Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Voters Ready to Eschew False Light

Remember when the Administration of George W. Bush first took office amidst promises that the "adults" were in charge? Seems like a long time ago. Remember when they repeatedly failed to deliver on promises of professionalism and accountability? That seems both long-standing and fresh.

With disastrous decision following disastrous decision flowing from the White House, 2008 would seem to be precisely the worst time for the Republicans to run a political campaign for the White House featuring more sophomoric ads portraying the democratic candidate in unflattering terms. But that all seems lost on a Republican Party strategy team that continues to impress upon an increasingly alert constituency that it cares more about building straw-men rather than establishing a meaningful dialogue on the many significant issues facing the United States.

The Republicans, of course, have many issues from which to select. They could discuss Iraq, health care, government waste and corruption, or numerous other issues that the current administration either has created or made infinitely worse. Those all would be welcome talking points for presumptive Republican presidential nominee, John McCain.

Instead of discussing adult issues at a time when the country most desperately needs such discussion, however, Mr. McCain has adopted campaign methodology too-long promoted by Karl Rove and company; it is a decision that almost certainly will spell defeat for Mr. McCain in November.

By attempting to paint presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama in a false light, rather than focusing on the substantive policy differences between Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama, the Republicans are making clear that they believe both that their candidate is the weaker of the two candidates on substantive issues and that the voting public, if not inundated with distractive ads, will see the candidates for what they are and vote for Mr. Obama.

We've seen this song and dance many times in the past and, unfortunately, to great effect for the Republicans. Al Gore was going to shut down all non-ecobusinesses in the U.S. and raise taxes; John Kerry was going to force everyone to hug trees and raise taxes; Obama, we are told, will be far worse. This is a different era, however--a point apparently lost on those currently fashioning the Republican talking points.

With the recent revelation that Iraq is growing rich at the expense of the American taxpayer and the current administration's farcical call for Russia to retreat from Georgia under the principle of sovereignty of nations, it is, of course, difficult for Mr. McCain to continue to campaign on his commander-in-chief platform when he is lockstep with the President on Iraq. But there are those other issues, issues upon which the nation will turn dramatically over the next decade.

The quandary for Mr. McCain is how to extricate himself from those calling the shots for the Party. The sad answer for Mr. McCain is that appears to be too late for such considerations. And so Mr. McCain latches on to the antics.

For eight years, Americans have wallowed in their razor thin decisions in 2000 and 2004. As they attempt to make silk out of sow's ear after such carnage, they are left to decide between two candidates who have taken far different approaches in their campaigns. While Mr. McCain has allowed the Republican Party to co-opt his campaign, Mr. Obama continues with his theme of solving problems. No greater disparity is evident than in the ads that the two candidates currently are running. As Mr. McCain focuses on casting Mr. Obama in negative, even false light in his ads, Mr. Obama has countered with policy-oriented ads. After eight years of false light, the voting public appears finally ready to demand better.

Up Next: Defining Sovereign Rights.

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