Friday, October 10, 2008

It's Getting Real Ugly Out There

I came across an AP story just now that is chilling:

Presidential candidates are accustomed to raucous rallies this close to Election Day and welcome the enthusiasm. But they are also traditionally monitors of sorts from the stage. Part of their job is to leaven proceedings if tempers run ragged and to rein in an out-of-bounds comment from the crowd.

Not so much this week, at GOP rallies in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and other states.

When a visibly angry McCain supporter in Waukesha, Wis., on Thursday told the candidate "I'm really mad" because of "socialists taking over the country," McCain stoked the sentiment. "I think I got the message," he said. "The gentleman is right." He went on to talk about Democrats in control of Congress.

On Friday, McCain rejected the bait.

"I don't trust Obama," a woman said. "I have read about him. He's an Arab."

McCain shook his head in disagreement, and said:

"No, ma'am. He's a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with (him) on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about."

He had drawn boos with his comment: "I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States."

The anti-Obama taunts and jeers are noticeably louder when McCain appears with Palin, a big draw for GOP social conservatives. She accused Obama this week of "palling around with terrorists" because of his past, loose association with a 1960s radical. If less directly, McCain, too, has sought to exploit Obama's Chicago neighborhood ties to William Ayers, while trying simultaneously to steer voters' attention to his plans for the financial crisis.

I've been reading this sort of thing for at least a week now. On a conservative bulletin board I post to, a moderator was angry with McCain for not going with the tone set by the more rabid Republicans. It's obvious these people do not like McCain--hell, they're booing him. They're motivated by hatred and fear. This, "my friends", is how fascists think and act. Their behavior is most easily explained by racism, but it isn't just that. Not all racists are ready to kill their political enemies. They've been trained to consider everyone to the left of Mussolini to be a "socialist". There's no thought involved in this labeling; indeed, few of the people we're talking about could define socialism if asked. But they know it has something to do with the government and taxes, and it's real real bad.

So where does McCain go from here? He despises his new base and they detest him. Most want him to win and then promptly die so Palin can become President and presumably bring about Christ's reign on Earth. The piece of him that is still honorable (and it's there--look at the above quote) has come to the realization that Obama should be President, because McCain can win only by the triumph of the worst impulses and worst elements in the US. But what will the yahoos who are calling for Obama's murder do if he becomes President? We know what Timothy McVeigh did. He will probably have imitators, although I hope they aren't as successful.

With all the fussing from the right about how "hate-filled" the left is concerning George W Bush, I have never, in a dozen or so protests (some of them huge and spirited) starting with his first inauguration, heard anyone say "kill him". And Bush was responsible for over a hundred thousand needless deaths. Obama is just a smart black Senator--and Democrat who is ahead in the Presidential race. The people who are most opposed to Obama are, apparently, disposed to violence and have no respect for democracy or their society. "Country first" my ass--it's party first and last for this crew.

Do you remember the feigned outrage at the "shocking display" at Wellstone's funeral? The right managed to parlay that ploy into Norm Coleman's victory six years ago. Well, where are those tender sensibilities today? Drowned in bile, it seems.

Every Obama hater I encounter (there seem to be no McCain supporters) has the same line of patter, handed to them by their masters: ACORN is stealing the election for the terrorist-loving socialist. The black guy is the racist, not us. The Media is burying the real issues because they are on the side of the socialists. When Obama is elected they'll turn America into a communist dictatorship. And so on. And on, and on. No facts are necessary. Logic need not apply.

As sad and twisted as some of these people are, they're Americans and aren't going anywhere (they don't know how and have no passports). We have to live with them. I just wish I knew how to reach them. I bet McCain does too.


Samnell said...

Years ago, I took a class on the Civil War. We spent a session on causation, naturally enough. The teacher made a point that I think is relevant here. He pointed out that with the 3/5 Compromise, the actual population distribution, and the long string of southern Presidencies, white Southerners were very, very used to the idea that they owned the country. This was a very major part of their self-conception: this was their country and the rest of us were only guests. The explanations the states gave at the time for their secession have the common refrain that Lincoln was elected without a single electoral vote from the slaves states and was therefore prima facie illegitimate. That's not actually what the law said, of course. But they didn't care about the law. The nation was the house of white slaveholders and only their opinions mattered.

It's more than entitlement. The GOP has held the Presidency for long enough and often enough in living memory that they think they own it. Thus any and every Democratic administration is hopelessly anathema not because there are policy disagreements, but because in their eyes it represents a kind of quasi-racial oppression. They went after a center-right compromiser from Arkansas with the kind of visceral rage that truly beggars belief. One can imagine that they will go after a black man with a foreign-sounding name who appears to be just slightly less center-right with the kind of rage and paranoia that makes their Clinton-era operation look like a walk in the park. I can't know that they will riot (Then again, they did in Florida in '00.) but I would not be surprised if they did.

Fundamentally, the American right has rejected even the pretense of government by consent. They cannot share power, they will not compromise, and they will never accept losing the White House. They're outright authoritarians and their paranoia will justify anything. It already has for eight long years.

charvakan said...

I hope you're wrong. We're going to have enough problems without a bunch of brownshirt agitators and thugs stirring things up. But I remember what Shad was saying a couple weeks ago about polls: if they didn't show that 60% of the country was conservative, they were wrong. When reality does not fit their preconceptions, so much the worse for reality.

Samnell said...

Remember the Suskind interview? They seriously affirm the right to define reality how they please. Facts do not enter into it. Every time I got Shad close to his edge, he finally rejected the notion that it was even morally permissible to follow the facts. It's a test of character to affirm the faith in the face of reality. What else would one expect from a religious movement built on the rejection of its own scholarship?

James said...

I think a lot of this also has to do with the Conservative (and perhaps the 'Right' in general) to have an "outgroup".

I can imagine the "Winged Simians" of the right were salivating at the knowledge that the Democrat nominee was going to come from one of these groups.

Samnell said...

"I think a lot of this also has to do with the Conservative (and perhaps the 'Right' in general) to have an "outgroup"."

The biggest outgroup: non-conservatives. George Will said it, conservatives define themselves by what they oppose. Their platform is "STOP LIBERALISM!" Any policy or principle is only useful to the precise extent that it furthers that goal. That's why they turn into big government deficit spenders the second they get in office.

James said...


That may be true, but it does seem that Cons always have a convenient "scapegoat"; women, homosexuals, african-americans, latinos, muslims, the poor.

What's happened to the McCain Campaign should not be such a surprise. . .

Samnell said...

Of course what McCain did is no surprise. The only question was how long it would take.

But I think you're missing what I'm saying, James. Ultimately the conservative scapegoats include all non-conservatives. It doesn't matter who you are. If you're not of the tribe, you're their eternal enemy.

James said...


OK, but they seem to single out certain groups sometimes more than others.

To most Cons I'd be seen as more "acceptable" than say--a Latino.

Samnell said...

We're not disagreeing, James. I'm just expanding on the point.