Friday, May 09, 2008

The GOP Hit Plan, Smear Obama with the L Word
Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The president of a conservative political action outfit with the amorphous name of Citizens United minced no words. David Bossie flatly said that Obama is now their target. The independent committee has nearly a million dollars in the bank and almost certainly much more to come, and will churn out endless hit pieces on Obama. Bossie ticked off Obama’s connection with former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers, indicted Chicago financier Tony Rezko, and a revisit of his tie with Jeremiah Wright as fair game to splatter dirt on him.
John McCain and the RNC will disavow the dirty, beneath the belt stuff, that fringe GOP independent committees specialize in. Their hit plan is much simpler. Paint Obama as yet another tax and spend, pro abortion, pro gay rights, and weak on national security Democrat who’s way out of tune with mainstream America.
The L word smear of a Democratic presidential candidate is the oldest, most predictable, and durable page in the GOP playbook. Thomas Dewey slapped it on Democrat Harry Truman. Dwight Eisenhower slapped it on Adlai Stevenson twice. Richard Nixon slapped it on JFK, Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern. Ronald Reagan slapped it on Walter Mondale twice. Bush Sr. slapped it on George Dukakis and tried to slap it on Bill Clinton. Bush Jr. slapped it on Al Gore and John Kerry.
The L word smear has been honed, massaged, tweaked and sprinkled with ad-ons over the years. Soft on communism morphed into soft on terrorism, lax on permissiveness and law and order was retooled as lax on crime. The ad-ons are that Democratic presidential candidates flip flop, are wishy washy, and will be weak commander in chiefs. In the case of Obama, the extra add on is he’s an elitist, and hopelessly inexperienced. McCain banks that the L word ploy will once more be the GOP’s keep the White House ticket.
Obama waves this off and says that voters ultimately won’t look at labels, but at whether a candidate can deliver on the gut issues of the economy, the housing crisis, and ending the war. He’s right up to a point. But politically incendiary labels do inflame emotions and passions and stir visceral deep seated fears and beliefs in many voters. The GOP has masterfully turned liberalism into a dread word, and a dread fear for many voters.
Obama’s relatively liberal voting record on core liberal issues does give the GOP an opening to sow that fear. He got a perfect 100 rating from the NAACP, National Organization for Women, National Education Association, the Children's Defense Fund, the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, and the Illinois Environmental Council (during his stint in the Illinois legislature), and the ACLU for his votes on labor, education, the environment, choice, civil rights and civil liberties.
Not surprisingly, Obama bombed badly in the ratings he got from the conservative National Taxpayers Union, National Right to Life, the Gun Owners of America, the NRA, the Federation for Immigration Reform, and the American Conservative Union. These are some of the nation's top conservative advocacy groups, and they reflect the interests and views of millions of voters on immigration, spending, guns, abortion, and military prowess. They are the voters who will also scrutinize his record and his views with a laser eye. They are also the voters that gave Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr., and Bush Jr., their decisive margin of victory over their Democratic opponents.
In 2004 Kerry tried to parry the L word ploy by trying to out GOP the GOP on their strong point issues of national security and terrorism. It didn’t work. Countless polls showed that the voters repeatedly gave Bush huge percentage margins over Kerry when asked who they thought would do a better job in the anti-terror war. In other words if the election came down solely to a referendum on who best to fight terrorism, Bush would beat him handily. But if it came down to the issue of who would manage the economy better, do better in boosting education, creating more jobs, providing affordable health care, and protecting civil rights and civil liberties, Kerry would have beaten Bush handily.
Nothing has changed. Obama can’t out McCain McCain on the GOP’s trump cards of national security and terrorism. He’s tried to talk and sound tough but it rings hollow against McCain’s tougher and more believable talk on these issues. But if it’s a matter of who does the better job on the economy, and jobs, affordable health care, and a war wind down, voters again consistently say that the Democrats will do it better than the GOP. These issues have been the Democrats trump cards back to the Democrat, Truman, who first beat back the GOP’s L word smear. Obama can do the same but only if he can masterfully play those same cards.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House (Middle Passage Press, February 2008).


Anonymous said...

