Archive for October, 2008

McCain’s Khalidi Smear

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Various places have been commenting on this video of McCain’s sleazy spokesperson, Michael Goldfarb, in which Goldfarb tries to save Florida for McCain by creating the impression that Obama is a scary guy who pals around with terrorists and anti-Semites:

There have been two main responses to Goldfarb’s comments: First, there was ridicule at how Goldfarb tried to raise Jeremiah Wright without actually naming him (since McCain has said that Wright is off the table). But since then, there has been even more pushback regarding the smear of Rashid Khalidi, which CNN anchor Rick Sanchez apparently accepted as factual.

Lindsey Beyerstein is one of many people who are outraged by that, in The McCain spokesman and the phantom antisemite:

The McCain campaign is attacking an innocent academic in a way that can only be described as racist.

The man has done absolutely nothing wrong. Yes, he’s pro-Palestinian. That doesn’t make him a terrorist. Yes, he has been critical of Israel’s human rights record in Palestine. That doesn’t make him an antisemite.

If John McCain is too ignorant or too bigoted to see the difference between an academic critic of of the Israeli occupation and a terrorist, he’s even less fit to be president than I thought.

More likely, McCain knows perfectly well that Khalidi is neither a terrorist nor Jew-hater. McCain’s own institute, which is dedicated to promoting democracy and human rights, funded Khalidi’s work in Gaza for many years. McCain appeared on television opposite Khalidi in 1991, which I doubt he would have done if he really thought Khalidi was a terrorist.


Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Continuing the musical theme, and the theme of trying to keep my mind off the fact that in six days I’m going to experience either the most uplifting moment in my political lifetime or the most profoundly depressing one, the following Sigur Rós video is dedicated to Adam, who I’m guessing could also use a reminder that there are more important things in the world than a silly presidential election. (And to Sven, because I apparently am unable to type “Svefn-g-englar” without a great deal of effort to avoid typing his name.)

I heard Nic Harcourt play this song this morning on KCRW during my drive in to work, and couldn’t get it out of my head. Now I’ve googled up the video, and I can’t get that out of my head either.

Weepies + Obama

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

I knew that The Weepies (about whom, you must realize, I’m fairly obsessed) had provided some audio for an Obama ad, but hadn’t seen it until now. Here you go:Two observations:

1) If you know the song, its lyrics make a pretty cool meta-commentary on the subject of the ad.

2) How Obama is this: Even when he’s doing a negative ad, he still can’t resist using The Weepies, for heaven’s sake, the most uplifting, positive band in the history of the universe, for the soundtrack.

Here’s the whole song, if you’re curious:

Conservatives for Change

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

More at Conservatives for Change.

Hilzoy on Obama and McCain’s Responses to the Financial Crisis

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

Hilzoy has been on the story of Obama’s actual qualifications for a long time now. Her writings on the subject are a big part of why the “Obama isn’t qualified” claims from the Clinton campaign, or the “we don’t know who Barack Obama is” gambits from the McCain campaign, have never resonated even slightly with me. The fact is, he is qualified, and supremely qualified, based on his actual track record, for anyone willing to honestly investigate the question.

The latest evidence of this comes from Hilzoy’s discussion today of the Obama and McCain responses to the financial crisis. This isn’t new, but she does a good job of summing up the differences: Compare and contrast.

Obama is just a man, I know. He will inevitably disappoint, if only because no one could live up to the expectations he’s built up. But when it comes to the actual act of governing, to formulating and implementing well-thought-out policies, as distinct from playing games with Machiavellian politics, he is head-and-shoulders above any other presidential candidate I’ve ever seen. He’s a better candidate than I ever thought I’d have the chance to vote for. And in 11 days he could actually be the president-elect.

To those who still support McCain, I can only say this: I respect your right to your opinion. But I think you should examine your epistemology. With examples like the two candidates’ respective response to the financial crisis, it is clear to me that McCain’s approach to governing is fundamentally broken. He is concerned with crafting the appearance of leadership, rather than actually leading. Obama has demonstrated just the opposite. At each new challenge, he has shown that he is a thoughtful, intelligent, capable leader.

