Playing the Victim Card


You’ve got to hand it to the GOP. After ridiculing Obama with the label of “celebrity” because of his ability to draw large crowds wherever he goes, they decided that they couldn’t beat him on that score so they joined him, creating their own instant celebrity with the Vice Presidential nominee. The decision had been made, apparently, that this election needs to turn on style, not substance, and even McCain’s top advisor has been quoted as affirming this by saying this election will not be about issues. So, what to make it about? The answer is now apparent: Victims and bullies.

The American public loves underdogs, has great sympathy for victims, and doesn’t ever want to see anyone treated unfairly. Political operatives know this. Ever since the Republican convention, there has been a consistent attempt by the political talking heads from that side of the street to complain, early and often, about how their side is being attacked by the other side: sometimes not even bothering to wait until any such attacks have actually been made. It’s a bully’s tactic: to complain about how much you are being bullied.

Yesterday, echoing remarks made back during the primary when John McCain was talking about Hillary Clinton’s healthcare plan “if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig, ” Obama used the same common image, among others, to talk about how inapplicable is the new GOP mantra of “change” as a label to apply to the consistent support of the McCain camp for Bush policies on war, healthcare, education, energy, taxes and so on.

Ignoring their own candidate’s use of the same words in remarks that specifically had named Hillary Clinton, the McCain surrogates swarmed to the microphones to decry the “attack” that Obama, who mentioned no names, just policies, had made — so they insisted — on their vice-presidential candidate.

This kind of victim talk is the functional equivalent of the schoolyard bully whining that the other kid has hit him in the fist with his face. Meanwhile Governor Palin is scheduled to go back to Alaska, giving her maybe another week of time to not be available for actual interviews or any kind of unscripted interaction with the press. Watch with me and see how long it takes before legitimate reporters wanting to get such unscripted comments on actual issues become dismissed as “paparazzi.”

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