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Some Thoughts About the Possible GOP Blindside in the GE (Part 1)

Lost in Space's picture

[Note: I've decided to break this into 2 parts to make things much easier for me to deal with. Enjoy, or not]

Watching the SCLM and FRWC start their opening salvos on Barack Obama this week - as well as the responses from his many supporters - made me remember a few things about some of the previous Presidential elections - and how there seemed to be a backdoor slider that made the Democrats (sans W. Clinton) freeze at Strike Three.

1988 - Bush vs. Dukakis.

When discussing this election, the one thing that most people talk about is Lee Atwater's "Willie Horton" ad, which was racist (and for the most part, untrue, but when has the truth stopped the GOP before?) no matter which way you look at it. There were several variations of the ad, including the "revolving door of criminals" to make Dukakis look soft on crime. While this ad received alot of attention, that wasn't the backdoor slider that doomed Dukakis.

That dubious distinction belonged to the "Michael Dukakis on a Tank" ad that Bush ran. If you ever get a chance to see this ad, it is the quintessential GOP spin ad - and it succeeded in making Governor Dukakis look like a total buffoon and helped to pin him as hopelessly lost on defense issues in the process.

The Tank ad was the one that Dukakis had no real answer for and was not really challenged in narrative in the MSM (because the Horton ad was the one getting the "Shock!RACISM" tag around the news). This was the one that Democrats in 1988 never saw coming.

2000 - Bush II vs. Gore

Karl Rove shows how much he learned from Lee Atwater (who died from a burst blood vessel in the brain, I think) in this campaign. The meme that Gore had to deal with was the whole "I invented the Internet" crap that the GOP kept pounding away with - even though Gore never said that. This turned into a meta-narrative of "Al Gore - serial liar, and a Geek wants so badly to be the Cool George W. Bush is." And when this was firmly in place, then came the "Alpha Male" stories, the "Earth Tones," the "Unfunny, Boring, Wonky, Girly Man" hit pieces - but none of these were the backdoor slider.

That belongs to "George Bush: The President You Could Sit Next To at a Bar and Have Beer With" - even though this was so far from true (GOP and Truth divorced again).

Understand this - Regardless of the events of Florida on election night, the mere fact that George W. Bush was able to get as many popular and electoral votes as he did - as well as Gore being unable to carry his home state - speaks volumes within itself. Republicans do not care if they win by a million votes or simply by one. A win is a win - and a mandate to do what they want.

2004 - Bush II vs. Kerry

Every bad campaign deserves a repeat performance. This time around, there was no single backdoor slider. The Kerry campaign faced nothing but backdoor sliders. For that matter, Democrats either got the backdoor slider or beaned in the head with a fastball.

Dean, for example, was hit with a fastball - the infamous "Dean scream" which was neither a scream nor Howard Dean. (Truth is the first casualty, and with the GOP, forever an open wound). Dean's campaign faltered with the endless "Dean scream" business - and John Kerry moved to the forefront.

But then the Bush team fired backdoor slider #1 - A well-timed raising of the Threat Level with a Color-Coded Terror Alert...just before the Democratic National Convention. This blunts any "positive" momentum Kerry would have had going into the GE.

Backdoor slider #2 - Kerry as a military opportunist and coward. Step one: Criticize his appearances before Congress as a Military Vet when he spoke against the Vietnam war. While he is on the defensive, begin "questioning" his medals. Then insinuate that his wounds were 'self-inflicted' to gain medals he should not have earned. Photoshop a picture of Kerry with "Hanoi Jane" and circulate.

How does this backdoor slider work for Bush? It works to destroy Kerry's credibility on military issues. When he apologized for his vote on AUMF, Bush and Cheney seized on that, and his apparent change-of-heart on Iraq war funding supplements (that $87 billion package) - and characterized it simply as "Being for the war before he was against it."

Backdoor slider #2 was the one Kerry never saw coming. But, even when the attacks first started, Kerry never immediately responded.

Backdoor Slider #3 - Democrats as Rich, European-loving Girly Men...again. Edwards the "Breck Girl" and rich trial lawyer (and trial lawyers care nothing for regular folks except to take their hard-earned money through frivolous lawsuits being the unspoken insinuation) that spends hundreds of dollars on haircuts; Kerry the rich, out-of-touch military traitor that married Theresa Heinz for her money. Add a very stupid picture of John Kerry is a full body suit on his hands and knees, looking very much like a young infant - as well as one of Kerry bumbling with a football, and the message is complete.

