In humble attempt at casting this in the tradition of Socrates, a (slightly altered) quote:

"The unexamined vote is not worth casting."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

McCain and Palin's Disgusting Campaign

There's not much to say on last night's debate, other than to encourage people to watch the whole thing (available here) and decide for themselves; it seemed to be a pretty accurate picture of the candidates, though there was a helpful NPR piece this morning that did a fact check on the whole thing (most of it seemed to be fair, though I'd say that the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac points need to be more balanced out by the major issues that have been brought up with McCain and his ties to Freddie Mac).

But now to the point of this post: McCain and Palin's recent attacks are not funny, they should not be considered par for the course, they're deeply disturbing. Attacking Obama these past few days, Palin has said things such as the following (from here):

“There is a lot of interest, I guess, in what I read and what I’ve read lately. Well, I was reading my copy of today’s New York Times and I was interested to read about Barack’s friends from Chicago.

“I get to bring this up not to pick a fight, but it was there in the New York Times, so we are gonna talk about it. Turns out one of Barack’s earliest supporters is a man who, according to the New York Times, and they are hardly ever wrong, was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that quote launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and US Capitol. Wow. These are the same guys who think patriotism is paying higher taxes.

“This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America. We see America as the greatest force for good in this world. If we can be that beacon of light and hope for others who seek freedom and democracy and can live in a country that would allow intolerance in the equal rights that again our military men and women fight for and die for for all of us. Our opponent though, is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country?”

"Palling around with terrorists"??! I cannot find any tolerance in my own heart or head for that; I can only mourn at the over-ambition that would lead one to make such an ugly, deceptive attack. Here's what the very article from The New York Times Palin is quoting from concludes with:

“I saw no evidence of a radical streak, either overt or covert, when we were together at Harvard Law School,” said Bradford A. Berenson, who worked on the Harvard Law Review with Mr. Obama and who served as associate White House counsel under President Bush. Mr. Berenson, who is backing Mr. McCain, described his fellow student as “a pragmatic liberal” whose moderation frustrated others at the law review whose views were much farther to the left.

Some 15 years later, left-leaning backers of Mr. Obama have the same complaint. “We’re fully for Obama, but we disagree with some of his stands,” said Tom Hayden, the 1960s activist and former California legislator, who helped organize Progressives for Obama. His group opposes the candidate’s call for sending more troops to Afghanistan, for instance, “because we think it’s a quagmire just like Iraq,” he said. “A lot of our work is trying to win over progressives who think Obama is too conservative.”

Mr. Hayden, 68, said he has known Mr. Ayers for 45 years and was on the other side of the split in the radical antiwar movement that led Mr. Ayers and others to form the Weathermen. But Mr. Hayden said he saw attempts to link Mr. Obama with bombings and radicalism as “typical campaign shenanigans.”

“If Barack Obama says he’s willing to talk to foreign leaders without preconditions,” Mr. Hayden said, “I can imagine he’d be willing to talk to Bill Ayers about schools. But I think that’s about as far as their relationship goes.”

Obviously Americans think of 9-11 immediately when someone mentions terrorists, so it is not just wrong, it's, again, deeply, deeply disturbing that Palin would throw about these words as though they have no meaning, no consequence. Never--yes never--would I want a president who would manipulate and corrode our sense of honesty and humanity in that way. and similar entities show that both candidates have been misleading at times, but this is way beyond that in so many ways.


Johanna said...

I agree. How about the Palins' record with the Alaska Independence Party? Palin's husband was a member of that party for SEVEN years, and what a high-minded set of people they were! Its founder Vogler preached armed insurrection against the US and ended up getting murdered by a fellow-secessionist. It's incomprehensible how she would dare to bring up something like Obama's relationship with Ayers which started after the latter had done his time and had educated and rehabilitated himself. They met as members of the board of a local anti-poverty group, for god's sake. (What has Palin ever done, incidentally, in the way of community service, or simply helping others less fortunate than herself, other than seeking positions of political power in which she fired everyone who didn't agree with her, discussed and determined policy behind closed doors with her husband rather than her staff, misused her position to try and get rid of a bothersome ex-brother-in-law etc. etc.?) If you live in a glass house, don't throw stones, I'd say - but unfortunately that doesn't seem to be how it works in this ridiculous, polemic, "ad hominem" election campaign.

Johanna said...

Oops - Ayers never actually went to prison, I just found out, because there was prosecutorial misconduct in his case, so he didn't "do his time", as I said before (through no fault of his own, I might add: he gave himself up). It appears he has expressed regret at some of the things he did, and he has manifestly made good use of his second chance and succeeded in building up a life dedicated to the good of the community. But it is beside the point to argue about Ayers' character, whether it's reformed or still harboring radical ideas, or to argue about the question whether Ayers should be forgiven, or applauded, or branded a perpetual terrorist and hounded for the rest of his life, along with everyone who ever said hello to him. The point is that there simply isn't a shred of plausibility to Obama having any interest in or inclination towards any kind of radicalism, let alone this Vietnam era kind which was long before his time. Also, his association with Ayers only came about, decades later, in the context of a totally commendable anti-poverty effort. This whole "guilt by association" smearing attempt is, to put no too fine a point on it, insane. Especially coming from someone like Palin, who didn't have such a merely incidental friendship with the likes of Vogler. I really don't think she has done her own side a favor, by the way, as even the most profoundly imbecile McCain/Palin supporter will have scratched himself behind the ears, thinking of the thoughtful and dignified persona of Obama, and realized at least vaguely how utterly ridiculous and inappropriate these suggestions about him are. The idea was a non-starter and the campaign collaborator who cooked it up will probably be fired by McCain. (Palin herself likely knew nothing of Ayers before last week, just as she knew nothing about the Bush doctrine, or the meaning of exceptionalism, or, let's face it, most anything you could think of that people with normal intelligence read about in independent newspapers and that's unassociated with shooting wolves from airplanes.)

Brendan O'Connor said...

Good thoughts back here, and some stuff i hadn't read much about, gracias Johanna.

Esp. liked this comment of yours, well, well put:

"The point is that there simply isn't a shred of plausibility to Obama having any interest in or inclination towards any kind of radicalism, let alone this Vietnam era kind which was long before his time. Also, his association with Ayers only came about, decades later, in the context of a totally commendable anti-poverty effort. This whole "guilt by association" smearing attempt is, to put no too fine a point on it, insane."

Only things i'd say are that i heard there are a number of diff interpretations of the Bush Doctrine, and that that may not have been a fair question b/c of it (at least as it was put by the questioner), and that there's a helpful look at the wolf from planes thing here: (it's a fair picture of both sides i thought). Palin knows some things it seems, just not enough about the things i think a VP/Pres. should know, so she def. worries me (not to mention her dearth of basic human decency (in ways), highlighted in her willingness to pull this crap i wrote about in this post)