Saturday, September 13, 2008

McCain Has No Need to Apologize

An emerging meme taking hold on the left is that the netroots has been had.

The strong version is that the McCain camp has "taken over" the liberal presence online, and that McCain's "manipulated" the press. An extension of this "we won't be fooled" discourse is that
McCain's tactics are all lies, "Rovian" in nature. There's even a self-incriminating whininess to it, for example, in Kyle Moore's response to having the wool pulled over his eyes:

If the concept of the liberal blogosphere is to push back against the Mainstream Media, and much like conservative talk radio, force narratives into the main; we as a whole have embarked upon perhaps the biggest epic fail of the election season.

Instead, we have been little more than spectators with soapboxes, and from these soapboxes we have done little to elect the right candidate to the Oval Office. Compare this to the conservative side of the blogosphere which engaged in a non stop full frontal assault from day one. They didn’t even like McCain (and to a degree still don’t), and that didn’t stop them from doing their part; if they didn’t have anything nice to say about McCain, at least they could heap big old buckets of mud onto Obama.

By contrast, we rise and fall with whatever narrative we are being asked to eat, and we do this with unGodly high standards. For instance, I thought the Democratic Convention was executed to near perfection, but it took much of the blogosphere until Wednesday, and some even Thursday to catch up. Likewise, the past two weeks that have been largely beneficial for McCain seems to have sucked the life out of the netroots.
See, it's McCain who's "sucking the life out of the netroots," of course, like a "Rovian" vampire.

Chris Bowers, taking a timeout from the Rovian blame game,
expresses his frustration and ignorance at McCain/Palin's success:

I feel very frustrated right now because I have a difficult time pinning down the cause of McCain's continued polling increase. Obama peaked toward the end of June, and apart from the Democratic convention, has been on a slow, downward trend ever since. I want to know why this is the case, because I want to understand how this trend can be reversed. It is only from that point that I believe I can develop better ideas on what I can do personally to help positively influence the result.
Bowers proposes that McCain's attacks are more effective (is Obama even attacking?), the impact of Sarah Palin, or even racism as explanations for Obama's collapsing polling lead. He then adds:

The truth is, it is probably a combination of several factors. The frustrating aspect is that we don't know which ones are the more important factors, and we don't know what message or strategy will turn the campaign around. This is highly aggravating, and tensions over this are boiling over online.
Talk Left even has an essay titled, "How the Media and the Left Blogs are Allowing McCain to Escape the Bush's Third Term Label."

I'm betting psychologists would call all of this psychological displacement: "One way to avoid the risk associated with feeling unpleasant emotions is to displace them, or put them somewhere other than where they belong."

The real problem, frankly, is the left itself.

Noemie Emery, in response to Joe Klein's demand for an apology from John McCain, explains the hypocrisy in all the McCain attacks, and why the Arizona Senator has no reason to apologize:

First is the fact that given the built-in media bias, complaints by the press about "mean" campaigning are a reliable sign to Republicans that their tactics are working. Democratic slurs of conservatives as liars, bigots, and warmongers, cruelly indifferent to the needs of the poor, are described as "spirited," "red-blooded," and proof that the speakers are tough enough to be leading the country. Republican attacks on liberals as arrogant, out-of-it, and too weak to be leading the country are--well, you know, mean. Not to mention that most of these "savage" attacks consist of drawing attention to things said and done by the Democrats that the media would rather ignore: Michael Dukakis defending an insane furlough program for prisoners, John Kerry testifying to Congress that his own former shipmates were criminals, Dukakis looking goofy in a tank, that he climbed into of his own free volition, Kerry saying of himself that he had voted for Iraq war funding before voting against it, Obama condescending to Pennsylvania voters who supposedly cling to guns and God out of bitterness, Kerry windsurfing in shorts . . .. Embarrassing a Democrat with his own words and actions is just--sleazy. How low can you go?

Second is the fact that the press loved "the old McCain" of 2000 for only two reasons: He ran against George W. Bush, and he lost. The best Republican of all is one who nobly loses, which is what McCain looked like doing until he picked Sarah Palin, at which point most of the media exploded in fury. How dare he pick someone who might help him win? How dare he excite the public, when he was supposed to be boring? How dare he raise up a rival to The One? Face it: The reason they loved McCain in 2000 was that his zingers were aimed at Republicans and social conservatives who were not then his constituents. But had he made it into the general, and been aiming his fire at Al Gore and at the pro-choice extremists, the press's ardor for him would have died eight years earlier, and they would have denounced him as . . . mean. McCain hasn't changed: He was always a maverick, but a center-right maverick, a Republican maverick, an American exceptionalist, a security hawk, and a social traditionalist. Against George W. Bush and others, his digressions from dogma stood out more in contrast, but against a Democrat such as Barack Obama, he stands out as the center-right hawk that he is. The press wanted him to fight against other Republicans and to lose, or, barring that, to lose to a Democrat. He isn't complying. That's their problem, not his.

Third, McCain owes the press nothing, as its treatment of him has verged on sadistic or worse. In late July in the first flush of Obama's Grand Tour of the Near East and Europe, (when it still looked like a master stroke, instead of a misstep), McCain's old admirers in the media depicted him as a loser, so old, so befuddled, so hapless and helpless, compared to the luck, poise, and grace of The Star. "You could see McCain's frustration building as Barack Obama traipsed elegantly through the Middle East while the pillars of McCain's bellicose regional policy crumbled in his wake," Klein wrote on July 23. McCain "has appeared brittle and inflexible, slow to adapt to changes . . . slow to grasp the full implications not only of the improving situation in Iraq but also of the worsening situation in Afghanistan and especially Pakistan. . . . McCain seems panicked, and in deep trouble now."

Howard Fineman in Newsweek sounded an even more ominous note. "You can't make up how bad things are going for McCain," he intoned on July 22. "As Barack Obama embarks on his global coronation tour, it's hard to imagine things looking bleaker for his Republican rival...
There's more at the link, here.

You can't make up how bad things are going for Obama and netroots, but McCain's has no need to apologize.