Thursday, September 25, 2008

Operation Country First: The Campaign Theme

by J.B. White
Rattler Gator Blog

Through corresponding with friends, it's clear the McCain campaign has hit upon a winner with its theme of Country First. It raises so many compare and contrast questions with his opponent, Barack Obama (e.g., citizen of the world?), that it works on multiple levels for many different individuals. Briefly, it invokes a winning presidential campaign by a Republican Senator (Warren G. Harding) who garnered 404 electoral votes, and it (via a below-the-radar benefit) importantly aligns itself with the traditional patriotism of country music. As a neoconservative, it also directs some fire at me with its theme serving as cautionary reminder of the need for American restraint in advancing the cause of freedom and democracy. Message received (with some caveats, of course). There are many more but I will necessarily limit my focus.

Country First

For my purposes, therefore, Country First as a political theme is first aimed at the base of the Republican Party. McCain's theme reminds the base that he is one of them. More importantly for the national election, though, the theme serves as a psychological mirror intended to force Independent voters or Reagan Democrats and any skeptical Republican recipients of the message to engage an unavoidably inward-directed contemplation in response to the theme.

Contemplation of what? The theme invites individuals to look back on the dissonance in America today and further invites individual voters, in response to that dissonance, to ponder first things. If that invitation is genuinely accepted, the clear bet by the McCain campaign is this: their candidate wins.

Why should that be? Well, when one considers the essential nature of things, one tends to eschew finding a needle in the haystack of life and remaining fixated on that one narrow point (coalitions of the willing, ladies and gentlemen). Yes, you may bring a particular special interest to the discussion. Country First, however, seeks to return the recipient (and, thus, the national political discussion) to an unabashedly American discourse designed to inform our public philosophy vis-a-vis political debate. This is a decidedly nonpartisan approach with a very partisan effect given the near total abdication by Democrat's of any comprehension of putting the American national interest first.

Instead, any embrace of a national interest issue is almost always linked with some global effort that ultimately demonizes some facet of pure Americana.

Boxing Them In

So, as a primary goal, Country First seeks to contrast the other side in this election by putting them in a bad light while extolling the legitimate war heroism and maverick status of John McCain. No one will ever confuse or fault McCain for forever utilizing an unabashedly European approach to politics. No, sir! Barack Obama? Well, let us simply say that he engages in a political discourse that (even when fronted by a plain vanilla metrosexual proxy with exotic melanin) remains antithetical to the American way.

The McCain campaign knows the elaborate and pervasive trickeration that is the Obama campaign and they know it has to be stopped. What kind of trickeration, you ask? The kind that allows a black man to play the presidential election game by a different set of rules that protect him from national review. Wasn't it Jesse Jackson who said (and I paraphrase), we just want America to play the game by the same set of rules?
Wasn't it?

Country First is a thematic approach designed to accomplish the task of snapping America out of a hypnotic and guilt-induced trance imposed in an environment where the media and other national myth-makers are completely aligned against you. This means you have to go over the heads of the media and the polling myth-maker's, etc. Any hope for success in this endeavor dictates that, while looking firmly and resolutely forward, one must first go back to the primary myth being utilized by Barack Obama to superficially mainstream his cause.

Sinful by nature, modern psychology has verified the sheer difficulty we human beings encounter when attempting to look within. Can we ever really see ourselves as we are? Not likely. Additionally, if internal insight is supremely difficult for an individual to achieve, is it more difficult still for a national polity?

Relatively speaking, I think not – and herein lies the genius of the Country First theme for me.


Although far more quiet than the self-evident panic that set in after the naming of Sarah Palin as Republican nominee for Vice President, I have to believe knowledgeable operatives among the Democrat's are hoping against hope the nation will not stop to dwell on this Country First theme of the McCain campaign. We've seen, since the awful 9/11 attacks on America, calls from certain quarters to require all Americans to engage the good fight and bear some burdens in response to those attacks. Some of those calls have certainly been disingenuous but service in this environment is a powerful and winning theme.

This comment sent into William Katz at
Urgent Agenda on September 3rd from a man identified as Howard J. Klein explains why:

Seems to me the slogan “Country First” is a shorthand way of saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” The Dems have slipped so far to the left that JFK is now a Nazi in their eyes.
Kennedy, a man Obama has studiously attempted to copy and whose family machine has clearly worked in concert with Obama's Chicago machine, made that famous statement with the full knowledge that America was going to continue forcefully challenging the scourge of communism around the globe. Through the Peace Corps, through the military, through diplomacy, through a wide range of American initiatives.

Just as few people around the nation can wrap their hands around the fact that the Republican Party is the historical party for African Americans, few Democrat's today can grasp the political reality of John F. Kennedy. No, no, no. Set aside, of course, the private reality of John F. Kennedy, what they truly love – since they gave birth to it – is the Hollywood myth of John F. Kennedy. The essence of Kennedy has been falsely modified: we've moved from Kennedy the signifier (ask not what your country can do for you or Ich bin ein Berliner) to Kennedy the signified (Camelot) to Kennedy the sign (as presently utilized by Barack Obama).

If you haven't seen the
Prayer, God and War video recently produced by Newt Gingrich please do yourself the favor and take a good look at it now. It is quite relevant to this discussion and also illustrative of why Country First works so well.

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