Apparently Obama mentioned Brown and his efforts by name when he announced that he was renouncing public financing. But what if they gave a smear and nobody showed up? That's the gist of the Times article, which predicts that it is going to be much harder this year for professional sleazeballs to scrape up the money needed to spread the sleaze around.
Says the article:
No major independent effort to help Senator John McCain’s campaign has materialized. Although Republican operatives say something will eventually develop, alarm has spread among many, especially after Mr. Obama’s announcement on Thursday on public financing, raising the prospect that he will wield an enormous financial advantage over Mr. McCain in the fall.
Like the good reporter he is, Luo talked to a number of sleazeballs, but things are not looking good:
Several Republican strategists interviewed voiced skepticism about Mr. Brown’s chances of operating at anything other than the periphery of the general election this year, citing the amount of money needed, the difficulty of spreading a message that incites the grass roots and stricter regulation of independent groups.
“There’s a lot of people who are trying to catch lightning in a bottle, but there’s very few people who have,” said Chris LaCivita, a Republican strategist who helped organize the Swift Boat effort.I could be wrong, but is it possible that at least some of the mudslingers just don't have their hearts in it this year? After all, Democratic candidates like Michael Dukakis, Al Gore and John Kerry made themselves easy targets by their decisive lack of charisma (yes, I am including Al Gore, it doesn't count if you only get your charisma on when it doesn't count anymore.) And Bill Clinton, who did have charisma (note I say did), survived the biggest army of sleazeballs ever assembled (one which would have materialized again had Hillary Clinton won the nomination.) We have seen a number of leading conservatives say positive things about Obama lately, and even Colin Powell was quoted recently saying he wasn't sure who he was going to vote for, McCain or Obama.
At the very least, the mudslingers are going to have to come up with something better than that attack ad suggesting Obama is a Muslim, because the only people who are going to fall for that kind of thing are those who wouldn't be likely to vote for a Democrat anyway. Obama is the kind of candidate who, rightly or wrongly, makes people dream that things could be better--and in their hearts of hearts, a lot of conversatives might be dreamers too.
PSst--Obama is a liberal, pass it on.
PPS--You probably would like some evidence that what I say above is true. Okay: Hillary Clinton ran through the entire rightwing smear playbook during the primaries, and it didn't work.
News Update: My colleague John Bohannon reports today on Science's online news service, ScienceNOW, about a new study concluding that the number of war-related fatalities since 1955 is three times previous estimates. The study is published in the British Medical Journal. John does quote some skeptical comment, however, and as most readers know the casualty rate in Iraq is the subject of long-running controversies. The ScienceNOW link is freely accessible for 30 days before it goes behind the paying wall.
Smear Update (June 25): Joe Conason has a post on Truthdig reporting that the smear brigade is gearing up. We shall see how they fare.