‘Our friends in the McCain campaign have shown real wit and moxie in the ads they’ve run — they’ve been quick to spring into action, and deft in their angles of attack. I’d hesitate to tell them what to do, but they’ve been so imaginative and so jolting in the jabs they’ve made that they simply inspire the kibitzers among their friends to point out other possible targets and zingers.
In that vein, I’d put out a ringing plea: Don’t pass up on the recent report that John Fund offered in the Wall Street Journal, about the army of lawyers that the Obama campaign landed in Alaska. They parachuted in with the mission of finding dirt or anything they can portray as dirt about Sarah Palin. We can ram this one right through them — it has all of the makings of our Joseph Welch moment from the McCarthy hearings: “At long last, sir, have you no decency?”
As John Fund reported:
Democrats have airdropped a mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators, and opposition researchers into Anchorage, the state capital Juneau, and Mrs. Palin’s hometown of Wasilla to dig into her record and background. My sources report the first wave arrived in Anchorage less than 24 hours after John McCain selected her on August 29.
This — along with outside-the-campaign outrages like Palin’s e-mail being hacked into — is thuggery with an Ivy League patina, the Democrats’ version of war: sending combat teams of lawyers in to do “research”–to find something, anything, that could be spun into defamation, wrecking a reputation or at least tainting it long enough to carry an election.
This has become, in fact, Barack Obama’s signature tune, his way of conducting political campaigns. Something always seems to happen to Obama’s opponents, something that prevents them at times even from making it to the starting gate. First came his opponents for the state senate in Illinois. The incumbent was Alice Palmer, herself a black activist. A team of lawyers, carefully combing through the signatures on her nominating petition, managed to find that many were not exactly right. And not exactly right meant: Some of the persons printed their names, instead of signing them in cursive, and some of the people collecting the signatures were not correctly registered. In this way, Obama not only knocked off the incumbent, but his two other opponents as well. Through this skillful application of “the law” he managed to give the electorate a ballot with one name on it. The fact that Palmer was a black and a woman brought her no immunity from these tactics. And of course that same sense of rectitude would not be deployed against other candidates, of either party, who might have been launching their candidacies with invalid signatures. The hard fact was that she alone stood in the way of Obama at that moment — so she had to go. With a smile, of course, and a deep concern on the part of a candidate soaring well above any mean-spirited motive. But she had to go.
In 2004, when he ran for the U.S. Senate, his most important opponents suffered a string of accidents, knocking them both out. In the Democratic primary, Blair Hull led the pack of seven candidates–until the news broke of a domestic scandal with allegations of abuse. In the general election, Obama faced Republican Jack Ryan. With friendly reporters pressing, and with the help of a complaisant judge, the sealed records of Ryan’s contentious divorce were opened. What came out were the unlovely details of a family in disarray, with some torrid allegations by Ryan’s former wife. A scandal buried in the records suddenly became a scandal in season. Ryan withdrew, and the party tried to play catch-up by dialing 911 for Alan Keyes. Keyes was, once again, the superior person in the race, but he was an outsider (not from Illinois), and his eloquence was wasted in a candidacy doomed to fail.
The constant for Obama has been this hardball style: this alliance of lawyers and the media, in which the lawyers brook no restraint and the reporters no longer even see their own biases. The point for the McCain ads is that this is The Democratic Way of Thuggery and Intimidation. The lawyers may come from Columbia, Harvard, and the best schools, and have pretensions to being among the most cultivated geniuses of the country. But if ever there were a time for Straight Talk, this is it. It’s time to call things by their right name: A Thug is a Thug, even with an Ivy League degree.
For my friends doing the ads: The quick reaction on “lipstick” was fine — and fair enough. The liberal media crew are the people who have made their lives in detecting racism and insensitivity behind the most innocent gestures. It’s quite apt to give them a quick, short round of their own technique. But this business of sending in the lawyers–this hits them at their true core. Let’s do it and not let go.
– Hadley Arkes is the Ney Professor of Jurisprudence at Amherst College.