do things they way they do, but for the most part they fall obediently into line rather than focus on what the campaign should be about. The global corporations that employ them naturally lean right, and they’re pleased they don’t even have to put out directives to get the kind of election coverage they hanker for.

Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos of ABC (Disney, Inc.) knew their work would be applauded in the executive suites, when, for example, they spent much of a nationally televised “debate” blaming Obama for violent attacks made by the Weather People when he was ten years old.

It’s not that Obama doesn’t try to press forward on the issues; it’s just that almost no one pays attention. His statements on reforming Social Security, health care, energy, and ecology policies fall unheard in the forest, as does his determination to at least modify America’s expanded role as Soldier of Oil.

Instead he has to explain he’d never intended to bring in cameras while he visited with wounded service people, as McCain, Inc. claimed. In this case McCain didn't twist the truth a bit but just made something up. Once you start answering such charges, you’re sunk. The charges stick. But the real indictment is broader – that he’s a non-white, secret Muslim agent seeking to destroy America. The New Yorker cartoon cover was only kidding, but McCain and his people aren’t. They’ll keep hammering out the Big Lie, a strategy perfected by Joseph Goebbels when he and his boss came to power in Germany 75 years ago.

Somehow Obama has to figure out a way to push the issues into the spotlight – not easy in dumbed-down America, where so many voters can’t name their congressional representative but will readily tell you about the latest loser on "So You Think You Can Dance".

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