Andy Stone: A Stone’s Throw | AspenTimes.com
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Andy Stone: A Stone’s Throw

Andy Stone
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

“The Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites. … And they beat down the cities, and on every good piece of land cast every man his stone, and filled it; and they stopped all the wells of water, and felled all the good trees.”

That’s from the King James Bible (Second Kings 3), and it describes the nasty hurt the Israelites put on the Kingdom of Moab. They destroyed the cities, filled the fields with rocks, trashed the wells, cut down all the trees. They played rough back then.

And, by the way, that’s how the town of Moab, Utah, got its name ” ’cause it sure looks like that’s what happened to that patch of the earth.

But what that little passage from the Good Book really makes me think of is John McCain’s presidential campaign.

It’s not that McCain’s campaign is a barren rock-strewn field. Although, come to think of it, that’s not a bad comparison. No, it’s that McCain ” and, if not McCain himself, then the entire Republican political machine ” seems to have decided that he has lost. Game over. So now, with victory out of reach, they’re trying to do some heavy smiting and turn the U.S.A. (politically, at least) into “Moab II: Don’t Drink the Water.” (The well is poisoned. Here, try some of this Kool-Aid.)

Exhibit A: The continuing flood of savagely negative ads attacking Obama, even as polls show that those ads are hurting McCain more than helping him.

With the economy in crisis, people want the candidates to focus on the country’s problems. They do not want a flood of name-calling and nasty innuendo about Obama’s association with someone who behaved like an evil jerk 40 years ago.

Yes, perhaps Obama could have done a better job of explaining exactly what his relationship was with Bill Ayres. But, let’s be honest, truth and clarity have never slowed down this kind of smear campaign in the past.

More importantly, running ads and making speeches that wind up with crowds calling the next president of the United States a terrorist is evil all on its own.

And, most important of all, it’s bad politics ” if you’re trying to win an election.

The only people who are cheering for that nastiness are people who were going to vote for McCain (or, more to the point, vote against Obama) anyway.

The coveted undecided, independent voters have made it clear that they hate that line of attack.

And yet, even as McCain’s standing in the polls plunges, even as he makes a few weak efforts to tone down the savage rhetoric, those ads keep running.

And, on the sidelines, right-wing cheerleaders ” pundits and gurus from intellectual to Neanderthal ” keep demanding even more of the same.

“Hit him again! Hit him again! Harder! Harder!” they scream, leaping into the air, pom-poms flailing.

Now, perhaps some of them really do believe that’s the road to victory. Just keep hammering way until election day and those damn stubborn voters will finally succumb.

That seems less like sophisticated political campaigning and more like the tactics of the high-school nerd begging for a date. (“If I just keep calling her and following her in the hall and putting notes in her locker, I’m sure she’ll go to the prom with me.”)

I can tell you from personal experience, that doesn’t work. Never worked for me, anyway.

Still, the Republicans have had success in the past with a combination of sheer persistence and high volume, so maybe they can’t help thinking they can turn this one around too. And, let’s be clear, that kind of turn-around is far from impossible.

But given the situation and given the odds, it’s hard not to think that the attacks are not really intended to affect the election. Instead, they are meant to lay the groundwork for four (or, if necessary, eight) years of continuing assaults on Obama.

He’s a terrorist! He’s a communist!

If they can’t win the election, they can at least try to make it impossible for the other guy to govern.

Remember the unrelenting assault on President Bill Clinton, almost from the day he took office.

The Monica Mess is seared into everyone’s memory. But it only emerged after six or seven years of Republicans throwing everything they could think of at the president ” until something finally stuck.

Those Republicans may not believe in evolution, but they showed their own monkey ancestry when they resorted to feces-flinging as political strategy.

So how can anyone doubt that they will do everything within their power to make it impossible for Obama to run the country?

As if wrecking the economy, undermining our freedom and destroying our international reputation weren’t enough.

Frankly, you have to wonder why anybody would even want to be president at this point. It’s a little like accepting a promotion to captain of the Titanic about half an hour after it hit the iceberg. “Congratulations! Here’s your captain’s hat. Pretty gold braid, isn’t it? And don’t forget about the ‘going down with the ship’ thing. Very important.”

Meanwhile, as McCain is looking for the exit, Sarah Palin seems to be obviously and transparently looking ahead to 2012.

Four years of cramming might get her up to speed ” and four years of trashing Obama might bring him down to her level.

Sounds like we’re looking at a swell four years to come: dead broke, awash in bitterness and ugly character assassination, with an angry lynch mob lying in the bushes, waiting, just waiting, torches and ropes at the ready.

Maybe soon we really will have to start watching out for “domestic terrorists.” You know, the really dangerous ones. Not the incompetent left-wing loonies like Bill Ayres. The well-trained, ex-Army right-wing terrorists. Like, you know, Timothy McVeigh (a registered Republican, by the way).

Now there was a “domestic terrorist.”


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