It is somewhat amusing to find so many Republicans who are shocked, shocked about the tactics that John McCain and Sarah Palin are using. Race-baiting? Never! Anti-intellectualism? Reagan and Bush I never would have done that! Crazed insane accusations of treason? Who could have predicted it?
I’m not sure whether to condemn them for their ignorance or their dishonesty.
This has been part of the Republican playbook at least since Nixon, elevated to an art form under Reagan, refined under Atwater and perfected under Rove. Quite simply, strategically, there is nothing new here. David Brooks claimed the other day that Sarah Palin’s hatred of ideas is something new. Nonsense. It is right out of George HW Bush criticizing Dukakis for being a Harvard elitist.
The biggest difference is that 1) they have candidates who are not as smooth on the stump (this was George W. Bush’s and Reagan’s forte–they were good at letting others do the dirty work); and 2) the fundamentals are so strongly against them that they need to rely more centrally on it. And I imagine that YouTube also helps reveal it.
But this is part of the standard playbook. The problem is that now it is harder to hide. One might now say, as McCain did the other day, that we know who the culprits are–and they will be revealed.