Karl Rove by way of SNL

There’s an interesting theme running through the McCain campaign in recent days that seems to take the “Big Lie” strategy a bridge too far in terms of believability. It basically consists of taking thing that people might say about John McCain’s campaign and pre-empting it by hurling the accusation at Barack Obama.

It seems to have started when people noticed that John McCain was getting a little testy and, dare we say, grumpy on the campaign trail. It certainly threatened to become a “grumpy old man” narrative, and obviously the McCain campaign didn’t want that. So the solution? Have McCain call Obama “touchy and angry” in a set speech. And we saw it again last night when McCain asserted that figuring out Obama’s tax policy was like “nailing down jello.”

Let’s be clear here; Barack Obama wants to do basically 3 things; repeal the Bush tax cuts on earners making over more than $250k a year, cut taxes on the marginal income brackets below that in such a fashion that the largest cuts are at the bottom, and raise capital gains taxes back to where they were in the mid 1990’s. You can obviously disagree with these things for whatever reason you like (there’s plenty more I’d like to see done to be sure), but you just can’t say Obama has been inconsistent in his proposals. You can, however, say it about McCain, who’s healthcare “plan” has changed dramatically in just the last week.  You’ll remember it started by eliminating the tax exemption (in payroll taxes) for employer provided healthcare benefits. When, I assume, business complained about this (they share a burden in payroll taxes) it changed such that benefits were still exempt from the payroll tax, but were counted as income and covered by personal income taxes. In other words, the fiscal mechanism for the policy has totally changed in the past week, in important substantive ways.

But the latest I’ve seen may well be the best. In case you missed it, Cindy McCain actually said that Barack Obama is waging “the dirtiest campaign in American history.” Now, putting aside the McCain campaign altogether, the response to that is still pretty obvious; really? I mean, it was this decade after all that a certain campaign was waged, against John McCain no less, in which affiliated parties to a certain candidate tried to play to white supremacist sentiment by engaging in a push poll that implied that the daughter Cindy McCain adopted and saved from abject poverty and near certain death was really John McCain’s illegitimate baby. Does Cindy McCain really think Barack Obama is running a nastier campaign than that?

The strategy is basically a corrollary to the idea of telling a big lie. Basically, you say something that seems so patently untrue that people hearing it go away believing that you couldn’t actually say it if it weren’t, in fact, true. But here it seems that there’s just a bit too much to work.

But it is amusing.