January 11, 2008

Let the swift-boating begin

The excellent Joe Conason observes that it's not a matter of if, but when, the right wing begins deploying their smear campaign against Obama, and describes how it will be done.


At 1/11/2008 7:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It definately appears as though Hillary is alive and well, and very likely on her way to the nomination - so the 'Obama Swift-boating' appears to be quite premature.

However, will any reasonable criticism of a candidate now be known as 'Swift-boating'?

It does not take a brain-surgeon to figure out how one will run against Obama.

All one needs to discuss is his political experience - at any level - which is minimal.

At 1/12/2008 10:42 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

I think in this context, swift-boating is the type of totally unfair and dishonest attack launched by these groups which are supposedly unaffilitated with a candidate, though it's on their behalf, otherwise known as 501c organizations for the section of tax law they supposedly operate under.

So dismissing anything that's critical of a candidate as "swift-boating" isn't exactly true.

It has to be dishonest for the most part, and funded by shady groups which can't be traced back to the candidate whom it benefits.

Legitimate criticisms are things that are actually true, and which aren't presented in a manner or way that would tend to distort the situation or give a misleading impression, in my opinion.

So expect Obama's dealings with this Tony Rezko crook to be blasted through the press whenever his opponents feel the timing is right. This isn't much, but they'll still try to make it seem like it is. Obama is pretty damn clean, but not lily white. (who is??) You don't spend much time navigating through Illinois politics without rubbing shoulders with some crook or another.

Likewise, I'm sure dirty on Hillary will emerge. The campaigns already have all this dirt all ready to go, but are just waiting for the precise moment when it will do the most damage.

But again, "swift-boating" doesn't include legitimate comparisons between candidates on the issues, but more the sort of truly slimy and dishonest attempts to utterly distort someone's past and portray them as someone or something that they're absolutely not.

The Rove playbook is to take an opponents strongest virtues and/or assets, lie about them and turn them upside down and inside out.

Thus war heros Kerry and Cleland were turned into cowards and traitors. The most prominent environmental advocate on earth was smeared as someone who didn't care about the environment because he actually heated his home and flew in jets. Everyone's seen this Roveian ploy many times by now.

They even launched efforts to spread the ridiculous notion that it was the Democratic party that was full of racists and bad for blacks, and other similar craziness.

That's the sort of thing that I think is meant by "swift-boating"

At 1/13/2008 3:39 PM, Blogger nicodemus said...

The Rezko stuff is old news- it won't stick.

There is no evidence that the media will NOT continue to give Obama the free ride that he has enjoyed all along. Hypothetically, if Obama were to take a crap in a sombrero and then wear it on his on head, he would be praised endlessly for his "charisma" and for being a "refreshing" candidate. He does not have to worry about being swiftboated.

At 1/15/2008 6:33 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

I think you're right in that the Rezko business won't amount to much.

But there's been rumblings in the blogosphere about planned attacks based on some pretty weird things the pastor of the Obama's church has said in the past.

Look for this to be dropped sometime, likely leaked by some source with no official ties to any other campaign.

I think it's truly disgusting that the Obama campaign has been grossly and deliberately mischaracterizing things that the Clintons have said, particularly the ridiculous idea that Clinton somehow "denigrated" Martin Luther King Jr. That's preposterous and they know it, and what's more, it's not what she said nor implied.

It's a fact that politicians were the ones who got civil rights legislation passed. She simply pointed out the obvious, that without principled politicians such as LBJ being willing to pay a great political price (the civil rights bill effectively gave the south over to all racist's preferred party, the Republicans, from that point on.)MLK Jr's dream wouldn't have come to pass. (not that it's completely realized.)

And ignorant and lazy pundits are still mischaracterizing this and furthering the Obama spin, which is simply disgusting, in my opinion. No one in their right mind thinks that Clinton has anything but great respect for King, and to even suggest otherwise shows a deep lack of character and honesty.

Then the Clinton's point this out, and what does Obama do? Says he finds it disturbing and denies that the charge came from his campaign.

Then the press has a field day talking about this raging race issue, etc. and it quickly evolves into the surreal and ridiculous.

In the meantime, no substantive issues get any attention.

In this respect, you're right that Obama is getting a free pass. Only one person I've seen on TV has called them on their being the ones who have tried to inject race into this contest, then trying to coyly suggest it was the Clintons.

It's also disgusting to hear Bill Clinton's remarks about Obama's prior stances on Iraq utterly distorted and twisted into his supposedly describing Obama's entire vison or ideas as "a fairy tale."

I've seen the entire remark that he made several times, and there's simply no way any rational person can take them to be addressing anything other than Obama's position on the Iraq invasion.

Clinton was simply pointing out that Obama had made statements in the past indicating that he wasn't that far from Bush on the war, etc. and that the version of his positions on Iraq and the timeline were "a fairy tale".

Yet even yesterday, CNN's Candy Crowly describing this as Bill Clinton having described Obama's "experience" as "a fairy tale".

Do these highly paid reporters even bother to listen to what they're talking about?

Obviously not, or they'd clearly see that Clinton wasn't talking about Obama's "experience" whatsoever.

The press STILL is too lazy or too anxious to promote conflict to bother getting it straight, and willingly perpetuate dishonest spin, which in turn only makes such dishonesty more effective, which in turn only encourages political hacks to engage in it all the more.

