Another one bites the dust…

So long, General Clark. I still think you would have done better if you’d showed up to every campaign stop and debate wearing your uniform. After all, this is practically a banana republic at this point anyway. May as well have a general with all his medals flashing in the noonday sun running for President. 

Ok, in all seriousness there’s no surprise in Wesley Clark dropping out of the race for the Democratic nomination after getting trounced in not one but two southern state primaries. If a southern general can’t win in two states that neighbor his home state then he’s through. And by bowing out early Clark has the opportunity to endorse Kerry (which loads of rumors say will happen sometime today or tomorrow) which will put him in a good position to end up the VP on the ticket come November. Clark can beat up the Bush administration on defense and homeland security and Kerry can concentrate on domestic policy issues like the economy, healthcare and privacy.

It also looks promising that Edwards and Dean are going to stick it out much longer than expected. As long as Kerry is still running against other Democrats that’s what will keep him in the news, and that news will crowd out the Bush camp’s attempts to get their campaign stops covered. We saw a bit of that happen already this week. Bush shows up in Missouri to try to convince everyone the economy is fine, etc. It’s beginning to look a little bit like 1992 all over again. A Bush in the White House desperately trying to determine the agenda for the campaign, getting ignored almost wholesale by the media, unless they’re thumping him on something else. Maybe we aren’t doomed after all?

The big trouble is that it looks like the 800 lb. gorilla of this election has landed in the living room. He’s called same-sex marriage. The Mass. Supreme Court declared civil unions unequal to marriage last week and ordered the state to license same sex couples for marriage. Today the city of San Francisco issued a marriage license to a lesbian couple and they were married in a civil ceremony shortly thereafter.

Since John Kerry is a Senator from Massachusetts, where this issue started to get a foothold last week, the GOP strategy will likely be to try to paint Kerry as a liberal who is out of touch with mainstream American values. That this is complete and utter fiction makes no difference. That it is a fiction easily disproved also makes no difference. The Karl Rove school of thought goes something like this – say it repeatedly, and say it loudly. Once you’ve done that, what you’ve said takes on the character of a meme. (NOUN: A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. ) Once the accusation takes on meme status it has a life of it’s own and becomes a verbal virus.

SKiP used to like to demonstrate the power of a meme thusly…

You’re driving along, listening to the radio and on comes Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl.” About a third of the way through the song SKiP says, “you know what this song is about, don’t you?” Curious, you reply, “it’s just a silly love song, isn’t it?” SKiP pauses for effect and says, “not really. This song is about anal sex.” 

Now you know that “Brown-Eyed Girl” couldn’t possibly be about anal sex. But it doesn’t matter. The meme has taken hold. From that point on you will never ever hear “Brown-Eyed Girl” without thinking about butt sex. This is the game of politics as played by the Bush camp. They lie constantly, but they never waver from their lies so that they take on that meme status. Bush keeps saying the economy is improving. The numbers don’t support the kind of recovery he says is happening, but if he keeps saying it enough his hope is that people will buy it anyway. That’ll be the same strategy with trying to label Kerry an out-of-touch liberal. If they say it enough Kerry will be forced to defend against it, and then it becomes a meme. Let’s just call this the “Brown-Eyed Girl Strategy” and see how it plays out.

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