Thursday, October 23, 2008

Scorched Earth Strategy

As the political silly season (henceforth to be known as the Stupid Season) draws to an end, the republican campaign seems intent on a “scorched earth” approach. We are hearing at every level and in both national and state races, an attempt to separate Liberals or democrats more broadly, who are labeled as Godless, Anti-Americans, from the other side-Republicans—God-Fearing, Pro-Americans. In Virginia, republican campaign spokespeople labeled Northern Virginians as not part of the “Real Virginia”. In Minnesota, Michele Bachman is calling for a McCarthyite type investigation into Liberals and other Anti-Americans. And McCain and Palin continue their assault on Obama’s character, attempting to declare him as “different”, “unknown”, not quite American, and, of course their old favorite “Socialist.”
Labeling Obama as a socialist on the heels of the biggest government bailout of corrupt, mostly republican CEOs in the history of the Nation, is perhaps one more definition of that old time Chutzpah, or simply, the pot calling the kettle black.
Republicans are now famous (infamous??) for taking something they do routinely, calling it un-American, and then attempting to tar the other fellow with it. I guess they know well whereof they speak.
The central problem with the scorched earth approach, of course, is that someone will have to govern after the election, and that someone will need Americans to pull together. Legislators, whether they are republican or Democrat, will need to begin working on solutions to the most catastrophic mess the world has ever seen. It is hard to imagine how George W. Bush could have done more damage if he had been trying. So, there is a lot of work to be done, and much careful thought applied to the world’s problems. Republicans have now made that job infinitely more difficult by their chosen strategy.
It is one thing to attack the opposition’s positions on issues of concern. It is entirely different to focus your main attack on the opposition’s character, patriotism, religion, skin color, or, even, age. Character assassination leaves behind much ugliness, whereas differences on issues leave behind simply differences of opinion, ready to be tested in real life conditions.
It is regrettable that the Republican strategy has deteriorated to this now single focus on the character of the candidates, and even the character of Americans planning to vote their conscience.
Republicans, I hope, will live to regret this approach.
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