Since then, attack-ad sleaze has been very much a bipartisan affair. But the GOP has been by far the worse offender. Swiftboat Veterans for Truth were the big villains in the last presidential election on behalf of President Bush, smearing John Kerry with an unsubstantiated accusation of cowardice. And who can forget Willie Horton, presented by Bush I, to remind us that in a Michael Dukakis presidency, evil black ex-cons would rape and kill your daughter?
Asked upon his election to defend the ad, then president Bush said, "To be a great president, first you have to be president." In other words, the ends justify the means. Let's see...whose political philosophy is that? Oh, yeah. I remember now.
So now come the midterm elections with a distasterous war, indictments, corruption convictions and other scandal theatening to undo the Republicans' so-called "permanent majority" in Congress. The GOP is up against the ropes. What to do? Ah. Scare the living crap out of the American people.
It's a simple montage of Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, next to excerpts of their threats to destroy America. One threat after another. With, as background sound....duh...
...a ticking time bomb.
Then, finally, just as you've finished soiling your drawers, the payoff: "These are the stakes. Vote November 7."
Got it? A vote for a Democrat is a vote for your own personal beheading.
Put aside for a moment that everyone, including the president, has said that more terrorism within our borders is inevitable -- no matter who is in charge. Never mind that the administration's own negligence was at least partly responsible for 9/11. Never mind that the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld catastrophe in Iraq has fueled the outrage of Muslims worldwide. Never mind that the GOP solution to protecting our borders is to systematically neutralize the Bill of Rights.
Never mind any of those perfectly legitimate issues. The question is: Is it morally defensible to cling to power by trafficking in fear?
The answer is no. It is morally reprehensible. It is Mugabe's technique. It is Ahmadinejad's technique. It is Kim Jong-Il's technique. It is Putin's technique. It was Milosevic's technique. It was McCarthy's technique. It was fascism's technique.
These are the stakes. Vote November 7.