With Republicans, there are always two campaigns. There is the official campaign and then there is the Real Campaign.
The official campaign trots out its empty-suited candidates for photo-ops, campaign rallies and "debates". The official campaign works behind the scenes to assure editorial boards and other self-appointed poo-bahs that they are serious policy thinkers, with position papers and, sometimes, actual positions on weighty affairs of state such as deficits and road construction. Heads nod and appreciation is expressed for the important entry into the public arena by this thoughtful young/seasoned man (always a man).
While the official campaign provides the diverting gloss, the Real Campaign gets out the messages that are aimed at truly resonating with the (they think) rube electorate. While the official campaign offers respectful point-counterpoint with the "worthy opponent", the Real Campaign poisons the electorate with false claims of corruption, allegations of votes or official actions designed to secretly injure every living citizen and, if they have it, all sort of exposed or imagined personal peccadillos.
While the official campaign sometimes dips its toe in the well of red-meat "issues" like abortion choice or immigration, the Real Campaign revels in a sea of slime, generated by both paid and, remarkably, un-paid sycophants. The soft underbelly of the electorate is pounded by national and local wing-nuts, on radio and cable, who are willing to follow daily RNC talking points, setting up straw men and phony arguments so that their otherwise-hapless hero candidates can knock them down.
The official campaign of Mark Green showed up in Milwaukee on Friday for a debate against Jim Doyle. Not a word was said (or asked, for that matter) about Real Campaign "issues" such as Doyle the Corrupt, Doyle the Soon-to-be-Felon, Doyle the Illegal Immigration Enabler, etc. Those phony concepts have been the primary theme of the Real Campaign, but Green personally could not sully himself with such notions. Besides, one of the chief rules of the Real Campaign is that you don’t let yourself get caught having to defend its false pretenses.
If Green had tried to slander Doyle the way his Real Campaign has for over a year, Doyle would have retorted with something Green hasn’t heard since he agreed to play the role of the GOP anti-Doyle. Mark Green would have to had deal with the Truth. And if his tired eyes showed anything at the debate, it showed that, in the words of the cinematically famous, he cannot handle the Truth.
Green had enough trouble just trying not to embarrass himself, which he did several times in the debate. He was in the most trouble when he tried to defend his most radical official positions.
Green actually managed to break new ground in insulting women on the issue of abortion, which is no small feat. "Too many women believe that abortion is a safety net," he lectured. "What I want to help them realize that there are alternatives out there." You can just hear the women of Wisconsin thanking Mark Green for informing them of these things that they, foolish women that they are, could not possibly understand or consider on their own. I’ve never heard anything so ridiculously condescending in my life from someone so unlikely to know better than anyone about anything.
And then there is stem cell research. As far as I can understand this remarkably phony issue, there are a bunch of dim wingbags out there who claim that saving one of the embryos from a fertility clinic – an embryo headed, as ten of thousands are every year, for the garbage can – and using the information in such an otherwise useless embryo for research that may save many lives in the future is somehow unethical or immoral.
Green, strangely, wants the vote of such confused would-be ethicists. But, at the same time, he wants the vote of the other 95% of the electorate that supports this important research, regardless of the impact on a microscopic potential life. So Green double-speaks his way through the issue, promising to throw millions into studying a new way to conduct the research, instead of funding the research itself.
Even local radio wing-nuts like Mark Belling and Charlie Sykes have a hard time keeping a straight face on this issue. But Mark Green carries the water in the official campaign to keep the red-meat base on track in the Real Campaign.
As the remaining weeks of the campaign turn to desperate days and hours, it will be Green himself throwing the bombs and sounding more and more like the Real Campaign, much like Junior Bush taking up the "cut and run" phrase of his surrogates as his grip on power in Congress implodes. Whether Green is able to slime his way to the top will depend on the gullibility of any voters able to be bamboozled and the willingness of the major media outlets to take his efforts seriously, no matter how desperate and disconnected from the facts.