By Dave Johnson and James Boyce
As we write this (Friday), a fresh, still-steaming smear has been dumped on Barack Obama over at The Drudge Report.
A giant headline – almost as big as our computers’ monitors – screams, “MCCAIN AIDE: ‘OBAMA WOULDN’T KNOW DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN RPG AND A BONG’,” linking (as Drudge so often does) to a post at Politico. (Obama’s spokesman replied, “America doesn’t need juvenile name-calling from Washington, we need a commitment to end this war and bring our brave troops home.” Also see the video clip at the end of this post.)
So they’re going to try out the old “conservatives are strong on national security” nonsense narrative, even after pushing George Bush on the American public? You would think that with almost all of the conservative leadership having dodged military service and earning the label “chickenhawk” they might not want to push this one. But that narrative runs on progressives and not on conservatives, so it might work – and that’s what counts if you care more about power than America. And you run with what you have…
In our December post, How Long Will The Right Let Us Love Obama?, we looked at Obama’s high poll numbers and asked where are the rest of our leaders? As deserving as Obama may be, what has happened to the perception of so many progressive leaders, that a newcomer first-term Senator is at the top?
We wrote, This favorability poll proves the power of the Right Wing’s ongoing and successful strategy of “SELL and SMEAR.”
Our point here is not whether you will vote for them, or volunteer for their campaign, or give them money, but do you, the American voting public, have a favorable impression of these leaders?
The sad and resounding answer is no. This is what the machine does to Democratic and Progressive leaders. It smears, and attacks and destroys them. It leaves millions of Americans with an uneasy feeling about John Kerry or Hillary Clinton, a bad taste in the mouth, “I don’t know. I just don’t like him.” It’s emotional. It’s not rational. But it is very, very real.
And it’s not just these our most recent leaders. As we wrote last week, President Jimmy Carter left office virtually in disgrace. What about Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis? Are they perceived as what they really are – respected leaders who are both true American success stories? Hardly. They are perceived in the “conventional wisdom” as jokes and afterthoughts.
Those powerful negative stereotypes were carefully created by the use of brilliant marketing, coordinated messaging, virtually unlimited budgets and a complete lack of morals.
Barack Obama is one more progressive leader climbing up in the public’s esteem. So here we are. Another day, another smear.
This time Obama had a great answer: