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Will McCain Go to the Mat with Obama?
The collapse of long-time frontrunner Rudy Giuliani allowed rival invade-the-world invite-the-world candidate Sen. John McCain to squeeze out plurality wins in winner-take-all primaries, while his hapless foes were winning races where delegates were allotted proportionally. The Mainstream Media (MSM) has now anointed McCain as the presumptive Republican nominee.
Yet Republicans clearly aren't happy about McCain's flukish luck. That was shown by his dismal performance on Saturday, February 9th, the first election day after Super Tuesday. Even with only Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul left in the race, Senator McMentum received just 42 percent of the vote in Louisiana, 26 percent in Washington and 24 percent in Kansas.
The odds still favor McCain scraping across the line, due to his early windfall of delegates. But I would guesstimate that, even without a Huckabee miracle comeback, there's about a 5%-15% chance that McCain won't actually be running for President when Election Day finally grinds around—nine long months from now.
Does anybody have a contingency plan? One may be needed, because McCain is 71 years old. He has twice been struck by cancer—in 1993 and in 2000, when he underwent a 9-hour operation.
And McCain doesn't have the most placid, reticent of personalities in an era that has made crucifying white males for "gaffes" into a national spectator sport (James Watson, Don Imus, Trent Lott, etc. etc. etc.)
At this point, responsible immigration-restrictionist opinion-molders, such as John O'Sullivan, Mickey Kaus, and Randall Parker, tend to favor a Democratic victory as the least awful outcome, especially a win by the uninspiring Hillary Clinton rather than by the dangerously charismatic Barack Obama. They argue that McCain would muffle GOP Congressional resistance to a revived Amnesty/ Immigration Surge bill. They think a Democratic president would galvanize Republican opposition, as did Bill Clinton when he defeated George I, leading to a GOP Congressional victory in 1994.
But I'm in no mood to be responsible. I'm looking for only one thing from Election 2008: entertainment. I want to see mud slung everywhere.
Obama currently leads McCain in head-to-head polls by 7-8 points. So I'm going to offer McCain a little unsolicited advice on what he'd have to do to win.
I don't, however, expect McCain to take my suggestions. I expect him to choose to lose, in the politically correct manner that will preserve his image in the eyes of his Main Stream Media acolytes, rather than to do what it takes to get elected President.
Back in 1992, the "Year of the Woman", the Clintons won by running on the themes of "change" and "hope", exactly the same woozy twaddle that Obama is peddling in 2008. I guess some things never, well, change.
The media loved Bill and Hill back then. But they eventually figured out that the power couple were only it for themselves. Today, most elite liberals who aren't actually on the Clinton payroll seem to despise the Clintons. So, this time around, the media, those eternal suckers, are enraptured by the exotic Obama.
The 2008 press bias just goes to show once again what O.J. Simpson's defense attorney, Johnny Cochran, understood but feminist D.A Marcia Clark didn't: race trumps gender in the victimology sweepstakes. (Cochran wanted blacks on the jury while the clueless Clark wanted women. So Johnny let Marcia throw him in the briar patch by packing the jury with black women.)
The Clintons rode feminist resentment over Anita Hill into the White House. But playing the gender card is getting old with the media. This is not to say that the feminists don't retain vast power—ask Larry Summers!—just that they are now viewed as tedious, unsexy old harridans.
But race is still very much with us.
Thus Obama can insult Hillary without being called a "chauvinist", but when President Bill asserts that one aspect of Obama's image is a "fairy tale", he's denounced as a "racist". (The term "fairy tale" is racist because fairy tales are about African Americans, such as Snow White, Goldilocks, and Rapunzel … Oh, uh, maybe that's not such a good explanation of why "fairy tale" is racist. In fact, I guess there is no rational explanation. Which is the point: criticizing Obama for any reason, other than a vague "lack of experience", is "racist".)
For example, consider the respectful greeting the press has given Obama's new quasi-musical video Yes We Can, hosted on Obama's website here. It features celebrities shouting along with an Obama stump speech about hope and change. This "song" was dreamed up by hip-hopper Will.i.am, who, as frontman of the Black Eyed Peas, was previously liable for the worst record in the history of the world, My Humps. In it, Will.i.am raps with the lovely Fergie, who famously rhymes "my humps" with "my lovely lady lumps".
