"The premise of any smear campaign rests on a central truth of politics: Most of us will vote for a candidate we like and respect, even if we don’t agree with him on every issue. But if you can cripple a voter’s basic trust in a candidate, you can probably turn his vote. The idea is to find some piece of personal information that is tawdry enough to raise doubts, repelling a candidate’s natural supporters [...] It’s not necessary, however, for a smear to be true to be effective."
Those are the words of John McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis, written some time ago - reported over at News Corpse - but they seem particularly apt today, now that Sarah Palin has attempted to smear Barack Obama with charges of associating with 'terrorism'.
Mrs Palin described Mr Obama as someone who saw the US "as being so imperfect... he is palling around with terrorists who would target their own country".
It appears to be a rather desperate move, a 'break glass in case of emergency' tactic, given that McCain's team must have had this idea of Obama=terrorist kicking around for ages. I had feared at first that the Republicans were going to walk away with the election, seeing as every newspaper I read tended to look starry-eyed at the brilliance of the Hockey Mom and the campaigning genius of McCain - yet the polls are telling a different story from the commentators. Obama is winning. It would lift your faith in politics if you could hope the Republicans could turn that around by the use of skilful campaigning and excellent policy, but it would appear not: a McCain win in this election will be a win created by negativity, smears and based on fear - fear of the Black Man, fear of terrorism, fear of the spectral Left.
As News Corpse puts it:
This is the sort of garbage that can be expected between now and November fourth. McCain has nothing else upon which to campaign, so he is resorting to slander, lies and defamation. The candid confessions of Republican operatives, including McCain’s campaign manager, that they intend to pursue this strategy, should remove all doubt as to what depths they will sink.
It's going to be a bumpy ride, these next four weeks.