Monday, October 06, 2008

Palin-McCain’s dog whistles

The increasingly desperate Palin/McCain campaign has started resorting to all sorts of lies and smears in an attempt to destroy voters’ perception of Barack Obama. They’re losing and they know it, so like a wounded dog, they’re lashing out, all teeth and saliva.

Well, no, that’s not what’s going on.

Actually, there’s something far more insidious at work here as the campaign moves to shore up it’s base and foster overconfidence among Obama supporters.

Recently, Karl Rove, Bush-Cheney’s Machiavellian strategist, declared that Obama has enough electoral votes to be elected president. That’s the headline that most people will hear, leading Obama supporters to relax and Palin’s ardent base to re-commit to their team. Appearing on the right wing Fox Noise Channel, Rove provided a lot of caveats to suggest that Obama may not really win. This was intended to sound like “reasonable analysis” to any undecided voters who may watch Fox, but its real purpose was to rile up the Republican base: Rove wanted to be sure they didn’t think the situation was hopeless, and that their commitment was vital.

Meanwhile, Palin stepped up attacks on Obama using attacks that an AP analysis said were “unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.” She repeated the lie about Obama being associated with “terrorists”. Challenged on the lie, she then declared the AP was “mistaken”. Did you follow that? She lied, then lied about the truth, too.

Palin-McCain have no intention of letting the truth or facts get in the way of their campaign. Obama supporters hear these lies and think, “there they go again!”, but the wingnuts hear reinforcement of their prejudices and what they want to believe and get riled up. That’s the Palin-McCain plan.

The technical term for all this is “dog whistle politics”. It means that the Palin-McCain campaign talks about things in a way that goes straight at the far right, while the centre and left don’t hear what they’re really saying. That was what the AP analysis was revealing, how Palin-McCain use carefully chosen words and attacks to remind the right that Obama is African American and to portray him as weird, other-wordly, “not one of us”. This worked brilliantly for Bush-Cheney—twice—and there’s no reason to think that it won’t work again.

So, while it may be true that the Palin-McCain campaign is increasingly desperate, that’s not what’s behind their lies and smears and relying on them may be just what they need to take control of the White House.

People who are sick and tired of the politics of division as practiced by Rove, Bush-Cheney and now by Palin-McCain, can be rid of it once and for all by making sure they vote for Obama-Biden. The best strategy for Democrats and all reasonable, rational American voters is to act as if Obama-Biden are 20 points behind in the polls. You can be sure that the dogs Palin-McCain are whistling to will vote en masse. The rest of us must, too.


Roger Owen Green said...

Expect the conservative 527s to pour money into Michigan. McCain may have suspended his campaign there, but they're not done.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

You're absolutely right. When I heard McCain was "pulling out of Michigan" I immediately added the word "officially" since I knew the smear groups would take on the job. I bet the voters of Michigan are far more intelligent than McCain or the swift boat groups think they are.