Sunday, July 06, 2008

How can McCain win in November? Bigotry, of course.

By Michael J.W. Stickings

So says Weekly Standard editor and Fox News host Fred Barnes, who argued today on the latter that McCain should win over the right by bashing gays:

In particular, gays in the military for one. We know Barack Obama is for allowing gays in the military, and Bill Clinton tried to do, but backed off. This is not a popular issue. Gay marriage is another one. These are both issues that I think McCain’s going to have to use. You can’t ignore the right. If he does, he’ll lose.


Playing on Americans' fears of the Other -- that is, playing to their bigotry (towards blacks, towards foreigners, towards gays, etc.) -- has long been a core Republican "strategy," notably for Nixon, who, during the upheavals of the late-'60s and early'-70s, employed the Southern Strategy to great effect (playing on fears over civil rights and the counter-culture), but also for Reagan, Bush I (the '88 campaign against Dukakis was particularly nasty), and Bush II (who has done his utmost to terrify Americans about terrorism), and it continues to this day, literally. Indeed, we have seen it already in the smear campaign against Obama, and it will only get worse going forward.

And it's helpful when a prominent smearer (and bigot) like Barnes -- he may not speak officially for McCain, but the Standard backs McCain all the way, and both it and Fox News are two of the leading vehicles for the smear campaign) -- comes out and exposes the strategy publicly in offering advice to McCain on national television.

Because what he said was this: McCain, things aren't going all that well for you. You're struggling, you're down in the polls, and you haven't won over the right. So here's what you do: Bash the gays and link Obama to them. The right will love you for it. Because they hate the gays. They're afraid of them and vilify them. Obviously, focusing on Iraq or the economy or some other pressing issue won't be enough to win over the right and put you over the top. You have to play to people's fears. Some people are afraid of Obama -- who's black, of course -- but race doesn't play the way it used to. Gays are the new blacks. Muslims, too, and you can count on your surrogates to make the case that Obama's a dirty Muslim foreigner who hates America. But the gays should be your target. Go for it. Bash away. It's your only hope.

The Republican Party, ladies and gentlemen.

Some things never change.

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