This website is what everyone needs to read and wake up and realize that Hillary Clinton is the best candidate to beat John McCain.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Hutchinson I am a student at the University of Houston and I read your blogs all the time. You are incrediable accurate about the candidates and its individuals like you that make a difference because you look past race and gender and come to a logical conclusion on who will be the best candidate to bet John McCain. Please keep on speaking the truth and do not let anyone tell you otherwise!

Mustang Sallie said...

Mr. Hutchinson I am a student at the University of OBAMA and I read your blogs all the time. You are incredible ignorant about the candidates (especially Obama) and its blacks like you that irritates the HECK out of me because you lack the common sense to see, with the right vice-president (Jim Webb), Obama, just like he has defeated Clinton, will defeat McCain come November. Please keep speaking "your" truth . . . just like T. Smiley; you're be out of a job sooner or later! Obama supports are too strong to be ignored!

Anonymous said...

We had a terrible 8 years of Bush and the Republican party. American are having a hard time trying to make ends meet. If the Democrats lose the general election it's because the party is not united. Barack can beat McCain. McCain flip flop on issues and a lot of conservatives do not like him.

Besides, the Republicans want to run against Hillary, have you ever wondered why? The Republicans certainly do not like the Clintons. They went after Barack with this "Guilt by Association" Who do you think the Clintons are connected to? We don't know everything about the Clintons. I'm sure there is more to come. If Rev. Wright is the worst you can find on Obama, I say amen.

Anonymous said...

Do not fear Mr Hutchinson, to counter the vast $1M the right will use to smear Obama, George Soros has publicly pledged more than $20M to, Media Matters and his other fronts to topple McCain. A group led by George Brock is leading a $40M charge to do the same.

I also wouldn't worry about the L word being Obama's downfall..instead I would focus on the E & M words....Elitist and Marxist. Oh, and don't forget about the J word....Judgment. The candidate, lacking experience, has based his campaign on Judgment and Change. Rev Right, Ayers, and their ilk show Obama either has terrible judgment or is just like every other politician. Either way, it has shown that Obama is not the man for the job.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone else noticed that the country really went to Hell after the 2006 election when the Dems took Congress. Despite 9/11 and two wars, the economy was okay until the election...makes you wonder

Anonymous said...

The country went to Hell before 2006.

Anonymous said...

Obama’s bid for the presidency will be smeared with enough attacks and embellished truths (that are in effect lies) by the GOP, but you too, Dr H.?

The bottom line with this election is simple: Do we, the American people, want to continue with this stagnated approach to our economy and the Iraq War? No! The Republican government is well known for its’ hands-off approach on the economy; letting the States & Corporate American navigate the country. And Sen. McCain will be another Captain asleep at the helm! Interest Groups from AZ, such as border control agents and US Veterans, have already blogged their frustrations with Sen McCain’s non-responsiveness to State issues. Do we need another McSame?

The opponents (and Clinton) want to smear Obama’s candidacy with statements that he lacks judgment and experience, and is na├»ve on foreign policy, and too Liberal for the country. My answers to that are:

1. GOP ISN’T COMPLAINING ABOUT OUR VERY INEPT PRES. BUSH, who was asleep the months and days before 9/11 and the years following the capture of Sadam Hussein! Anyone is better than BUSH!!!
2. Hillary Clinton’s qualifications and experience are limited to her pillow-chats with Pres Clinton. Riding her husband’s coattails DOES NOT equate to qualification and experience!
3. And Obama was the only who used judgment in Congress to questions Bush’s war declaration on Iraq and inquire about an exit plan; he doesn’t have any skeletons following him into the WH; and it takes some innovation (liberal thinking) to jump-start this economy again and wisdom to end a war, soon!

Diane of LA, CA

Anonymous said...

Wow Diane. Welcome to Obama-land, the happiest place on earth where Change and Hope is all you need to get by.

His "judgment" placed him in Wright's church for 20 years and led him to kick off his campaign at the home of the admitted terrorist Bill Ayers (

If McCain is asleep at the wheel, Obama doesn't even know what a wheel is. The man is a committed Marxist who has admitted his economic ideas are bad for the economy, but they are "fair" as they seek to equalize the rich and the poor.
Obama = higher tax rates, less taxes collected, fewer jobs, decline in quality of health care as canada, the UK, etc's almost like Utopia!

~Liberalism always generates the exact opposite of its stated intent