You can see it all in retrospect. Sean Hannity and his cohorts at FOX saturated the world with Wright and drove the Wright Issue into the ground. And now the desperate Rev. Wright swiftboating that saturated the media yesterday sinks like a stone. We tune it out like ads we know backwards and forwards. They have no traction. It is old stuff.
Better yet, if Hannity had not played Wright so pervasively, Barack might not have been forced to deliver the most important message on race since I Have A Dream.
Yes, in the world of what might have been, it is likely that Sean Hannity set the precise stage that brought down the entire GOP this time around, including some pretty good Republican candidates. You can blame it all on Sean.
The first thing Sean did was an atrocious job of reporting. A good reporter does not edit tape with the malicious obviousness that Sean displayed. It became clear that Wright had been viciously reduced to a stupid soundbite or two, entirely out of context. Decent Republicans joined everyone else in holding their noses.
The second thing Hannity did, which he repeated in his equally ineffective Ayers vendetta, was to try to convert the electorate by dismal and incessant repetition. He literally took over FOX, followed by a culpable MSM which simply went along. Hannity sullied any residual claim to integrity that Rupert Murdoch might wish to salvage.
His repetition became absurd, guaranteeing that the current resurrection of the Wright soundbites would fall on deaf and jaded ears.
Criminally deficient reporting and intolerable repetition led to the third and most serious result -- tearing an already vulnerable GOP in two,
I am writing this before the votes come in, save for heavy Obama wins in two small New Hampshire towns.
I am right, the landslide I have seen coming for months (see the map at the base of the page here ) will carry Barack beyond 400 EVs.
Why? In substantial part, all the Republicans who were totally turned off by the antics of Hannity regarding Wright and then Ayers, will not have voted for McCain-Palin.
The very idea that people who once were happy to respect Ike and Goldwater and even the McCain of 2000 wanted to be in lockstep behind the warped thinking of Hannity, should have raised a red flag.
Miniscule thought would have revealed that Hannity was and is a GOP buster of the first order, a person no self-respecting Republican would want to claim or follow.
McCain first tried the Bush 2004 approach in the primaries, went broke and proved himself a horrendous administrator.
He fired his most faithful friends and fought on solo.
The only way he won at all was to do what he was best at -- win the votes of moderate Republicans and Independents and non-Obama Democrats -- the very people revolted and embarrassed by Sean Hannity.
But McCain was muddle-headed in his primary victory. He assumed he had to have the support of what has been called the Republican BASE. This was the stupidest assumption of all. The only way McCain could have won was by appreciating the similarity between himself and Barack. By kicking the Hannity BASE in the teeth.
By redefining the base just as Barack redefined the Democratic base as a 50 state constituency. The election could have come down to a civil and humorous McCain versus the Barack we know.
McCain killed himself the second time by going right back to the Hannity-Bush Tree of Knowledge and eating a big apple all on his own.
The result was his schizoid campaign, successive proofs of his own failed leadership capacities.
The end came when Schmidt prevailed on him to suspend the campaign and play Mighty Mouse in Washington. The execution of this was so inept that the American public decided that it was time to get cozy with Barack and that has been the story of the campaign ever since.
It all goes back to Hannity. He created the environment that McCain simply accepted when he could have OPPPOSED it and cut the ground out from under the Obama critique. He could have basically told the Hannity core to buzz off.
Now there are the almost comical Wright ads put out by a Republican PAC with the word Trust in its name. How delicious. How pathetic. How apposite.
Sean Hannity destroyed the proper use of Rev. Wright. He made it so redundant that it became totally ineffective.
I have always been a person who could have been more valuable to the Republicans than the Democrats because I understand how to beat Democrats. Barack has been the consummate politician for whom I cast my vote this very morning. I am deeply and emotionally tied to his candidacy.
But I cannot help observing how Sean Hannity single-handedly became the primary operative in losing of the election for the GOP in 2008.
Follow Stephen C. Rose on Twitter: www.twitter.com/stephencrose