Monday, August 18, 2008

Senator Obama, May I call you "Barry"?

What's it going to be this year, Barry?

You have to choose:
  • Is it going to be Bitch-Slap politics?
  • Or is it going to be Barackis-Dukakis politics?
Please let me know now!

This is a pivotal election. They always say that in each presidential year, of course. But this time, after a half dozen years of sustained and multifaceted constitutional crises, we are in the middle of high-stake politics - even if many of our fellow citizens seem to be oblivious of it. History, recent history, has demonstrated to Progressives that there's no pay-off in making nice. For the Republican side, the rank and file of the party-of-greed-and-war (POGAW), no holds are barred. They plan to leave nothing on the field.

Last time around, in 2004, the stakes were high. But the Dems [I don't mean that as short hand - I mean that as a derrogative] chose to whine and complain defensively about the swift boaters. However, Joshua Micah Marshall urged them to take the offensive. Democrats were after all, the insurgents. In his bitch-slap approach, Marshall merely urged Progressives to retaliate using Republican tactics: to hit the bastards hardest where they were the weakest, and to be sustained, cruel, even disproportionate in the attack. Marshall just wanted Democrats to use Republican Bitch-Slap politics:
Consider for a moment what the big game is here. This is a battle between two candidates to demonstrate toughness on national security. Toughness is a unitary quality, really -- a personal, characterological quality rather than one rooted in policy or divisible in any real way. So both sides are trying to prove to undecided voters either that they're tougher than the other guy or at least tough enough for the job.

In a post-9/11 environment, obviously, this question of strength, toughness or resolve is particularly salient. That, of course, is why so much of this debate is about war and military service in the first place.

One way -- perhaps the best way -- to demonstrate someone's lack of toughness or strength is to attack them and show they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves -- thus the rough slang I used above. And that I think is a big part of what is happening here. Someone who can't or won't defend themselves certainly isn't someone you can depend upon to defend you.

Demonstrating Kerry's unwillingness to defend himself (if Bush can do that) is a far more tangible sign of what he's made of than wartime experiences of thirty years ago.

Hitting someone and not having them hit back hurts the morale of that person's supporters, buoys the confidence of your own backers (particularly if many tend toward an authoritarian mindset) and tends to make the person who's receiving the hits into an object of contempt (even if also possibly also one of sympathy) in the eyes of the uncommitted....

In other ways, Bush's bully-boy campaign tactics play to his strengths, albeit unstated and unlovely ones. Many of the polls of the president have shown that while people don't necessarily agree with the specific policies he's pursued abroad many also intuitively believe that there's no one who will hit back harder. There's some of that 'he may be a son-of-a-bitch but he's our son-of-a-bitch' quality to the president's support on national security issues.
That's the perennial Democratic problem, isn't it? They can't or won't show their toughness against their own adversaries across the aisle. Because they're not tough enough to call George Bush out, (like Howard Dean could) or call John McCain out (like a vice-president Wes Clark could), no one - or not enough - of my fellow Americans believe they are tough enough on terrorism. It's not as if the POGAW has made any significant progress on polishing off Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. That's the way Dems allow Republicans to define them and frame the national security issue. That's the underlying current below the surface of all the MSM bloviating.

Well, boys and girls, I see now that it can happen all over again. What I see is the beginning of a great opening and yawning implosion.
The stench of Barackis-Dukakis is in the wind. It is over-whelmingly nauseating.

I am loyal to the anti-Republican cause, so maybe I'll just STFU until after Obama goes through these cute little shenanigans about text-messaging his C-S vice-presidential selection. I'm fed up with BHO's nuances and gimmicks. I want Obama to show me the beef. I want a carnivorous vice presidential candidate who will expose the GOP's red meat. I want the unvarnished truth spoken unequivocally. At long-freaking-last. I want to be shown what I gave up Kucinich and Gravel for, six months ago.

I'm not kidding, Barry.
I am asking for a sign that change I can believe in is on its way. I'm fed up with these titillating V-P speculations. I'll not publish another column in these pages until you drop your damned shoe on the Veep selection. Pull your damned trigger. (Then, either way, I'll have plenty to say.) In the meantime, the way things are going it's Barakis-Dukakis, baby. Willie Horton is coming down the pike, de ja vue all-over-again.

