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Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Non-stick Pans

Sullivan dutifully repeats the brand new shiny meme that Wesley Clark is a loopy nutcase a la Ross Perot.

I'm sure the kool aid kidz are lapping this stuff up, but it's not going to work for real, actual humans out in Murica.

See, they believed that Ross Perot was a nut because he acted like a nut on national television. He babbled like an idiot about half the time and even gave interviews claiming that George Bush tried to disrupt his daughter's wedding and that secret agents had scaled the walls of his compound. True, by the end of that campaign, Ross still got 20% of the vote, but apparently some people just like a screwball.

Clark may be a lot of things, but a screwball he's not. Nobody is going to believe he's a crazed kook because it's obvious when you see and hear him that he isn't.

The Republicans are trying out a lot of smear campaigns against Clark, Dean and Kerry because they believe that one of them will end up the nominee. (They know that Lieberman is highly unlikely to win, but they hedge their bets by repeatedly calling him the "good Democrat" so the grassroots will be sure to reject him.) As with the justification for the Iraq war, they are throwing everything against the wall and seeing what will stick.

Personally, I haven't seen anything particularly threatening yet.

"Dean is an NPR liberal" doesn't fit because he doesn't come off as a touchy-feely, new-ager, which is the common perception of liberals (except to Ann Coulter who sees us as evil agents of Satan.) Most people have long forgotten what a combative liberal sounds like so they don't really think they exist. Liberals are supposedly lovers, not fighters.

Kerry on the other hand is supposed to be an aloof, patrician blue nose but both his veteran and anti-war experience put him right in the middle of the raucous hedonism of the baby boom cultural revolution. He's actually one of the strongest connections there is to the turbulent 60's version of liberalism but because of his personality and gravitas they can't make that case either.

Clark as a crazed lunatic is belied by his articulate authoritative demeanor as well as his completely straightlaced patriotic biography. Nobody looks at this guy and thinks, "Strangelove." (Not as long as Don Rumsfeld is alive, anyway.)

None of their caricatures bear enough resemblance to the candidates to have any real salience with the public. It worked to some degree with Al Gore, not because he actually was a liar, but because his association with Clinton made it easy for people to make the connection, particularly since the "lies" were silly and personal, like Bill's. More importantly, there seemed to be an (unfair) desire amongst some of the less decent folks in our country to see Gore as a pencil necked geek, probably because of the way he spoke. Certain adolescent assholes enjoyed making fun of him. (Still, he did win the election anyway.)

I do not doubt that the Rove machine is working overtime to find just the right derisive smear against any possible rival. They haven't found them yet.

And, of course, their own boy is so target rich it makes me weep with joy at the prospect of turning their slobbering, lowlife tactics right back at them.

Josh Marshall has more on this topic.