How the Dems Can Alienate McCain From the GOP Base in Four Easy Steps

When Sarah Palin accepted the Republican nomination for vice president, one of her first actions was enticing a crowd of hyper-partisan conservatives to give a rousing cheer for ... Hillary Clinton.

On the face of it, this seems absurd. After all, the Right has spent the past two decades accusing Clinton of everything from lesbianism to murder -- why ever would they applaud someone whom they deeply loathe? Had they suddenly become awash with affection for the woman they once dubbed "Hitlery?" Seasoned political observers, however, understood exactly what was going on, as Palin's shameless Clinton fluffing was perhaps the grandest ratfuck campaign yet attempted on a national stage.

For the uninitiated, "ratfucks" are dirty tricks that are not only designed to humiliate and embarrass your opponents, but to create mistrust and turn them against each other. As Rick Perlstein documents in his grand tome Nixonland, right-wing operatives Donald Segretti and Jeb Stuart Magruder used a wide assortment of pranks to sabotage the 1972 Democratic primaries. Notorious examples included slipping bogus flight schedules to Democratic front-runner Ed Muskie's pilot to make him land in the wrong city; letters written to Democrats under a "Citizens for Muskie" letterhead that accused rival candidates of homosexuality and drunken driving; and circulating false stories about Muskie ridiculing Canadians to a right-wing newspaper in New Hampshire.

During this year's Democratic primary, Rush Limbaugh carried on this fine tradition by urging his supporters to register as Democrats and vote for Hillary Clinton to increase the probability that she and rival Barack Obama would engage in destructive inter-party feuds. With Palin's nomination and subsequent praise of Hillary Clinton, the ratfuck achieved national prominence for the first time: The McCain campaign seems to really think that it can pick off former Clinton supporters by appealing to whatever lingering spite they harbor from the primary campaign.

But while conservatives have been the most enthusiastic advocates of ratfuck campaigns over the last 30 years, Democrats should not overlook their potential to help defeat John McCain in November. Lest we forget, many of McCain's supporters ardently hate his guts and are only voting for him out of spite for Barack Obama and his fancy-pants love of vegetables and exercise. And while many conservatives have made pleasing noises about McCain's choice of Palin for vice president, it might only take a few strategically placed references to comprehensive immigration reform to get some of them to stay home on Election Day.

Here, then, is my plan for ratfucking the McCain campaign.

Step 1: Figure out which rats are the cheapest dates.

When you begin your ratfucking operation, you want to start from the path of least resistance. Therefore, it's important to discern which McCain supporters are hard-core devotees and which ones are only voting for him to get Palin as their vice president. George W. Bush was notoriously difficult to ratfuck because all three major factions of the Republican base -- the social conservatives, the neoconservatives and the supply-side conservatives -- backed him to the hilt. In McCain's case, fortunately, the only true hard-core devotees in the conservative movement appear to be the neoconservatives at the Weekly Standard. The reason? Well, McCain seems to like the idea of starting more wars and indefinitely occupying other countries. This is the type of thing that gives neoconservatives thrills up their legs. Indeed, one gets the sense that the neocons wouldn't give a rat's ass if McCain raised the income tax rate to 1 million percent as long as he put all the money into invading more nations. So the neocons are out: No amount of sly seduction or flattery will get you into the sack with them. Luckily, there is much more fertile ground to be harvested with evangelicals and anti-illegal immigration activists.

To state the obvious: Social conservatives and anti-immigration conservatives do not like McCain. They really, really, really, really do not like McCain. Michelle Malkin, for one, thinks that McCain's efforts on comprehensive immigration reform make him a "Hispanderer" whose "heart is with La Raza, the militantly ethnocentric, anti-immigration enforcement Hispanic lobbying group that honored him in 1999 and whose annual conference he keynoted in 2004." Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, meanwhile, has accused McCain of going "out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes" of social conservatives and has said that he wouldn't vote in the 2008 election if McCain were on the ticket. (After McCain tapped Palin for his running mate, of course, Dobson dutifully came back to the fold. Even so, the resentments still likely linger.)

Indeed, some conservatives dislike McCain so much that they have at various points disowned him completely. The National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez ably sums up the Right's anger at McCain by noting "that he's not a conservative, that he's been damaging to conservative causes while in the Senate, and that he would be no friend to conservatives." Yikes! And we're supposed to believe that these same people are now ardent and unflappable supporters simply because he's chosen Palin to succeed him?

Step 2: Come up with a good pick-up line.

Now that we know which rats are the cheap dates, it's time to take them out for a drink. Ideally, you want to find an issue or cause that incites both the values voters and the anti-illegal immigrant voters into an anti-McCain frenzy. Thankfully, such a person exists in the person of famed reggaeton artist Daddy Yankee. You see, when Yankee decided to endorse McCain for president because of his work on immigration reform, it drove many on the Right completely bonkers. Anti-immigration conservatives in particular went berserk when Yankee said that McCain has "been a fighter for the Hispanic community" and thus "the best guy to lead this nation."

An enraged Malkin accused McCain of "goofily, stupidly, standing with Puerto Rican singer Daddy Yankee for the all-important reggaeton vote while teenagers squealed." Further enraging Malkin and friends was the fact that McCain said he was a big fan of Yankee's hit song "Gasolina," which is loaded with sex references and is rumored to be about a woman addicted to semen.