Now, you might think that for a Presidential candidate to associate himself with My Humps would invite derision. But the press has skipped over that easy bit of copy. (Wouldn't want to be accused of being racist!…)
Of course, so far the media has been strongly on McCain's side because they see him as a "maverick" Republican. But now that he is Mr. Republican, press coverage is likely to become less fawning … especially if Hillary is edged out by the media's new crush, Obama. If Obama gets the Democratic nod, the press adulation that McCain has been so addicted to over the last couple of decades is likely to dry up.
Nine months from now, the economy probably isn't going to be doing any better. And McCain sure isn't going to be getting any younger and handsomer.
There's only one way for McCain to win: he will have to have to go to the mat with Obama—even though his Bigfoot press friends would be aghast.
In 1988, the Massachusetts governor had won the Democratic nomination and opened up a 17-point lead over the Vice President—largely because he was getting credit for the "Massachusetts Miracle".
Dukakis, of course, had almost nothing to do with the mid-1980s prosperity in Massachusetts. In reality, data processing technology had merely evolved to the point that the minicomputer industry, led by the four Massachusetts firms of DEC, Data General, Prime, and Wang, had been taking business away from mainframe computers. (Indeed, late in 1988, the Massachusetts economy began to nosedive again as the modern microcomputer started to drive minis toward extinction.)
But whoever said politics was fair?
If you had been paying attention back then, you would have already known that Dukakis was likely the most liberal governor in the history of the most liberal state in the union. (Granted, Dukakis may not have noticed. He thought of himself as a technocratic centrist. Which he was—relative to other upper middle class Bostonians.)
The relatively few voters who understood how liberal the Massachusetts Democrat tended to hold strong opinions on whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. But most voters don't know much about politics. So they were clueless about Dukakis's liberalism. Nor was the Main Stream Media going to tell the public, because they largely shared Dukakis's liberalism.
To get through to the folks who didn't immediately grasp the implications of the phrase "Massachusetts Democrat", Atwater put together a notoriously lowbrow campaign emphasizing easily understandable issues. For example, Dukakis, an ACLU member, vetoed a bill making the Pledge of Allegiance mandatory in Massachusetts public schools. That's why one of the central events of the 1988 Republican convention was the candidate's 12-year-old mestizo grandson George P. Bush leading the delegates in the Pledge.
This made MSM sophisticates roll their eyes. But they weren't smart enough to understand that the public needs to have things spelled out for them using tangible symbols. Atwater, however, understood this. He piloted Bush to a crushing victory.
Atwater's most famous issue was of course Willie Horton. In 1974, Horton robbed 17-year-old filling station attendant Joey Fournier, then stabbed the boy 19 times and stuffed him in a trash can where he bled to death.
For this murder, Horton was sentenced to life without parole. But Massachusetts had instituted a "furlough" program in 1972, giving jailbirds vacations from the big house. When the Massachusetts Supreme Court extended this privilege to all criminals in 1976, the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill denying furloughs to first-degree murderers (like Horton). But Gov. Dukakis vetoed it.
Not surprisingly, when Horton was given a "weekend pass" in 1986, he didn't return. Nor was it surprising that in 1987 Horton raped a woman in Maryland.
Maryland judge Vincent J. Femia refused to send Horton back to Massachusetts, noting: "I'm not prepared to take the chance that Mr. Horton might again be furloughed or otherwise released".
The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune ran 175 stories on the scandal of Massachusetts's unique furlough system. They won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for "an investigation that revealed serious flaws in the Massachusetts prison furlough system and led to significant statewide reforms".
Ironically, Bush aide Jim Pinkerton heard about this loony left excess from Democratic presidential contender (and future Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) Al Gore. He had first injected it into the 1988 campaign running against the New York primary. When Atwater tried it out in focus groups, voters immediately woke up to Dukakis's liberalism.