So pick yourself a truth-speaking attack dog for Vice-President. Show me what you got, Barry.

22 comments:

  1. Vig,

    I, too, am feeling increasingly frustrated with the apparent unwillingness or inability of Obama's campaign folk to "call out" John McCain. The Rovian tactics of attacking the opposition candidate's strengths and spinning them into deficits (swiftboating) is proceeding apace.

    I appreciate that Obama's personality seems to be one that seeks to reconcile rather than to divide. I applaud and cherish that he took the high road when Hill-Bill chose to muck about in the gutter. I respect, and am thankful for the fact that his team responded quickly, and specifically, to the slime that passes for a book foisted upon us by Jerome Corsi.

    But the sad reality is that Barack will never have a chance to inhabit the Oval Office, if he allows the "party of greed-and-war" to steal yet another election. Sadly, they are well on their way to implementing their 2008 version of their "Contract on America" with their continuing lies, hypocrisy, deliberate misstatements, and their coded messages.

    You are correct, Vig. Obama needs to:pick "a truth-telling attack dog" to campaign with him as his V-P. He needs a man like Wes Clark, who has been tested in battle and proven in leadership. Clark is a man who has the courage of his convictions, the strength of character to speak the truth out loud about McCain, and the intensity of conviction to keep Barack's campaigners resolutely "on message".

    Barack's campaign has been on the defensive for too long now. He needs his supporters to speak with a more unified voice so that who he truly is and the strengths and possibilities he brings to the Presidency can be absorbed and integrated into the psyche of the American voting public.

    It is said that there is a time for everything...Barack: you ignited my hope and that of so many of my fellow Americans from all walks of life. Please, recognize that this is the time to fight the good fight, not to be the conciliator. Our beloved nation is almost become a police state. It is necessary to "call out" the truth about John McCain and his intent to establish Busheney-Rove III..

    Please, Barack, hear my plea: It's time to hire that truth-telling, gun-slinging Rottie, named Wes.

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  2. Vig,emily, I agree. But beyond surrogates, I want to some anger from Barack Obama. Given the sorry economy and the high price of gas at the pump, the increase in food prices and the decrease in real wages, Americans are angry. Why can't Obama be a little angry?

    Why can't Obama convey the urgency for change that many Americans feel in their bones, go after McCain and say that because of the policies of Bush-McCain, we need change now?

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  3. I heard Obama's speech to the VFW in Orlando, Florida. He was different in that he was forceful when referring to McBush and his tactics of character smear as opposed to an intelligent conversation about the issues. My research tells me that Obama will be not Kerry, and he said as much, using those words. Although I don't have a lot of faith in the Dems I am hopeful that the Obama group is smart enough to know that to win a fight you have to hit back. Leave that "turn the other cheek" bullshit to the Krazy Kristians.

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  4. Vig, emily: You are both panicing way too much, way too early.

    That being said, Obama has (probably) already made the greatest possible mistake in not chosing Hillary.

    And, as Vigilante so amply pointed put in his rant, Hil and Bill are attack dogs of the highest pedigree.

    If you could "guarantee" the election by chosing Hillary (and I genuinely believe it would be a lock), why chose anyone else?

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  5. I'm not sure who will get the nod yet, Wizard. I do know after reading Mad Mike's post today, we need to stick together. It may be Clinton. It may be Biden. It may be Bayh (I really hope not).

    As concerns Clark, I am disappointed; however, I intend to keep fighting as best I can to turn this country around. That means sticking by our candidate.

    Next week, we'll all know.

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  6. Yellow Dawg and I (comments in the previous thread) agree that Joe Biden would give us a fighting chance. That's both pre-election and post inauguration. I am just praying not to get another PRICK selected.

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  7. Let McBlecch select Lieberman. This is one more knife in the back of the Rethugs.

    You might like to read Wesley Clark with Rachel Maddow on Countdown.

    He stated he had business overseas during the DNC. He's a class act.

