Saturday, April 26, 2008


Last Christmas I got a copy of Destined for Destiny, a parody "unauthorized autobiography" of George W. Bush coauthored by Scott Dikkers of The Onion. The book's introduction is credited to Dick Cheney, and everything we've ever loathed about Cheney is in there -- this Cheney is the sinister, diseased Halliburton-check-cashing fearmonger who thinks totalitarianism and widespread surveillance were the Founders' most fervent wish for America, and he signs off with "Go fuck yourself."

Heavy-handed? Yeah, maybe.

But it reminds me that even our side's best efforts to tie John McCain to the current administration have been the opposite of heavy-handed. Look, I'm quite fond of this ad by David Brock's group showing McCain and Bush uttering nearly identical Pollyannaish platitudes about the economy -- but I wonder if we're making a mistake by limiting ourselves to assertions of solid connections between Bush and McCain.

If we wanted to do this on a visceral, reptile-brain level, we'd just find the most infuriating, appalling clips of Bush and Cheney ever -- regardless of whether we can literally link McCain to those moments -- and intercut the clips with images of McCain alongside Cheney and Bush. No need to prove a link between McCain and those specific Bush-Cheney moments. Just assert the link. And do so over and over.

Republicans don't care that Barack Obama was an eight-year-old playing kickball in Hawaii when the Weather Underground was planning bombings. Republicans don't care that Obama never heard the "God damn America" sermon. Republicans don't care that Obama doesn't endorse any idea remotely comparable to the most inflammatory notions of William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright (and don't care about the tenuousness of Obama's ties to Ayers). Republicans just take the most button-pushing moments from these men, hang them around Obama's neck, and go their merry way.

Why not do that to McCain? What words and images from Bush and Cheney do people absolutely despise? What makes people's blood boil? "Bring 'em on"? "Mission accomplished"? "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job"? What Cheney moments?

Link enough of these to images of McCain with Bush and/or Cheney and you can make a lot of ads. Don't be too nerdy about this -- don't worry about demonstrating a link of any specific moment to McCain. The Republicans wouldn't, if the shoe were on the other foot.

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