(Jim Morin via GoComics.com)
Every American election is the ugliest election ever, because the grievances never change and the technology continually improves.
State-of-the-art propaganda—broadsheets and tavern buys—was used to let “everybody know” that John Adams had pimped young American virgins to the Russian czar during his ambassadorial career, while selling America out to France to fund his own elitist anti-Christian depravities. The same state-of-art outlets broadcast that Thomas Jefferson was a repeat bankrupt who slept with his dead wife’s Negro half-sister, and sold his own offspring for money to waste on imported wines and books in foreign languages. The first American election was too jury-rigged an invention for the rumors to really get traction… but the hardcore anti-federalists are still pimping the “fact” that a doddering George Washington had his head turned by that bastard half-breed Hamilton’s professional charms, at the behest of the New York bankers.
Of course there’s usually a grain of truth, or at least truthiness, at the heart of these slanders—Adams (much as I love the guy) really was an elitist prick with no respect for the bulk of his proudly unlettered countrymen, and Jefferson really did sleep with Sally Hemmings and spend money compulsively. People like gossip, because it’s memorable. During the 1968 convention, my lace-curtain Irish Catholic grandmother, a lady who considered politics the game for men too old to play professional sports, whispered that Humphrey “took no interest in women” as the result of “a war injury”. (When the backroom boys quipped that LBJ “had Hubert’s pecker in his pocket”, I don’t think this is quite what they meant to convey.) A few years later, she was sure that Watergate happened because “that deviate ‘Baby’ Rebozo and his nasty little male playmates” had lured Nixon into unspeakable practices — and this was well before the National Lampoon riffed on the same cartoon satire.
Every president has been branded as an undercover non-native (Andrew Johnson was ‘really’ an English immigrant, Tyler & Coolidge Canadian, Hoover born in China, LBJ in Mexico) and/or non-white (Jackson, Lincoln, Harding, Clinton) and/or a business failure (Cleveland, Grant, Truman, Bush II) of suspicious religious affiliation (Madison, both ‘Rosenfelts’, JFK). Every single one has been labelled some kind of sexual deviate (or at least deviate-curious) desperate to sell out his country to the rising global power of the moment (England, France, Germany, Russia, Japan, China).
But our communications technology & social-engineering skills have improved to the point where, in 2012, we have a magic-underwear-ing son of a Mexican immigrant who’s spent his career playing elitist bankster games to hide the vast fortune he’s made selling America and his inbred slack-jawed co-religionists out to the UN and the ChiComs, trying to steal the White House (back) from a Kenyan Muslim half-breed who’s never had a “real” non-governmental job in his life, ever since his globe-trotting childhood introduced him to culinary, philosphical, and possibly sexual practices that decent Christian Heartlanders™ can barely imagine (without help from cable channels & the internet).
By 2016, we’ll probably be able to download a Red or Blue TruGanda Facts-ion-aid™ dataset directly into our retinal implants, but the base script won’t change—our opponent is a member of That Tribe We Hate, who eats unclean foodstuffs and sleeps with taboo partners while worshipping false gods and using more than his share of the common resources. All else is commentary.
President Obama is a very, very intelligent man and a consumate politician. He knew that his life and his history would provide an extra impetus to his enemies’ every lie, half-truth, and misinterpretation before he ever started campaigning, and we owe him respect for his choices as he goes forward. I’m sure that the ugliness of his opponents and the general outline of their slurs surprise him no more than the fact that DC summers can be as brutal as Chicago winters. We need to rebut the rebuttable and counter lies with facts, but non-stop public whining about how people would rather hear exciting new narratives than boring old statistics is not helpful.
If we’re going to fashion a ‘History’s Greatest Victim‘ tiara, let’s save it for Romney, come November.
Catching up on the quotes from those rich-as-hell donors at the Romney fundraiser in the Hamptons. Holy shit.
Sharpen the fucking guillotine.
The Dems ought to start playing some real class warfare to show how that set have been on the offensive for years.
Just wait until the Romney autofellatio tape surfaces.
Obama hasn’t had a scandal since becoming President. They’ve tried with Solyndra and Fast and Furious, but it hasn’t really worked. And there certainly isn’t any kind of personal scandal, a la Clinton.
So all they’ve got to go on is stuff we heard last time. He’s blackity-blackity-black. Yeah, we know. Jeremiah Wright. Yawn, that was four years ago. Birth certificate. Except for a few die-hards, that’s over.
But Romney’s the gift that keeps on giving for gossipy stuff. Inept staff. Rich and out of touch donors. Wife who rides dancing horses. Mormonism and its no alcohol or caffeine, plus magic underwear and secret temple rites. Offshore bank accounts. $100M IRA. Every new day brings an exciting new shiny object of ridicule for Mitt.
People remember gossipy stuff. It’s a lot easier and more fun to remember magic underwear-offshore bank accounts-dancing horse than it is the details of his policies.
Wait, his policies have detail? Could have fooled me. I have been told that his lack of specifics makes him ‘smart and savvy’.
@Hunter Gathers: Who even knows? Details? No details? Magic underwear! Dancing horses!
As I said in a thread a couple days ago, when Obama wins this fall, it will be the most beautiful election ever.
The difficulty with trying to remember the details of Romney’s policies is that Romney himself won’t say what the details are. My own suspicion is that Romney hasn’t worked out any policy details because his focus is on running down Obama’s policy, rather than offering an alternative whose specifics someone might hold against him.
Two key problems with this rosy scenario:
1) We have yet to experience the “shock and awe” campaign of negative and slanderous advertising that will descend on Obama starting around Labor Day, which could impact turnout in the swing states.
2) The voter disenfranchisement campaign is well under way in those same states, so despite all of Romney’s negatives, if we don’t get Dems with “proper papers” to the polls, Romney will still win.
After a few blog entries about pets (I know I’m in the minority so I just skip them) and posts by John about how fat and self loathing he is (don’t care if it is true, he’s a good enough blogger to make this place one of the three I read every day) someone gives me a terrific post like this one and I remember why I’m here. Say it.
The perspective is welcome. But I think what’s different now (yeah, yeah, people have always said “what’s different now…”) is the disappearance of a standard of elite conversation that cared deeply about the outcome but rejected the scare stories and their implications.There was a separation between the grubby game of politics and the serious game of governing. But now, the Republican half of the elite has either bought into the scare stories, or invested huge amounts of reputational capital in spreading and profiting from the scare stories, so once they’re in office they can’t shrug them off.
The result? Even when Boehner wants to sign off on a debt ceiling talks that gives him 90% of what he wants, he can’t because he (and, more importantly, the media outlets that support him) have invested too much in the argument that any increase in the debt ceiling means Zimbabwean disaster. And even when Romney wants to change the subject from healthcare because the ACA is Romneycare Lite and doesn’t trouble the insurance companies or other big corporations much anyway, he can’t because he and the media outlets that support him are sold on the idea that the ACA is the first step on the road to Maoist Cultural Revolution. There’s just no walking that stuff back.
For contrast, the Jeffersonian Republicans spent the 1790s denouncing Hamilton and his system as monarchy, tyranny, etc, then the moment Jefferson took office they kept the whole thing in place. Nixon ran as a hardline anti-elitist anti-Communist conservative then, in office, compromised with the Democrats in Congress on a whole series of domestic issues, pursued openings to the USSR and China, and focused on pursuing his real and imagined political enemies outside of the policy sphere.
If Romney (God forbid) gets elected, I just can’t see him placidly reversing a few Obama policies and keeping others. He’ll have to go all the way, on every issue, or his base will abandon him, and of course the last thing he wants to be is a one-termer. The tragedy isn’t the worsening tone of politics, but in how politics has permanently infected policy.
He can’t give policy details. If he came out with policies that connected with the tribal base of the GOP, he’d be slaughtered in November. Those policies are not popular. If he came out with policies that were popular, his policies would either be indistinguishable from policies that Obama is already proposing or worse for the majority than what Obama is already proposing (because he certainly isn’t going to attack Obama from the left). AND he’d lose the support of the tribal base because he’s proposing “liberal” policies and proving that he’s the “secret lie-beral” that they’ve been accusing him of being since 2008.
W was able to thread this particular needle by NOT having to prove his bona-fides with the tribal base. He was “one of them” so he could propose ideas with a “liberal” vocabulary (i.e. what those of us not in the tribe would call center-right or even right-wing but not “far right”) and not get slaughtered. Because they knew he was engaging in the noble lie for the higher truth. They don’t trust Mitt, so they can’t give him the benefit of the doubt on who he’s lying to.
This is going to be a problem for all GOP candidates for President in the near term.
Davis X. Machina
@Amir Khalid: Romney doesn’t need to have positions, he has staff to have those positions for him. He’s lived his whole life that way — why change now? And why would it change in the White House?
I read a 27% statistic, but in inverse, that with the double gator with a twist appears to contain some hint of linear logic on the part of Bill Kristol. Must be bizarro day.
This was my big worry in 2008. The situation appears much worse this go-round. The numbers coming out of Pennsylvania are particularly troubling.
Anne, this is going viral. My friend Marian Fisher (a fairly big name on Facebook left-leaning political postings) just posted this article. Good work!