I don’t know what we did to deserve this opportunity. But I know what to do with it now that it’s here.

Did the McCain Campaign Push the Carved-B Hoax?

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

I haven’t bothered posting about Ashley Todd, the disturbed young McCain volunteer who apparently carved a backwards “B” on her face, then told police she’d been assaulted by some kind of rogue Obama supporter. Yes, it’s technically a high-profile lie, but meh, can’t summon the energy required.

But this question is a little more interesting: From David Kurtz at TPM: Who do you believe? Kurtz looks at the evidence for and against the claim (made by two local TV reporters in Pennsylvania) that a McCain campaign official was pushing the story to them Thursday night, embellishing it with extra race-baiting details absent from the police report. Today the McCain campaign denies that they pushed the story, claiming that both TV stations made the same mistake, accidentally attributing to the McCain campaign false information that had actually been provided by the police.

There’s more detail in this earlier story from TPM’s Greg Sargent, if you have the energy to pursue it: McCain Communications Director Gave Reporters Incendiary Version Of “Carved B” Story Before Facts Were Known.

Eleven more days…

Update: Janus/Onan pointed out this to me. It’s kind of mean, but it also made me laugh:

Still later update: So, the following interesting coincidence occurred to me: Both campaigns have now had a young campaign volunteer named Ashley, and in fact a lie told by a young campaign volunteer named Ashley, that ends up playing a key role in the campaign’s narrative on race. Here’s Obama’s version of the Ashley story, as he told it in his “More perfect union” speech:

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

Still yet more later update: Josh Marshall doesn’t like it. He gets specific about who was pushing the story (“McCain Pennsylvania communications director Peter Feldman”), and says it is Time for answers:

Our reporting did not find any direct evidence that the McCain campaign’s national headquarters played a role pushing the story.

However, the national campaign has now come forward and lied about what happened in Pennsylvania. McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers has now told NBC that alleged quotes from the McCain campaign in early reports of the story were actually the product of “sloppy reporting” and that they were actually quotes from the Pittsburgh police.

This is simply not credible.

It’s not the crime. It’s the coverup.

Even later than the still yet more later update: Sven wrote to ask what I meant by Ashley Baia’s lie. What I mean was, when the young Ashley lied to her mother about liking mustard-and-relish sandwiches. Though I suppose it’s possible that the whole story is a lie, either by Ashley, or by Obama. Maybe Ashley Baia doesn’t even exist.

Hm, no, apparently she does. A quick googling turns up the following article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Sandwich girl an Obama organizer here.

Anyway, that’s what I mean about her lying: lying to her mother about liking the sandwiches.

The update after all other updates: If you’re still interested in this story at this point, there’s a good followup article with additional details in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: McCain volunteer admits to hoax.

The update that makes the previous ‘update after all others’ into a lie: I just noticed another coincidence: Both Ashleys apparently have found themselves volunteering in Pittsburgh in the closing days of the campaign. What do you think the chances are that they’ve actually met? Or that they might meet now that they’ve both been processed by the campaign newsgrinder? Maybe a joint appearance on one of those hair-pulling daytime reality shows? It’s a little embarrassing, but yeah, I’d probably watch that. And I’m sure I’m not alone. Which means there’s probably a TV show low enough to try to make it happen.

I can no longer keep track of which update this is: Over at 538, Sean Quinn points out that there is still another Ashley to keep track of: The one Bush hugged during the 2004 campaign: The three Ashleys.

The update that dare not speak its name: Greg Sargent at TPM has a followup item: McCain campaign attacks TPM, keeps denying our “carved B” story. In a nutshell, the McCain campaign continues to claim that “the liberal blog post” (TPM’s reporting about the two Pennsylvania TV stations that independently reported that Peter Feldman, McCain’s state spokesperson, told them the story that Ashley Todd’s attacker carved a “B” in her face that stood for “Barack”, after seeing a McCain bumper sticker on her car) “has no basis in fact.”

The McCain campaign is obviously lying about this. It’s not a huge deal; not even a particularly big lie compared to some of the others they’ve pushed — and continued to push — even after the facts are out there in the public eye. But it’s a lie nevertheless.

