Thursday, November 20, 2008

What it means: Part 7

There were many casualties in the recent presidential elections. The supremacy of diversionary tactics and angles like the pushing of: “Character issues,” “Guilt by association,” “Morality,” “Values (Family, American etc.)” that have been used historically by the Right to get an opponent “off platform” into an areas of constructed vulnerability seems over for the moment. The much lauded “ability to frame the debate” is also lying by the side of the road to the White House, its entrails scattered.

Karl Rove must be crying his fat little eyes out.

The Republican Party has used “Character issues” among other ploys to make investigative journalism and direct questions about its own policy and candidates irrelevant for the last 28 years or so, maybe longer. That tactic of shifting the focus onto a politician’s personal life or associations was foolproof for a long while. Idiots that we are, we allowed this to get a sitting President who presided over one of the biggest sustained periods of economic growth in the nation’s history nearly impeached over a blowjob in 1998.

I wonder if, in his private moments, Kenneth Starr ever feels remorse for wasting 40 million dollars of our hard earned money on a spurious series of investigations concocted to destroy a president just because he was a popular Democrat. I wonder if he ever allows himself to realize the fact that, as Osama bin Laden, Mohamed Atta and all those other scumbags plotted to kill as many American citizens as they could, he was working hard with Linda Tripp to attack the President of the United States. Kenneth Starr is the best example of what Republicans and the Right in America call “Unpatriotic”. You’ll just never hear any of them say it.

The GOP long ago mastered the underhanded art of casting aspersions and offering moral judgments as if they were criminal indictments. The last few years of their own sexual scandals have exposed the hypocrisy of the Republican Party and its socially conservative supporters. Republicans demonstrated that it didn’t really matter as long as it’s one of their own. Predictably, The GOP does not cite its own hypocrisy as a “Character issue.” Not only have closeted homosexuals been outed amongst its most aggressively homophobic statesmen, but extramarital affairs, once a goldmine for destroying brilliant candidates like Gary Hart, are pretty much non-issues due to their frequency in the Republican Party these days. Even the GOP’s agents in the media, like Bill O’Reilly, have been embarrassed by allegations and sex scandals that exposed their hypocrisy, although Keith Olberman is the only one who seems to remember or care. But these Republican scandals are not responsible for why it didn’t work against Barack Obama.

Subjecting opponents to murky subjective judgments of their personal worth or doubting a candidate’s patriotism by having “News Analysts” make accusations disguised as questions just didn’t work this time. I’ve heard more than one person tell me that it didn’t happen this time because the candidate was a Black man. While I don’t doubt that there were many, many, many conversations at Fox News Channel, The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times about how to attack Barack Obama without looking like open bigots, the fact remains that they did try this again. It didn’t work because enough of the active voting public, -in enough key regions, have had enough of this stupid nonsense. At no point were the GOP and the Right able to take enough of the public’s eyes off the economy and the wars by making them look at either William Ayers or the Reverend Wright.

For the time being at least, “the issues are the issues” in the trajectory of campaign contests. So the economy must be really, really, really bad because “framing the debate” by any party has become irrelevant... for the time being.

Reality frames the debate now.

You can’t make a Presidential contest a matter of whatever your own party wants to focus on right now in America, because if you’re not talking about jobs, or the foreclosure sign on some guy’s front lawn, you’re not talking about reality. Framing a debate or question shouldn’t be called “spin”, but let’s just say I think the concepts are first cousins to each other. I don’t think it’s gone forever… but it’s not a “can’t-miss, go-to” tactic any more.

That’s a brighter and clearer horizon for us.


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