Thursday, September 18, 2008

Epic-scale hypocrisies

I have to say that, while I regard myself as quite a connoisseur of breathless hypocrisies, I have never in all my days seen anything as breathtaking as what has gone on over the last three weeks for the GOP.

It began beautifully as former trial lawyer and NYC mayor Rudy Guiliani's gave a wildly cheered speech at the Republican National Convention condemning the "East Coast Establishment" and "trial lawyers"; it moved to the sublime when Bush appointees at the Fed and Treasury orchestrated the nationalization Fannie and Freddie the day after McCain declared the GOP to be "the party of small government"; and it culminated in the ridiculous when Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild announced yesterday that she was endorsing McCain because Obama was too much of an elitist for her (admittedly acquired by marriage) Rothschild tastes. As they say, you can't make it up.

What's important for Democrats to understand about this festival of hypocrisy is that, as ridiculous as it is, trying to attack these assertions with counterpoints of fact is utterly misguided. For the facticity (or lack thereof) of these contentions and claims is beside the point. What these claims are really about is about making an appeal to certain critical mythologies. Which is why countering them with facts is wrongheaded: mythologies have nothing to do with reality -- the have to with faith and aspiration.

To beat the mythologizing efforts of the Republicans, what Democrats need to do is articulate why Obama embodies a preferable (and hopefully more reality-based) set of mythological characteristics. Mark Penn's strategy for Hillary to label Obama as un-American may have been politically toxic and morally despicable, but there's no point in denying that Penn was onto something profound and (politically) troubling about Obama -- which is that he is struggling to connect his narrative, both about himself and about the country, to the country's abiding mythologies.

I would venture that whether or not Obama becomes President will largely be determined by whether he can create this connection over the next six weeks.

1 comment:

Burr Deming said...

The endorsement by Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild will be among McCain's most valued. Here's why.