Friday, June 04, 2004

Class War, Republican Style

It used to be you could count on the Republicans to attack poor people during elections, scaring the middle class by painting pictures of Welfare Queens stealing the money of the middle class via AFDC and welfare money. You could count on that kind of class warfare as regular as clockwork, and you could additionally count on the Democrats to bash the Republicans for wanting to cut the tax rates on the rich. Such tactics swept both Reagan and Bush the Elder into office, and that magic "capital gains" phrase probably shored up a bit of solid support for Bush the Younger. Yeah, the myth was always that the Democratic Party was the party of the lower middle class, and the Republicans were the party of the rich.

Not anymore. Anyone who has watched Republican pundits on television or Republican attack ads on TV knows that the new class warfare is to characterize John Kerry as rich, rich, rich. Terry Neal reports on this in today's Washington Post. I find a few bits interesting.

First, it is amazing how completely open the Republicans are being about it, given that Dick Cheney and the Shrub are both multi-millionaires as well.

"Most Americans can't afford yachts, private planes, thousand dollar haircuts or homes in Nantucket," Republican National Committee spokesman Jim Dyke said in a news release announcing a new video game on the RNC Web site. The game is called Kerryopoly. It's similar to Monopoly, but the properties belong to the Kerry family.
I love their excuses for the tactic a whole bunch. Evidently they see no hypocrisy, or can lie with a straight face. (Perhaps this is a Republican requirement for running for office?)

"We are speaking to the inherent contradiction in the life story of John Kerry," said Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt on Wednesday. "He is someone who purports to campaign as a man of the people, but who resides in a whole series of wealthy million dollar chateaus and mansions. It's just one more contradiction and example of him being out of the mainstream with America."

In other words, Holt explains, Republicans are pointing out the hypocrisy of Democrats who play class warfare, but they're not playing it themselves. The issue, Holt and other Republican officials said, is not so much that Kerry is rich, but that he's a phony.

"John Kerry is dividing Americans on class and income," Holt said. "Republicans don't do that. Republicans, for example, fight for tax relief that is fair for everyone." Kerry, on the other hand, "supports repealing tax cuts for people who make over $200,000."
What kind of crack monkeys are these guys? Are they really saying that since Kerry isn't selfishly acting in his own interest that he can't be trusted? Are they really saying that ideals are only good if they help you line your own pockets?

But I like the Kerry camp response:

Kerry campaign spokesman David Wade responded: "Boneheaded attacks from this bunch are as insulting as they are ironic. It's downright hypocritical coming from the campaign of a president whose connections got him into a 'Champagne Unit' of the National Guard during Vietnam and whose path was paved with privilege from Andover to Arbusto oil to the Texas Rangers. This guy who was born on third base and thought he hit a triple is going to engage in a sad game of class warfare? . . . I don't think a lot of Americans remember Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy because of where they came from, they remember them for what they did to make America stronger. Good luck finding Americans who think that way about George Bush."
I suspect before the end of this election we'll get more disgusting tactics from the Republicans. And some will surely energize their base. I've seen Republicans who actually are swayed by this scurrilous stuff, but I've seen nobody change their minds over it. Indeed, I've seen some swing voters cringe. But expect even dirtier stuff. Kerry in a burnoose will likely show up soon.