Friday, May 18, 2012

The Conservative Slander Machine

The current news cycle is all about the "Ricketts Plan", a $10 million advertising proposal intended to slime President Obama by linking him to controversial retired minister Jeremiah Wright.

(all images from Wikimedia Commons)

The Plan has been described as "racially charged", with complete justice. It refers to the President as "The metrosexual black Abe Lincoln" (p.8). It invokes Oprah, (p.11), guarantees that both the president and the "liberal press" will "play the race card" (p.11) and shamelessly fishes for numerous bigoted racial archetypes. Examples are the "angry black man"  (pp.11,27,30,35), the "slick hustler" (pp. 8,21,22,37) and the "likable fool" (pp. 6,8,9,19), but the truth is you can find the crudest imagery on every page, including references to hitting the President "right between the eyes", "inflaming public opinion" and the need to find "an extremely literate, conservative African American" spokesman.

Not surprisingly, the GOP establishment dropped it like a live grenade. The ink hadn't dried on West Coast editions of the NYT before Mitt Romney had a statement out condemning the campaign. Ricketts made haste to do the same. Ending Spending, Ricketts pet super-PAC, disavowed the campaign as an organization...

and the Beltway punditry all shook their heads wisely and agreed that Fred Davis (who looks pretty metrosexual himself) had badly miscalculated the amount of overt sleaze permissible in a modern American Presidential Campaign.

(Image from Strategic Perception, this White, Metrosexual, Andrew Jackson's corporate website) 

Which is a lot of smug, lazy, self-congratulatory and ahistorical bullshit. While the document itself is positively amateurish in its presentation (a high school English teacher would run out of red ink trying to correct the basic composition errors in the text), it absolutely epitomizes the Lee Atwater brand of Republican politics. Nothing has been out of bounds to Republicans since 1980. They'll say anything if they think it will work, and worry about the consequences later. If they win the election, they've got institutional tools to shield themselves from any fallout. If they lose, no one will remember what they did anyway.

Consider some of the lowlights of the last few decades. remember "White Hands"?

Or the Swiftboating of John Kerry

David Corn absolutely nailed the impetus behind the ad pitch tonight on Hardball, at 1:43 of this clip. A Republican hired gun pitched a venemous smear campaign to a reactionary billionaire in anticipation of a big payday.

Because it's the kind of hatchet job that perfectly reflects the anger and suspicion and prejudices and fears of reactionary billionaires who regard themselves as the author of all society's wealth.

For 8 years we saw the most ludicrous charges made against Bill Clinton: MenaVince FosterTroopergate, the Arkansas Project, and all of it funded by notoriously right-wing billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife

(Image from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, an actual newspaper and not from Scaife's hobby paper and slander rag)

Fred Davis may not know how to write a presentation using complete sentences, but he absolutely knows his target audience. There's absolutely nothing in the Rickett's Plan that hasn't been used, over and over again, by the GOP.

Not only is this stuff typical, all the repudiations following the Times piece notwithstanding...

it's the Platonic Ideal of a Republican campaign. I promise you, we're going to hear every element of the Ricketts Plan this Summer and Fall.

Even if Joe Ricketts isn't paying Fred Davis to do it.