It's disgusting. The Clintons certainly aren't above employing this sort of thing, but so far, it's clearly been the supposedly pure as the driven snow Obama campaign that have gone in the gutter at every opportunity.

At 1/15/2008 8:51 PM, Anonymous clubber lang said...

Yet even yesterday, CNN's Candy Crowly describing this as Bill Clinton having described Obama's "experience" as "a fairy tale".

In the interest of accuracy...this is NOT what Clinton said. He was referring to his (obama's) position on Iraq. Those interested in accuracy (very few) should read the whole transcript. The guy (Clinton) is not above such things, but not this time.

At 1/16/2008 12:48 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Clubber, thanks for reiterating the point of my comment.

Clearly Clinton wasn't describing Obama's campaign or message as a fairy tale, but rather his maintaining that he's always been 100% opposed to military action in Iraq.

If the Obama campaign wants to argue that's false, then that's legit.

But to repeatedly take one tiny soundbite, as nearly all media do, of Clinton saying, "Give me a break! That's a fairy tale." and then falsely informing viewers that Clinton was bashing Obama's entire life or "experience" (as Candy Crowley still insists on falsely reporting it) as somehow a lie amounts to nothing more than willingly trying to create a conflict.

The media seems to have a great desire to trivialize this entire process, a process that couldn't be more critical to the future of our country.

They'd much rather comment on what people wear, their hair styles, and have on "experts" on body language to tell us what the candidates really were thinking.

They treat the choice of leader of the most powerful nation on earth in a time of crisis as if it were some Jr. High student congress election, giddily trading gossip and what they feel are witty put-downs about the candidate's tone of voice, or ripping Hillary for her laugh or any other vapid and nearly meaningless gossipy crap they can come up with.

With their repudiation in New Hampshire, maybe some of them will get it.

They're not the story. We don't all just love Chris Matthews because he comes up with creative ways to denegrate candidates. We don't need to have the networks, as they did prior to last night's debate, characterizing the entire thing as some sort of violent prize fight, complete with boxing graphics and ominous predictions that there would be a lot of smearing done during the debate. (they actually put up graphics depicting smeared mud... or at least I hope that's what it was.)

It's truly horrible that the nations press chooses to take such a critical civic process and turn even that into some sort of gladiator entertainment program.


At 1/16/2008 9:40 PM, Blogger nicodemus said...

The racebaiting between the 2 Dems has reached a new low.

Regarding the "fairy tale", Bill Clinton hit the nail on the head this time. Really, what "experience" does Obama have? Again I ask the question: What has he done as US Senator? Is it any different from not having a Senator at all?

I would remind all of you Bush haters that in 2000, Bush also had no experience in foreign policy and was relatively ill-suited to be President, (compared to John McCain, his challenger that year). Why do you want to put another unqualified person in the White House?? Just because he is part Negro does not mean that he is any LESS inexperienced or unqualified.

You alluded to "ideas" and "vision" that Obama has. What pray tell would that be? Being in favor of "hope" and "bringing people together" and a "new kind of politics"? Gee, that sounds bold! Who ever could ever possibly come up with something so brilliant and groundbreaking. Better put him on the cover of TIME again.

At 1/17/2008 2:08 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...


First of all, just a hint between friends. No one uses the term "negro" anymore. Just so you know.

And you're more than welcome to your opinion about Obama and his experience, but the fact remains that Bill Clinton was NOT knocking his experience with his "fairy tale" remark, as you hopefully realize.

His remarks were strictly concerning Obama's record of opposition to the "war" in Iraq.

And it's a bit sad that the terms hope and vision are apparently complete mysteries to you.

I guess you could be forgiven after being immersed in Bushworld for so long, but hope and ideas are what has made this country the greatest on the planet.

And the lack of hope or good ideas is one factor in bringing it to it's current broken and weakened state.

Decades of the right wing pushing fear, distrust, bigotry, division, and intolerance have truly damaged the spirit of the country.

Obama offers the hope of a spirit of unity once more. That we can finally be rid of the ugly and destructive tactics of the right wing of labeling those you disagree with "traitors", "degenerates", "America haters", saying that anyone who disasgrees with Bush's reckless policies in Iraq don't "support the troops" and all the rest of the horrible and hateful rhetoric of the right.

For decades now, they've appealed to the very worst part of American's natures, and they've been very successful. Unfortunately there were millions of Americans who far too easily fell into the trap of the right wing telling them it was perfectly OK, even their duty, to feel unreasoning hatred towards other groups and to blame other Americans for all their problems.

The right wing truly attempted to start a "culture war" in this country, to divide us into two camps with one side claiming God was on their side, and therefore they didn't have to even consider any other position. They worked hard to divide us against ourselves for the sake of political gain, and they largely succeeded.

Now people are sick and tired of the insanity and look to Obama to provide a new way.

At least that's the way I see it.

You can sneer at anyone who offers people a vision of a better country, that tells them that they can be better, more caring, and more moral. That the country can achieve just about anything by harnessing the creativity and energy of the American people.

I suppose you also sneered and mocked Saint Ronald Reagan when he based his campaign on turning this country into his "shining city on a hill", right?


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