September 9, 2008

The politics of personal destruction

Personally, I'm all for them, at least when it comes to anybody who wants to be our President or Vice President.

Obama has been all high-minded about the evils of negative campaigning for the last 18 months (out of the purity of the Chicago politician's heart, no doubt, rather than out of any instinct for self-preservation). But as soon as the GOP finally comes up with somebody with comparable charisma, Democrats went into a feeding frenzy of scandal-mongering.

As well they should. A vice president could become president.

Of course, the president is president, so one might think that presidential candidates would be exposed to similar scrutiny, but it doesn't seem to work that way.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

25 comments:

headache said...

Simple answer: PC. The press badly wants Obama in. For whatever reason.

Cleanthes said...

Presidential candidates have outsized egos. They almost never pick a veep with lots more charisma. Occasionally, the charisma difference favors the veep a little bit, as with Ferraro in 1984.
The last time there was this big of a gap in charisma between #1 on a ticket and #2 was in 1900, and that particular veep choice ended up getting his face carved in the mountain in South Dakota.

Sex and fecundity are very important to species survival, but provender matters even more; without it a species dies. Moose hunters with lots of children prove themselves most fit.
The previous super-charismatic Veep had six children.

Garland said...

"If Obama's family were as colorful as Palin's, you can bet the press would have been all over it."

--Andrew Sullivan

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/09/dissent-of-the.html#more

ben g said...

I think it's actually the Obama campaign's official policy to largely ignore Sarah Palin and focus on McCain. It's mainly the press who is focusing on Palin. Clever tactic, if you ask me, because Palin is much more liked at the moment than either of the nominees.

paul k. said...

On the ongoing topic of media cluelessness, I recall that for weeks before Obama named his VP, the daily drumbeat on the news was, "Who's it going to be?", "Obama stays mum on VP pick," "Obama says he's made choice, may announce tomorrow," etc., it was an absolute media frenzy for weeks. So then he picks Joe Biden and . . . thud. Who cares about Biden?

Then McCain, on whom very little of this curiosity had been expended, picks Palin, turns the race on its ear, and everyone goes nuts.

And to think that the media criticizes politicians for not foreseeing things.

Jewish Atheist said...

Obama has done no scandal-mongerering. He's been totally consistent and even classy. Family is off limits, that's what he said.

MQ said...

Obama hasn't been scandal-mongering, neither has his campaign. He's walked his talk on this one. Now, the liberal blogsphere is not Obama...

Anonymous said...

This race could still get a lot uglier. My liberal aunt keeps telling me that McCain were to go directly after Obama on Wright and Obama's past racialism, Obama would have permission by the media to go after McCain on the ugly details of his first marriage.

"Our view is that if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House." - Michelle Obama. At the time, that was seen as a subtle hit on the Clintons, but it could just as easily be applied to McCain.

John Rohan said...

Part of the reason for the feeding frenzy is that many of Obama's opponents were hoping Palin would be another "Dan Quayle". When this didn't happen on it's own, they tried to paint her that way anyway, hoping the general public would follow suit.

rob said...

On Obama's VP announcement delay, I wonder if Edwards accepted, so Obama stopped looking. Then when Edwards' scandal broke, Obama had to go through the process again.

The way he handled it made him look silly, and going from Edwards to Oh crap! would explain it.

Conrad Bibby said...

I think Obama is suffering from the boy-who-cried-wolf syndrome in regard to Palin. A lot of Obama's supporters in the media and blogosphere (not Obama himself necessarily) started launching attacks right from the get-go. Many of these were very poorly thought out (I'm thinking especially of the fake pregnancy meme). They burned through a lot of their credibility during that first week or so. Now, whenever some dire-sounding "revelation" comes out, the public assumes it's probably bogus and just further evidence of the Dems' irrational hatred of Palin.

Steve Funk said...

Palin attracts more attention than most VP candidates because there is a good chance that she would become president. McCain does not come from long=lived stock. His father died at 70, and his grandfather died at 61. He is 72.

Art Deco said...

Personally, I'm all for them, at least when it comes to anybody who wants to be our President or Vice President.

I'm not. Scrutiny should be accompanied by a willingness to suspend judgment and caution about attributing motives.