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  8. Thanks, Stella, for that great link. I dare any one who is still watching this thread to find any one who has a better grasp of the issues presented by this Russo-Georgian crisis to NATO, than General Clark. (Excepting academicians, of course.)

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  9. Great piece Vig. I too want him to hit back. I would have loved Clark, but it sounds like maybe Biden.

    Still hoping that Leiberman gets the nod and then it will be the two Joes debating each other. That should be fun.

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  10. Ted Rall in his Smirking Chimp, agrees with me. We need red meat. Ted says,

    "Hope for audacity: Unless something happens, John McCain will win."

    It's bitch-slap politics:

    "Americans want their presidents to be a National Daddy--an ornery cuss willing to err on the side of kicking some innocent schlub's ass to protect them.....If the guy won't fight for himself, voters ask themselves, how will he fight for me?"

    Being nice doesn't win.

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  11. Quoted you over at Swiftspeech, Vig. You're right: "Being nice doesn't win."

    I'm mourning the dropping out of Biden this morning. Couldn't Obama surprise us and pick Clark? There's been rumors about Richardson, but I don't think he's mean enough.

    So, if you want mean, probably Clinton.

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  12. What did I miss? I am watching CNN at this moment and they are discussing the likelihood of Biden's selection. When did he drop out?

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  13. My apologies to all. I screwed up. Thanks to madmike for catching the error. You made my day: I was pretty disappointed about Biden, so great news.

    No one's perfect.

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  14. The L.A. Times reports that Obama's taking his gloves off (-: I hope he nominates a Republican who's socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Like that guy that the Republicans kicked out of Congress for being too upset about Republican corruption (e.g. stuffing Republican businesses over school test score publications). 1) It shows real change, 2) It shows Republican corruption 3) It shows Obama's not out to tax everybody to death **very important

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  15. Well, I've finally put a few thoughts on the Veepstakes together: A Watched Phone Never Texts

    If my suggestion that John McCain should choose Joe Lieberman doesn't get you, my high praise of Vice President Dick Cheney will do the trick.

    My bottom line? Both candidates ought to make brave and daring choices for Vice President.

    I'll be checking for pipe bombs before I get in my car for work tomorrow.....

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  16. Suffering under a partial political burnout and I've tuned out the nonestop blather over who Obama and mcCain will pick for VP. But yeah, the dems need to let loose the hounds and call the repubs to task over the situation the country is end. Hopefully before Bush/Rice/and mcCain get us in a shooting war with russia.

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  17. I think Barack's unwillingness to "bitch-slap" McCain actually makes McCain seem extremely immature. McCain was on CNN(I think) some time ago, being interviewed about his comment that Barack would rather win a campaign than win a war, and his demeanor and reaction reminded me of a stubborn kid called into a principle's office for cutting off a girl's ponytail or something.
    I think that's why choosing Hillary might be a good choice for him. He'll get a few anti-Barack-pro-Hillary supporters, and she doesn't exactly have much of a reputation to maintain considering her attacks on Barack for the primary campaigns.

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  18. The Hillary voters who refuse to vote for Obama have also stated that they wouldn't vote for him even if he does choose her as his running mate, and choosing Hillary would lose him some other votes, so it's a lose-lose situation.

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  19. Wizard? You're post? I'm still recovering. Well written but I wasn't quite expecting the content.

    Anajo/Anijo/JoAnn, may I state the obvious by writing that these people are going to ruin this election for the Democrats and progressives. Why do we always make these mistakes?

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  20. Sorry, I forgot to write, everything Beach said. He's absolutely right. If we don't start making some progress, the October surprise conspiracy theory may become a reality.

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  21. I've been waiting to hear what the good folks on this blog say about the Biden pick!! I'm surprisingly glad about it. Biden's intro speech hit ALL of the attack points we've been waiting for, as well as communicating succinctly on American family values and roots. Good stuff, good pick.

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  22. Counselor, I'm too busy on a couple of other projects to dedicate a thread to Joe Biden. People are discussing it on Speed Bumps. I'm watching that blog for pithy comments.

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