The upside is that what’s motivating the GOP campaign to restrict the electorate is that the realization is setting in among both their leaders and core supporters is that the nation’s demographics have already reached the tipping point where the GOP cannot win national elections without restricting the eligible electorate to more closely resemble what it was circa 1980. A huge segment of core GOP supporters firmly believe that Obama only won in 2008 because millions of people who shouldn’t be eligible to vote were allowed to do so.
Of course, the downside is that should the GOP win the Presidency, Senate and House in 2012, they’ll be able to successfully implement and make stick restrictions that will retard their demographic drowning by two to as many as four more elections, giving them time to hopefully either recapture some currently dem-leaning demographic groups such as Latinos, or else de facto permanently disenfranchise a large portion of those resisting absorption into the GOP Borg.
Better prepare for a wave of low-quality trolls. They’ll probably be infesting this thread soon…
The media…there it is. the group that has benefited most from Citizens United has been those who will profit off the huge ad buys. There’s a big difference between an article in some rag that is the equivalent of the World Weekly News or National Enquirer and $1M worth of TV time on behalf of some candidate no one knew last Wednesday running for a state senate seat.
I think the core argument stands that slander and fear mongering has always been a part of political campaigns. But I’m not sure there have been so many who stand to gain as much for doubling down on the hate language. And mostly its those who are selling the ads that are cleaning up. They’re addicted to 24/7/365 campaigning on the federal level and now they’ve gotten a taste of what that might mean if they take it to the state and local level.
I agree that we need to counter lies with facts, but as Kennedy observed, we have to be resolved to do what is hard and acknowledge that it will be hard.
Sure, it has always been bad, but it’s been worse at times, for instance, pre-civil war, and not so bad at others, say the 1980’s. Not sure where we are on that spectrum now.
What 1980s did YOU live through?
I remember the ’84 and ’88 campaigns – they were pretty damn bad. Mondale and Dukakis weren’t great campaigners, but the whisper campaigns around both of them were ugly.
Is Obama serious about his proposal to increase the tax rates of the over-$250k crowd? I can’t believe he is. His own damn party won’t support him in this.
The only way that happens is if he vetos any extension and passes a separate bill to handle the under-250k bunch. The only way.
Smoke and mirrors aren’t gonna get it when poeple are paying attention, guys.
He doesn’t need to. It’ll just be Bush/Neo-Con redux.
I agree with both these things.
Really, if you look at how rampant voter fraud was in the Gilded Age, the thing you end up taking away from American history is how ludicrously easy it is to suppress the will of the people – for ages.
The number that keeps coming back to me was that in Louisiana at the time Huey Long came into office, three quarters of voters were disenfranchised by poll taxes and had been for generations, thus allowing Standard Oil and the local Boss Hoggs to run the government like their own private country club. The GOP’s more or less openly bent on bringing us back to that era, which is why it’s dangerous to rely on demographics.
@NonyNony: Haha, you’re right, nevermind. I re-read it and now I realized I am misinterpreting this post and my comment has no point.
@Mino: I think he wants to go back to the Clinton tax rates for every income bracket, but knows it is politically untenable. The best way to get there is say you aren’t extending the upper brackets, and block any bill that does it. That would get us back to the Clinton rates, but he could blame it on Republicans’ desire to screw the middle class in an attempt to protect the rich.
Does anyone else think the sheer size of the voter suppression efforts threatens actual violence in November? If, e.g., 750,000 people in Pennsylvania are refused ballots (or 300,000, based on likelihood of voting), especially if they are concentrated in inner city minority precincts, will that really happen without some explosion?
Davis X. Machina
@Mino: Correct. Six Dem senators are on record as opposing Obama’s proposal to let the Bush tax cuts lapse on incomes higher than $250,000:
Jim Webb (D-VA)
Ben Nelson (D-NE)
Joe Manchin (D-WV),
Jon Tester (D-MT),
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Mark Pryor (D-AR) is thought to be leaning against.
@Hill Dweller: @Davis X. Machina: As I said, the only way it happens is if he forces the sunset of Bush taxes. Has anyone seen or heard a clear statement from him that he will veto any bill that included the upper brackets? Cause I haven’t, sorry to say.
The only way an extension would get passed is with a new bill. The political press likes to refer to it as an “extension” of the existing tax cuts, but in reality whether it’s an extension, a partial extension, or something else, it’s a new bill with all the maneuvering and horse-trading that entails.
@Kilkee: I definitely think it’s possible. My hope is a judge stays the law until after the election in order to keep that from happening.
@Kilkee: This is known as a win-win for the GOP
@Mino: From yesterday’s National Journal:
I know I’ve read the statement that he’s “reiterating,” but I can’t turn up a link right now.
Past is prologue. The Hallowed Halls of History are wallpapered-over by thick layers of unfinished business. Advances in media technology serve as more insulation/distraction from ultimately taking care of this problem.