Hastings on Being a Political Journalist

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Michael Hastings travelled with the Giuliani, Huckabee, and Clinton campaigns, working on a post-election story for Newsweek. In the end, he couldn’t handle it: Hack: Confessions of a political journalist.


Monday, October 20th, 2008

Lost in the Powell endorsement media furor is the news from last week that Obama scored another important endorsement: The Chicago Tribune.  Yes, a dead-tree media institution of a decidedly conservative bent, this venerable 161 year old newspaper has endorsed Barack Obama for President.  They were also strong supporters of another gangly inexperienced state Senator from IL by the name of Abraham Lincoln.  This is their first ever endorsement of a Democratic candidate for President. 

Worth a read.

Powell on Obama

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

It’s already old news for everybody, I’m sure, but I wanted to post this clip of Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama today on Meet the Press:

The main reason I wanted to post that is that I’m curious to hear what Craig thinks of Powell’s reasoning. I’m not sure he’s said it explicitly, but the impression I’ve taken away from his recent comments here is that Craig intends to vote for McCain. Now, I know it’s easy to dismiss the partisan japery that gets posted here from some of the commenters, and even from myself. But Powell isn’t some lefty Internet troll; this is Colin Powell we’re talking about here. And he doesn’t just say, “I’m voting for Barack Obama because I happen to like the guy”; he offers specific reasons, specific incidents over the last few months that have shaped his thinking.

So as I said, I’m curious, Craig, what you think of Powell’s argument. Are you willing to state who you intend to vote for, and why? And if you are intending to vote for McCain, what do you say in response to the reasons Powell offers for voting for Obama?

Not trying to be snarky here; I’m actually curious.

Running (and Maybe Governing) Like a Grownup

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

So there was that really weird image from the end of the last debate. Here’s the form I saw it in first, from Kevin Drum’s The campaign in a nutshell:

And I had to think to myself, whoa, talk about a tongue jut!

Here’s the somewhat funnier version Beck showed me later:

And I know; that’s silly and beneath me. A still image can capture a moment out of context. So okay: here’s the actual context:

And being fair, McCain obviously was just making a bit of a light-hearted response to going the wrong way around the table. It was just a momentary bit of clowning around, the sort of goofy gesture I might make myself in response to feeling a little awkward, a little embarrassed, a little out of my comfort zone. It’s a brief glimpse of the real McCain, a peeking out of the real person normally concealed by the campaign facade. And on that level, I appreciate that McCain would do that. It humanizes him.

But in the contrast it makes with Obama’s much more serious tone, it really highlights a difference in temperament between the two. Obama takes this effort really seriously. McCain, on some level, not so much. And really, if McCain can’t take things seriously enough to deal with a presidential debate in a grownup manner, is he really the guy I want to have making decisions on behalf of the country as we deal with the economic crisis and military threats and global warming and all the other truly serious issues that confront us?

I thought about this more while watching the candidates responding to Katie Couric asking them why they thought politicians with so much to lose would risk it all by engaging in marital infidelity:

McCain obviously didn’t want to talk in detail about his own history here, which, given what we know about his history, was probably a good call. But listen to Obama’s response:

Obama: The more I’m in public, I mean, I don’t want to even pick my nose (laughs). I’m assuming everybody’s watching, and it’s an interesting… I’ll leave that to the psychologists. I find that the more I’m in the public eye, the more I want to make sure that people… that there’s no gap between who I am and the face that I’m presenting in the world. You want people to know that what you say is what you mean, and that’s who you are.

That dovetails nicely with the observation I was reading this morning from James Fallows, in OK, I lied, one more thing about debates. Fallows talks about an article he wrote previously, saying:

I mentioned in the article that Hillary Clinton was technically a much more polished debater than Obama through the primaries. She answered quickly and crisply; she always got to her talking points; she was almost always on her game and almost never fazed. The problem was that the deeper identity and personality she presented changed dramatically from one debate to the next. Conciliatory toward her rivals in some encounters, harshly critical in others, the shifts matching U-turns in the campaign.

