With one fell swoop, or stoop (as in low), the McCain campaign has set a new low for American politics. In a time when our country stands at the brink of economic catastrophe, McCain has chosen this moment to link Barack Obama to terrorists. The ruse is painfully transparent, and I doubt anyone really believes that Obama has some ‘splanin to do, but McCain is counting on the allusion to terrorism to scare people into not voting for Obama.
A few months back, Obama was criticized for making the following statement:
We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run. They’re going to try to make you afraid. They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black? He’s got a feisty wife.
“We know the strategy because they’ve already shown their cards. Ultimately I think the American people recognize that old stuff hasn’t moved us forward. That old stuff just divides us.
I would call him prophetic, but no one who was paying attention to the 2000 or 2004 elections should be surprised by the way the Republicans like to campaign. “Swift boat” is now a verb, after all. The real problem with McCain and Palin’s farcical linking of Obama to terrorism is that it will have a negative effect on Obama. He may still win the election, but those people at the Palin rallies who are now shouting racial epithets and chanting “kill him” are going to be around long after Palin has retired to her moose hunting lodge. Nor will those feelings of hatred and animosity simply disappear when the other team wins. McCain and Palin have gone beyond campaigning for a single election, they have poisoned the well. Knowing that they have no chance to win on ideas, they are now ratcheting up feelings long dormant that are better left that way, and our national character will be diminished because of it. To quote the conservative columnist George Will, “Are you [McCain] going to get any better or is this it?” Sadly, this is likely to be McCain’s swan song, and it will be one that belies his very real history of putting his country first. It’s hard to argue that anyone who would reignite such viciousness and hate could be concerned about anyone, or any thing, other than himself.
Here’s a little upbeatness to counter the hate of the angry right. The Obamas are the American dream. I hope people will be able to see past race and party and recognize that once (if) Obama is elected president. While conservatives can take no credit for the Obamas’ success, they can still take a measure of pride in it. At least I hope they will.