Presidential Diss-bate

It is on.

Is it wise to have incredibly corrosive and negative campaign tactics be a high-profile subject of the final Presidential Debate?  Will rhetorical punches and oratorical fireworks overshadow policy and issues?  Important questions, but totally moot because it is about to go down and everybody in America is craving a serious rhetorical smackdown. Recap:

1) John McCain, sinking in the polls and flailing for a campaign strategy, approves the message that Obama is some sort of unknowable ‘other’ who can’t be trusted:

Sarah Palin runs hard with the message, saying Obama “pals around with terrorists” and probably wants to blow up your family and turn America into a Communist police state.

2) Barack calls McCain a yellow-bellied lily-livered coward for not making these accusations to his face during last week’s debate:

3) Charlie Gibson asked McCain “So whaddya say to that, huh? Huh?”

4) McCain’s polling freefall continues and the increasing similarity between his campaign rallies and KKK meetings really starts to creep people out:

5) Having turned his entire advertising budget over to negative ads, the McCain campaign literally embraces Fear and Loathing as the only arguable rationale for his candidacy. But as this produces increasingly disturbing results on the ground, McCain is forced to behave with some sense of responsibility and honor:

6) Today. McCain’s campaign is officially Clinton-esque by way of its internal combustion in the face of impossible odds. 538 gives him a 5% chance of winning; right-leaning RCP gives Obama a spread of over 100 points in the electoral college.  Left with no coherent argument as to why he should be the next president, and apparently not doing the intellectual work to just come up with a good one, McCain instead declares he ain’t no chicken and is totally gonna confront Obama face-to-face about his assocations with former domestic terrorist and Underground Weatherman Bill Ayers tomorrow night on international television.

7. Tomorrow!  The nature of campaign narratives dictates that the only way for McCain to ‘win’ at the debates and reverse momentum is to ‘have a game-changer.’  With virtually no credibility left to lose, he plays the Ayers card in the desperate hope tha it will serve as one. Barack Obama is heavily prepared for this in a painfully obvious way because, HELLO, he DARED McCain to do it.  He does at least two of the following:

-Calls McCain out for using insubstantial and corrosive politics at a time when Americans need real leadership the most.

-Points out Ayers has received over $50 million in funding from Republicans who endorse or have worked with McCain.

-Explains that the Obamas first met Ayers’ when Ayers wrote a critically-acclaimed book in 1997 about how the juveline criminal justice system turns delinquents into life-long criminals instead of useful members of society and how it needs to be fixed. The book won Ayers Chicago’s Citizen of the Year award.

-Says something about how politics is a shady business where you have to deal with lots of different kinds of people but it doesn’t mean you condone everything ever done by everybody you’ve ever worked with.

It takes up two minutes of a ninety minute debate about economic issues and domestic policy that Obama completely dominates, even moreso if McCain continues to spend his time pushing a tasteless ‘character assassination’ angle.  Reasonable people, intellectually honest pundits, and left-wing commentators will trumpet this showdown as finally putting the matter to rest. Republican apparatchiks and intellectually dishonest pundits who get GOP talking points via email will cry that Obama evaded McCain’s honest inquiries, which were steamrolled by that terrorist and his lib’rul media friends anyway. They will spread the party line meme that Obama can’t be trusted, is stealing the election, and has dishonorably smeared John McCain by calling out John McCain’s dishonorable smearing.  The GOP loses more centrist voters and devolves further into a fetal crouch around the radical extremes of the party.

Meanwhile, the two-thirds to three-quarters of America that supports Obama and is awesome will try to keep a lid on a largely media-generated culture war and wait patiently for election day to hand Obama an electoral landslide victory.

In a shocking final twist, global infrastructure collapses and Bob Barr is elected President of Thunderdome.


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