I remember thinking that at the time. Fallows makes a similar point about McCain’s conduct during the general election:

Again, knowing how things are ending up, it’s easy to see a pattern looking back. John McCain, like Hillary Clinton, has suffered from internal shifts and contradictions in his message and affect. Gracious, high-minded, and bi-partisan seeming in some cases. (The first half of his convention speech; interviews like the one mentioned here in which he pleads for a civil, high-road campaign; his generous remarks about Obama just now at the Al Smith dinner in New York; and of course the identity he cultivated with the press over the previous decade or two.) And on the other hand: the choice of Palin, the Bill Ayers-style campaigning, and most of all his ill-concealed contempt and choler through all three debates.

Obama, like all politicians, has trimmed or shifted on some issues and straddled some mismatched policies. But that it is so hard to find contradictions in his style, personality, and larger “work together” message either says something impressive about his discipline or shows something deeper about his essential nature. To persuadable voters, I think it has come across as “integrity” in the neutrally descriptive sense: that is, wholeness and consistency, as opposed to internal tension and contradiction. What it would mean in office we’ll see if he wins. I think we’ve already seen that it is a huge electoral asset.

I think Fallows has a really good point. It’s what I’ve been talking about when I’ve said how much I wish we had “government by grownups.”

Obama has integrity, in a sense that Hillary and McCain demonstrably, on the basis of how they’ve conducted their campaigns, do not. And while it might be argued that Obama has had the luxury of keeping (mostly) to the high road, by virtue of his lead in the polls, I don’t think that’s fair to him. The fact is, there were some dark days for his team during the primaries, when it looked like Hillary was on a roll. There were some similar dark days in the wake of McCain’s convention bounce and the first wave of enthusiasm for Sarah Palin. Through it all, Obama has remained remarkably consistent. He has run a mostly positive campaign, focused on the issues, focused on challenging the nation to rise above the petty sound-bite politics by which we’ve been led around too often.

I know it’s not over. This is no time to relax. But I’m confident that Obama is the right choice. I have no lingering doubts about that. However this chapter in our national history turns out, he is leading us in the right direction. Despite who he is, the weird name and “exotic” background and (of course) the color of his skin, the country is ready to follow him.

I’ve been enjoying reading about the Obama field organization lately. Here’s one of my favorite stories, from Sean Quinn at On the road: Western Pennsylvania.

So a canvasser goes to a woman’s door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she’s planning to vote for. She isn’t sure, has to ask her husband who she’s voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, “We’re votin’ for the n***er!”

Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: “We’re voting for the n***er.”

Me too.

LAT Editors: Who Can Heal This Rift?

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

I actually really liked the lead editorial in the Los Angeles Times today. I realize they’re cutting editorial staff left and right to align themselves with the new paradigm, but apparently they still have an editor or two who’s thinking about what it all means.

From Bringing us together.

McCain since has tried to cool off his supporters, but he lit this fire — he and no one else is responsible for those who shriek at Palin’s rallies, who proclaim that Obama is an Arab and who wish him harm. This campaign is more crass and more virulent because McCain made it so. That Palin has ended up alienating not only moderates but also conservatives is this race’s enduring irony.

On the question of who will best bind up this torn nation, we are far more troubled by what we know about McCain than what we don’t know about Obama. It is proper to admire McCain’s service to his nation — as a military man and as a senator — and he deserves our respect. On the question of who best can reunite us, however, we cannot put our faith in a man who has done so much to drive us apart.

McCain Tones Things Down?

Friday, October 10th, 2008

I don’t know if it’s sincere, or if he’s just playing Good Cop to Palin’s Bad Cop, but McCain apparently made some real effort to tamp down the lynch-mob thing today. From Ana Marie Cox: McCain Denounces Pitchfork-Wavers:

But then something weird happens: He acknowledges the “energy” people have been showing at rallies, and how glad he is that people are excited. But, he says, “I respect Sen. Obama and his accomplishments.” People booed at the mention of his name. McCain, visibly angry, stopped them: “I want EVERYONE to be respectful, and lets make sure we are.”

The very next questioner tried to push back on this request, noting that he needed to “tell the American the TRUTH about Barack Obama” — a not very subtle way, I think, to ask John McCain to NOT tell the truth about Barack Obama. McCain told her there’s a “difference between record and rhetoric, and I plan to talk about his record, respectfully… I don’t mean that has to reduce your ferocity, I just mean it has to be respectful.”

