Will “The Vetting” Soon Appear On Your TV Screen?

Remember that special moment late in the 2008 presidential campaign when John McCain started getting confronted by angry “supporters” at his campaign events who were demanding he take off the gloves and talk about Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers and ACORN and all the other sinister associations of that Alinskyite Ay-rab Barack Hussein Obama? I’ve argued that this, more than Rick Santelli’s famous Randian “rant,” represented the real birth of the Tea Party Movement as the latest incarnation of the grassroots conservative movement. Therein was born the conviction, gradually bought into by much of the GOP, that their electoral defeats in 2006 and 2008 were purely and simply the product of wimpy RINOs like McCain who refused to savagely advance their “conservative principles.”

I say all this by way of background to the news that we may soon see Super-PAC ads that re-run the 2008 campaign the way hard-core conservatives think it should have been run. Chicago Cubs owner and billionaire Joe Ricketts, emboldened no doubt by his successful intervention in the Nebraska Senate race, is said to be willing to finance a huge ad campaign revisiting Jeremiah Wright and other nastiness largely left on the cutting room floor by the McCain campaign. Here’s the essential story from the New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg:

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.

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.

“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” says the proposal, which was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade.

The $10 million plan, one of several being studied by Mr. Ricketts, includes preparations for how to respond to the charges of race-baiting it envisions if it highlights Mr. Obama’s former ties to Mr. Wright, who espouses what is known as “black liberation theology.”

The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an “extremely literate conservative African-American” who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”

Wow. It’s hard to know where to begin in evaluating the abnormal psychology of this toxic little initiative. It is rather plainly a practical, heavily financed application of the Breitbartian principle that Obama was not “vetted” properly in 2008. As Ricketts himself is quoted as saying: “If the nation had seen that ad, they’d never have elected Barack Obama.”

It’s especially interesting that the craftsman of the proposed ad, the famous creator of the “Demon Sheep” spot and other mock-ironic creations, Fred Brown, is fresh from the Hindenburg Disaster of the Hunstman campaign, which failed because it vastly underestimated the rightward lurch of the GOP.

But it seems that Brown’s handiwork is just one of several “ideas” competing for Ricketts’ checkbook. For all we know, it’s one of the milder lines of attack on the president. Perhaps there will be other ads delving into the vast ACORN conspiracy to destroy the housing market and the financial industry as an excuse to steal the 2008 election for the looters’ willing handmaiden, the Christ-hating secularist Muslim Hussein Obama! Who knows exactly how crazy Ricketts is? He’s got the money to put his delusions right onto your TV screen, and it’s clear there are plenty of hungry Republican “strategists” willing to help him make them as vivid as a nightmare.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.