We're slipping into this year's general-election campaign in much the same way that a person might find himself slipping toward the fragrant edge of a sewage-treatment settling tank. It's obviously a bad idea, but there doesn't seem to be any way to stop.
Once again, we 'Murkans will show off our unmatched ability to simulate heated quarrels over nothing and less-than-nothing, while ignoring, in fully heroic and bipartisan fashion, the several huge and garishly-colored elephants that occupy most of our parlor. Today's trailer:
In a preview of the political onslaught Michelle Obama may face in the fall, the Tennessee Republican Party unveiled a Web video Thursday highlighting her comment that she was proud of America "for the first time in my adult life."And there, in just a few short paragraphs, are enough different ways in which to become discouraged and depressed that I find myself paralyzed by too much choice. You have your Tennessee 'Pubbies doing their brownshirt act, and that's no good; and then you have your St. and Mrs. Obama, effectively endorsing red-state fascism by defending themselves as they do: we're just as hyperpatriotic as you, and it's so unfair of you to suggest otherwise! And then there's the fully-obligatory homage to The Precioussss:
The four-minute video coincides with a visit to the state by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's wife for a Democratic Party event Thursday evening.
It features several Tennesseans saying why they are proud of America while repeatedly cutting to Michelle Obama's comments.
"The Tennessee Republican Party has always been proud of America. To further honor the occasion of Mrs. Obama's visit, the Tennessee Republican Party has requested the playing of patriotic music by radio stations across the state," said a statement on the party's Web site that accompanied the video.
"While Mrs. Obama has trouble being proud of the country where she earned degrees from Princeton University and Harvard Law School and then became a multimillionaire, her husband makes statements that belittle average Americans' response to the difficulties of life."
The Obama campaign called the attack "shameful."
"This is a shameful attempt to attack a woman who has repeatedly said she wouldn't be here without the opportunities and blessings of this nation," Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan said. "The Republican Party's pathetic attempts to use the same smear tactics to win elections have failed in Mississippi, failed in Louisiana and will fail in November because the American people are looking for a positive vision of real change.
"And if the Tennessee Republican Party has a problem with Senator Obama, maybe next time they'll have the courage to address him directly instead of attacking his family."
Michelle Obama's comments came at a campaign event in February, where she told a crowd, "For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country, because it feels like hope is making a comeback. Not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change."
The comments immediately drew fire from many conservatives, and she later clarified her statement.
"What I was clearly talking about is that I am proud in how Americans are engaging in the political process," she said. "I mean, everyone has said what I said, in that we haven't seen these record numbers of turnouts, people who are paying attention, going to rallies, watching debates."
The Tennessee Republican Party took heat in early February when it used Obama's middle name, Hussein, in a news release that questioned the Illinois senator's support of Israel.Yes, but wasn't St. Obama running for President of the United States, not Prime Minister of Israel?
Finally, a redemptive touch of slapstick:
That statement also included a photograph of Obama from a 2006 trip to Kenya, in which he is dressed in traditional attire.I wish I could have seen Mr. Duncan firsthand as he said that, just to assess the difficulty with which he must have stifled his giggles. If he even bothered to do so, that is.
Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan later said of that news release, "The RNC rejects these kinds of campaign tactics."