And then later, again, someone dangled a great big piece of low-hanging fruit in front of McCain: “I’m scared to bring up my child in a world where Barack Obama is president.”

McCain replies, “Well, I don’t want him to be president, either. I wouldn’t be running if I did. But,” and he pauses for emphasis, “you don’t have to be scared to have him be President of the United States.” A round of boos.

And he snaps back: “Well, obviously I think I’d be better. ”

Of course, this is kind of the best of both world: Crazy base-world gets to bring up Ayers and whatever else, really, and he gets to say, “Be respectful.” But I think he means it.

UPDATE: Indeed, he just snatched the microphone out the hands of a woman who began her question with, “I’m scared of Barack Obama… he’s an Arab terrorist…”

“No, no ma’am,” he interrupted. “He’s a decent family man with whom I happen to have some disagreements.”

As I said, I don’t know how much faith to put in it. But it’s a good thing, regardless.

Update: Josh Marshall’s take: Weird. Sad. Surreal. Includes this video:

Marshall is fairly dismissive of McCain’s motivation. But, I don’t know; call me a putz, but I had pretty much the same reaction to this footage that I had to Hillary tearing up in the final days of the primary campaign in New Hampshire: it affects me on an emotional level. When McCain shakes his head at that woman at the end of the clip, takes the mic back from her, and tells her no, that Obama is a “decent family man,” I found myself feeling proud of McCain.

Which is not at all what I expected to be feeling toward him tonight.

Opportunity Wasted

Friday, October 10th, 2008

This article sums up my biggest disappointment when it comes to the political blogosphere. Perhaps it is destined to be so, because anyone passionate enough to devoted the time and energy in keeping up with a daily post-count of items for the consumption of their readers is obviously going to be passionate about a candidate and their ideology as well. And in the end, many bloggers are seduced by the siren song of traffic volume, and maintaining links with other like-minded sites. It all could be an awesome source of checks and balance to our political system. We still see examples of real research and analysis that can bring real content to an issue. But instead it is only a shadow of what it could be. Truth is parceled out depending upon who, or what cause, it hampers or helps. Counter-facts are discounted, often disingeniously, in order to make sure one side wins the day, until the bulk of the blogosphere becomes extensions of their party’s campaign website. Political campaign operatives drop suggestions to favored bloggers and they do the dirty work of spreading a line of attack while campaign officials can maintain deniability and still get their message out.

The best recourse? I find it is to read respected blogs and media sources across the spectrum, keep an open mind, and realize the truth is slippery and can come from some unexpected places.

Greg Sargent on Big Media on McCain/Palin’s Inciting Their Crowds

Friday, October 10th, 2008

An interesting-to-me item from Greg Sargent at TPM: Note To News Orgs: McCain And Palin Are Largely Responsible For Unhinged Tone At Their Rallies.

The news orgs are beginning to weigh in with big takes on what is unquestionably one of the most important stories of Campaign 2008: The pathologically-unhinged tone that McCain-Palin supporters are displaying at rallies of late.

The New York Times has a write-up here; The Washington Post has one here, and The Politico has one here.

This is a welcome development, and the stories are pretty good. But the news orgs are still dancing around the central story here: That McCain and Palin themselves are largely responsible for what’s happening.

Deanie Mills on Thinking Conservatives

Friday, October 10th, 2008

I’m curious what my favorite “thinking conservative” (Craig, I mean) thinks about this: Hell just froze over.

I’ve been following some of the back-and-forth in the comments on my last-but-one post, and I gather that Craig thinks Obama should have been more forthcoming about the real nature of his relationship with Bill Ayers. My own take on that is that Obama gave it as much forthcomingness as it deserved, back when Hillary raised it in the primary, and I don’t see why he’s obligated to say more about it now. But I’m willing to set that aside, and agree to disagree. Because I think we have more important things to talk about.

