OK, it looks like Obama might be our candidate. Let’s assume he will be.
As you may remember, the mainstream media cheerfully repeated a set of dubious or false “messages” about Gore in ’00, such as that he’d claimed to invent the internet, that he was a habitual liar, things like that.
In ’04, the media helped publicize the “Swift Boat” lies, and bandied about the “flip flopper” meme.
In ’08, assuming we do in fact have an Obama candidacy, we can expect a series of smears ranging from outright falsehoods to vague matters of opinion repeated until they become unbreakable stereotypes.
Just a couple days ago in a coffee shop, I overheard a young man and a woman on a first date talking politics; she was a Huckabee supporter and when the man confessed some admiration for Obama she was quick to point out that he had huge support from the Nation of Islam. (Maybe he does, but there was a clear implication here that he was some kind of dangerous radical, and that this was the suppressed truth about him that it was important to know.)
I’ve also heard from a conservative friend about how Obama’s campaign workers have a Che Guevara poster up in their office. (There is a group of Obama supporters with such a poster, who were on Fox news somewhere. They’re not paid staff and the office in questions is not an actual campaign headquarters.) I was told this as if it were something really important that bears careful consideration.
Accidentally referring to Obama as Osama and vice versa (or not so accidentallly) is apparently something that happens now and again; one of those little things to drum the association into the public mind… I’m willing to believe it was a mistake on Kennedy’s part, and maybe CNN’s, but when it happens again and again? If it isn’t partly malice, it’s at least the constant drumming on “Obama sounds like Osama! Hyuk Hyuk!” that Fox-type pundits do, that associates the names in people’s minds, and primes them for the slip.
It’s stupid, but stupid things like that bring people down. You repeat something often enough, no matter how stupid or false, and it become part of the public consciousness. Ask any flip-flopper who invented the internet.
Anyway, the latest entry in the Barack Obama Smear Watch is that people who like Obama are creepy and cult-like — apparently because they chant slogans at political gatherings — an activity unheard-of until Barack came along, right?
This is the political character assassination technique: you take your opponent’s greatest strengths, and you find a way to spin them into weaknesses, by means of lies if necessary. Your opponent was a war hero in Vietnam? Find someone to say he was a coward in Vietnam. Your opponent is smart as hell? Repeat relentlessly that he is an arrogant liar about his own achievements. Your opponent inspires people? They’re a cult.
So what are we going to hear next? Any guesses as to what comes out of the machine?