And, like Florida in 2000, the horserace put Ohio (which was under GOP control) in play. And " happened again."

Variations of the backdoor sliders (also known as trapdoors) have been used throughout this primary season. The next post (assuming my ADD-riddled brain can focus that much) will look at some of the GOP's classic tactics used thus far in this campaign.

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koshembos's picture
Submitted by koshembos on

Both Gore and Kerry had inept, i.e. Trojan horses, campaign managers, Brazile and Schram. This added much to keeping back doors open.

The current two top Democratic candidates are excellent fighters more than able to close obvious back doors of the type Gore and Kerry suffered from.

The problem for the Democratic nominee are: the media, alienation within the party due to hate filled campaign and, of course, the Republicans who will throw everything at them including the kitchen sink.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

Barack is a failure in even battling back against legitimate criticism during a debate with any consistency. He won't be able to smear his opponents as racists because the GOP doesn't give a damn and the corporate media won't play. Worse, there are serious problems with Obama so much so that the GOP doesn't really have to create smears against him to win (but they will); they just have to vet him (Rezco is just the tip of the iceberg): his entire campaign is a phenomenon of media-manufactured "personality" and once people find out he's just a typical, cynical politician his house of cards will fall apart.

Hillary--if she miraculously even pulls off wins in TX, OH--is already too damn crippled by the false "Racist!" narrative to even withstand the inevitable tsunami of even more (misogynistic) hate from the corporate media, blogs and talk radio (liberal and conservative alike considering the OFB would hold serious grudges). Sure, she's a brawler, but what's the point if you're not allowed to land a hit?

Summary: we're fucked.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

Two points on Dukakis:
1. Dukakis was a tank driver in Korea - or however it is you say that. IOW, putting him in the tank was a natural. He belonged there. doesn't mean it was a good idea. Just like putting Kerry into that medical device in the disposable scrub and hair cap.

2. The furlough program that allowed Willie Horton out was actually devised and signed into law by a Republican governor - and that's what Dukakis failed to point out.

3. The Bernard whats-his-face question about what Mike would do to a criminal who raped and murdered Kitty. Mike responded in a thoughtful way, as someone who was opposed to the death penalty would. Not what the media wanted. You see the fall out from this question in debates today - most prominently the terrorist attack question in the first debate that both Clinton and Edwards answered like a hard ass. Obama went soft, talking about first responders - wrong answer.

4. Dukakis didn't know how to fight back against any of those charges. Al Gore was so caught up in the "bill asked for it" meme that he never understood how the GOP operates.

Submitted by lambert on

As with war hero Kerry, so with tank-driver Dukakis. (I had no idea that Dukakis had been a tank driver in the Korean War. That's not a soft option.)

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

None of them ever fight back in the right way--the media already is making it McCain vs. Obama--and McCain has much more media love, and the media always always propagates GOP smears.

Obama's getting hit today because of his clueless answer on Iraq--and his comeback is not answering the attack in any way--that he's not up to speed on foreign policy at all, and has no experience in it.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

Dems Must Frame Iraq Before General Election --

" ... 1. As long as it takes
2. Long term partnership

It is safe to say at this point that those two phrases are the Republican position on Iraq heading into the general election. It is also safe to say that the Democrats are already allowing these positions to frame the debate.

... Barack Obama is already using the word 'partnership' to define his position Iraq--the word the Bush administration and the Republican Party are using to try to take control of the debate heading into the general election. And that's not the only Republican language Obama used in that answer. He also said--as George Bush has said many times--that he would give the Iraqi's time to "stand up" (as in, 'when they stand up, we'll stand down') and assured the Iraqis that America will provide them continued support. Those parts of his position on Iraq are clear, but they also clearly come from the Republicans. ..."

scarshapedstar's picture
Submitted by scarshapedstar on

You all really need to get out and talk to non-political junkies. It can be eye-opening.

People are sick of the fucking Republicans and all the 19-percenter red meat about "B. Hussein Osama's terrorist kindergarten" won't change that.

But I still believe
And I will rise up with fists!!

Submitted by lambert on

What you said:

By making Bill a racist, O loses a valuable asset....

This reminds me of the Kos idea that the number one goal is to get rid of the DLC, once and for all.

And that's not a bad idea for Kos. In fact, it's a good idea.

But that's not the same thing as saying getting rid of everything and everybody that ever was DLC-connected is a good idea for the Presidential race or the party as a whole (unless the party is superseded by a formal, permanent OFB organization post-election. Just thinking the unthinkable, here...)