T. said...

To add on to Conrad Bibby's points, the rabid and poorly thought out attacks on Palin during the first week, if allowed to continue and escalate in tone and shrillness, are very likely to create a backlash against liberals similar to what happened to 2004, where many conservatives, moderates and swing voters who were not very enthusiastic about Bush came out in droves to vote for him, not so much because they were excited by him but rather because they were tired of all the self-righteous and condescending shrillness of liberal celebrities, the smugness of the Daily Show watching, latte-swilling big city yuppie liberals and the constant Hitler analogies of the forever-protesting Moveon.org crowd. Voting for Bush became a way for them to stick up for their values and way of life against the constant derision and critique they perceived from the elite blue staters. The liberals, through their self-righteous shrillness, made the campaign bigger than Bush or Kerry and put people in a position where they felt they were defending the validity of their very way of life.

Ruthlessly demonizing someone that red staters can identify with as strongly as Palin can cause the same reaction in 2008 I think.

Anonymous said...

I read that the libertarian vice presidential candidate, Wayne Allyn Root, bet the Obama campaign a million dollars that he had a higher grade point average at Columbia than Obama. Root claims he has never met a fellow classmate who knew Obama. The guy is a ghost.

Carolyn said...

steve funk: "Palin attracts more attention than most VP candidates because there is a good chance that she would become president."

No way. If a conservative-valued Carly Fiorina were McCain's running mate no one would care much. Another rich Harvard MBA / CEO type - yawn.

Palin is a superstar.

She is fascinating because she's not from the elite class - not rich, not Ivy league, no connections, no dynastic family - she's practically an average middle class American. She personifies the the American myth of rags to riches. She comes from a frontier state and is a modern Annie Oakely. It also helps a LOT that she is good looking and in great shape for a 44-year-old mother of 5.

John Rohan said...

To Steve Funk: For what it's worth, McCain's mother is still alive at 96.

Red Stater said...

To add on to Conrad Bibby's points, the rabid and poorly thought out attacks on Palin during the first week, if allowed to continue and escalate in tone and shrillness, are very likely to create a backlash against liberals similar to what happened to 2004, where many conservatives, moderates and swing voters who were not very enthusiastic about Bush came out in droves to vote for him, not so much because they were excited by him but rather because they were tired of all the self-righteous and condescending shrillness of liberal celebrities, the smugness of the Daily Show watching, latte-swilling big city yuppie liberals and the constant Hitler analogies of the forever-protesting Moveon.org crowd.

Nice call t. Obama's "lipstick on a pig" comment is irritating not so much because of what he said, but the smugness with which he said it.

I don't know...most of my hunting buddies think Obama has some mighty purdy lips himself. *cue banjos*

Steve Funk said...

to John Rohan: The research I've seen indicates that the same sex parent has more influence on longevity, although it isn't a really strong relationship.

http://books.google.com/books?id=Dh_PwW3iRw8C&pg=PA10&lpg=PA10&dq=Longevity,+correlation,+parents&source=web&ots=M2_89uHv6l&sig=emOxUPGihJA4m5EB_mWclN-i3xY&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result#PPP1,M1

Lucius Vorenus said...

ben g: I think it's actually the Obama campaign's official policy to largely ignore Sarah Palin and focus on McCain.

Guess again - the Obama people have launched a full frontal assault to destroy her:



YOUTUBE VIDEO: Sarah Palin Hockey Moms, Pit Bulls and Lipstick
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
youtube.com

**********

The Hunt for Sarah October
City slickers invade Wasilla
September 9, 2008
online.wsj.com

Democrats understand Sarah Palin is a formidable political force who has upset the Obama victory plan. The latest Washington Post/ABC Poll shows John McCain taking a 12-point lead over Barack Obama among white women, a reversal of Mr. Obama's eight-point lead last month.

It's no surprise, then, that Democrats have airdropped a mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators and opposition researchers into Anchorage, the state capital Juneau and Mrs. Palin's hometown of Wasilla to dig into her record and background. My sources report the first wave arrived in Anchorage less than 24 hours after John McCain selected her on August 29.

The main area of interest to the Democratic SWAT team is Mrs. Palin's dismissal in July of her public safety commissioner. Mrs. Palin says he was fired for cause. Her critics claim he was fired because he wouldn't bend to pressure to get rid of a state trooper, Mike Wooten, who had been involved in a bitter divorce battle with Mrs. Palin's sister. Mr. Wooten is certainly a colorful character. He served a five-day suspension after the Palin family filed a complaint against him alleging he had threatened Mrs. Palin's father. They also accused him of using a Taser on his 10-year-old stepson, drinking in his patrol car and illegally shooting a moose.

