Earlier today, I talked about Barack Obama’s judgment — and where it fails when it comes to judging the character of those who he chooses to associate with. I alluded to his other alleged strength — bringing about a “new politics” — but didn’t really go into it.
Time to correct that error.
Senator Obama hails from Chicago, considered by many as one of the most politically corrupt places in the country. (Although Louisiana might give it a run for its money.) From this, Obama has sprung to national prominence, espousing an end to the “old” and “divisive” ways and a new, hopey, changeful way of doing politics.
So, how well has he done with that?
I’m a bit too lazy to do the required research, but that’s OK. I don’t have to. Dafydd ab Hugh of Big Lizards already did a superb job a couple of months ago.
While Dafydd’s piece deserves your full attention, I’ll sum it up: during Obama’s first race for the state Senate, his supporters went into the Secretary of State’s office and challenged signature after signature, petition after petition, of his opponents until every single other Democrat running in his race was disqualified. Obama ended up running unchallenged in the primary, and in that particular district, winning the Democratic primary was pretty much the same as winning the general.
Then, when Obama chose to jump to the US Senate, all of a sudden the press grew greatly interested in the sealed divorce records of his Democratic rival for the primary. When the records were unsealed and all sorts of embarrassing details were released to the public, the guy withdrew and Obama won handily.
Then, in the general election, by some astonishing coincidence, the press decided to do the very same thing to his Republican rival, one Jack Ryan. I wrote about that a couple of times as it happened, without ever mentioning (or even noticing) that Ryan’s opponent was an up-and-coming Barack Obama. Ryan withdrew from the race, leaving Illinois Republicans to import Alan Keyes to run against him — no real challenge there.
So, that’s the “new politics” Obama represents — not winning at the ballot box, but using lawyers and the press to get his opponents kicked out of the race and taking the election in a cakewalk. While I think it’s certainly an innovation over more traditional forms of Chicago-style corruption (such as getting the dead to vote early and often), I think it’s actually pretty much in the spirit of things there.
And since it’s worked so well in the past, why wouldn’t it work on a national level? Well, we very well might be seeing it tried out against John McCain.
The strategy has two elements: either get your opponent kicked off the ballot, or embarrass him enough to quit.
Well, let’s see. Several newspapers backing Obama have been pushing the “question” of whether John McCain meets the Constitutional criteria to serve as president. In the fine tradition of the 2000 Gore campaign to disqualify military absentee ballots in Florida, the idea here is to deprive United States servicemembers of fundamental rights of citizens as a consequence of their service.
When John McCain was born, his father (another John McCain) was serving in the United States Navy, assigned to the Panama Canal Zone. (Senator McCain’s father and grandfather, all Johns, both rose to the rank of admiral over their careers.) So, as a reward for McCain II’s willingness to serve his nation wherever it chose to send him, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and others think they should strip his son of the full measure of his citizenship and deny him the right to run for president.
The message here, if they succeed, will stretch far beyond November. They will be telling every single American service member “you don’t make enough sacrifices already. From now on, you better scurry home to have your children, or you can count on them being second-class citizens for the rest of their lives.”
Then there’s the other aspect: if you can’t get the courts to clear your way, dig up enough slime to humiliate the guy off the ticket.
To fill that breach, here comes Marty Parrish. Mr. Parrish has a rather fascinating background — Baptist minister (albeit currently not employed as such), former Joe Biden campaign staffer, and Obama supporter who got into a McCain town hall meeting to spring his little ambush. Note how he first faked his question, starting off with a general policy matter, before going for the groin punch:
This question goes to mental health and mental health care. Previously, I’ve been married to a woman that was verbally abusive to me. Is it true that you called your wife a cunt?
This was in a room with women and children — stay classy, Reverend. Further, as John Gibson noted, the allegation comes from a book by Democratic strategist Cliff Schechter, and links Schechter to George Soros through several connections.
McCain handled the question quite well — no flash of the “McCain temper” that he was trying to provoke, just some dismissiveness and a touch of class:
Now, now. You don’t want to… Um, you know that’s the great thing about town hall meetings, sir, but we really don’t, there’s people here who don’t respect that kind of language. So I’ll move on to the next questioner in the back.
I’m going to go out on a limb and make a prediction: there will be more attempts to provoke McCain’s anger in public, more attempts to embarrass and humiliate him in public, more and more vile language and accusations in an attempt to “reveal the real McCain,” between now and November.
For all his talk about the “new politics,” this all reeks of updates of the same old dirty politics that we’ve had for far, far too long. The phrase “lipstick on a pig” comes to mind.
Maybe Obama will step up, denounce these tactics, and urge his supporters to not use them any more.
But I’m not really full of hope and change that that will happen any time soon.