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Charles Lemos's picture
Submitted by Charles Lemos on

You and I are of like minds. I've worried on several fronts and one of my worries is precisely that Dukakis moment in the tank. He looked lost. A fish out of water. The deer in the headlights. Obama has made several comments were he just sounds lost. On Pakistan. On Iraq. Last night on Louis Farrahkan. Granted on the health care debate, he is lost but that won't matter in the general election except for those of us who seem set to sail on the SS Nader.

I wrote months ago about how it won't be a swiftboat this year but rather a swiftchurch. The opening salvo was last night but for months the Freepers have been preparing the narrative. And Freedom Watch has a quarter of a billion dollars ready to go.

And then there is what we don't know as yet. How serious is Rezko? I don't think he did anything illegal but neither did the Clintons in Whitewater. Poor judgment and bad timing yes. A political vendetta no doubt.

McCain has skeletons as well but he is out to win a beauty contest. He is out to win an Electoral College. My view is that the GOP is aiming for 43% to 45% of the popular vote and 270 to 320 Electoral College votes and thus the Presidency. Only in 1824 will there have been a greater differential between the winner and the runner up and yet the runner up claim the Presidency (albeit in 1824 it was the House that awarded the Presidency).

The post entitled Honestly by scarshapestar argues that we need to get out more, that people are tired the same old same old. I don't deny that second assertion however they don't realize the Democratic Party is splintered already. My guess is that 8% to 12% of Clinton supporters will either vote for Nader, write in Clinton or stay home. Hispanics will break for Obama on a 55-45 nationwide but in key states like CA, NV, FL, TX they will break for McCain 55-45 or more. And then come the Asian-Americans who actually love McCain. He is the only GOP guy that finds a home in that community. The anti-Communist thing plays well to all Southeast Asians especially the Vietnamese and Hmong but also to the Koreans, Chinese and Taiwanese. That population is strong in CA, NY, WI, MN, TX, LA. I think California will be in play. Obama will carry the Bay Area, West LA & Santa Barbara, McCain will carry everything else. The question is what is the margin in both areas. Remembering that SoCal is 70% of the state, I think it will perilous close. FL is lost. Obama's pro-Cuba, pro-Venezuela, anti-Colombia stances are too much to overcome. There are 2.5 million Colombians in the US. Half in Florida, and then another million in NY/NJ, the rest scattered, most are dual citizens, they generally vote Democratic. The Colombian press and Colombians generally are appalled at Obama's lack of understanding about the Colombian situation. I know, I am Colombian. Anyone who starts complimenting the FARC and making snide remarks about Uribe is out of the question and I'm a progressive unlike many of my fellow countrymen. How many will cross the line? I don't know. My mother will. She lives in Rhode Island.

And then come the gays. The leadership seems to discount the Donnie McClurkin bs. They themselves don't. My BF is likely to write in Clinton or vote for Nader. Many will likely stay home especially if McClurkin goes out on the campaign trail again. Though it didn't hit the national media, Obama won't have his picture taken with Gavin Newsome, a hero to the gay community, over the gay marriage issue. My question here is this is unity, what does disunity look like? That bit of news was first reported after Super Tuesday in the SF Chronicle ( and then in the national and local gay media nationwide. Has it had an impact? Oh yeah. My boyfriend and numerous friends have brought it up.

And it is widely reported that some of the support he is getting in the primaries and the caucuses are from Republicans crossing over to vote against Clinton. So his support is a bit overstated probably by a few percentage points. But all that red state mania is sheer nonsense. He may win Missouri. But what other red/purple states?

The Bradley Effect does not matter in Democratic Contests, it does in the General Election. Michelle Obama may be proud of her country now. She won't be in November. And neither will I.

Oh, John Edwards why weren't you a black woman?

John Edwards in 2012.

Voodoo Chile's picture
Submitted by Voodoo Chile on

In response to only one tiny part of Charles Lemos' post:

Ralph Nader really is not good on gay issues. He's not bad either, he's just completely disinterested. Or abortion. To paraphrase the man himself, he's really not interested in sexual politics.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

especially about the red-state stuff and McCain's gigantic appeal to many millions of Americans of all sorts (because of the enduring media persona--what most Americans know about him is wholly and entirely a creation of the media and they won't ever let him down)

I posted yesterday about how 15% of Texas GOP voters are voting Obama in the primary but voting GOP in November, according to state polls. The GOP wants Obama--not because he's a strong contender, but because he's not.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

and i care very little for what Kos advocates--he's shown himself to be supportive of almost all if not all incumbents, i find--even when they're DLC or BushDogs. He goes for "more Democrats" no matter what they do.

