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October 11, 2008

Comments

Steve

Can we throw BOTH the Republican and Democrat choices back and try again with someone new on BOTH parties. Neither one is a good choice in my opinion. It's like choosing the lessor of two evils, so to speak and neither candidate really seems worthy of a vote. I think the country has really crappy choices and is going to be in pretty bad shape regardless of who wins.

Steve

Interesting commentary in the Register on Obama. Seems pretty right on in my eyes too.

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/obama-hear-mccain-2191555-big-don?orderby=TimeStampDescending&oncommentsPage=1&showRecommendedOnly=0#slComments

Derek Rishmawy

Mike, I gotta say, some of the scary rhetoric was right in that quote by Lewis you linked to. With all due respect to John Lewis, comparing Palin and McCain to Governor Wallace is ridiculous and irresponsible. Yup, there's nothing better for healing and reconciliation than comparing your opponents to Civil Rights Era Bogey-Men. Seriously, its like every time someone tries to criticize Obama or call his judgment into question because of either his positions or his dubious acquaintances, they get branded as racist. Any and all criticism of Obama now has a racial subtext. Doesn't that kind of scare you? I mean, what if he does get elected and he sucks? What if he does bad stuff and needs to get called on it? Will anybody be able to criticize him? Not without being called a racist or a hate-monger. Yup, that's GREAT for the American political process and the dialogue. "Disagree with me or challenge my record and I'll call you a racist." That really makes for openness in the system and helps heal the resentment. (oh, and you can't say that its not Obama himself playing the race card, because months ago, he started pre-emptively accusing Republicans of making racial insinuations when nothing of the kind had been said by McCain or any of his surrogates or the party.)

Now, pardon me Mike, I might of missed some of "the rhetoric." Maybe some of it truly is irresponsible. But the problem is, is that every time a Republican criticizes a Democrat, brings up weak point, or something, its either "mean", "mud-slinging", "unfair", "fascist", "racist", or something comparable. While rarely are Democrats or liberal called on the exact same kinds of statements or worse. Democrats get to use this kind of "rhetoric" at will and no one at AP, the Times, or whatever comment on it or anything.

Derek Rishmawy

One last thing, I know there's gonna be some nut-ball racists out there. And yes, McCain and Palin should do as much as they can to make sure that those people aren't included in anything that they do. But, honestly, you can't hold them responsible for the way the nut-balls react. Just like you can't hold Obama or his campaign responsible for the people who vandalized the RNC headquarters in that one state and spray-painted "republican=slavery" all over it.

Mike

Derek, thanks for jumping in. Perhaps I didn't do the best job in communicating what I was thinking in regards to the quote. Here goes:

I agree with you that Lewis was a bit over the top in some of his insinuations. Also, trust me that this is not a Republican vs. Democrat thing either. This is about rhetoric that has no place in political discourse [no matter who is saying it], rhetoric that is clearly not in line with how I think Jesus calls us to treat one another.

As for the specific rhetoric, here's my concern. I think it is unwise [at best] to be bantering about with uncritical comments, which have inflamed a rhetoric of hate. I completely agree that this is being done by a vast minority of McCain/Palin supporters, but it still does not excuse a seemingly lack of critical assessment of the comments being made. By Palin making the insinuation that Obama "pals around with terrorists" [which by the way has been clearly debunked as false by several non-partisan groups, such as factcheck.org] and that his first campaign was launched in the living room of a terrorist [again debunked as untrue], she is at least opening herself up as complicit with the comments that are being made by her supporters at various rallies by her inaction.

The Lewis quote above was not in reference to a mere "criticism" of Obama, it was in reference to the calls from supporters of "terrorist" when Obama's name is mentioned, or "kill him," "execute him" when he is mentioned. This is the kind of rhetoric that Lewis was addressing as uncalled for. To his credit, McCain finally stepped forward and said that he does not support these statements. One issue, however, is why it has taken so long in coming. While admitting that he does not support this kind of rhetoric, it has been allowed to continue far too long. The genie, so to speak, is out of the bottle.

Trust me, I certainly do not agree with all the insinuations found in Lewis' response. I do not think that the current situation is similar to what happened with George Wallace. I DO find it fascinating though that these comments were made, not by a liberal Democrat, but by someone who has been tagged by McCain himself as someone he would seek out as a personal advisor if elected.

Is it not telling that someone that knows McCain, and is highly regarded by McCain, is making this observation? Does it not attest that at least something has gone awry in the McCain campaign?

I am just saddened that someone I greatly admired has seen his campaign sidetracked in such a manner. As Steve said so well... is this the best we can do?

Once again, this is not about disagreements or leveling "criticism." this is about what could happen when comments and attacks are not considered critically. The world is watching... what are we communicating about ourselves as a nation when we appeal to the most base level of humanity - hate, fear, and difference?

Hope that makes sense...

Mike

Here's an interesting take by Fred Hiatt with The Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/12/AR2008101201632.html

His closing remarks touch on what I've been feeling lately...

He [McCain] has been running for president, more on than off, for almost a decade, but his determination hasn't had much to do with a highly defined ideology, program or set of policies. What underlies his ambition are values: service, patriotism, duty, honor.

