It's happening again. Regardless of the outcome of this thing, it's clear that half of America is falling for the same superficial trickery that gave us eight years of George W. Bush. You know the routine. Who do you want to have a beer with? Who is more plainspoken? Who would you like to drive your kids to hockey?
Only this time around, America is exponentially worse off than it was in 2000 or 2004, which only makes the degree to which certain voters are being tricked all the more infuriating and incomprehensible. Show of hands: have you gone all Howard Beale yet this week?
I'd do the list of Republican Epic Fail, but it's too exhaustively long to enumerate here. So here's a thumbnail. The day after Sarah Palin's historically overrated Edie McClurg With Lying performance at the Republican convention, the Dow tanked 344 points. The day after that, the Republicans got their bounce -- an unemployment rate bounce to 6.1 percent -- the highest level in five years. Two days after that, Secretary Paulson announced the government's "deprivatization" of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. And yesterday, the Dow dropped another 280 points. All of this within the last seven days.
So what are the Republicans and the barbecue media talking about today? A pig metaphor that's older than John McCain. John McCain! A cynical, sell-out politician who chose for his running mate someone who probably thinks Fannie Mae is this and Freddie Mac is this.
It's no wonder why Americans are ignoring issues that are literally right in front of their faces.
Today on MSNBC's Morning Joe, we overheard some accidental truth-telling as to why this is happening. Chris Matthews was on with Scarborough and Andrea Mitchell (sitting in for Mika who, I think, was off updating her Sarah Palin Fansite & Web Shrine) and Matthews was poking Scarborough and Buchanan about their wall-to-wall pig remark coverage.
MATTHEWS: Two days from now -- I want to ask you, what will we talk about two days from now?
SCARBOROUGH: Whatever the McCain campaign wants us to talk about, because the McCain campaign is assertive.
Shockingly honest. To be fair, however, the complicity of far-right talk radio -- all 1,000 radio stations nationwide -- makes Scarborough and Buchanan look like Bernie Sanders and Mike Malloy. Naturally, today, we'll hear righteous indignation all over AM radio -- Rush Limbaugh, who loves his novelty Hillary Clinton nutcracker almost as much as his "feminazi" jokes, drooling on his phallic cigars while decrying Senator Obama's so-called sexist remark.
We all know why this is happening. Senator Obama said it during his convention acceptance speech in Denver:
Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.
You make a big election about small things.
Small things. Like lipstick. And the Republicans get away with it because everyone with barbecue sauce stains on their mouths will, as Scarborough inadvertently admitted, talk about it.
What else gets short-changed in lieu of the small things? Adequate debunking of the most disgusting Republican attack ad since Lee Atwater's Willie Horton ad or Alex Castellanos' White Hands ad. Instead, the new McCain ad depicting Senator Obama as a creepy perv who wants to tell your kids about their down-there places is aired over and over and over on cable. And the very serious discussion swirling around this ad? How will Obama respond to this? Will this damage Obama? When do we get to show the ad again?
You wouldn't know it while watching Morning Joe, but the truth is that the legislation in question had to do with age-appropriate education that would help to protect children from sexual predators. I repeat: to protect children from sexual predators.
Our collective question for Senator McCain has to be: Why are you against that, Senator? Why don't you want to protect our children from perverts, pedophiles and predators? Between that and your vote against SCHIP, it's clear that you aren't interested in keeping America's children safe. Obviously, you'd rather win an election.
It's no wonder why a baffling number of Americans are refusing to vote based on the issues happening literally in their own back yards. And so we have a Republican ticket -- a ticket that exactly matches in every way the Bush-Cheney administration -- enjoying an incongruously high level of polling support, despite the situation on the ground in almost every American town and suburb.
Given their record of success in years past, it's no wonder why the Republicans do what they do. But this goes beyond cause and effect. It's their nature. They're simply unable to govern, so all they have left are their basest, most cynical and depraved instincts. Their presidential ticket is composed of two incompetent, corrupt liars who want to continue the Bush legacy (while also lying about their "change" message). But they're good at whining; they're good at smearing; and they excel at fear-mongering. John McCain has fully embraced Karl Rove's brand of insect politics.
With a complicit barbecue media at their disposal -- a team of fainting goats on cable news and AM radio -- their screaming and stomping gets plenty of airplay. But worse than that, it gets an obscene amount of undue validation. Because when it doesn't, the Republicans crap their cages until the goats faint again. Consequently, casual viewers who aren't as knee-deep in this stuff get the wrong impression as to what's truly important. Or they become so flummoxed by the noise that they throw their hands in the air and, with an exhausted yalp, declare both candidates equally as awful. George W. Bush "won" in 2000 due to that exact phenomenon.
And I remain very confident that Senator Obama is going to win this time. My mantra: the Obama team defeated the most powerful and popular Democratic brand in America. His campaign is the most disciplined we've seen in decades. His financial resources are record-breaking. Yet, if McCain ends up winning this thing, we can only conclude that it's because he so fully embraced a form of Rove Republican politics -- tactics so unprecedented in their deceitfulness and snark that they will have successfully obscured a full decade of undisputed failure, not to mention what Mort Zuckerman called this week "the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression."
In the face of all of this, can anyone seriously deny that John McCain and the Bush Republicans are successfully fooling Americans -- again?
Follow Bob Cesca on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bobcesca_go