So Daddy Yankee gets us a date with our rats -- now we have to move into hard-core seduction. One strategy would be to funnel cash into a 527 group called Values Voters Against McCain that would release a torrent of ads highlighting all the times McCain has pissed off the GOP's Holy Roller sect. Imagine an ad along these lines:

"For years the Republican Party has promised to take values issues seriously. But in the eight years since we've put them in office, abortion remains legal, pornography pollutes our airwaves, and activist judges keep redefining marriage. And now the Republicans have put up a presidential nominee who ridiculed the Federal Marriage Amendment, who enabled liberal obstruction of conservative judges, and who openly admits that he doesn't care about social issues. This November, send the GOP a message: If they want our votes, they need a nominee who respects our values."

And once this ad takes hold, you can even take a similar tack on Palin, who is being marketed to Christian conservatives as their very own Joan of Juneau. The best way to do this is through attacking the GOP's own mythology of Palin as a tough mother. While it would be wrong to go after Palin's decision to be a working mother (we don't want to promote evil, after all), it's perfectly legitimate to raise questions about her decision to get on an eight-hour plane ride back to Alaska while eight months pregnant with her fifth child after she started leaking amniotic fluid while down in Texas. Though the GOP has tried to spin this behavior as evidence of her "toughness," one could also make the case that it was incredibly reckless and weird. My idea: Gather together a large group of pregnant women to launch a Preggers Against Palin campaign. Their tagline would be simple: "People this reckless with their own kids shouldn't be sending our kids off to reckless wars."

See what I mean? These rats practically fuck themselves!

Step 3: Let's get it on!

Now that we've lured our rats back to our apartment, it's time to get busy. Once our targets are reminded that they positively loathe McCain's stances on social issues and illegal immigration, we can start flat-out lying about him and his record. This can be done by either exaggerating things McCain has said or done in the past or by just making shit up. If you choose the latter tactic, I recommend composing anonymous smear chain e-mails that recount several "facts" that people might not know about McCain.

For instance, did you know that after his keynote speech at La Raza, McCain bowed before a gold statue of the ancient Aztec god Huitzilopochtli and vowed to lead the reconquista to snatch the Southwestern United States away from the American ice devils? Or that the lime green screens that McCain speaks in front of are actually loaded with subliminal messages intended to brainwash Americans into working as slave laborers on Al Gore's arugula farm? And just for the heck of it, did you hear that McCain has an unseemly and un-American attraction to lobsters? It's not that McCain is an out-and-out crustaceaphile, mind you, but the persistent rumors about his occasional dabbling in lobster love have dogged him (or should that be, "clawed" him?) since the start of his political career. Clearly, the McCain campaign should release all of its candidate's credit card statements from his trips to Legal Sea Foods over the years, just to reassure voters that he didn't bring any uncooked lobsters home with him in a doggy bag.

And once this stuff starts spreading throughout Right-Wing Crazy Base Land, McCain's campaign will be well and truly ratfucked. But there's just one more thing we have to remember ...

Step 4: For God's sake, wear a condom!

Ratfucking is an inherently dirty business that forces us to deal with many undesirable characters. That said, there's a big difference between a rat that's carrying syphilis or the clap and a rat that's carrying the goddamn Ebola virus. In order to maintain some sense of decency and humanity, it's probably best to avoid fooling around with the Ebola-carrying rats, no matter how attractive they first look.

One such rat to avoid is "B-1" Bob Dornan, the comically insane ex-Congressman from California who has a long history of racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic statements on his resume and who has had a long-standing feud with John McCain since the early '90s.

In order to sabotage McCain's appeal to conservatives, B-1 Bob has founded a group called Vietnam Veterans Against McCain that is dedicated to showing that John McCain actively collaborated with North Vietnam during his time as a POW during the Vietnam War. Among the exciting revelations that you can find on the group's Web site are that "McCain was subjected to five-and-a-half years of Soviet driven 'brain perversion techniques'"; that McCain has an "ongoing love affair with leaders of communist Vietnam"; and that McCain is not sufficiently patriotic enough because he doesn't want to wage a genocidal war against all Muslims.

To be sure, this crackpot stuff is very enticing for anyone who thrills in the delights of a good ratfuck. Indeed, the fine bloggers at the Poor Man Institute have long advocated funneling cash to B1 Bob and his crazy pals, since "fair play demands that equal time be given to Bob Dornan & Friends saying John McCain is VC android, and people saying he's not an android while Bob Dornan & Friends accuse them of being in on the conspiracy." But step back for a minute and consider what you'd be doing if you gave these guys your support: You'd basically be saying that anyone who talks under torture is a no-good commie traitor who should be tried an executed for treason. You'd also be giving credence to people who think that Bush has been too wimpy in his pursuit of the War on Terror, and that anything less than a full-scale massacre of the Middle East is a cheap cop-out.

While fucking rats is all well and good, there are some rats that should be left well enough alone, my friends. From my perspective, B-1 Bob is a rat too far.

AlterNet is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed by our writers are their own.


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