If The Arc bends towards justice, then what keeps it from touching said point on the horizon is a pretty noxious accumulation of bullshit. It never seems to change, and punditry along with some cleverly-scripted reality teevee will cement another layer of inertia on top of America’s To Do List.
@Redshift: I’ve heard his surrogates say it, but not him.
I want him to promise, even if not-re-elected, to let the damn things expire in the lame duck session. There won’t be enough votes to over-ride his veto. Make the Republicans pass their own damn tax break for the rich.
um, what exactly does this mean?
@Basilisc: actually, I could absolutely see Romney holding the status quo, more or less. Hell, that’s basically what Obama, W, and Clinton did even though each of their predecessors was the Worst President In Modern American History(TM).
My guess is that Romney will reverse a couple of policies, let some stuff that’s actually popular in the ACA take effect and then claim credit because he was there. Kind of like the middle relief pitcher that gets a “vulture win” because he pitches 2/3 of an inning and then someone hits a homerun in the next half inning to give his team the lead.
Anne — Thank you for a brilliant post. Wow.
You should expand this into a book on psychotic mis-information through American electoral history. If so, please include the 1928 election, where Republicans circulated pictures of the Holland Tunnel, stating that this was a “secret passage” the Democrats were building to “transport the Pope to his new abode.” And also, that if Smith were elected, all Protestant marriages would be annulled (and all children of same would be rendered illegitimate).
Romney can’t get away with that. If Romney gets the Presidency he’ll have a Republican House and at least a conservative (if not Republican) majority in the Senate. It will be their domestic agenda that gets to his desk, not anything of his own.
Presidents have a lot of leeway when it comes to foreign policy and have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to the specifics of prioritizing legislative actions (how the EPA will be organized, or the DoJ or any other branch that Congress funds). But the legislation that Romney will sign or veto will be the bills that get to his desk. And as a weak leader of the party, he’s NOT going to be setting that agenda.
If some variation of Paul Ryan’s budget gets to his desk, he signs it. If some repeal of the ACA makes it to his desk, he signs it. He’ll stick with the status quo on the things that the House and the Senate hold to the status quo on, and otherwise it will be the wingnut agenda and he’ll be the rubber stamp.
@Mino: its theater. It forces republicans to state that they are for the rich only and against tax cuts for the average person.
Obama’s Veto Threat and Populist Pitch
Obama Issues Veto Threat On Bush Tax Cuts
But those were the “good old days”, when American exceptionalism ruled the world and allowed us to kick Spain’s butt in a war we drummed up, seize their colonies and repress local uprisings.
It also allowed “us” to expand westward and “settle” the West.
Anyway…universal suffrage hasn’t really been America’s strong suit as a democracy. The country has always tilted towards whatever passes for an aristocracy of its day, because we make voting more difficult than it needs to be to make sure only the aristocrats of the day bother to vote.
Keep in mind, the basic tenets America was founded on was the Pope is (a) the anti-Christ and (b) the whore of Babylon.*
The people of 1928 were just sticking up for traditional American values.
*Massachusetts Bay Colony’s world view.
@Violet: There’s only one more thing easier to remember than all of the gossipy Romney story lines. Obama is black, and a socialist as well. Game, set and match. I wish I was as certain as many of you that Obama will win. H.L. Mencken was right about the intelligence of the American public. It absolutely cannot be underestimated. “But were they stupid when they elected Obama?” you may ask. Some people were, but he won in large part because kids voted for him because it was hip and trendy. After he was elected the HOPE T-shirts got a bit boring and they were on to the next thing. They won’t be back.
@cmorenc: Very astute, in my opinion. The Rethugs know this is their last shot. As Nate Silver so aptly put it: Demographics is Destiny. If the Rethugs are ever going to win the game after this, they have to kick over the table and scatter the game pieces to hell and gone, then rearrange them in their favor. They will stop at nothing to achieve this. Nothing.
@NotMax: Sorry, I don’t see that anywhere as a direct quote. Surrogates, again.
Wonder what intrade would have for the odds?
Well said…do more like this !!!
@NotMax: Sorry, that is not exclusively about the Bush tax cuts. He’s still talking “grand bargain” here. These are his official remarks as issued from the WH:
No veto threat.
As the deadline nears, the pressure and arm-twisting will mount accordingly.
Granted that a threat to veto is not a commitment to veto, but…
Any skilled politician knows full well that one has to touch the bases in sequence in order to score a home run.
First base: Stay above the fray and employ credible spokespeople to announce a position.
Wait a minute — except for that stuff about Obama, your description was factually accurate.
What’s factually incorrect about that statement?
I mean, you could quibble about “inbred” and “UN,” but aside from that…really, what’s not true?
Remove the second “m” from “Sally Hemmings” and add it to “consumate,” and your entire blog entry will be perfect in form and content!