Monday, September 21, 2015

Pig Tales

I don't really want to comment specifically on the allegations made by Lord Ashcroft that have been splurged with so much truffle-snuffling glee all over the place directly from the front page of today's Daily Mail. (Whenever I type the words Daily Mail, please imagine that I'm making a dismissive spitting sound directly afterwards...)

But I do want to point out that, if you've ever read Hunter S. Thompson's Fear & Loathing: On The Campaign Trail ’72, this isn't anything remotely new.
…(I)n both the Ohio and Nebraska primaries, back to back, McGovern was confronted for the first time with the politics of the rabbit-punch and the groin shot, and in both states he found himself dangerously vulnerable to this kind of thing.  Dirty politics confused him.  He was not ready for it….

This is one of the oldest and most effective tricks in politics.  Every hack in the business has used it in times of trouble, and it has even been elevated to the level of political mythology in a story about one of Lyndon Johnson’s early campaigns in Texas.  The race was close and Johnson was getting worried.  Finally he told his campaign manager to start a massive rumor campaign about his opponent’s life-long habit of enjoying carnal knowledge of his own barnyard sows.

“Christ, we can’t get a way calling him a pig-fucker,” the campaign manager protested.  “Nobody’s going to believe a thing like that.”

“I know,” Johnson replied.  “But let’s make the sonofabitch deny it.”

The tl;dr version for the benefit of David Cameron et al: Buy the ticket, take the ride...