The McCain campaing has been pulling some really ugly stuff out of the old Rovian playbook in the past couple of days. The NY Times Editorial Board explains more:
The presumptive Republican nominee has embarked on a bare-knuckled barrage of negative advertising aimed at belittling Mr. Obama. The most recent ad compares the presumptive Democratic nominee for president to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton — suggesting to voters that he’s nothing more than a bubble-headed, publicity-seeking celebrity.
The ad gave us an uneasy feeling that the McCain campaign was starting up the same sort of racially tinged attack on Mr. Obama that Republican operatives, some of whom work for Mr. McCain now, ran against Harold Ford, a black candidate for Senate in Tennessee in 2006. That assault, too, began with videos juxtaposing Mr. Ford with young, white women.
Obama wasted no time in calling McCain on the ugly ploy, “saying, quite rightly, that the Republicans are trying to scare voters by pointing out that he “doesn’t look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills.’’”
Then McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, “had a snappy answer. “Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck,” he said. “It’s divisive, negative, shameful and wrong.’’”
Um… Well… What’s ugly is the tactics the McCain camp is using, the Times Editorial Board says:
The retort was, we must say, not only contemptible, but shrewd. It puts the sin for the racial attack not on those who made it, but on the victim of the attack.
It also — and we wish this were coincidence, but we doubt it — conjurs up another loaded racial image.
The phrase dealing the race card “from the bottom of the deck” entered the national lexicon during the O.J. Simpson saga. Robert Shapiro, one of Mr. Simpson’s lawyers, famously declared of himself, Johnny Cochran and the rest of the Simpson defense team, “Not only did we play the race card, we dealt it from the bottom of the deck.”
It’s ugly stuff. How about we leave Britney, Paris, and O.J. out of this — and have a presidential campaign?
Marc Ambinder says “it’s worth noting this stuff has worked in the past; theoretically, it pigeonholes Obama as a northern liberal with effete tastes.”
(Karl Rove loves to use the word “effete” against liberals). It worked against John Kerry in 2004. It worked for Hillary Clinton in the primaries. It worked for Andrew Jackson against John Quincy Adams. (I know, Jackson was a Democrat…) It works not because of the fact of thing — windsurfing is not an elite sport — but because it allows partisans to feel superior and allows Republicans to begin to build an entire narrative around their opponents’ purported elitism. BTW: you can see the train of thought: Obama –> full of himself –> arrogant –> celebrity –> self-possessed –> doing things for himself, not for the country, BTW: What type of shoes does McCain wear?
Somehow, I have a feeling we ain’t seen nothing yet from the McCain camp and the Republicans. It’s going to be a long, rough, rocky ride. Let’s hope Obama’s “high-mindedness” is enough to counter McCain’s attacks, because I remember damn well it wasn’t enough when Kerry used that tactic, although we all hoped it would be then. At some point, I am afraid Barack Obama will need to roll up his sleeves and play hardball with the McCain camp and hit them back with every dirty innuendo he can.
“Is that the best you can come up with?” — May not be enough.