Our misguided friends on the right do not like New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. It is not difficult to discern why. Here are the last few paragraphs of his column today, entitled “Blizzard of Lies.”
Still, how upset should we be about the McCain campaign’s lies? I mean, politics ain’t beanbag, and all that.
One answer is that the muck being hurled by the McCain campaign is preventing a debate on real issues — on whether the country really wants, for example, to continue the economic policies of the last eight years.
But there’s another answer, which may be even more important: how a politician campaigns tells you a lot about how he or she would govern.
I’m not talking about the theory, often advanced as a defense of horse-race political reporting, that the skills needed to run a winning campaign are the same as those needed to run the country. The contrast between the Bush political team’s ruthless effectiveness and the heckuva job done by the Bush administration is living, breathing, bumbling, and, in the case of the emerging Interior Department scandal, coke-snorting and bed-hopping proof to the contrary.
I’m talking, instead, about the relationship between the character of a campaign and that of the administration that follows. Thus, the deceptive and dishonest 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign provided an all-too-revealing preview of things to come. In fact, my early suspicion that we were being misled about the threat from Iraq came from the way the political tactics being used to sell the war resembled the tactics that had earlier been used to sell the Bush tax cuts.
And now the team that hopes to form the next administration is running a campaign that makes Bush-Cheney 2000 look like something out of a civics class. What does that say about how that team would run the country?
What it says, I’d argue, is that the Obama campaign is wrong to suggest that a McCain-Palin administration would just be a continuation of Bush-Cheney. If the way John McCain and Sarah Palin are campaigning is any indication, it would be much, much worse.
Why are we, well into the final two months of a very important presidential campaign, talking about lipstick on pigs and perceived slights to Sarah Palin’s dignity and femininity? Why are we not talking about our failing economy, our failing education system, people losing their homes to foreclosure (not to mention their jobs, health insurance and retirement savings), the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism? Why are we not talking about issues that really are important and really do matter to the future of the United States (if not the entire planet)?
I think you know why. Johnny McCain and Sarah Palin know that if we start talking the real issues that face our country, they lose. Big time. The Republicans aren’t stupid; they know this. It’s why they run the kinds of campaigns they do. The question becomes: Are we going to fall for it? Again?