Craig, I wonder how you feel about the tactics being used at the McCain and Palin rallies over the last few days. I wonder if your views are similar to those of the “thinking conservatives” that Mills talks about in the piece I linked to above. And mostly, I wonder if you believe a case can be made that, given the realities of what the two campaigns have been saying lately, John McCain and Sarah Palin really are the best choice to lead the country for the next four years.

I’m willing to give such a case my careful, honest, sober consideration. And of all the people I can think of who might be willing to make it, I think you’re probably my best shot at getting it.

Kramer on “The Water Cure”

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

I missed this article when it first appeared in The New Yorker last February: Paul Kramer’s The Water Cure. It’s a review of the politics that (briefly) swirled around our government’s previous use of waterboarding as an instrument of state policy (during the Phillipine-American War, fought from 1899 to 1902).

It’s a depressingly familiar story.

I’ve been caught up in the emotion of the presidential campaign, but over my last few commutes I went back and re-listened to podcasts 22 through 28, and it reminded me of how big a mess the new President Obama is going to have to clean up.

Playing with Fire

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Sigh. Once again, the difference between theory and practice turns out to be bigger in practice than in theory. Or, put another way, despite knowing as an intellectual matter that the McCain campaign has nowhere to go but down in terms of strategy, it’s still something of an emotional shock to see McCain and Palin engaged in what actually looks like a premeditated attempt to incite violence toward their opponent. First, check out McCain’s reaction when he asks, “Who is the real Barack Obama?” and a supporter shouts back “Terrorist!” loud enough for the microphone to pick it up:

There’s also this from Dana Milbank’s piece in the WaPo on Palin’s appearance yesterday: In Fla., Palin Goes for the Rough Stuff as Audience Boos Obama.

“And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, ‘launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,'” she continued.

“Boooo!” the crowd repeated.

“Kill him!” proposed one man in the audience.

Palin continued with the same approach today: Obama Hatred On Display Again At Palin Rally, Supporter Screams “Treason!”

“[Obama] said, too, that our troops in Afghanistan are ‘air raiding villages and killing civilians,'” Palin said, mischaracterizing a 2007 remark by Obama. “I hope Americans know that is not what our brave men and women in uniform are doing in Afghanistan. The U.S. military is fighting terrorism and protecting us and protecting our freedom.”

Shortly afterward, a male member of the crowd in Jacksonville, Florida, yelled “treason!” loudly enough to be picked up by television microphones.

There’s video of the incident at the site if you follow the link.

So, what am I saying here? Politics famously ain’t beanbag; isn’t it fair for McCain and Palin to question Obama’s past associations and statements, even if they do so (as they are here) in a misleading manner?

Yes. But.

But the first: Even if you’re willing to believe that McCain and Palin weren’t intentionally provoking this reaction at first (which I guess I’ll give you, just for the sake of argument), they now have no excuse not to be aware of it. They are inciting crowds to express violent threats against Obama, and they know it. The question now is, will they continue to incite those threats?

But the second: What they’re doing here is being done in a particular context. McCain and Palin, by consciously choosing a strategy that involves whipping their most-ardent supporters into a violent frenzy, are opening a can of whoop-ass that taps into the ugliest currents of racist violence in our nation’s history. And yeah, I realize that having put all his chips in, having turned his campaign over to the same people who savaged him in 2000, having chosen to hazard his honor and reputation, McCain is not going to stop now. He’s going to go all the way, even if that means inciting what is, in essence, a lynch-mob mentality on the part of his followers.

But what does that really mean? Given the problems facing the nation, this sort of ugliness seems to me to be very unlikely to persuade the remaining persuadable voters. If anything, it is going to accelerate the movement of undecideds away from McCain. The only way I can see this whip-up-the-base strategy delivering the presidency to McCain is if he actually succeeds in inciting some crazed follower to assassinate Obama.

McCain knows those guys are out there. We all know it. We remember this incident from the DNC:

So, the ball’s in your court, McCain. Is this really the way you want to win the presidency? Are you really willing to sink that low? Because if you are, I’d like to suggest that the presidency, achieved in that manner, would not be worth the cost.

Sarah Palin Campaign Art by Zina Saunders

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

This art by Zina Saunders is totally cool:

Definitely worth visiting her site (or her blog) to browse around.