From Josh Marshall:
If you’re thinking to yourself that there’s little more than two weeks before election day and Obama has a solid lead in the polls, don’t be so sure.
Yes, it looks good for the Democrats. But you need to play close attention to the McCain campaign’s final weeks’ strategy under and just above the radar. McCain’s final strategy relies on two pillars. The first is aggressively playing to voters’ fears of electing a black president. Make no mistake: not just his campaign in a general sense, but McCain himself and his top handful of advisers, are banking on the residual racism in a changing America to get them over the finish line. The second is an aggressive use of innuendo to convince casual voters that Obama is in league with Islamic terrorists bent on killing Americans.
Stripped down to its components McCain’s message to voters is this: “Don’t forget. He’s definitely black. And he may be a terrorist.” That’s the message. The nuts and bolts is a concerted effort to keep Democrats from voting — through intimidation, by striking new voters from the rolls, which is going to happen to lots of them, clogging polling stations to create delays that keep late day (predominantly) Obama voters from voting altogether. Smears in the air and voter suppression on the ground.
Fearmongering paranoia, Republicans will say. In actual fact, it’s happening already — just as it always does, not least when the Republicans are down in the polls and overcome with desperation.
Given that they clearly can’t win the election on substance, that is, on the issues, all they can do, and it is precisely what they are doing, is try to turn the race into a culture war in microcosm, focusing on character and values, and more specifically on race, religion, terrorism, and whatever other wedges they can drive in.
If you haven’t yet seen this, you clearly haven’t been paying attention.
The smearing of Obama, the attempt to define him as the Other, as the enemy, has been a central component of the Republican election effort for a long time now, even if McCain and Palin have only turned to it more recently. And, with just over two weeks left, it will only get worse.
(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)