Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Battle of Kelly's Ford....

...and the politics of personal destruction.

In the spring of 1863 Confederate General Fitzhugh Lee had been sending messages through the lines to his Union rivals, taunting them about their horsemanship, inquiring when the blue-clad cavalry was going to amount to anything, and reminding them that his legendary troopers had quite literally ridden circles around the entire Union army. In one message, he taunted his old West Point classmate General William Averell to return his visit, and bring some coffee.

Fed up, Averell crossed the river with 3000 men and caught the Southerners off-guard-- inflicting over 100 casualties and causing the Rebel riders to retreat for over a mile. On the wrong side of the river and outnumbered, Averell retired in good order. He left two wounded Confederate officers with a sack of coffee and a note for Lee which read: "Dear Fitz: Here's your coffee. Here's your visit. How do you like it?"

Fast forward to the current campaign: Republicans are shocked!-shocked! that they could be attacked by Democrats based on things have have said and done! Beyond belief that the GOP could actually be held accountable for their deeds!

This, of course, from the same people who brought you the politics of G. Gordon Liddy, Don Segretti, Lee Atwater, and Karl Rove. They have broken laws, betrayed trusts, manipulated the media, gamed the system, and used any tactic they could in pursuit of one single goal: To acquire and maintain power. The end justified any means, and collateral damage--to people, to American institutions, to the rule of law-- is viewed as irrelevant. In the past two decades they have added the power of talk radio and their very own news network to their list of tools. They were able to control the narrative in the last two elections and had the White House occupied by a useful idiot--kept under tight reins by Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and a gang of thugs.

This year things are different. The GOP "brand" is beyond tarnished--it is broken. Conservatism is so wildly dysfunctional that they are poised to follow up a 2006 mid-term drubbing by losing the White House to a black man whose middle name is "Hussein" and whose last name rhymes with "Osama". Who'd-a-thunk it?

Worse, they are now being called out on their tactics. Their choice of a woefully unprepared and unqualified VP candidate is being revealed for the political stunt that it is. Their embrace of bald-faced lies as campaign talking points is openly discussed even by some of their old complicit friends. The campaign of personal sleaze attacks which is being mounted against the Obama/Biden ticket is facing brighter lights than they expected.

In short, they are on the receiving end. Defense is not their game. The half-truth, the distortion, the rumor, the dog-whistle--these are the GOP stock tools. Being asked to justify their actions and prove their allegations leaves them completely out of their depth. Caught red-handed in a series of fabrications, GOP surrogates accuse the Obama camapign of taking the low road.

Full marks for hypocrisy. If a Democrat on the ticket had a teenage daughter who was pregnant out-of-wedlock, what kind of converstaion would we be having? If a Democrat's wife had stolen prescription painkillers from a charitable organization what types of things would the GOP be saying? If a Democrat's spouse had belonged to a political party which advocated secession from the United States would that topic be off-limits?

When confronted, it seems the GOP hate machine goes to pieces. The Democrats should keep up the pressure, and maybe send a message through a backchannel to their GOP rivals: "How do you like it?"

Maybe they could attach a sack of coffee to the note.

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