Josh Marshall pens another one of his excellent essays at TPM, shedding some light on the Republicans' smear attack on Obama and ACORN. This is something we'll be hearing about for a while, I suspect, so you owe it to yourself to read and learn the story.
We're entering the end-game of the campaign, and the GOP's focus on purely defense is telling. I don't think this is a matter of shoring up the base (something you would do in a very close race, which this one is not). Instead, this has more to do with establishing the narrative among the conservative base, those wonderful people who are whipped into a frothing frenzy every day of their sad lives. This has do do with explaning away the loss.
As Orwell explained, Oceanic society rests on the belief that Big Brother is infallable and The Party can do no wrong. But, since Big Brother is not infallable and The Party does do wrong, there must be constant, day-to-day changing of the facts. What was true yesterday is false today. We are at war with Eurasia. We are at war with Eastasia. This is the mindset behind all authoritarian systems.
To movement conservatives, the GOP can never lose. Its candidate can never truly lose. The election can only be stolen by the other, the sinister enemy. In this case, that would be the Communist, Socialist, Librul, Terrorist, Baby Killer Barack Obama. Obama and his minions, including ACORN (which recruits and registers poor and minority voters), stole the election. There's a racial element there that is quite clear, and it's no accident. Much of the assault from the right has been racist, subtly if not overtly so. As the clock winds down, we have seen this rhetoric become more and more heated.
The ACORN story is the GOP's attempt to shift the blame, to delegitimize Obama's victory and the Republican's devestating losses. Remember, also, the Republican defeats across the board in 2006. Now it's two losing elections in a row, and the scapegoats must be more palpable to the rabid base.
It's also part of the larger strategy of "voter fraud," a nonexistent issue in America, but one which enables the GOP to reduce voter rolls and disenfranchise voters. When your party is a minority party in all but name, you need to play dirty pool in order to win. That's just the way it goes. Rabid conservatism is just about all the party has left. Therefore, feeding paranoid and racist conspiracies on Fox News and talk radio becomes almost necessary. Drilling for fear makes the job simple, Eddie Vedder pointed out.
The wingnuts need to feel paranoid and powerless, so they can return to Big Brother, the abusive Daddy figure who is truly responsible for their ills. It's the makeup of any abusive family, and this psychodrama will play itself out through the 2008 election and beyond. If there truly are honest Republicans out there, this is where they need to direct their attention.
As for the rest of us....I never want to see these damned Republicans in power ever again. John McCain has turned himself into a Jim Crow segregationist. He spills venom to his base, and then refuses to say a word about anything to Obama's face at the debates. It's all bullshit and he knows it, but he continues to play the game regardless. And so a war hero ends his career as a patholical liar and a coward.