The Wrath of Cons
A proposed super-PAC assault on Obama exposes the right’s rage.
Hilary Rosen’s recent crack about Ann Romney reminded Democrats that it’s nearly always a bad idea to target the candidate’s wife. But authors of the proposed anti-Obama video can’t resist strafing the First Lady. Their frame introducing Wright calls him “the pastor who married Barack Obama to Michelle.” They can’t even restrain their language. After showing Wright’s “God DAMN America” quote—twice—the script retorts that Obama “promised change. But it damn sure wasn’t the change we expected.”
Nor can the authors suppress their urge to refight the last election. Obama has been president for three and a half years. Throughout his term, the economy has sucked. His whole reelection strategy is to ignore that disappointment, rewind history, and rerun the 2008 campaign. This video would help him do that. It dwells less on his presidency than on our folly in electing him. “How did we overlook that?” the script asks, recalling Obama’s ties to Wright. “Should we have known? Should we have known? Perhaps there is no more important question.” And again: “Should we have known when we learned his mentor blamed America for the 9/11 attacks … right after the planes hit?” The draft concludes with white text on a black screen: “Seldom in life do we have a second chance to make the right decision.” The authors seem angry not just at Obama, but at voters. They want to focus attention not on 2011, but on 2001.
They’re angry at McCain, too. They blast him for refusing to use Wright against Obama in 2008. They call McCain “a crusty old politician who often seemed confused.” Freed from his good judgment, they look forward to fulfilling their urges: “Our plan is to do exactly what John McCain would not let us do.”
They won’t get their wish just yet. Some insider, recognizing the insanity of the proposal to Ricketts—and apparently alarmed that it might soon be implemented—leaked it to the Times. Outrage erupted, and Ricketts scrapped it. But this fight isn’t over. The people behind this proposal or named in it include McCain’s media adviser, McCain’s Internet strategist, and Jon Huntsman’s pollster. Such people, and others like them, can make things happen, particularly with the aid of sympathetic freelance financiers. Ricketts is a major conservative donor. His son is a member of the Republican National Committee. As the proposal points out, Ricketts has felt for some time that Republicans should have used Wright more aggressively against Obama in 2008.
For now, the Times leak has put a lid on the right’s rage. But the pot is still boiling. Look out.
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.