Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hannity working to elect Obama

By Rick Morris

I've had off-air conversations with my colleague on THE FDH LOUNGE program Chris Galloway (who is an elected official and political consultant, so he's somebody actually in the business) about how Republicans can stop Barack Obama. We don't agree at all on the overall strategic approach that they would have to take if they are to have any chance at success and I look forward to debating Chris on our program in the next month or two.

In short, he believes that the "kitchen sink" approach will work, and I do not. He thinks that to renounce the use of anything and everything to negatively define Obama is to concede the election. I believe strongly that it is merely a concession to reality.

People don't want to hear anything perceived as a personal attack this year -- even though the tactics Chris advocates ARE NOT personal attacks, but would be successfully portrayed as them by a pliant media. This is not a time of peace OR prosperity; the stakes are higher in this election than in the last several and people are casting about for answers and policies that can help our country regain its greatness. More importantly, there is still room to persuade them to abandon their support for policies that will only make our bad situation even worse.

I urge the use of a scalpel rather than a sledgehammer not because I am any less opposed to Obama's election than Chris is; I have serious problems with many of the policy proposals an Obama Administration would put forth and I believe strongly they would only exacerbate our country's real problems. That is precisely why I am against the type of sloppy campaigning that I feel does nothing but ultimately play into the hands of the Obama campaign. In speaking with somebody who identifies himself as a proud moderate, he misunderstood my concerns as aligning with his own that John McCain and his surrogates would end up alienating the middle. He was wrong. I don't care about the middle any more than I do the left (perhaps less in some ways, as I find people on the left to at least be committed about their wrong-headed policies) -- what I do care about is alienating people who are largely apolitical, but who do share conservative thoughts and ideas when they do actually think about them.

Last Sunday night, as I was channel-surfing, I came across another propagandistic effort from Fox News' Sean Hannity. The MO of Hannity, as I have observed before, is to take the same stupid template from previous efforts against previous politicians and use it almost verbatim. He's only plagiarizing himself, but the crime is against the policies he claims to be supporting. In his rants about flip-flopping and character, if you took out Obama's name and inserted Al Gore or John Kerry, these cut-and-paste idiocies could have aired during either of the last two presidential elections.

[I should note also that what Hannity does differs not at all from the blatherings of Rush Limbaugh or Hugh Hewitt, but aside from a few cameo appearances that these two make on cable TV, they're merely preaching to the choir on their own programs. Feeding cliche-ridden gaga to "Dittoheads" doesn't hurt the effectiveness of right-wing ideas outside of the insular neighborhood of talk radio.]

Anybody who is not already inclined to vote against Barack Obama must be screaming at the television flipping the bird when they see Hannity's tired and intellectually lazy schtick and that's what outrages me. If you think negative campaigning even in this climate is the way to go, I can go along with that. John McCain's got enough baggage with his own record and some of his goofy beliefs (cap'n'trade, Gang of 14 judicial sellouts, etc.) that he's not going to win without sowing significant doubts about Obama. But do it in a way that's going to stick!

The ONLY way to persuade enough people not to take a chance on Barack Obama is to draw a straight line between his promises and the negative effects that will come from the execution of those policies -- nothing more, nothing less. While he is out there claiming to be the agent of change from the Bush Administration, his open advocacy of Big Government (covertly built up by the Bushies) represents complete continuity! Now, McCain has a tightrope to walk in terms of not alienating the 5% of the people in the country who still believe in Bush and think things are rosey and peachy, but he has to attack Obama in terms of the mess his policies will engender.

This might come as a shock to those who like to do nothing but regurgitate Republican Establishment talking points, but reusing the same talking points deployed against Gore and Kerry will backfire because the majority of the American people would vote against Bush if given the chance. As someone who voted (gleefully) for Buchanan in 2000 and Bush (reluctantly) in 2004, I don't count myself among those who would vote Democrat if given a second chance (I haven't voted Democrat in a national election and would be shocked if I ever even considered it), but I know these people exist because I talk to them all the time. Even when the Bush Administration has had successes, they've been completely incompetent in communicating them to the American people. John McCain needs to avoid the "McSame" tag at all costs and the efforts of his supposed supporters and surrogates are so stupid, so completely without the slightest shred of potential effectiveness that they raise legitimate questions as to who Sean Hannity and the tactics-as-usual crowd really support in this presidential campaign.

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