Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Democratic Party Goes Grayson

The backlash over Congressman Alan Grayson's "Taliban Dan" ad should have warned the Democratic party that they were now sailing in dangerous waters. But instead of heeding the warning, Obama instead chose to go with bizarre accusations that the Chamber of Commerce was using foreign aid money to help Republicans.

From the White House's perspective this was another win-win tactic. First the Chamber of Commerce would be intimidated away from supporting Republican candidates and would be forced to throw more money over to the Democrats. Second, the Democrats would regain some ground by posing as born against nativists concerned about protecting America from foreign influences. As a bonus, the party would also be able to turn back to its Michael Moore business baiting games, scoring points with Netroots and wake up whatever imaginary workers' rebellion runs through the heads of East Coast Ivy League grads who have spent too much time reading about coal miner strikes in Kentucky.

Instead the tactic badly misfired. Obama and his people hadn't even bothered to do enough research to back up his claim with anything credible. And when questioned, munchkins like Axelrod folded the accusation back into general talk about transparency. Which was an obvious case of a smear campaign unable to back up its smears. And this time out, the media was a lot less willing to just report White House talking points. Instead reporters actually asked to see the evidence. Something the Obama Administration isn't exactly used to dealing with. It usually just pours poison into the media's left ear, then stands back and chuckles while the headlines fly.

Then there's the US Chamber of Commerce, which despite all the smears, isn't exactly Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin. It's not a right wing organization, it's a policy organization. Its backing of Republican candidates is more of a reflection on the Democratic party's impact on business, than it is on the sort of vast right wing conspiracy that MSNBC goofballs like to come up with to fill some dead air. And really whom exactly should the Chamber of Commerce support in an election year, in which even Soros, the master of groups like Center for American Progress which originated the "foreign money" smear, has scuttled away to avoid what he calls a Republican "avalanche".

The US Chamber of Commerce has executives from some of the biggest companies in America in its board of directors. It might be damned as the face of big business, though it likes to present itself as representing small business, but that makes it a lot harder to dismiss with a cheap smear, than someone like Christine O'Donnell. Especially a smear with nothing more behind it than a damning accusation like, "Well maybe it's not impossible that it could have happened."

It wasn't quite a Taliban Dan moment for Obama, but it was almost as bad. And the timing couldn't have been worse, with Halperin's Time Magazine piece coming out critical of Obama for personally taking on opponents, instead of focusing on policy. It was a gentle reminder from the magazine that had been solid Obama territory all along, that leadership through enemies lists wasn't the best way to maintain his popularity. And here was Obama, dodging policy issues, and instead hurling baseless accusations at the opposition.

Then there was the supreme hypocrisy of Obama even dragging out an accusation of foreign money, when his campaign had been set up in such a way as to allow foreign donations. And countless money from abroad, including from areas notorious for their support of terrorists, had come to finance Hope and Change. The media had previously treated any talk involving the words "foreign" and "Obama" in the same sentence as racist. And here was Obama suddenly waging a campaign against the "foreign money" hijacking democracy. Of course had anyone accused Obama of hijacking democracy through foreign money, they would have been immediately accused of bigotry. But Obama himself opened the door to resume the discussion of how much foreign money had been used to help him get elected.

It's been a while since the Democrats were able to successfully claim the patriotic mantle. And Obama is the worst positioned to do that of any Democrat since Jane Fonda. Not that this hasn't stopped the Democrats from trying. When Huckabee visited Israel and called for a better relationship between the two countries, the media hounds bayed like mad that he was committing treason. Those same media poodles of course viewed John Kerry's commitment to helping the Viet Cong, or Ted Kennedy's offer of aid to the USSR against Reagan, as acts of great patriotism. In a matter of months, the Democrats had to swing about from participating in radical anti-Bush and anti-war rallies run by Communist organizations, to suddenly becoming great patriots fighting against Republican treason. The turnabout was as laughable as it was hollow.

It's even more laughable now, as Obama tries to echo not McCarthy, but his fictional doppelganger, the Manchurian Candidate's Senator Iselin, waving a blank piece of paper in order to spread a sensational charge with no actual evidence behind it. But when he's asked what's on the paper, it turns out there's nothing there.  When even the New York Times has to shrug in embarrassment, then it's not just a strike, it's a foul ball. And when ABC's Jake Tapper has to suggest comparisons to the birth certificate issue, then it's clear that Obama has caused himself more damage, than he has to the Chamber of Commerce.

And it wouldn't be the first time. The White House's orchestrated attacks on Limbaugh (Operation Rushbo) and Glenn Beck raised both men's profiles. The Obama Administration's original tactic was to claim that Limbaugh was the "real head" of the Republican party. Dutiful liberals from Newsweek to Letterman repeated the smear to no effect. Then we had the claim that the Republican party was really running the Tea Party. Followed by the more recent claim that the Tea Party was really running the Republican party. Now we've come down to the claim that unnamed foreign companies are running America through the US Chamber of Commerce. 

The one thing all these brilliant smears had in common was that they all went nowhere. All the attempts to depict Party A as the puppets of Party B or vice versa, died a slow and unremarkable death, no matter how much time and effort the media invested into promoting them. And this latest one hasn't even taken that long. If in the initial rush of enthusiasm, the media actually waxed enthusiastic about the "brilliance" of Operation Rushbo, the enthusiasm is all gone. There are only sighs and muffled words of criticism. No one in the media thinks any longer that another smear campaign is going to take down the Republicans. As individuals, perhaps. But not the party or its ideas. And Obama running to take a swing at the US Chamber of Commerce, when his ascent was bought and paid for by international robbers like George Soros, looks pathetic now, and not by any lights brilliant.

But the claim was propelled forward with the help of the Nutroots, through groups that Soros had funded. And it is an article of faith among them, as among the rest of the far left, that Obama is losing because he isn't fighting hard enough. While the media grimaced uncomfortably at Grayson's Taliban Dan ad, the nutroots cheered. While most Democrats thought that Grayson was out of step, the nutroots treated him as their hero. If only the rest of the party was like Grayson, they lamented. But the Taliban Dan ad proved that Grayson was out of step. And the Chamber of Commerce attack proves that Obama still doesn't get it.

The Democrats are not losing because they're not being combative enough or abrasive enough, but because the public isn't happy with their mismanagement of the economy and the country. Acting more abrasive when you're being thrown out is a good tactic for drunks, not so good for politicians, who need to reestablish themselves as the voices of reason. But instead, like a moth drawn to a flame, Obama returned to his Soros and his Nutroots origins. He stepped to bat and took a swing at another entry on his enemies list.

But while somewhere in this land, the sun is shining bright. Somewhere the Decemberists are playing and somewhere hearts are light. Somewhere progressives are laughing and somewhere unions shout. But there is no joy in Liberalville, mighty Obama has struck out.


  1. It has been their way for a long while now.
    As for Obama, so many warned that he was a poor choice for President. All the information was out there. One had to have ones head firmly in the ostrich hole not to see.

  2. It is early to speak of it, but what of the day after? What happens when an Obama that can't tune in to the people is faced with a congressional road block?

  3. same thing we have now, media smears and hysterical campaigns

    unlike Clinton, he's significantly less likely to try and co-opt a GOP agenda

  4. You said "All the attempts to depict Party A as the puppets of Party B or vice versa, died a slow and unremarkable death". This maybe true, so far, but considering his latest smear (unnamed foreign companies are running America) - he might be on the right track. He just need to make one more step - say that the foreign companies are Israeli companies - and he might succeed. There are just too many people always ready to blame Jews for their problems.