Déjà vue all over again

| Barack Obama is being swiftboated, and apparently the only one who doesn't realize it is Barack Obama.

I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends... that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them

Adlai E. Stevenson Jr. (1900 - 1965), Speech during 1952 Presidential Campaign

It's an age-old tactic in politics, telling lies and half-truths about the opposition, but in recent years it has been raised to an art form, so much so that in 2004 John Kerry, an honest-to-god war hero, could be defeated by a presidential candidate whose military service consisted of spotty attendance in the National Guard and vice-presidential candidate who avoided military service entirely because he "had better things to do."

Here we go again! This time we have a young, charismatic Democratic presidential candidate and a seasoned Democratic vice-presidential candidate up against an aging Republican presidential candidate, who thinks we need more of the same economic and foreign policies that brought us two wars and a bankrupted economy, and a young, charismatic Republican vice-presidential candidate with no national or international experience whatsoever — and the Democrats are getting trounced in the polls. Gimme a break!

How can this be, you ask? Simple.

Franklin Roosevelt once said, "Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth," but it seems that Vladimir Lenin actually had a better understanding of human psychology: "A lie told often enough becomes the truth."

Until the Republican convention, John McCain based his whole campaign on an appeal to experience. He said he had more of it than Barack Obama and should therefore be trusted with the Oval Office. That wasn't working; Obama's issues-based campaign was. Then, at the convention, McCain gave his campaign an extreme make-over and abandoned "experience" for a campaign based on a cult of "war hero" and "hockey mom" personalities.

Despite the fact that McCain still thinks the Bush tax cuts should be made permanent and big business and the rich should get even more tax cuts; despite the fact that McCain, age 72 years, chose as his running mate a woman with no national or international experience; despite the fact that McCain sees nothing wrong with the war in Iraq, which he thinks we're "winning," whatever that means, and wants to pick a fight with Iran and with Russia; despite the fact that McCain has, for the purpose of this presidential campaign, switched his position on everything from off-shore drilling to global warming to the economy to energy to ...; despite the fact that McCain is from the same political party that brought us the last eight years; despite all those things we're now supposed to vote for him because he suffered heroically as a prisoner of war and because Sarah Palin has been made into a celebrity idol for middle-aged working white women.

But guess what? Identity politics, for which the Republicans have criticized the Democrats for for decades, seems to work. The presidential race is now a virtual dead heat.

Unless Obama can change the subject from personalities back to issues, there's a good chance he'll lose this election. Because of the reduction in violence in Iraq (which McCain wants to attribute solely to the surge), that issue has shifted to America's back burner, at least for the time being, until casualties rise again. What is now first and foremost on people's minds is the precarious state of the economy — everybody knows prices of food, healthcare, and energy are rising at alarming rates; everybody knows that our financial institutions are on the verge of collapse; everybody knows that no job in America is secure. We're back to 1992 — It's the economy, stupid!

The other thing the Democrats must do is take Sarah Palin down. The longer she is allowed to get away with playing the role of pit bull with lipstick, the harder it will be to counteract. The media has a big role to play here: they have to stop giving the McCain campaign a free pass when it comes to taking questions and giving interviews. In today's column in the NYTimes, Maureen Dowd poses just the kind of awkward questions that should be asked:

What kind of budget-cutter makes a show of getting rid of the state plane, then turns around and bills taxpayers for the travel of her husband and kids between Juneau and Wasilla and sticks the state with a per-diem tab to stay in her own home?

Why was Sarah for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against the Bridge to Nowhere, and why was she for earmarks before she was against them? And doesn?t all this make her just as big a flip-flopper as John Kerry?

What kind of fiscal conservative raises taxes and increases budgets in both her jobs ? as mayor and as governor?

When the phone rings at 3 a.m., will she call the Wasilla Assembly of God congregation and ask them to pray on a response, as she asked them to pray for a natural gas pipeline?

Does she really think Adam, Eve, Satan and the dinosaurs mingled on the earth 5,000 years ago?

Why put out a press release about her teenage daughter?s pregnancy and then spend the next few days attacking the press for covering that press release?

As Troopergate unfolds here ? an inquiry into whether Palin inappropriately fired the commissioner of public safety for refusing to fire her ex-brother-in-law ? it raises this question: Who else is on her enemies list and what might she do with the F.B.I.?

Does she want a federal ban on trans fat in restaurants and a ban on abortion and Harry Potter? And which books exactly would have landed on the literature bonfire if she had had her way with that Wasilla librarian?

Just how is it that Fannie and Freddie have cost taxpayers money (since they haven?t yet)?

Does she talk in tongues or just eat caribou tongues?

What does she have against polar bears?

It may be time for Democrats to start asking themselves, What would Karl Rove do?

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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