It may be that it's easier for such a campaign to get blown off course. In an exceptionally pro-Democratic year, against an exceptionally unflappable opponent, it's not surprising that a campaign without bedrock policy goals would try first one thing, then another, with one of those things being character assassination.

I certainly can't prove that a McCain campaign built on respect and attention to issues would be faring better than the real thing. Without Sarah Palin to rally the base, and without the insidious questioning of Obama's patriotism, McCain might be even further behind.

But he also might be doing better -- and he might be happier, too. That, at least, is one way to interpret an intriguing exchange that took place at a rally in Minnesota on Friday.

A woman took the microphone to say that Obama could not be trusted because he is an "Arab" -- not a surprising misconception, given the Republicans who have taken to stressing Obama's middle name, Hussein. But McCain rebuked her: "No, ma'am, he's a decent family man, a citizen, who I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. And that's what this campaign is all about."

It's not what this campaign is all about, and as McCain was speaking, his campaign ads were calling Obama a liar. But it's what the campaign could have been about, if McCain had really wanted it that way.

Derek Rishmawy

Yeah, when it comes to stepping forward earlier, if he heard the comments early his response should be immediate, no question.

As for the factcheck stuff, I've seen different "factchecks" that say different. (Interestingly enough, I read an article that had Washington Post and CNN or something at odds on their "factchecks" because of a minor semantic issue that could possibly favor Obama.) A lot of it depends on how you phrase it. Admittedly "palling around" makes it sound like Obama and Ayers hung out every day. Obviously not strictly true. But, he did happen to have one of his first fundraisers in Bill Ayers living room in Chicago. Now, there have been quotes by people at the party saying it was a political launch party, and others saying it wasn't. But, here's the thing, he was still going to the party of an un-repentant, known, domestic terrorist. And, he did work with him on the Chicago Anneberg Education project handing out money to radical education groups that weren't focused on math or science or something, but rather on random, leftist social issues. The fact of the matter is that Ayers, while he might not of been a close friend or something, was not just "some guy in the neighborhood", like Obama claimed. And its not just that he blew up some stuff when Obama was 8, its that a few years ago, when Obama was 40, Ayers said he wished he'd had done more and still was unrepentant.

Now, the problem is not with just one shady acquaintance. If it was just one crazy leftist, that'd be fine. Everybody has to work with someone distasteful in their life. But, you take this along with the fact that he sat in the pews for 20 years while Rev. J. Wright preached, what is by any reasonable standard, hate and bigoted non-Jesus-like stuff. And then you also take his work as an Alinsky-style community organizer, and the fact that his ideology is about as far-left as you can get without having to run in the American Socialist party. And it all adds up to someone who is very comfortable working with and listening to, and often-times agreeing with people who think very, very differently from the average American whom he wants to govern.

By the, John Lewis, is definitely not a conservative, by any stretch of the imagination. Not even for a Democrat. Great Civil Rights leader, though. But, again, when it comes to getting a quote from someone not close to the liberal edge, Mr. Lewis is not the man for the job. The fact that McCain named his as one of the 3 wisemen or whatever, says more about McCain's willingness to work across the aisle and respect he has for the other side, than it does about Mr. Lewis.

Derek Rishmawy

This article right here from the Washington Times highlights why comments like Lewis' and the National Media's stooge-like support of the Obama campaign scares me a little. I'll admit, some of the rhetoric is over the top, but it makes the point:

BARONE: The coming liberal thugocracy
Michael Barone
COMMENTARY:

"I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors," Barack Obama told a crowd in Elko, Nev. "I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face." Actually, Obama supporters are doing a lot more than getting into people's faces. They seem determined to shut people up.

That's what Obama supporters, alerted by campaign e-mails, did when conservative Stanley Kurtz appeared on Milt Rosenberg's WGN radio program in Chicago. Mr. Kurtz had been researching Mr. Obama's relationship with unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers in Chicago Annenberg Challenge papers in the Richard J. Daley Library in Chicago - papers that were closed off to him for some days, apparently at the behest of Obama supporters.

Obama fans jammed WGN's phone lines and sent in hundreds of protest e-mails. The message was clear to anyone who would follow Mr. Rosenberg's example. We will make trouble for you if you let anyone make the case against The One.

Other Obama supporters have threatened critics with criminal prosecution. In September, St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch and St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce warned citizens that they would bring criminal libel prosecutions against anyone who made statements against Mr. Obama that were "false." I had been under the impression that the Alien and Sedition Acts had gone out of existence in 1801-'02. Not so, apparently, in metropolitan St. Louis. Similarly, the Obama campaign called for a criminal investigation of the American Issues Project when it ran ads highlighting Mr. Obama's ties to Mr. Ayers.

These attempts to shut down political speech have become routine for liberals. Congressional Democrats sought to reimpose the "fairness doctrine" on broadcasters, which until it was repealed in the 1980s required equal time for different points of view. The motive was plain: to shut down the one conservative-leaning communications medium, talk radio. Liberal talk-show hosts have mostly failed to draw audiences, and many liberals can't abide having citizens hear contrary views.

