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July 2nd, 2008


by Ed Gold

Republicans for some time have had a fixation that the White House belonged to them. They have a visceral reaction to Democrats living there; they see it as an invasion of their property and un-American to boot. And they are prepared to go to great lengths to prevent it. In the last ten Presidential races, the Republicans have succeeded seven times. The only losses were to two southerners whom Republicans feel enjoyed special situations. Jimmy Carter won in 1976 against an appointed–not an elected–president, Gerand Ford, who had succeeded the disgraced Dick Nixon. Bill Clinton lucked out in a three-man race with Ross Perot as spoiler, and never got a majority vote. Of course, Bush-1 didn’t help the cause, not knowing what a checkout counter was, and looking at his watch during Presidential debates.

But the Republicans have had a lot of practice in what has come to be known as “swift-boating”—any tactic, no matter how low, to keep the Democrats from White House occupancy.

An early manifestation of what can be termed “knee-in-the-groin politics” occurred in the win against Michael Dukakis in 1988 when the Republicans found a sure winner in the Willie Horton case. Horton, facing a life term in Massachusetts, was given a weekend pass and proceeded to commit armed robbery and rape. He was also black. Lee Atwater, the GOP hatchetman at the time, correctly predicted that “Willie Horton will be a household name.”

Bush-1 joined the fray, charging that Dukakis was responsible for Horton “terrorizing innocent people.” The Horton TV ads were everywhere. The Republicans kept the House they felt was theirs.

Then in 2004, after stealing the White House in 2000 for Bush-2, some wealthy Texan right-wingers financed the Swift Boat campaign, featuring Vietnam vets who hated John Kerry’s opposition to a war in which he had earlier served with distinction.

Despite support from the Navy which had given Kerry two medals for bravery and three purple hearts, and backing from an Arny lieutenant whom he saved from drowning, Kerry was labled a coward and traitor in a devastating campaign.The conservative Wall Street Journal called Kerry’s attackers “people without decency,” but the damage was done and Bush-2 kept his White House residency.

Conspicuous during the vile attack against him was Kerry’s slow, relaxed, country club response, a mistake that this year’s candidate does not intend to repeat.

And with the polls in June showing a strong Obama candidacy, the Democrats would be well-advised to protect all their vital parts.

The Republicans and their allies to the right have already brought out their sabers, hitting Obama on religion, race and patriotism.

Right-wing bloggers are already very active, using “Barack Hussein Obama” in scare ads, and charging him with being a Muslim who took his Senate oath of office on the Koran.They have accused him of refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance and refusing to hold his hand over his heart as the flag passed by. The Obama team has established a group of response websites to answer the nonsense, including a video showing Obama leading the Senate in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Some of the attacks against Obama seem almost surreal. A recent charge from a right wing classmate contends that Obama would really be the first Arab-American president, since “he is not half black. He is 50 percent Caucasian on his mother’s side but his father was only 12.5 per cent Negro and 87.5 percent Arab.”

The attack also argues that he was brought up Muslim and was a Muslim for 31 years until, “his wife got him to change so he could run for office.”

Some of Obama’s supporters have overreacted to the Muslim claim. A response website termed his classmate’s attack a “smear,” which made “Muslim” seem like a pejorative. And two scarfed women were prevented from standing behind Obama at one of his large rallies. When Obama addresses the issue, he makes it clear that he seeks support from people of every faith and belief.

So what can we expect from Republicans who can’t bear losing the House they feel is rightfully theirs? A new Obama website indicates charges that are unbelievable. He is accused of getting support from the Ku Klux Klan, and being financed by Hugo Chavez.

We can expect fear campaigns that involve race, religion and patriotism. The Democrats might learn from the Bush attack on John McCain in 2000 in South Carolina, suggesting he had fathered a black child. Predictably, Fox News, a virtual subsidiary of the Republican Party, has joined the hit team against Obama.

There was, for instance, the reference to Michelle Obama as “Obama’s baby mother,” indicating a birth out of wedlock. There was the friendly fist bump between the Obamas which was called on Fox “a terrorist fist jab.” Dick Morris, now a darling of the right—he was once a West Side reformer—was quoted as arguing that Obama, if elected, “would lower penalties for dangerous drug criminals,” and “would trigger a stock market crash.”

The liberal group, MoveOn, has accused Fox of painting Obama as “foreign, un-American, suspicious and scary.”

It is hard to forget the race card Republicans played in 2006 in Tennessee against Democrat Harold Ford, a black man running for Senate who was shown in suggestive ads with a very white woman.

And just recently, one of the right-wing ‘s favorite activists, Gordon Norquist, dubbed Obama “Kerry with a tan.”

We’ll know in November whether the American people have really turned the page on a painful history of prejudice, and sent the Republicans out of the House they mistakenly think they own.

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | Politics





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