Monday, September 06, 2004

Polls, Schmolls

Don't worry, freedom-haters!

Kerry's been there and won that.

BOSTON — John F. Kerry has been here before.

Turning into the final eight weeks of the presidential campaign, the Democratic nominee faces doubts within his party and pundits increasingly skeptical of his chances against a resurgent President Bush (news - web sites), who seems to have momentum heading his way.

It is reminiscent of the Democratic race last winter, when Kerry was counted among the living dead and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (news - web sites) was romping to the Democratic nomination — or so it appeared.

But there is another contest that may be instructive, a campaign that political connoisseurs rate as one of the all-time classics: the 1996 U.S. Senate race between Kerry and Massachusetts' popular Republican governor, William F. Weld.

"A championship match between two world-class politicians," said John Martilla, a longtime Kerry friend and campaign advisor. Counterparts in the Weld camp agree.

Although no election is like any other, the close-quarters combat of that Senate race offers clues to how the Democratic nominee operates under pressure, the steps he will take to win — and suggests why Democrats, nervous as some may be, are counting on another Kerry comeback.

No problem. We've only just begun our counterpunch.

Kerry surrogates were also out in full force Friday, taking issue with many of the specific attacks leveled at the Democratic nominee during the GOP convention. In a morning conference call with reporters, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) vowed that "the rebuttal of what they've thrown at us has just begun."

Former senator John Glenn (D-Ohio) took the defense a step further by comparing the Republicans' misleading statements to those of Nazi Germany. "You've just got to separate out fact from fiction. . . . Too often, too often, in this country, if you hear something repeated, it's the old Hitler business -- if you hear something repeated, repeated, repeated, repeated, you start to believe it," he said.

EEEEEk! How shrill! John Glenn, you hate freedom. Predictible whining on the Glenn quote may be found here by John Derbyshire and here by Ramesh Ponnuru.

Boo fucking hoo.

There are lies and smears, and there are lies and smears. The latter, which is rightly termed Nazified, is more clearly defined by this description of Robert Moses (a mid-century NYC Lord of Corruption) by Gore Vidal:

Suddenly, [Moses's] friend the governor [Herbert Lehman] was 'a miserable, snivelling man..contemptible.' Moses also charged that Lehman 'created most of the state deficit.' Actually, Lehman had reduced the deficit to almost zero. But then Moses always had a Hitlerian capacity for the lie so big that it knocks the truth out of the victim who knows that his denial will never be played as big in the press as the lie itself.*

This perfectly describes Republican election strategy since at least the time of Richard Nixon. It was especially the hallmark of Lee Atwater.

The good news is, aside media bias and Kerry's hesitance, a huge lie can sometimes bite its spreaders (and their supporters) in the ass. Robert Moses was eventually defeated; there's already a backlash against Zell Miller; swiftboatvet-pushing Bush will follow. Bush's fatal mistake is that he has so many genuine skeletons in his closet, where Kerry has but counterfeit ones. Huge lies have an effect, but they can be countered in time.

And when they are, tellers and re-tellers of Hitlerian lies will go over the cliff, too.

Lie that often, and that, well, largely, and you deserve being called Nazis.

Nazis Nazis Nazis Nazis.

In my reveries I imagine Ponnuru and Derbyshire peering over the backseat in a fucking Ford Pinto station wagon, whispering in the driver George W. Bush's ear, "Sir, I have always loved you."

* - Quote from "What Robert Moses Did To New York City", The New York Review of Books, October 17, 1974