The general election this year is going to be exceedingly strange.
The primary has had its own surprises, but I predict that things are going to get much more shocking.
The reason is that Karl Rove desperately needs to keep himself and his creation, George W. Bush, out of prison. Only the most die-hard true believers still deny that Bush and other members of his administration have broken laws, and probably many of them. There’s only one way to be sure they won’t be held to account, and that’s to install a Republican as the next president.
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Yes, George Bush will probably try to pardon himself and his whole administration on his last day in office, but those pardons could be challenged, because the one exception to the president’s ability to pardon is "in cases of impeachment." Democrats can’t be fully trusted not to challenge any such pardons on that basis.
So how did John McCain come from way behind in the polls and having almost no money to being the almost certain Republican nominee? And why was he so certain, in those dark early days of the campaign, that he would later pull ahead? Could he have made a promise that put the entire Bush family and all its connections, including Machiavellian mastermind Karl Rove, behind his candidacy?
And how did a freshman senator with a very thin record come from far behind in the polls, although fairly well funded from early on, to being the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination? Great campaigning, I know, I know. But we also know there’s been Republican crossover to vote for Barack Obama in some of the Democratic primaries that gave him much of his forward momentum. Are those voters who can be counted on in the general election? If not, why did they cross over? Were they recruited by Rove and his helpers to make sure Obama is the Democratic nominee because Rove thinks he’s the weaker candidate?
The right wing has leveled every vicious charge possible against the Clintons, including drug smuggling, rape, and murder, but Obama supporters seem to think that those same shameless liars cannot attack their candidate, or will not be successful in hurting him with their slings and arrows. Yet Obama has given them ammunition with some very questionable associations, as listed recently by Gene Lyons, author of Fools for Scandal and co-author of The Hunting of the President.
I personally believe that Hillary Clinton would be less vulnerable to the smear attacks, having been through so much already. If anyone tried to bring up Whitewater, for example, people would either yawn or run screaming from the room, to escape hearing any more about it. Obama, on the other hand, is fresh meat for the hatemongers, and they’ve already started to have a good time with him, with false allegations of lack of patriotism and false claims that he is a Muslim rather than a Christian. The fact that he’s a Chicago politician is already being brought up, and right wingers will push the notion that in Chicago, elections are always stolen. It’s a charge that stung Bill Daley into backing down from a tougher fight in the aftermath of the 2000 election, rendering him a less effective member of the Gore team than he might have been.
But attacks on the Democratic candidate aren’t the only thing to worry about between now and November. The entire treasury, the whole governmental apparatus, Republicans in Congress, much of the federal judiciary and the Supreme Court, and the right-wing media with their willing collaborators in the so-called main stream, will be put to work to aid the Republican candidate. Already, the Secretary of Defense has announced troop withdrawals from Iraq and congressional Republicans are trying to revive the Iraq Study Group. Expect much more to come.
Democrats had better be ready.