Without a doubt, you are two very nice guys. Anyone would like to have you for friends, have you over for dinner, go to your parties, sit down with you and discuss current events. Unfortunately, you are not running for best friend. So STOP IT! Now! Unless your campaign develops a harder edge, and you acquire weapons for dealing with your street tough opponents other than your reasoned civility, your victory may be another missed Democratic opportunity.
Remember 2000? That was the election that Gore lost when a majority right wing Supreme Court, in a fit of dementia, said so. It was a breathtaking subversion of democracy that will live in infamy, but Gore was such a nice guy that he never raised his voice against the decision. When Karl Rove flew Brooks Brothers thugs into Tallahassee to intimidate election workers, Gore maintained his fastidious silence and wouldn’t let his campaign spokesmen comment either. Ditto when Jim Baker painted the Democrats as anti-American when they tried to enforce federal election laws regarding absentee ballots. Al Gore, in all his niceness, effectively sold out the majority of voters and the nation. If Gore had not rolled over at every step in the process, the history of the early 21st century might read differently. Our future as a nation might be different, too. But, then, he was a nice guy.
And then there was John Kerry and the election of 2004. As Kerry was telling his campaign workers that they were not to comment on the sorry Bush record of using daddy’s influence to evade military service during the VietNam war, Republican goons were putting together the swift boat ad questioning Kerry’s patriotism and calling a real hero, a liar. Kerry, a nice guy to the core, could never bring himself to call a well dressed bully a thug. He, too, lost the election despite being smarter, better prepared, and less beholden to the forces of evil, also known as the oil companies and their henchmen, like Dick Cheney.
It’s been very nice of Barack and Joe to remind voters of their respect and admiration for McCain, a great American, they say. But there has been a notable lack of bonhomie coming from the other side. So do us a favor, guys, and STOP IT! McCain is a great many things that should inspire contempt rather than glowing praise and there is evidence that his health is more marginal than he wants us to believe. So no more praise, please. Talk to your audience about the Republican candidates in terms that matter.
While it makes pragmatic sense to steer clear of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy, as well as her mother’s decision to put the hapless girl in the spotlight as a sacrifice to her own ambition, it makes less sense to tell your staff that anyone who alludes to Palin’s self absorbed agenda will be fired. In fact, I think I hear the muted laughter of high-fiving Republicans right now. We understand that Barack was born to an 18 year old who was probably unmarried, but you don’t call ‘Just Say No’ a sex education policy. Palin is a walking, talking neon sign for Republican fuzz and hypocrisy, yet your campaign treats her like fragile glass. STOP IT! She’s a politician! Even without mentioning Palin’s family life, your campaign should be capable of finding a way to discredit her. There are sooooo many issues to choose from.
And another thing. In attacking your record and in representing their own, Palin and McCain aren’t engaged in ‘misrepresentation’, ‘misstatements,’ ‘exaggeration’ or any of the other media fuzz designed to hide the truth, and which, so far, you are condoning with your silence. So STOP IT. They are liars as everyone paying attention knows. So you can use the word. L-i-a-r-s. Try saying it out loud. According to media reports they are planning swiftboat ads against you, so you need to step up both your passion and your vocabulary.
The problem is that neither Barack nor Joe are as implacably, fanatically, angry as their opponents, and we’re fast reaching a point where the high road will have to be option and not a calling. But who is there to take on the rabid Republicans? Hillary refuses to engage Palin, choosing instead to concentrate her remarks on both members of the ticket. Joe “I-don’t-do-zingers” Biden is saying the right things in his own colorless way, apparently relying on his big smile and affability to get him to the vice-president’s mansion. Barack is being his aloof, cerebral self, discussing the issues without fire or passion, occasionally sounding as though he was reading from a boring script.
At the moment, no one is galvanizing the Democrats even though there is a popular, smart, political genius pacing the sidelines, camera-ready, media savvy and anxious to take on the lies, distortions and slick Republican nonsense, as well as the media, and with quotable flair. Bill Clinton could be the Democrats best friend in this election and he does do zingers, so, Barack and Joe, why are you keeping him leashed to the sidelines ala Gore and Kerry? STOP IT! Put him to work today! Let Bill Clinton put McCain/ Palin into the sound bites that neither of you are comfortable with.
What is the difference between a pit bull and a Democratic candidate? One is made of papier-mâché. You choose.