Saturday, October 04, 2008

Down and Dirty

Two newspapers articles this morning detail the problems Republicans are facing with just 31 days until the election.

The Boston Globe reports that while GOP presidential nominee John McCain pulled his staff out of and yanked off his advertising in the important swing state of Michigan this week, virtually conceding the the state to Barack Obama, McCain is in even worse shape in other swing states:

Barring a dramatic change, he is on course to lose Iowa and New Mexico, both states barely won by President Bush four years ago in his narrow victory over Democrat John F. Kerry. And he and the Republican National Committee this week began pouring money into Indiana and North Carolina, reliably Republican states where the Obama campaign has made strong advances and polls indicate the candidates are roughly tied.
McCain is behind in swing states that President Bush won in 2004 that have a combined 101 electoral votes. Remember that Bush beat John Kerry in 2004 by 35 electoral votes, so McCain cannot afford to lose any of these states, particularly if he keeps pulling out of states Kerry won back in '04 like Michigan.

So what does this all mean?

"It means the road for McCain to 270 is narrowing, whereas for Obama there are still several paths," said Dante Scala, professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire. "McCain can now win by holding the states George Bush won in 2004, but playing defense won't be that easy because Obama is doing well in a number of those states. The fact that states like Indiana and Missouri are still on the table spells trouble for McCain."
McCain took public financing while Obama opted out of the system, so Johnny Maverick has less cash to spend in a year when the Republican Party has been trounced in fund raising by the Democratic Party:

At the start of September -- the last time financial figures were available -- the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee held a $40 million cash-on-hand edge over its GOP counterpart and was advertising in 41 House districts, compared with just two districts in which the National Republican Campaign Committee was on the air.

The gap was less daunting on the Senate side, where the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee held a $7 million cash edge over the National Republican Senatorial Committee at the start of September. However, the DSCC spent $13.6 million in August -- largely on television ads -- while the NRSC dropped just $3.6 million.
On top of all of that, Republicans are being blamed for the financial crisis by a 2-1 margin. Neil Newhouse, GOP strategist and pollster had this to say about the problem facing Republicans:

"The bailout crisis has had a corrosive effect on the national political environment, and that impacts not just John McCain, but GOP candidates up and down the ticket," he said.

GOPers are worried that not only will they lose the White House to a Dem but they will hand the opposition a filibuster-proof 60 seat majority in the Senate and 20-30 seats in the House.

One of the reasons Johnny Maverick chose Sarah Palin in the first place for the VP slot was to energize the conservative base, lukewarm to McCain at best, to come out on November 4th and help Republican candidates down ticket. Just a few weeks ago, Republicans were hoping to lose just 3-4 Senate seats; now they fear they will lose at least 8.

It is possible that 2008 could look like a watershed election year for the Dems the way that 1980 was for the Republicans - a huge electoral college victory to sweep a Dem into the White House and a pretty big swing on the House and Senate sides.

But Johnny Maverick and the Republicans have one last weapon available to them - they can go really, really, really nasty. And the Washington Post says that's exactly where he and his party's strategists plan to go:

Sen. John McCain and his Republican allies are readying a newly aggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama's character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation back to questions about the Democrat's judgment, honesty and personal associations, several top Republicans said.


"We're going to get a little tougher," a senior Republican operative said, indicating that a fresh batch of television ads is coming. "We've got to question this guy's associations. Very soon. There's no question that we have to change the subject here," said the operative, who was not authorized to discuss strategy and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Great - so the character-smearing "Obama is an empty-headed celebrity like Paris Hilton/Britney Spears" ad, the "Obama has voted to raise taxes on people making $42,000 a year" ad, the "Obama wants to teach 5 year olds about sex education before he wants to teach them to read" ad and the rest of the distortions, mischaracterizations and out-and-out lies the McCain campaign has issued since August were just a light tune-up to the really underhanded dirty stuff coming down the pike.

Wow - I'm so glad that Johnny Maverick is running the issue-oriented campaign he promised early in the election season.

Frankly I hope he runs the "Obama is a terrorist-loving light rail-riding commie pinko radical oversexed Negro who wants to sleep with white women and teach your kids all about sex and Islam" campaign that Republicans are so good at running and voters turn against both him and his party for it.

I hope they send Johnny Maverick down with a Dukasis-sized defeat and send many in his party - like Liddy Dole (currently trailing in North carolina), like Mitch McConnell (Dems are targeting the GOP minority leader the ways Republicans targeted Dem minority leader Tom Daschle in 2004), like Gordon Smith (running campaign commercials comparing himself favorably to Obama), like Ted Stevens (dirtiest man in the Senate), like Susan Collins and John Sunnu (the supposed New England liberals), and Norm Coleman - down with him.

Still, to paraphrase Mencken, nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste or intelligence of the American public, so who knows how the McCain campaign GOP tactics will work out.

For awhile there after they announced the Palin pick and had managed to put Obama on the defensive back in late August/early September, the numbers in many polls showed the race turning toward both McCain and GOP candidates down ticket.

It's quite possible that could happen again in the waning days of the campaign. I would hope Americans would instead remember the current financial crisis, who helped create it (Bush/Delay/Greenspan) and look at the latest numbers:

1. 159,000 jobs were lost in September (largest losses in five years), the unemployment rate stands at 6.1% and the underemployment rate is much higher
2. The U.S. tax payer has spent a total of $1.3 trillion on bailouts of Bear Sterns, Fannie and Freddie, AIG and now the toxic debt of domestic and international banks and yet the crisis is nowhere near done.
3. California is going bankrupt and asking for a government bail out (okay, okay..."loan"...)
4. AIG has already run through $61 billion of the $85 billion set aside to help them through the criris and yet is still slipping.
5. We continue to fight two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that a) are nowhere near completed and b) have been put totally on the credit card.

The problems America faces both at home and aborad have been almost completely created by the incompetence, stupidity, greed, and arrogance of Republicans like George W. Bush, DeadEye Dick Cheney, Tom 'Under Indictment In Two Jurisdictions' Delay, Karl Rove, and the rest of their GOP compatriots in the Congress and the Senate - including Johnny 'Voted With Preznut Bush 90% Of The Time' Maverick McCain.

Given the seriousness of the stakes and the gravity of the economic situation the U.S. faces, reality ought to trump contrived political ads and character assassinations.

Let's hope it does.
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