Back in January, when Obama was still campaigning against Hillary Clinton, he made some news by telling a group of Las Vegas area reporters that not only did he watch the Wire, but Omar was his favorite character. For those of you who haven't seen the Wire, I'm not about to ruin anything, but you should still stop reading immediately and go watch season one. As for Obama, he was quick to explain that although Omar was his favorite character, it was "not an endorsement." He talks about it briefly here: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2008/jan/14/obama-gloves-off/. Now, Omar has his faults -- he's a stick-up artist who robs drug dealers. But, as Omar points out, he never points a gun at a citizen. As Omar explains part of the way through season one, "a man has to have a code." And that is key to what makes Omar such a great character -- despite the circumstances this man lives with, he has a code.
I'm pretty sure McCain wouldn't like Omar. And not just because his conservatism may prevent him from emphathizing with the character's hard life. No, what has become obvious in the last couple weeks is that McCain does not live by a code. The man we once thought was a "good soldier" is running a shameful campaign. Paul Krugman explains the McCain lies well in his recent op-ed: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/12/opinion/12krugman.html?_r=1&ref=opinion&oref=slogin. McCain is juking stats worse than the corrupt police chiefs and politicians of the Wire's Baltimore.
Krugman also hits on another danger that I wanted to talk about: what the Bush campaign taught us is that the morality that govern a campaign doesn't end when the campaign ends. The Bush campaign ran on a platform of lies, about taxes, about Bush, and about Kerry's military record. It's a morality that believes the ends justify the means, and that might makes right. Krugman is right that the McCain campaign's lies are currently bigger and the prospects for a more Machiavellian administration are even scarier.
Which brings me to the Obama attack ads, which have ended with something along the lines of "McCain, more of the same." Well, that's not scary enough. Conservatives play the politics of fear, whether it's terrorism or claiming Obama is unknown -- it's all about fear. And Republican ads play on that fear -- Obama wants to teach sex to Kindergartners and Obama is a pack of wolves chasing after Palin! Unfortunately, the ads have been effective -- at least for now, the politics of fear works. And we can't simply say "but the Democrats are too principled for that." The Dems have attack ads too -- they just haven't been that effective. And here's the rub: I think the Obama ads simply aren't scary enough. People can survive "more of the same" even if they want better. But a McCain presidency is shaping up to look even worse -- it's time that message started to come across. NOT more of the same -- but towards something more sinister I haven't been able to readily define just yet.
Krugman arrives at his conclusion while just discussing the McCain campaign's lies -- he leaves out talk of the man himself. This is the guy who once called the Christian right "agents of intolerance" but picked Sarah Palin as his running mate.
Maybe it's time for Obama to embrace Omar more fully and be willing to go on the attack (which is apparently what the campaign may be doing: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/12/us/politics/12obama.html?hp). As Omar says, "it's all in the game."