In other words, the Willie Horton story was a perfectly legitimate issue—the kind of anecdote that helps the public comprehend larger issues, such as what kind of federal judges a President Dukakis would nominate.
Finally, it came as a surprise to nobody that Horton was a member of the minority that commits the majority of homicides in America (52.2 percent since the federal government began tracking homicide offenders by race in 1976).
But, because Horton was black, the Democrats were able to rewrite history. Instead of the Willie Horton incident being about Democrats being soft on crime, it became the conventional wisdom that it was about Republicans being racist. Wikipedia claims [as of February 10, 2008]: "There were more references to Horton in the 1992 campaign between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush than there were in 1988," and the New York Times published a story titled In 1992, Willie Horton Is Democrats' Weapon (by Richard L. Berke, August 25, 1992)
If Obama wins the Democratic nomination, McCain will face a similar, although even trickier, challenge. Judging from Obama's autobiography Dreams from My Father, he was far, far to the left of the American public—even far to the left of the average Democrat, when he wrote his book in 1995. Perhaps he's changed greatly since then, perhaps not. But if the GOP candidate could force him to admit he had recently outgrown his puerile leftism, it would take the wind out of the sails of his campaign: his naïve volunteers would feel sucker-punched.
In contrast to Dukakis, however, Obama is a brilliant manipulator of other people's impressions of him. Obama is extremely intelligent and thus facile at summarizing his opponents' views at least as well as they could summarize them themselves. This flatters the vanity of conservatives who assume that the reason liberals don't agree with them is because they just don't understand conservative arguments.
New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor interviewed Obama's fellow students at Harvard Law School, where Obama was elected president of the Law Review. In her January 28, 2007 article "In Law School, Obama Found Political Voice," she summarized his career there: "People had a way of hearing what they wanted in Mr. Obama's words".
This discrimination lawyer has played it close to the vest with his deepest beliefs during his rocket-propelled ascent, not antagonizing anybody into strongly resisting his rise to supreme power. For example, the Illinois GOP was mau-maued into rolling over and bringing in a joke (black) candidate from out of state to run against him for the Senate in 2004—his first and only federal election victory, it is easy to forget. (The Bush White House helped by lobbying against a stronger GOP candidate, Jim Oberweis, because he had dared to campaign against illegal immigration.)
The NYT's Kantor, though, gives a clue to the inner Obama:
"In dozens of interviews, his friends said they could not remember his specific views from that era, beyond a general emphasis on diversity and social and economic justice".
Let me translate that from Harvard Lawspeak into English:
- "Social and economic justice" means tax and spend.
Now, Obama is a smooth operator. But the two people who have had the greatest influence on his adult life—his wife Michelle and his spiritual advisor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.—are not. They feel a deep racial anger and are not terribly good at hiding it. (For a devastating colloquy on Michelle Obama and what might be called the Aggrieved Black Woman syndrome, see here).
In fact, Rev. Dr. Wright may well have an agenda of his own. Wright has preached his whole life that whites are too racist to give blacks an even break. So his parishioner's election as President could come as a personal affront. My theory: Wright is trying to sabotage Obama. This explains why, last November 2, as Obama was gearing up for the primaries, Rev. Dr. Wright chose to rent out a Chicago Hyatt Regency ballroom to give his newly made-up "Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Trumpeter Award for Lifetime Achievement" to, of all people, Black Muslim boss Louis Farrakhan.
OK, it could just be that Wright's an attentionaholic.
Either way, Wright is potential trouble for Obama, who certainly appears to be looking forward to Wright's upcoming retirement from Trinity's pulpit. But having more time on his hands and no worshipful audience every Sunday may inspire Wright to new mischief. Who is he going to give his second Lifetime Achievement award to this year—the Beltway Snipers? The Kirkwood Killer?
But, the MSM won't go looking for the real Obama—it took ten weeks for the story of Wright's award to Farrakhan to make the news.
The Republican candidate will have to make Obama's past an issue—just as Lee Atwater made Willie Horton an issue.
Is McCain really the ultra-competitive fighter jock he likes to think he is? Or is he the tame Main Stream Media talking head that he looks like to you and me?
We're about to find out.
But I don't think he does.