Beyond the Pale(in)



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.


2 thoughts on “Beyond the Pale(in)

  1. *sigh*

    I really don’t know where to begin on this.

    How wonderful that you on the left are saying we should put our differences aside…abandon the old spirit of partisanship…and just get Barry-with-it….now that you have a chance of WINNING.

    Poison the well? Conservatives are promoting an atmosphere of bitterness and hate that will endure long after the election? You can NOT be serious.

    Where was this spirit of brotherhood and reconciliation after Bush won in 2000? Did liberals go out and hug a conservative and say, “we didn’t win, but let’s make a fresh start anyway. He’s the President and even though we don’t like him, we’ll give him a chance. We’re all Americans, after all.”


    Instead, they propagated one of the most bitter, disturbed, cancerous, whining campaigns in American history on how Bush was an illegitimate President and thus does not deserve our support. How many times did you hear things like this:

    “Bush stole the election”

    “He’s not MY President”

    “Bush the Usurper”

    If anything could be described as poisonous, it is the attitudes of Democrats the past eight years, to say nothing of the incredible vitriole that has been directed at Palin.

    The attacks leveled at Obama are, for the most part, shameful and undeserved. But puh-leeeeease…spare me the notion that conservatives have a monopoly on this sort of thing, or that we’re racist, or that we’re planning to assassinate Obama. What you’re seeing now is the typical anger and resentment of a party that’s thrashing around in a death-spiral, just like you see every four years.

    I realize it’s good fun to take the 2-3 KKK members who show up at a McCain rally and make them the face of the Republican party. That’s the way Democrats have always viewed their opposition. It’s good for their self-esteem.

    I think Obama will be President, and I think he may even be a good President. There are probably millions of people like me right now who are looking at him and thinking “Sure, why not? We don’t agree with his policies, but we’re willing wait until passing judgement.” And the thought of a black President does make us proud (even if its not Colin Powell).

    So please don’t tar us all with that huge brush…oh wait, I forgot. Only conservatives do that.

  2. I concede the following points:
    1) You’re very right about the left’s reaction to Bush. IIRC, “Hail to the Thief” was the new favorite song in blue states. But since that reaction came about through a once-in-a-lifetime contested election, I don’t think that the situations are completely analogous. Still, you’re right. Poison the well they did.

    2)The “2-3 KKK members” are not representative of the broader Republican party. As a matter of fact, I know one staunch republican who spent all of high school pretending he was black, listening to rap music and wearing African Nation medallions.

    I would still maintain, however, that Palin’s “palls around with terrorists” comment and the rather shameful rhetorical ploy of “planting doubts” by McCain did nothing but poison the well. The “kill him,” “he’s an Arab,” “I don’t feel safe with him as president” comments may not represent broader Republicans, but McCain and Palin’s comments open the door for these people. Without McCain opening the door, we wouldn’t see this behavior; behavoir that responsible people in both parties find reprehensible. It would have been much better, and much more honorable, for McCain to know better and to never given rise to these types of feelings.

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