Senator Obama, May I call you "Barry"?
You have to choose:
- Is it going to be Bitch-Slap politics?
- Or is it going to be Barackis-Dukakis politics?
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.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.
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.
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.