Bernard Weiner, co-editor of The Crisis Papers, has one of the most interesting takes on the 2008 presidential election that I've seen.
The Crisis Papers is an anthology of opinion and commentary from the progressive Web.
Weiner points to numerous signs that Republican Party leaders are in desperation mode:
Almost as if they have an uncontrollable death-wish, the Republicans remain locked into a self-destructive separation from the popular will. Either that or they simply are incapable of thinking straight after eight years of sensory-deprivation in the dark CheneyBush spin chamber.
The public in general has moved ahead of the politicians in so many areas: opposing the endless Iraq occupation, tolerant of same-sex relationships, eager to move beyond divisive race politics, desirous of effective regulation of food and product safety, even more supportive of Social Security and Medicare, open to major health-care reform, etc. Yet those in charge of the Republican Party continue to hitch their wagon to the old extremist shibboleths that play well mainly to the fundamentalist and Old South base, which by this time is barely 25% of the electorate.
Can Democrats take advantage of this? Weiner thinks so:
One could make the case that at least a good share of Barack Obama's popularity rests on the public's perception that he is trying to move America away from the extreme rhetoric practiced by both major parties in the past several years and back to a more rational, positive way of conducting politics in the 21st century so that something positive actually can be accomplished in Washington.
Democrats and others who wish to move beyond the extremism of the Bush GOP should be wary. Weiner notes that Karl Rove is more involved in the John McCain campaign than the publicly generally knows:
Rove's theory of how to ruin your opponent goes something like this: It's OK to tell the most outrageous lies about someone, even if those rumors can be countered by actual facts, because you're not after voters necessarily believing what you say. What you want to do is to confuse them over time -- so that eventually they might think where there's smoke, there might well be fire, that type of reasoning. It's propaganda chaff you're dispersing. Some of it will stick and be believed, some of it will simply be ignored, some of it will remain floating out there in peoples' minds. Since most voters don't pay attention all the time, the meme might actually influence what and how they believe and could pay off on Election Day.
Weiner notes just how extreme the right-wing pundit class has become:
Using such national leaders as Cheney, Bush and Rove as role-models (after all, they were able to lie and deceive America into an unnecessary war and occupation), it's not just lies and innuendo and rumor being peddled by the agitprop pundits of the HardRight. Sometimes the activity and speech of the GOP operatives crosses over the line into downright incitement of illegal acts, for which nobody ever is criminally charged, of course. For example, taking off from Ann Coulter's earlier incitements (she said that liberals are "traitors" who deserve to be shot, a Supreme Court justice should be poisoned, the New York Times building should be bombed with the reporters and editors inside it, etc.), two noted conservative pundits in recent weeks seemed to be suggesting that assassination of political opponents was a reasonable political option in the name of victory. Fox News' veteran reporter Liz Trotta recently said: "If it could," the U.S. should "take out" both Barrack Obama and Osama bin Laden. And radio talk-show host Michael Reagan (Ronald Reagan's son) said that an anti-war activist trying to influence U.S. military forces in Iraq should be tied to a post on a firing range and shot by the American troops. In a similar vein, Andy McCarthy at National Review said, in response to the Supreme Court ruling that Guantanamo detainees have the right to contest their imprisonment in civilian courts, the U.S. should round up all the detainees there and just slaughter them en masse.
Can we assume the 2008 presidential election will be honestly conducted? Don't count on it, says Weiner?
As everyone understands, there is so much riding on the November election, which, one would think from the early polls, should yield a major defeat for the Republicans. But this assumes that the November election is reasonably honest and that, despite the GOP's voter-suppression maneuvers, Democratic or third-party voters come out in such massive numbers that, seeing the overwhelmingly anti-GOP pre-vote polls and the post-election exit polls, vote-manipulators would not dare fiddle with the tabulations. But if that Democrat/third-party surge doesn't happen and McCain were, say, to take 45% of the actual vote, the mainstream-media spinners could hype the possibility of a GOP victory in key states and the Republican corporations that tabulate the votes with their secret software could surreptitiously make up the needed percentage points for victory. (For more on all this, see Mark Crispin Millers' new book, "Loser Take All: Election Fraud and The Subversion of Democracy," and Ernest Partridge's articles "Where's the Outrage?" and "According to Plan?").
Could this be driven by the fears of "loyal Bushies" about what life might be like in the post-Dubya era?
Would Bush & Co. be willing to try something fraudulent like that in November? Aside from the fact that the evidence suggests they already have in previous elections, imagine yourself facing possible criminal indictments and time in the federal slammer, standing in the war-crimes dock at The Hague, and losing all the riches and power you've built up over eight years -- you might be tempted, too.