And so, predictably, it begins. Oddly enough, in a British newspaper, but this is the template you're going to see the election run on as the Republicans try to cling to the levers of power.
"Grover Norquist, an influential conservative tax reform lobbyist, said: “Barack Obama has been able to create his own image and introduce himself to voters, but the swing voters in a general election are not paying attention yet. He is open to being defined as a leftwing, corrupt Chicago politician.” "
It is interesting to see the Times describe Norquist as a "conservative tax reform lobbyist" when in reality he is a quasi-libertarian anti-government activist, character assassin and neo-con operative who once claimed he'd like to see government become "small enough to drown in a bathtub." Norquist is part of the movement in conservative/libertarian circles that champion supply-side "trickle down" economics, elimination of minimum wage laws, elimination of workplace and product safety laws, a so-called flat tax or elimination of income tax in favor of consumption tax and the elimination of capital-gains and inheritance taxes. Such people will claim that such measures are all about fairness or "freeing business from bureaucratic red tape" or "stimulating the economy" but what they are really all about is making sure the rich get richer and the poor stay poor and scared of getting poorer. Of course, anyone in politics or the media who points this out is immediately accused of waging "class warfare" in a nation which delusionally claims not to have a class system. To people like Norquist anyone to the left of the Rockerfellers, Morgans, Mellons and the rest of the original robber baron-class is a socialist.
Norquist and his masters believe that government is simply an often unavoidable impediment to them making money. To be asked to hand over a portion of their money to help other people smacks of communism to them.
As Bill Maher likes to say: Conservatives like to claim that government doesn't work, that it can't help people, that it can't solve the country's problems. Then they get elected and prove it. The more I read and research and examine the events of the last seven years, the more I have moved from thinking the neo-cons are stupid and inept, to believing they are both evil and very crafty. They have appointed incompetents to vital positions to ensure that the government departments involved fail when called upon ("Heckuva job Brownie"). This helps undermine people's faith in government and provides ammunition to show that the work of government should be privatized. Think about the arguments for school vouchers, or look at the "shock doctrine" privatization of things like water systems, power grids and transportation systems around the world, and it becomes clear the motives are to make a profit for corporations and their wealthy shareholders and to ensure that none of the that profit is ever handed back to help those who are not wealthy.
The sad thing is that Norquist is probably correct when he says that a well-funded 527 group attack on Obama could work. There will be a chain of deniablity between the Republican Party and this year's model of "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" but the money will still flow in from the usual sources and we will see Antoin Rezko, a dodgy property developer, inflated into a criminal mastermind on par with Al Capone and be told that because he gave Obama a sweetheart deal on some property, the senator is his amoral meat puppet. We will hear endlessly all about how William Ayers, a domestic terrorist and member of the sinister hippy-communist-veteran hating Weather Underground -- the largest domestic terrorist group EVER ! They bombed the Pentagon before Al-Quaida!-- who has become a sissified America-hating academic "intellectual" (just like Ward Churchill) is practically Obama's foster father. And we will heard how Obama didn't grow up in America and is probably a secret muslim, has fangs, a third eye, eats babies and HAS THE SAME NAMES AS AMERICA'S ENEMIES!!!!
We will hear all that crap and more from the right wing noise machine for the next ten months. No one will believe it, but after ten months of it being repeated again and again and again on CNN and FOX and MSNBC it will enter the collective consciousness. And even if Obama wins anyways, the first time he tries to reach across the aisle to get something done, the Republicans will gnaw his hand off and in the finest tradition of Newt Gingrich, do everything they can to make sure the government's business screeches to halt so that when the midterms come around they can claim that the Democrats can't get anything done.
Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose, or as the Talking Heads put it "Same as it ever was"
"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"
Sunday, February 17, 2008