Well, this is it -- this is what panic looks like.
Chances are by now you've seen the video clip that Matt Drudge, Tucker Carlson and Sean "I Can Put You Into a Used Car Regardless of Your Credit History" Hannity breathlessly hyped all day yesterday. Let's put it this way: If you didn't see it at any point over the last maybe 18 hours you almost surely saw it four years ago when it first surfaced and was instantly turned into a flashpoint for a conservative movement utterly wetting its collective pants over the prospect of a multi-cultural black guy becoming President of the United States.
The reality is that the video behind this "bombshell" -- this almost admirably epic nationwide troll -- amounts to nothing at all. Not a damn thing. It's a clip from 2007 which appears to prove that Barack Obama is, in fact, black. The original sin then, as far as the right is concerned, seems to be that Obama knows he's black and actually has the temerity to occasionally behave in a way that others might discover that thing about him he's required to keep a lid on by order of resentful white assholes everywhere.
It borders on tragic that four years into this man's presidency -- a presidency the right has sought over and over again to delegitimize in any and every way possible -- this is all they've got, not an honest appraisal of his administration's policies and what they have and haven't done for the country but a desperate relitigating of the tired claim that Obama was never vetted properly, that he's got something to hide, that Americans were duped back in 2008, that there are just too many questions surrounding his "otherness" for him to be where he is right now, much less to be allowed to remain there for another four years.
But really, who gives a crap about the tape itself? It's so fucking embarrassing as a hyped news item that there's no way that even a hack like Tucker Carlson can't be smiling through his pain this morning. For years a segment of the conservative punditocracy -- going all the way back to William F. Buckley's bizarre screeds against the verbal cadence of Jesse Jackson -- has sought to play the language police, basically pondering aloud why blacks and other minorities just can't talk like regular people and accusing them of willfully and divisively pandering to their various communities and encouraging racial discord whenever they speak in a way that makes whites uncomfortable.
No, the tape itself is meaningless. It's what it represents that's worth talking about. Because what it represents is utter desperation. A political party and campaign in the gruesome throes of a death spiral. While I still believe that an incredibly strong performance by Romney at tonight's debate can at least change the narrative, there's simply no denying that right now the Republicans are losing -- they can feel the White House slipping away and they know it. They also know just what an Obama victory means for the demands of the dwindling demographic they've unwisely decided to hang their future on. And so they're having a full-on panic attack -- insanely grasping for anything they can find that they might be able to hit the president with in the last month that could change the course of the race and the course of history. The thing is, they're going to have to do much better than a pathetic attempt to rehash a four-year-old story that wasn't really a very big controversy to begin with, one that failed to gain enough traction the first time around.
And believe me, they're going to try. They're willing to try anything, which means that it's going to get even crazier and uglier as the clock ticks down to election day. This isn't even the beginning of the madness.