Mrs. Palin will return to Alaska for the first time in nearly two weeks on Wednesday night, when she is scheduled to arrive in Fairbanks. Local Republicans will hold a "Welcome Home" rally for her. You can bet some of the Democratic opposition research contingent will be in the audience taking notes. They'll be the ones arriving in rental cars and wearing fancy dress shoes from back east.

**********

Carnahan: 'There's no way you can dress up that record even with a lot of lipstick'
By Ben Smith
September 09, 2008, 3:08 PM
politico.com

No letting up on Palin today, as she emerges as a strength of the ticket and delivers some of McCain's sharpest attacks on Obama.

Introducing Joe Biden as "one of the foremost experts in foreign affairs in the country" in St. Louis just now, my colleague Victoria McGrane reports, Rep. Russ Carnahan also took a swipe at Palin.

"For all his tough talk [McCain] buckled to the right wing of his party in his choice. Picked someone with zero experience in national government, zero experience in foreign affairs. There's no way you can dress up that record, even with a lot of lipstick," he said.

"There's no way you can dress up that record even with a lot of lipstick," he said.

UPDATE: "Sarah Palin's maverick record of reform doesn't need any 'dressing up,' but the Obama campaign's condescending commentary deserves some dressing down. While John McCain and Sarah Palin continue to press their message of change, Biden and his buddies should stop these sorts of old-style attacks," says RNC spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson.

**********

Obama: 'Lipstick on a pig'
By Ben Smith
September 09, 2008, 6:10 PM
politico.com

Amie Parnes reports from Lebanon, VA:

Obama poked fun of McCain and Palin's new "change" mantra.

"You can put lipstick on a pig," he said as the crowd cheered. "It's still a pig."

"You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It's still gonna stink."

"We've had enough of the same old thing."

The crowd apparently took the "lipstick" line as a reference to Palin, who described the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull in a single word: "lipstick."

UPDATE: The McCain campaign is now saying Obama called Palin a pig, which he didn't. They also note that "lipstick is a fairly common idiom he often uses," as in a recent Washington Post interview. McCain has also used the phrase. Though on a day when Obama's surrogates were joking that Palin's record can't be concealed with lipstick, it was hard for those following the campaign not to hear the echo.

**********

YOUTUBE VIDEO: Obama Smears McCain-Palin As Lipstick On A Pig
September 09, 2008
youtube.com

Statsquatch said...

This is definitely the best election ever!

The Obama may have said something that could be interpreted as calling Palin a pig with lipstick and then said something about fish.

This is starting to look like the "real world" episode when one of them gets drunk and says something mildly sexist or racist and the offended party acts as if the Neurenberg laws had just been enacted. Then we all learn "a very important lesson" about tolerance.

The best scenario is that this thing goes into overtime and both parties loose.

Anonymous said...

The guy's gay. He just came out, with the pig/smelly fish remark. The reason Wayne Root and others have no memory of him at Columbia is because the true "missing time" of BHO's life is not the mid-to-late 80s, the "community organizing" years. It's the Columbia/NYC years of 82-85.

Anonymous said...

"McCain does not come from long=lived stock. His father died at 70, and his grandfather died at 61. He is 72."

And his mother appears to be a very healthy 96.

ben g said...

lipstick on a pig

there's no mention of Palin in that video. "lipstick on a big" is a common idiom used in exactly this context... no gender implications.

also, check out this article on the Obama camp's palin strategy.



It's no surprise, then, that Democrats have airdropped a mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators and opposition researchers into Anchorage, the state capital Juneau and Mrs. Palin's hometown of Wasilla to dig into her record and background. My sources report the first wave arrived in Anchorage less than 24 hours after John McCain selected her on August 29.


they're most likely there to find dirt on her and leak it to the press, not to feed Obama talking points against her.

dearieme said...

Republican replies might include

"He's from Chicago, he knows all about pork."

"When he was young he was taught to hate pigs."

or, perhaps better

"He gets clumsy when he's rattled, doesn't he? Or when he's tired."