The DLC sucks but our Congressional leadership sucks far far more and is actively hurting us more.

Bill is very popular in the country--this whole demonization and marginalization of him is horrendous for the party and for all who don't want the GOP in power--now and in the future.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

MSNBC was showing clips of the debate and i caught this little "gem" from Obama during his bad Al Qaeda in Iraq and he'll go back in answer-- "protecting the American homeland"

He has to stop this shit.

Submitted by lambert on

I heard that one too, on NPR, I think.

We better pray The Phonebooth Theory is right...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

i'm way over people "interpreting" all his remarks so they sound better--at some point people have to stop and realize he either really believes all this shit -- or he's a lying old-time pol like all the rest saying what plays well on tv, no matter how damaging they are to the country or our futures.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

Just last night, during the debate, Obama tried to bolster his political courage cred by stating that he made his anti-Iraq war speech when he was running for "US Senate" in 2002 when in fact he was was running for state senate, a position that's decided not by a state wide contest but by district; Obama's district was liberal and anti-war. Thus, if anything, his speech was politically advantageous.
Obama: My objections to the war in Iraq were simply -- not simply a speech. I was in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign. It was a high-stakes campaign. I was one of the most vocal opponents of the war, and I was very specific as to why.

I fear his campaign has been hurt by his Media Darling status, buying their own hype and becoming all too comfortable with the blatant lies they're allowed to get away with--from his Iraq voting record (Obama advisor, Dr. Susan Rice, repeatedly states his record is "quite different" from Clinton's when in fact they're identical with one exception: Clinton opposed Mukasey, Obama wasn't there) to health care to egregiously smearing Clinton without basis.

Rice (she does this repeatedly):

I cannot imagine that a campaign that has depended so heavily on disinformation and smears to distract/attack will all of a sudden be able to break this habit and the corporate media will make them pay--dearly. Will they even know what hit 'em?

Oh, yeah, and the whole using right-wing frames will kill him, too.

Submitted by lambert on

Seriously, Davidson, you gotta warn people...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

Was it coffee or alcohol?

Seriously, that's one of my favorite photos right now (Current top spot reserved for Bush being outwitted by the double doors in China years ago). I have this one listed under "Obama: picture of humility."

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

I went through it a couple of times (shortest route from w. TN to central IL where relatives are) but never got off the highway to go downtown and see the Supes statue.

They really do get a fair amount of tourist $$ out of this schtick, which is good since there ain't a whole hell of a lot else to do in the farthest south of Illinois. Except for prisons of course...

That area is known as "Little Egypt," as could probably be predicted from a perusal of the maps and town names--Cairo, Thebes, both Memphis' (albeit one is in MO and the other in TN; the area once extended beyond IL but the term got centralized later) and some others I don't remember offhand.

Very Southern/Copperhead sympathizing during the Civil War, in fact there was a regiment in the (Confederate) Army of Tennessee that was made up almost entirely of Illinois men. Attitudes haven't changed all that much since; the area is more like Kentucky than the rest of IL. As far north as Charleston there was an actual "Civil War battle" when a riot broke out between some Union troops home on leave and a Copperhead mob. Well, it was more of a bar brawl but the militia had to be called in to quiet things down.

Rather brave of Obama to have campaigned there in fact. I don't think Chuck Percy ever went south of Carbondale, although that's been awhile back and might have been a derogatory rumor anyway.

Submitted by lambert on

It's pretty rare when we get a Superman reference in a Civil War history context. (What, no Fritz Lang allusion?)

Anyhow, you're right, Xan, on the "brave." I should emphasize that although Obama drives me crazy with the right wing talking points, leveraging Hillary hatred is absolutely reprehensible, and I find his campaign tactics all too familiar, still, he doesn't torture small animals, like family members of the Republican candidates do, and in fact has some personal qualities I can admire. There is a difference.

UPDATE Nothing personal, Davidson. I just admire good form!

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by jawbone on

When the ReThugs have the MCM on their side, along with the corporate money, the airwaves are theirs.

Now, Dems are raising tons of money (and I still bemoan what all this money could do for the country's needs), but, unless the C part of the Mainstream Corporate Media wants to give up on St. McCain, it will be, again, two against one. The RNC and the MCM vs. the DNC.

BushBoy's numbers are in the toilet, but McCain has his "Straight Talk" shit in place and, for the most part, the MCM still seems to be running with him.

It's all going to depend on what the corporate interests want.