For anyone familiar with the Atwater/Rove school of campaigning, all of the fuss over Barack Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” remark comes as no surprise. In what was a clear reference to McCain, Obama’s comment was a harmless phrase meant to point out that no matter how much McCain dresses up his policy proposals as “change” they are in fact, just more of the same tired Republican talking points. The McCain camp immediately seized upon the remark accusing Obama of making a sexist slur against Palin based on the slim, overreaching connection to a Palin comment, “‘What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.” Palin’s reference to lipstick may have indeed put the bug in Obama’s mind to use the “lipstick on a pig” remark but only those with little regard for the truth would suggest that Obama’s target was Palin rather than McCain and the Republicans in general.
This scenario of Republicans diverting attention away from actual issues and on to meaningless “scandals” has repeated itself so many times, for so many years, that the only thing surprising is that anyone still falls for it. For decades the Republicans have had nothing of value to offer working Americans, supply side economics-cutting taxes for the rich, deregulation and free trade-have failed to keep the promise of prosperity, for those other than the wealthy that is. So, when truth is not on your side, that leaves you with, well, everything else. Palin loves to call herself a reformer even if she has to lie to sell it. The “bridge to nowhere” boondoggle she likes to tell everyone she opposed, “thanks, but no thanks,” when in fact she was strongly in favor of it until it was clear it wasn’t going to happen. Nor did Palin have any problem spending the money that was “earmarked” for the bridge. When Palin says she’ll help reform Washington and bring and end to earmarks, apparently she just meant for everyone else.
Little wonder then why McCain picked Palin for his running mate, being no stranger to hypocrisy himself. There’s the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy that McCain called “irresponsible,” only now he’s in favor of them. McCain once described the religious right as “agents of intolerance” but that didn’t stop him from seeking out the endorsement of one of their standard bearers, Pastor John Hagee, a man that is the very embodiment of intolerance. There is virtually nothing in McCain’s message that represents the kind of change that middle and lower class Americans are desperate for but that doesn’t stop him from endlessly using that word in his campaign speeches. Again, when the truth doesn’t sell, then sell the lie. When attention towards your policies reveals only that you have nothing to offer, redirect the focus to cheap and tawdry scandals that, true or false, have no bearing on the lives of the electorate. The Iraq war, the tanking economy, sky high prices for food, fuel and healthcare, these are some of the real issues on the minds of Americans but far from having any answers for these problems, Republicans are mostly responsible for them, so therefore it is imperative that they divert the national discussion to meaningless clichés, tie pins, bowling scores and false accusations over patriotism and religious affiliation. That is the real pig here, the pig in a poke that is the McCain platform for change.