Over at The Politico, this morning, I note with interest a bit from James Kirchick, describing the fable of Republican smear tactics. (As an aside, interestingly, Kirkpatrick’s the New Republic’s assitant editor)

The only obstacle between Barack Obama and the presidency is the mountain of smears that will no doubt come his way. That’s the narrative that Obama supporters â€” and his swooning chroniclers in the mainstream media â€” would have us believe.

Writers Evan Thomas and Richard Wolfe concluded that the 2008 presidential election will be no different. “It is a sure bet that the GOP will try to paint Obama as ‘the other’ â€” as a haughty black intellectual who has Muslim roots (Obama is a Christian) and hangs around with America-haters.”

But has it been a “sure bet?”

Not really. Thus far, no one with any serious affiliation to John McCain’s campaign has resorted to the alleged “scare” tactics in which Republicans â€” and, apparently, only Republicans â€” have been perfecting since Richard Nixon was first elected. On the contrary, if the past few months have showed us anything, it’s that the Obama campaign is the one dealing in crude smears.

Kirchick then goes on to discuss the incidents in some detail. As I suggested yesterday, the bit with  Clark is emblematic of the pattern thusfar;

Here it is, people…When the Obama supporters all start mouthing exactly the same nonsense… when clearly, Clark, for one, hasn’t the wit to come up with this stuff by himself, what we have here is an organized effort by the Obama camp. Obama’s been doing this all along; Surrogates end up saying the smears and other trash talk the campaign needs to spread, and when things get too hot because of what gets said, Obama simply tosses the speaker under the bus, and claims he’s running a ‘clean campaign’, and he’s shocked…. shocked… that any of his people would come up with such a comment.

The reality of all this is that Obama’s campaign has been nothing if not disciplined and well organized, in nearly ever detail. They know full well what is at stake here, and how hard they have to work to gain the office. Given that, it’s hard to imagine that the pattern as I mentioned yesterday is anything but part of the plan… particularly when it has occurred so often in this campaign.

As for the charge that Republicans are basing their campaign on smear tactics, Kirchick addresses this well;

The belief that “the Republican Party has been successfully scaring voters since 1968” is a comforting salve for Democrats. After all, it’s much easier for them to demonize conservatives than consider that the reason for their electoral defeats may lie with liberal ideas

That’s the reality, and it’s exactly the argument we’ve made here, repeatedly since the election began. But don’t expect liberals to admit this anytime soon, even after a November defeat.

Addendum: (Bit)

James Joyner at Outside the Beltway  notes the same story and makes a couple great points:

Is there a smear campaign to undermine public confidence in Barack Obama’s patriotism and that of his wife?  To say that he’s a Muslim and might be terrorist-friendly?  Yup.  Were they promulgated by Republicans?  No, by Hillary Clinton supporters, actually.  Will Republicans pick up the ball?  Probably.

The “Who’s smearing more?” game is silly at this point since McCain has been the presumptive Republican nominee for months and has thus been the object of Democratic attacks for much longer.  By contrast, there hasn’t been much need for the GOP to smear Obama, since Clintonistas like  Larry Johnson were more than happy to do it.  

I would submit that this has been the pattern in previous campaigns, as well. Willie Horton for example, was actually brought up by Al Gore. Etc, etc.

(Edit, Bit typos, and apparently, I need to remove “Kirkpatrick” from my auto-speller)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,