Slaughter the Pig

Team Obama needs to break out the knives and start rolling in the mud, too

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So we wake up this morning to a Web ad from the McCain-Palin campaign accusing Barack Obama of sexism. It is a swift and superb effort and, from what we know about these things and the political climate in which we live, likely to be effective. It is a quick and dirty piece of television remarkable for the jaw-dropping, breath-taking, head-shaking dishonesty on which is it based.

The basic charge is that Obama called Sarah Palin a pig, and that is sexist. Nevermind that it never happened. It is now clear that the Republicans' strategy for victory is not to discredit Obama's views or his policy positions but to destroy the man himself.

Based on the current trajectory, what Obama may have coming will make the swift-boating of John Kerry look like a campfire song. And if Democrats are nervous and a little dispirited today it is because they have seen the effectiveness of this approach before. More importantly, they have seen it in combination with the complete inability of their own candidate to effectively respond. Obama's speech on charter schools and the importance of education in Dayton, Ohio yesterday did nothing to advance his candidacy. Instead, all the energy and resources of his campaign were spent explaining that the phrase "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig," is an old English axiom meant to convey that deception has limits. Even McCain has used the phrase on occasion.

With undecided white women moving to McCain, the sexism ad will further monopolize Obama camp resources.

Obama's counterpunches so far, have sounded a little bit naïve, almost idiotic:

"…The American people aren't stupid. They are going to get it," he told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann early this week. "But we've got to make sure that we are being clear, not only that they [the Republicans] will not bring about change, but the very specific kinds of changes we want to bring, in terms of green technology jobs in America, investing in our education system, making college more affordable, making health care accessible to every American."

This is not a civics seminar; it's a knife fight, and the McCain camp is bringing automatic rifles.

Right now it is not about the American people getting it. It is about Obama getting it. He's getting hit over the head with a baseball bat and looking like he wants to file an amicus brief about it.

It would be silly to count out the Obama strategists; they have defied every prediction and surpassed every expectation thus far. But watching the Obama response to the Sarah Palin frenzy, conjures up sad images of John Kerry, Al Gore, or, dare we say it, Michael Dukakis.

Once again, we have Democratic dignity on display. They are taking the high road, constantly acknowledging John McCain's honorable service to the nation and saying that Sarah Palin is a tough and talented politician.