Okay, okay...I wasn't going to post any more about politics. Somehow, when your republic is being transformed into a dictatorship before your eyes, it draws your attention -- mine, anyway; and besides, thankfully there are less than forty of you reading this (for the next several decades, anyway), so what the hey. Quick field guide, then, to the strategy that keeps the Bad Guys winning, and the Good Guys losing.*
Take your opponent's biggest strength and attack him as weak in that very area; take your own biggest weakness and trumpet it as a strength,** attacking your opponent for being "soft" on that point. Note, crucially, that each approach is ATTACK based: the rule is, IF YOU GO ON DEFENSE, YOU LOSE.***
Examples: Your candidate is blisteringly stupid? "Man, I'm glad he's a regular guy, not like that stuffy Mr. Smarty-pants." Your opponent is a decorated war veteran, who lost three of his limbs in Vietnam, and your candidate is a chicken-hawk who avoided service? "Why is Max Cleland helping Osama that way?"
Disgusting. But pretty simple.
The current biggest liability of the Prez is the fact that he committed a clear criminal (and clearly impeachable) offense by spying on -- well, who knows who, exactly, but doing it without a warrant of any kind, even from the notoriously malleable FISA Anti-Terror Court. Remedy? Call your bugging plan the "Terrorist Surveillance Program," and ask why the Dems don't want terrorists surveilled. (They do, of course, as does the FISA anti-terrorism court...which raises the question, What was funny about this surveillance that made them hide it from the FISA court? I strongly suspect the other shoe hasn't dropped yet in this case, hence the current full-court press before it does.)
I think to fully understand the vile brilliance of this you have to examine an over-the-top, imaginary example. So let's say that Shrubby was, I dunno, filmed eating living puppy dogs.
Scott McClellan, that very day: "I think these attacks are way out of bounds. Americans love puppies. To accuse the President of eating them is just far beyond the acceptable limits of debate."
Shrubby press comments at a photo-op, next day: "Understand, these weren't puppy dogs. I know that's what you're hearing, but it's just not true. I'm from Texas, and we eat meat. I won't apologize for that."
Talking Head on Cable: "Well, I realize that the vegans in San Francisco don't approve of Americans eating meat, but I don't think they get to impose their all-vegetable way of life on the rest of us, yet. Thank God!"
VP Cheney, next day: "I know I'll be criticized for saying this, but if the security folks at Boston's airport had eaten meat on 9/11, maybe the attacks would never have happened. I just thank God we have a meat-eating President, and not somebody living on bean sprouts and trying to cut deals with Bin Laden."
Lefty Bloggers (e.g. on dailykos.com): "Dammit! The issue isn't EATING MEAT! The man ATE LIVE PUPPY DOGS! IT'S ON FILM!!!"
Talking Head on Cable: "Yes, I'm sad to have to admit there does seem to be a problem in both parties, on this whole kindness to animals thing. Perhaps Congress will propose some reforms."
Prexy at Signing Ceremony in Rose Garden: "I am signing today the Protect Puppy Dogs Act, which I hope will save this precious and cute resource for future generations. I thank Sen. Joe Lieberman for making this a bipartisan effort."
And finally, unseen by almost anyone, the Prexy's attached "signing statement" on said bill:
"Nothing in this Act may be construed as limiting the President's inherent Constitutional authority as Commander in Chief to eat whatever the hell he feels like. Oh, and note that we've opened a leak investigation to find out who betrayed their country by giving out the original film footage that caused so much needless trouble."
93 93/93 -- AJ
* Caveat: I mean the visible strategy. Most of their operations are invisible: e.g., near-total rightwing control (publishers, editors, many reporters) of the "liberal" media. And then there's Karl Rove's alleged covert ops, as outlined in the film Bush's Brain. Deniable smear campaigns (John McCain's "illegitimate black child" in the 2000 EV South Carolina primary); attacking your own guy to get sympathy -- e.g., Rove himself "leaking" Shrubby's drunk driving bust in the 2000 campaign (a tactic Rove may have perfected in his very first campaign: when he allegedly stole the headship of College Republicans in 1973 by making it look as though his opponent had gone to the Washington Post, at the height of Watergate, to complain of Rove's election fraud -- the way Rove first came to the notice of the Bush family, btw, when GOP Chairman George Sr. sided with him in this matter); or allegedly "bugging" your own office, so you can blame your opponents. Rove has, it is alleged, spent a lifetime doing this stuff (and worse), folks. Again, see the film Bush's Brain and decide for yourself; in this post I'm focusing on what's obviously true, and entirely public.
** Or, if you can't, then insist your opponent does it, too. Shrubby was vulnerable in 2000 as a known and repeated liar, and his proposals for the country were obviously disastrous. The remedy: paint Al Gore as a notorious liar (the "he claims he invented the Internet" falsehood, e.g.) -- hence lessening Bush's exposure, and also making people disbelieve Gore's insistence -- since proven true -- that Bush's policies were profoundly harmful. This appears to be the strategy in the current Abramoff bribery scandal: well, Republicans did it, but Dems did it, too. So far, there is no evidence whatsoever that this is true...but the "liberal" Washington Post has its webpage and "ombudsman" in total meltdown, insisting -- so far without any evidence whatsoever -- that it's true.
*** There was one Democrat who understood this, btw: Governor Gray Davis of California, who won elections handily by going on the offensive; along with the fact that he was about to get a bazillion dollars back from the crooks at Enron (Ah-nuld put a stop to that, of course), the reason that he had to be removed from office at all costs, with no little help from other members of the California Democratic Party (and California Broadcasters, as well: the guys who gave out the debate questions in advance because otherwise, Ah-nuld couldn't possibly have competed). The nightmare of those who run this country is an actual, rather than pretended, populist party, whether Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, or what have you. That part, anyway, isn't new at all.