Last night we saw the President of the United States give a coherent, intelligent, thoughtful, intellectually sound speech.
And what did we get from the GOP? Signs waved, shouts of 'Lies' and later spinning that sinks so low it's hard to know where they'll hit the bottom, if ever.
It may be that they're scared or they've simply lost the plot - or it may be that this is a deliberate attempt to change the nature of the game. Follow the flip for thoughts on why.
There is no doubt that the White House lost the media battle for August. As someone put it somewhere (I read too many blogs and can't remember where), even an amateur blogger could have wargamed this and seen where it was going back in July when the first teabaggers were becoming Town Hall screamers.
The President's speech was magnificent, but it was aimed at heads and hearts rather than the gut/spleen which is where the GOP aims and where it most frequently hits target.
We expect that on Fox news, on hate radio, on CNN and the other so-called 'news' channels who have become an increasing mouthpiece for the GOP, even while they make out they're running scared from accusations of belonging to a 'liberal media elite'.
We don't expect it in the House, where supposedly intelligent men and women listen with respect to each others' point of view. Admittedly, that's been a fantasy for a while, but there has always been a vestige of respect for the positions of high office - if not for the office bearers themselves, then at least for the office. If you insult the President as he's speaking (and in the UK, to call someone a liar in the House of Commons is considered such a massive insult as to be reason enough to be summarily ejected), then you insult the Office of the Presidency, as much as the man who currently holds it.
This may be an oversight, but I am inclined to think it's part of a strategic plan - the GOP, after all, are entirely capable of war-gaming this and they know where they want to go.
so - the steps are this:
- rouse the racist base against a less-than-perfectly-white President (forget that he's mixed race, his white mother doesn't count, his upbringing doesn't count, nothing counts but his colour - and his supposed marxist, atheist, muslim facism)
- begin routinely to undermine any sense of respect for the Office of POTUS. There was a time when this was held in high esteem, but then there was a time, too, when journalists and newsreaders were held in high esteem - when they were respectful and respected. This is being steadily undermined and last night we saw one of the last barriers broken.
- when the Office is no longer respected, then the position becomes one of game show host rather than leader of the free world - it is tacitly acknowledged, if not in public, that the men (rarely women) who hold the strings of power are not those holding the office.
- at this point, the likes of Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin become electable - it is no longer impossible to imagine them in a post that requires dignity and gravitas, that prefers a thinker to a media gloss - because that is no longer the case.
- roll on Armageddon
(I've missed a phase or two here - they need to take over the military and completely undermine the police, but that can be done once nobody takes the political classes seriously any more)
Seems like an obvious tactic to me. The only question is, if we were to wargame it, what would we do?