Edsall on McCain’s shameless campaign

When no lie is too outrageous to make

Thomas Edsall of the Huffington Post notes with dismay that John McCain has not only implemented what amounts to a smear Obama strategy, but also that the strategy has worked so far. He goes on to state:
The McCain strategy is based on a series of major premises. These include, first, that what many thought was the fading salience of wedge issues — evoking stereotypes of liberals as 'weak on terror' and 'sexually permissive' — can be revived; second, that Obama is particularly vulnerable to these stereotypes, in part because he is African American; third, that standards of accuracy and truthfulness in political competition have eroded; and fourth, that the traditional authority of the national media as arbiter of what is legitimate in political discourse has disappeared.
What I find odd about Edsall's analysis is his belief that Americans recently moved beyond stereotypical thinking, that political discourse has taken a turn for the worse with the McCain campaign and that Americans uncritically accept the mainstream media as a political authority.

That said, the McCain camp appears to be surging and might win the election this fall, an outcome which appeared remote not too long ago. What this possibility reflects, I would argue, is the long-term decay of America's political institutions and the corruption of its political culture. It reflects a democratic political system lacking rational content.
The historian Michael Kazin made a point similar to Edsall's when he wrote: "This election will, in part, be a test of whether right-wing populism still works." The McCain camp has already placed its bets.

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