"They want to debate straw men, because they are afraid to debate real men."
– John Kerry, October 31, 2006
This business with the White House and its surrogates ganging up on an innocent, if botched, John Kerry statement is disgusting and illuminating on many levels. We’ve seen it before, and yet the audacity and slime is still stunning after all these years.
But, now, finally, they may have gone too far, in the wrong direction, and at the wrong time. While all their pitiful candidates and soon-to-be ex-congressman and ex-senators scramble for a rope to grasp to avoid the Bush mudslide that is sure to befall them, Karl Rove has given them this: an irrelevant, phony issue that takes the eye off the ball on the important local issues that are going to decide the close races.
All the noise about Kerry-this and Kerry-that in the past three days has frozen the local and state races in place, with the Democrats poised to roll to victory. By the time the wingnuts and other surrogates come to their senses early next week, the election will be over and they will be wondering what hit them.
I was amazed that local wingnut Mark Belling was still talking about Kerry on Thursday afternoon. Belling is not a fool, but he plays one to the hilt when it comes to reading scripts from and for the RNC. Pretending, three days out, not to know about Kerry’s explanation for the statement – with even a script from a speech writer supporting what he meant to say – one of Milwaukee’s chief Bush sycophants said he knew what Kerry meant and praised the troops for their intelligence. Kicking the straw man he knew wasn’t real, Belling read from Rove’s script like it was water for the thirsty.
I really do wonder about local Bush-boobs like Belling and Charlie Sykes. They both have brains and even some modest journalist credentials. What is it that compels them to use their air time and what’s left of their reputations to push Republican candidates and to recite GOP talking points over and over, day after day? They both repeat things they know are not true. They both ignore obvious facts that would get in the way of their diatribes and campaigns. Neither of them would get in any room that would subject them to real debate or challenges to their phony constructs and numerous straw men.
After spending eight years trying to destroy Clinton and six years trying to make excuses for Bush, aren’t they sick of it? Does the promise of Bradley Foundation and other right-wing money now or in the future really make it that worthwhile?
What’s more important than their Kerry yammering all this week is what they haven’t talked about. Both have spent the past three months trying to convince their listeners that Jim Doyle is "the most corrupt governor in Wisconsin history", claiming regularly that he is one step away from the federal penitentiary. Now, they can barely get a word in edgewise about those and other lies while they praise our soldiers in Iraq who were not being attacked in the first place. All over the country, the GOP’s local surrogates were blabbing on about Kerry and letting their local issues drop. Either they already know their local goose is cooked or they are dropping the ball in the last week of the campaign for the sake of Rove’s Kerry fetish. Whatever the reason, welcome to another four years, Governor Doyle. Let me introduce you to the newly Democratic House and Senate.
While Rove’s op research war room managed to find something – anything – to make what passed – for them – as anti-Dem noise and to try to "change the conversation", they lost sight of the hard work their local shills were doing on the local issues, phony and otherwise. Try as they might to use the "controversy" to paint all Democrats as anti-military snobs, John Kerry has nothing to do with Jim Doyle and vice-versa. And Kerry has little to do with any other candidates in the races that matter.
Besides, people know better. When Mark Belling claims that most Dems don’t know any people in the military and think they are all impoverished rubes willing to become cannon fodder for the sake of a paycheck, there is no ring of truth. Even he knows better than that. But he, Sykes and others of their ilk have such contempt for their targeted "angry-white-male" demographic that they will play the shameless game of talking points and patronizing platitudes to try to get them inflamed enough to move.
Now, by following Rove’s ludicrous anti-Kerry script, they have lost at their own game. In a time ripe for righteous, overdue comeuppance, up it shall come.
UPDATE: This morning's newspaper has a front-page puff piece by an entertainment writer about Sykes' "scoop" in "finding" a humorous photo of soldiers needling Kerry for the misinterpreted version of his remarks. Rather than hammering Sykes for bleeding more poison into the well of public discussion, the piece gives props to the Journal Company's own personal wingnut for (gasp!) getting the photo linked on the always-helpful Drudge Report. If you believe the photo actually fell in Sykes' lap by happenstance, you don't know anything about the way the Rove shop and the well-paid right-wing surrogate blogs operate.