We saw in the Republican primary that it was Super PACs that not only kept some candidates in the race beyond their hopes of actually accruing delegates (ie, Gingrich), but that it was through them that the really nasty campaign allegations got an airing.
But this morning Chipsticks picked up a story from the New York Times that is perhaps a harbinger of things to come.
A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the super PAC era and attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away from.Its likely that now that this plan has been exposed, it will not be implemented. But it still tells us two very important things.
Timed to upend the Democratic National Convention in September, the plan would “do exactly what John McCain would not let us do,” the strategists wrote.
The plan, which is awaiting approval, calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign.
First of all, even Republicans acknowledge that something like this is likely to blow up in their faces.
Should the plan proceed, it would run counter to the strategy being employed by Mitt Romney’s team, which has so far avoided such attacks. The Romney campaign has sought to focus attention on the economy, and has concluded that personal attacks on Mr. Obama, who is still well liked personally by most independent voters surveyed for polls, could backfire.Secondly, I've been saying for a long time now, that we need to be prepared for these kinds of stepped-up racist dog whistles to become a part of this campaign. Here's how Adam Sewer put it over a year ago:
The Republican Party had a choice after 2008. They could continue to rely on a dwindling but still decisive share of the white vote to prevail, or they could try to bring more minorities into the party. While I'm not entirely sure how much of the decision was made by party leaders and how much is merely the unprecedented influence of Fox News, but whether it's pseudo scandals of the past two years, from birtherism to the NBPP [National Black Panther Party] case, the GOP's nationwide rush to ban sharia and institute draconian immigration laws, or characterizing nearly every administration policy as reparations, the conservative fixations of Obama's first term indicate that the GOP will end up relying at least in part on inflaming white racial resentment to close the gap.Of course this kind of thing won't come directly from the Romney campaign. They'll have to keep enough distance from it to claim some kind of "plausible deniability" about their involvement.
But given the fact that Republicans have basically given up winning over the support of black and brown Americans, their only hope is to keep President Obama from winning at least 40% of the white vote. I don't see a way to do that other than sound the dog whistles.
Its the Super PACs like the one described in the NYT article that will be given this task. And it will likely backfire. So I'm looking forward to the day the Republicans rue the day they started this whole mess.