In this tense last week until the election itself, I suspect a lot of people are too nervous to write or comment much, hoping that they won’t somehow jinx the encouraging news from the polls.
But without jumping the gun and prejudging the election, it’s surely safe enough to look at some of key ways McCain’s Hate Talking Express has come off the rails.
I recently got a message claiming Obama was ‘The One’, the AntiChrist, and would unleash the End Times. Though these batshit crazy smears come from all quarters, they mimic the erratic and self cancelling attempts of the McCain Campaign to ‘frame Obama’
Once you’ve made a narrative choice, you do have to stick with it – you can’t just keep bouncing around, or people become confused.
If you are telling the story of a scary vampire, you can’t decide in chapter 2 that he’s also 500 feet tall and radioactive and bent on destroying Tokyo, in chapter 3 that he is actually a giant man-eating shark, and in chapter 4 that he is all this and a super-terrorist trying to plant a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. All of these things are, indeed, scary, but taken together they add up to a muddle.
This is the problem. It’s not just the McCain campaign’s problem – although their inability to pick a narrative and stick to it is a special kind of inexcusable – it’s a problem for the entire wingnut noise machine. Obama is a Marxist Muslim Arab Jesus Black White Terrorist Technocrat Racist Do-Gooder Liberal FDR Stalin Hilter [me: Chamberlain!] Commie Fascist Gay Womanizing Naive Cynical Insider Noob Boring Radical Unaccomplished Elite Slick Gaffe-Prone Pedophile Pedophile-Seducing Liberation Theology Atheist Etc. & Anti-Etc. with a bunch of scary friends from – wait for it! – the Nineteen Hundred And Sixties.
It makes no sense. It’s a jumble sale of fears and scary associations from 50 years of wingnut witch hunts and smear campaigns, a flea market of pre-owned and antique resentments, and if one does detect a semi-consistent 1960’s motif running through it all, that’s because that’s when most of these ideas were coined.
So what do you think the McCain campaign’s biggest mistake has been?
I’m bagging the most obvious one for myself: the moment I lost all residual faith in McCain as an independent politician was the moment he nominated Sarah Palin as VP. It was such a cynical and transparent play of the identity politics card – her looks (designed to appeal to men), her gender (designed to appeal to disaffected Hillary supporters) and her politics (designed to appeal to the right wing base).
Apart from that, what were your favourite/most despised McCain mistakes?