To their credit, some liberal old-timers - like House Appropriations Chairman David Obey - voted against the "fairness doctrine," in line with their longstanding support of free speech. But you can expect the "fairness doctrine" to get another vote if Barack Obama wins and Democrats increase their congressional majorities.

Corporate liberals have done their share in shutting down anti-liberal speech, too. "Saturday Night Live" ran a spoof of the financial crisis that skewered Democrats like House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank and liberal contributors Herbert and Marion Sandler, who sold toxic-waste-filled Golden West to Wachovia Bank for $24 billion. Kind of surprising, but not for long. The tape of the broadcast disappeared from NBC's Web site and was replaced with another that omitted the references to Mr. Frank and the Sandlers. Evidently NBC and its parent, General Electric, don't want people to hear speech that attacks liberals.

Then there's the Democrats' "card check" legislation that would abolish secret ballot elections in determining whether employees are represented by unions. The unions' strategy is obvious: Send a few thugs over to employees' homes - we know where you live - and get them to sign cards that will trigger a union victory without giving employers a chance to be heard.

Once upon a time, liberals prided themselves, with considerable reason, as the staunchest defenders of free speech. Union organizers in the 1930s and 1940s made the case that they should have access to employees to speak freely to them, and union leaders like George Meany and Walter Reuther were ardent defenders of the First Amendment.

Today's liberals seem to be taking their marching orders from other quarters. Specifically, from the college and university campuses where administrators, armed with speech codes, have for years been disciplining and subjecting to sensitivity training any students who dare to utter thoughts that liberals find offensive. The campuses that once prided themselves as zones of free expression are now the least free part of our society.

Obama supporters who found the campuses congenial and Mr. Obama himself, who has chosen to live all his adult life in university communities, seem to find it entirely natural to suppress speech they don't like and seem utterly oblivious to claims this violates the letter and spirit of the First Amendment. In this campaign, we have seen the coming of the Obama thugocracy, suppressing free speech, and we may see its flourishing in the four or eight years ahead.

• Michael Barone is a nationally syndicated columnist.

Doug

Derek,
Just for the record the statement, "National Media's stooge-like support of the Obama campaign", isn't really a great way to advance the discourse. Perhaps we ought to say, the extreme rhetoric from both supporters of both Obama and McCain is unacceptable. I have strong problems with both candidates -- I don't think that either of them is wretched (or at least no more wretched than the mean level of human wretchedness). Neither McCain nor Obama has been fully honest with us, and both of them have some poisonous supporters. And tolerating this poison is bad for all of us. Please note that I am all for robust criticism of the political candidates, but we can be critical without throwing name-calling or venom.

Just my $0.02 -- hopefully I am not falling into the same pattern I condemn (that whole remove the plank from your eye thing)

--Doug

Derek Rishmawy

Doug,

Thanks for the comment. And, I'm sorry if I've been one of the poisonous supporters spewing venom. I would like to point out though, that comment you quoted was actually not directed at the vast majority of Obama supporters, nor even at Obama himself. It was directed against the Media that is supposedly supposed to be neutral and investigating and hearing out both sides. My comment comes from the frustration that comes as I watch the outrageously biased reporting coming out of the majority of major Media outlets over the last few months in support of Barack Obama. I mean, its not even just the general anti-conservative bent that's usually there. Even Democrats got a taste of it during the primaries when the Media picked Obama over Clinton and adjusted their coverage accordingly, even going so far as to imply the reason people weren't voting for Obama was because they were racist. Basically, trying to shame people into voting for him. Listen, I'm not going to say McCain has been %100 honest, and not even Obama's honesty was the point. My point was about the National Media's so blatantly favoring one side and looking over stuff from the Obama side that would have been trumpeted from the roof-tops if it had been on the McCain side. I mean, just contrast the coverage of Palin versus that of Biden. Forget what you might think about Palin, (believe me, I know she's far from ideal), but if she'd have made half of the gaffes that Biden has made or made as many, shall we say, "truth-deficient" claims as he has, it would have been all over the place.

Please don't misunderstand me. I am not a big McCain fan. I disagree with him on not a few issues and he is not my first choice of candidate. I won't try to blindly defend every statement he's made or that his supporters make. My thing is, I like Obama even less. And I think that people are being cheated of the opportunity to make a fully-informed judgment in this election because the major news outlets have chosen to ignore many stories or have not addressed various of his extreme policy positions which, if people knew about, would probably cause them to at least reconsider their support for him.

That's my, oh, I dunno, $0.05, on the deal. :)

Hope that clarifies my deal a bit for you. At least as regards that comment.

Doug

Derek,
Thanks for the response. If you are interested in a fairly unbiased commentator (at least he seems that way to me -- it could just be that his biases are aligned with mine), you might check out John Dickerson over on slate.com. If nothing else, he has interesting analysis of the two campaigns. I don't know about you, but I will be glad when this is all over.

Derek Rishmawy

Doug,

thanks for the tip. I'll look him up. And I am definitely with you on looking forward to the end of this whole thing. Quite frankly, I don't have time right now to pay attention the way I have been, so it will be nice to be able to ignore the political world for a while. Kind of go into hibernation for a bit. :)

D

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