Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Inciting Violence

I would like to be clear about what I think is a very dangerous road the McCain/Palin campaign is traveling, and how it is stirring up the sludge at the bottom of the barrel of American political discourse. I do this in reference to Cameron's objections that I am missing equivalent cases of Obama supporters being nasty. There is a qualitative difference here, and I want to make that difference as stark as possible.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden have never once said that John McCain is "different", "doesn't see America as we see America", or that either McCain or Palin "pals around with terrorists". In speech after speech after speech. Barack Obama and Joe Biden have not raised the question of "Who is the real John McCain?" or "Who is the real Sarah Palin?", even though the Vice Presidential candidate for the Republicans has not been running for two years, gone through numerous debates, press conferences, speeches, and primaries where voters actually expressed their support after hearing what she and others had to say. She was rather unceremoniously plopped before the American voters in August, and we all had to scramble to figure out who she is.

Cameron wants us to equate the trashing of Gov. Palin's personal life to the kind of nasty, racist, hateful stuff going on at Republican rallies. I refuse to do so for this simple reason - the McCain/Palin campaign is running on the assassination of Barack Obama's character and playing in to the multiple fears he brings out in people who are either bigots, just plain ignorant, or both. It's that simple. Obama and Biden are actually discussing issues. McCain and Palin have no isues they can use, so they are going after Obama because he is "different". And that difference is at the root of the kind of mindless insanity that is not only on the fringes of American political discourse, but is becoming far more clearly heard in more mainstream discourse as well.

The simple reality is that the Republican base, for a quarter century or more, has been rooted in this kind of thing. It's always been there, the success of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and other borderline psychopaths is evidence enough of that. No Republican in office, of whom I am aware, has ever publicly distanced themelves from the fact-free rantings of these lunatics, as people are demanding Obama do in regards to Bill Ayers. The Limbaughs and Coulters are, in fact, modern-day exemplars of a right-wing tradition that stretches back to the 1930's, and was nurtured through the bitterness of the 1960's and considered itself triumphant in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Back then, there were enough "respectable" conservatives that these fringe voices were still relatively mute. Over time, however, as top-tier conservatives have been silenced by the ravages of time, the cork on the bottle has become more and more loose. Not, the genie is out of the bottle, and there are all sorts of horrors unleashed.

If anyone could find me an example - a serious, explicit example - of Obama or Biden playing to some imaginary "left-wing" nut cases, I would post it up here and criticize them for it. I do hope you won't think me holding my breath, however . . .

Virtual Tin Cup

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