Anybody who doesn't think John McCain can defeat Barack Obama by focusing on real issues is somebody who hasn't seen Citizens United's latest documentary tour de force, "Hype: The Obama Effect."
On the heels of successful documentaries a) answering Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911," b) criticizing the United Nations, c) exploring with Newt Gingrich this nation's history of acknowledging God in the public square, and d) taking the fight to Hillary Clinton, CU's David Bossie now has produced a superlative, fact-heavy analysis of Barack Obama's record, rhetoric, ideology and inclinations. Granted, "Hype" includes no interviews with anybody left of the political center-right, so the opinions in it are predictably expressed from a conservative perspective. But facts are facts, and "Hype" outlines a bevy of them in a manner that should compel any fair-minded viewer to wonder if Obama is anywhere even within sniffing distance of the broad American political mainstream.
The establishment media, Bossie says, have not spent nearly enough "questioning who Barack Obama is, what he stands for, and if he is ready to lead America.... There are very few places where the full record of Barack Obama is available."
The film premiered in Denver during the Democratic Convention and in Minnesota during the GOP confab, and is premiering Wednesday and Thursday of this week in Phoenix and Seattle. But perhaps the people who need to see it the most are the high commanders of John McCain's campaign -- because commercials about lipstick and celebrity and "disrespect" of Sarah Palin will wear out their welcome rather quickly.
Without rehashing the film point by point, suffice it to say that even a sober, unhyped look at Obama's record and issue positions should make the Democratic nominee unpalatable to Middle America.
If the McCain campaign doesn't make every sentient American aware by Election Day, for instance, that Barack Obama led the fight against saving babies born alive during "botched" abortions, it will be committing political malpractice. Obama's position was not just wrongheaded but positively monstrous, sickening, borderline inhuman.
Likewise, voters should know about how Obama proposes (or has proposed) to tax small businesses exorbitantly, meet with enemies like Iran's Ahmadinejad "without precondition," keep offshore oil fields off limits for drilling, and seriously limit handgun ownership rights. They should know that he chairs a subcommittee that partly oversees NATO (and its mission in Afghanistan), but hasn't held a single hearing. They should know how even his fellow Democrats have criticized him for breezing into committee meetings late and then rehashing already-covered material. And they should know -- and this I do feel certain McCain will mention often -- how incredibly and repeatedly wrong Obama was on the "surge" in Iraq.
Voters should be reminded that Obama voted against the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts. And that he is among the biggest recipients of campaign donations from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And that he has no record of bipartisanship. And that he proposes hundreds of billions of dollars of new government spending.
And, taking a page from Gingrich's research showing that Americans overwhelmingly support English language instruction and requirements, the McCain team would be wise to highlight Obama's sneering hostility to English preferences in law.
Finally, on one of the biggest kitchen-table issues of these times, McCain should stress repeatedly the fact that Obama opposes McCain's proposal to allow health insurance to be sold across state lines. Michigan voters, for instance, should have the option to buy their insurance in, say, South Dakota, if the premiums are lower in the latter.
In all of this, it should be easy to explain how Obama's policies would negatively affect the lives of average Americans. But -- back to Bossie's movie again -- Obama's opponents ought not shy away from a fuller exposition of just how closely tied Obama was to a whole slew of radicals and crooks, and of how that background also could affect policies that have repercussions for Middle American values, jobs, and safety.
Again, these disturbing facets of Obama's record can speak for themselves if presented simply and unadorned, without any histrionics or hyped-up language to scare the public. The record itself is such anathema to Middle America that voters will "get it" even without some somber-voiced ad narrator or ominous music pounding home the point.
Rhetoric aside, Obama is about as much in step with the majority of Americans as Britney Spears would be if she were trying to foxtrot with Fred Astaire. ("Hype" does show Obama dancing funkily with Ellen DeGeneres, but that's another story.) Strip away Obama's deep-timbred voice and his puffball platitudes, and what remains is nothing more than an academic radical using Chicago machine politics to grab a power base and using smoke-and-mirrors to project a pleasing image. The way to break through this "Obama Effect" is to focus on substance, and let the people decide.