The right isn't going away after Tuesday. They're going to work to rebuild their movement and to tear down Barack Obama. A lot of people think that Obama's ad last night was overkill -- after all, he's far enough ahead in the polls that he can just run out the clock and do fine. But a big part of Obama's continued campaigning isn't about November 4, but November 5 and beyond.
The good news is that the most recent example we have of the right's attempts to discredit a president didn't work at all. Bill Clinton was supposedly everything from a serial killer to a cocaine smuggler. In the end, the right managed only to inoculate the public against BS and instill skepticism in the electorate. When Clinton was finally impeached for a crime with all the seriousness of an unpaid traffic ticket, his approval rating actually increased. Most disapproved of the impeachment effort.
So that's the good news; Republicans suck at this stuff. The bad news is that it's 100% guaranteed that they'll make the effort anyway. William Ayers isn't going away either. Nor is Rev. Wright. The Republican party will go into full damage control mode -- which usually means that, rather than build themselves up again, they'll try to damage Obama to an equal extent and level the playing field that way.
Will John McCain go away? Probably. Losing candidates tend not to stick around in the limelight. Maybe he'll retire or maybe he'll be like John Kerry -- he'll go back to work and leave all the headlines behind. Either way, we're probably done with John McCain.
But not Sarah Palin. She'll get a PR rep and a makeover. She's ambitious and she's had a taste of the big time. She's not going anywhere. And the base -- both leaders and the flock -- don't want her to.
New York Times:
“She’s dynamite,” said Morton C. Blackwell, who was President Ronald Reagan’s liaison to the conservative movement. Mr. Blackwell described vying to get close to Ms. Palin at a fund-raiser in Virginia, lamenting that he could get only within four feet.
“I made a major effort to position myself at this reception,” he said, adding that he is eager to sit down with her after the election to discuss the future. Asked if the weeks of unflattering revelations and damaging interviews had tarnished her among conservatives, he replied, “Not a bit.”
Brent Bozell, a so-called "conservative media critic," says it's a "top order of business" to figure out how to use Palin to rebuild. "Conservatives have been looking for leadership, and she has proven that she can electrify the grass roots like few people have in the last 20 years," he told the NYT. "No matter what she decides to do, there will be a small mother lode of financial support behind her." As I said, Bozell bills himself as a media watchdog, but he's actually a one man PR firm and attacks the media for not buying into Republican spin. If he has his eyes on Palin, it means he has a post-election BS campaign in mind. That's what he does for a living.
And those "grassroots" who wil be "electrified?" Here's what they look like:
After [a Florida McCain] rally, we witnessed a near-street riot involving the exiting McCain crowd and two Cuban-American Obama supporters. Tony Garcia, 63, and Raul Sorando, 31, were suddenly surrounded by an angry mob. There is a moment in a crowd when something goes from mere yelling to a feeling of danger, and that's what we witnessed. As photographers and police raced to the scene, the crowd elevated from stable to fast-moving scrum, and the two men were surrounded on all sides as we raced to the circle.
The event maybe lasted a minute, two at the most, before police competently managed to hustle the two away from the scene and out of the danger zone. Only FiveThirtyEight tracked the two men down for comment, a quarter mile down the street.
"People were screaming 'Terrorist!' 'Communist!' 'Socialist!'" Sorando said when we caught up with him. "I had a guy tell me he was gonna kill me."
Asked what had precipitated the event, "We were just chanting 'Obama!' and holding our signs. That was it. And the crowd suddenly got crazy."
A man Garcia described as "a big stocky man wearing a tweed jacket" threatened him, telling him "I'm gonna beat you up the next time I see you." For daring to support Obama. These people don't oppose, these people hate. They seem incapable of anything other than extremism -- blind support for their candidate of choice, mindless anger toward those who support anyone else. Attacking Garcia and Sorando wouldn't have accomplished anything, it wouldn't have made McCain any more likely to win Florida -- in fact, it probably would've made it less likely. But it would've felt good to these nuts who are motivated solely by passion. The right -- who are constantly complaining about "feel good" politics -- are all about doing what feels good. If what feels good works, all the better. But if what works doesn't feel good, they ain't gonna do it. And, if what feels good doesn't work, they'll try to convince you that it does.
But when did McCain rallies turn this ugly? After McCain chose Sarah Palin, of course. Anti-evolution, anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-sex ed, Sarah Palin is their kind of folks. People who define themselves by what they oppose like the governor who does the same. Racist, ignorant, and pigheaded, they'll follow anyone who says the magic words earnestly enough. If she's an intellectual piece of fluff, so what? So are they.
But if these people think they can bully the rest of us into believing what they do -- and they do, that's what right wing media is all about -- then they've got another thing coming. Tony Garcia has a message for the big moron who threatened him at the rally.
"You tell that guy he can find Tony Garcia down at the West Dade library every day from 7 to 7 helping people early vote. I'll be there from 1 to 5 on Saturday and Sunday," he told FiveThirtyEight.com. "You tell him if he wants to kick my ass that's where he can find me. Come beat me up."
The bad news is that the right is ready to pull the sore loser gambit and try to destroy the next president. The good news is that they're cowards and we're ready for them. You want to try to kick our asses?
Here we are, punks.