07/04/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Good Thing About Republicans Attacking Michelle Obama

Okay, obviously attacking Michelle Obama is reprehensible. In every conceivable way. Offensive, pathetic, lying, shameless, despicable -- throw in whatever other adjectives you can think of. Really gutter and horrible.

But I mean that in a good way.

Because when you are running for President of the United States -- the Most Powerful Man in the World -- at a time when 81% of Americans say the country is seriously off the track, when your party's leader has a 28% approval rating. A time when your party has lost all three special elections for Congress, all in conservative Republican districts. When it's critical that you make your case why you should be the one to lead America out of the Iraq War, lead America out of its recession, lead America into the 21st century, lead the way in education, science, the environment...

...and the best you can come up with is attacking your opponent's wife, boy howdy, it shows that you're in serious trouble.

Forget that it shows you are without a conscience. On a more practical level, it shows that you are without any ideas.

Before the 2006 mid-term elections, I wrote that the Republican Party was a house of cards built on a house of sand. That it had nothing to support it, and therefore each problem would grow bigger. We saw the Democratic landslide take over both the House and Senate. And we see all indications pointing to an even bigger landslide this year.

I'm open to being convinced otherwise, but the 2006 results and current landscape are hard to get around. What agenda do Republicans have to run on? The Iraq War? The Afghan War and return of the Taliban? The recession? Gas prices? The environment? Education? Science? What?

Honestly. What?

For seven years, Republicans laid all their cards on Iraq, and in 2006 America called the G.O.P.'s bluff.

And now a Newsweek poll shows Barack Obama already ahead of John McCain by 15 points. And we're not even at the conventions yet.

When you are a house of cards built on a house of sand, with nothing to support you, all you can do is flail at anything. And for Republicans, "anything" here is the wife of their opponent.

It's sort of creepy.

Being honest now -- if your party was doing well with the electorate, if the economy was strong, if Iraq and Iran and Afghanistan were peaceful democracies. If gas was $1.50 a gallon - do you honestly think Republicans would be pointing all that out...or running against the wife of their opponent?

Every time you see a Republican smear of Michelle Obama, envision a Pop-Up Video balloon suddenly appearing that says, "Desperately trying to divert attention to something that has utterly no meaning." Add a little "plurp" sound for fun.

Every time you see a Republican smear of Mrs. Obama, pretend you hear a distant voice crying out, "Help us!!! Pleeeeease, help us. We're mellllllting!!!"

Every time you see a Republican smear of the wife of Barack Obama, know that it's the dying action of a collapsing party, because you know you wouldn't see it otherwise.

And every time you see Republicans smear Michelle Obama, know that it will backfire. Because - it's sort of creepy. People don't like seeing you smear someone's wife. It doesn't matter if it's unfair that you can smear a lunkhead of husband but not a wife. You smear a wife at your own risk. Whatever the reason, people just hate it. It doesn't matter if she's the wife of a politician. It doesn't matter if she's on a platform campaigning. It doesn't matter if -- it just doesn't matter. It catches up to you.

In the end, for the sake of argument, let's say that every smear against the bright, accomplished Ms. Obama was true: that she really has never before been proud of America. That's she's actually Barack Obama's "Baby Mama." That she's, in fact, black. (Oh, wait, that one is true.) That she called white people "Whitey." Whatever. Make something else up. Say it's all true. (Okay, okay, all except for the "terrorist fist bump." Even insanity needs standards.) Say it's all true.

No one cares. Not even people who say they care...actually care: they weren't voting for Barack Obama anyway. People grasp they are voting for President of the United States. That they are voting for either Barack Obama or John McCain. Period.

And this is going on the ridiculous assumption that the smears are true. Now, remove that assumption, and face reality.

So, every time you see a smear of the wife of any political candidate - whether it's Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Teresa Heinz Kerry, Kitty Dukakis (gee, hunh, all Democrats, go figure) - whoever - think instead of the empty void it's trying to fill.

There will be people bellowing to refute all this. Continuing their smears And as you read their words, as you hear their screeds, just smile and feel good. Because you can say, "Thank you for shining a spotlight on your absence of anything to run on."

There are only 24 hours in a day. You can use your air space to explain your worth -- or to smear someone's wife.

Be careful though: in a few years, she might run for president.