Palin and McCain are starting to scare the shit out of me. Their response to one key question has said a great deal about them, and about the people supporting them. The question is, "What do you do when your campaign makes no sense?"
SHIFT THE BLAME
I know that people like to blame that damned liberal media as much as they like to blame those damned liberal "experts" and damned liberal foreigners. I know that when their candidate's campaign is involved with something truly ridiculous it's easy to blame the people showing a recording and not the people in it.
Yes, I am aware that Palin's comments were edited in the interview with Charlie, so she actually wasn't as ludicrously incoherent as she seemed. I am aware of the fact that overciting that interview isn't really fair as a result. I am not aware of any reason why this excuses everything that goes down at the McCain-Palin Two Minutes' Hate rallies. I am not aware why we should refer to recordings of people shouting for a presidential candidate's death as "the way the biased media portrays Palin."
I know that no one wants to see links from the Huffington Post, but this article does have videos that you can watch for yourself (which is why I'm linking it). Be forwarned that the very last video on the article has a stupid tendency to autoplay, so you might want to scroll down and pause it as quickly as you can.
GET THEM TOO ANGRY TO THINK
My main problem here is only partly that McCain and Palin are creating a vicious and dangerous hateful atmosphere at a time when people are most vulnerable to it. This essay from a very well-known priestess explains pretty well my feelings on the subject of the Republican candidates and the responsibility they bear for the conduct of their supporters.
In the normal course of events, I'm a pro-anger kind of a gal. I came up through the feminist ranks in the seventies, when we were energized by the realization that all our lives, we women had been told to be 'nice', sweet, to placate the guys and not get them riled up. If we got angry, we either looked 'cute' or were unattractive raging b-words (rhymes with Witch).
Anger was a rational response to the constrictions and dis-empowerment we faced and women, and it became a driving force in our efforts for cultural change. Ironically, one of those results is Sarah Palin's candidacy. It is a triumph of feminism that we have so changed the culture in this country that the same kinds of reactionaries that wouldn't have voted for a women in 1968 and would have opposed a woman voting in 1908 now have to turn to one to energize their base.
Anger, however, is a dangerous emotion. Like fire, to which it is often compared, it can regenerate the forest when it burns through low and fast, or jump to the crowns of the trees and burn thousands of acres, devastating life and land.
McCain and Palin have been piling up the trash to start on burn pile on a red flag day, when economic drought and winds of fear and panic are whipping it out of control. For that, they bear a huge responsibility. They have deliberately used innuendos, outright lies, and personal attacks to create an incendiary atmosphere. Palin has stood silent while her supporters chant to kill her opponent! That is tantamount to instigating and condoning political violence, if we must speak of 'terrorism'. McCain has protested some of his followers excesses, but in condoning the strategy that feeds on fear, suspicion and thinly veiled racism--but his attempts are like trying to beat out a few sparks in the tall grass after he has fed the blaze.
Those of us who lay claim to some form of spiritual leadership should absolutely condemn the tactics of personal attack. We should call our politicians and our communities to think, speak and act from our best selves, not our worst, from respect and compassion, not from stoked-up rage and hate.
Now, I grant you, it's not going to mean much to McCain or Palin to learn that a Witch thinks they are behaving in a despicable and immoral way. Might even encourage them. But I call on you, sisters, brothers and freres of other faiths, especially you Christians whose voices will carry more weight, to speak out strongly in condemnation of the politics of hate. Speak to the McCain campaign, to your own congregations and coreligionists. Become the dampening rain that can douse this particular fire. A raging wildfire creates its own wind and weather, and feeds on itself. Regardless of your political convictions, hatemongering hurts and endangers us all.
This is only part of my problem. The rest of my problem is that McCain and Palin are creating a dangerous and ugly climate for this election, and belatedly covering themselves as though they had no idea things had gone so far. Creating a mess and then shifting the blame. Obama mentioned once, "In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is — you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps — even if you don't have boots. You're on your own. Well it's time for them to own their failure."
Your rallies turn into angry racist scenes from 1984 and you're hoping to blame the media for reporting it? Tough luck. No consistent stance on anything? Can't argue with the policies of a candidate you've been forced to concede his plan on Iraq, concede that perhaps we should talk about education after all, and claiming (in a ludicrously ironic twist) that "we have got to give people choice in America and not mandate things on them" when it comes to the rights of health care patients, except of course if those patients are women.
What do you do when your campaign makes no sense?
Tell lies about ACORN's voter registration efforts (if you don't like the Slate, check out ABC)so that you can keep people from voting and pre-emptively delegitimize the election if your ticket loses. Never mind that ACORN is required in most states to turn in every ballot they receive, but were attentive enough to flag the ones they felt might be a problem. Never mind that now ACORN employees are receiving death threats because of those lies.
Tell lies about Ayers. Be sure that when you do this you wave away concerns about your own associations. Those say nothing about your judgment, and you should virulently oppose any such "guilt by association" attacks.
Tell lies about Obama's tax policies.
No one will know the difference. Voters are stupid and aren't paying attention.
VOTERS ARE STUPID
I know Barack Obama wouldn't want me to "give up hope" and slam whole swaths of America's population as being too dumb to save, but it's what I believe. A large percentage of voters are stupid. Give them a smile and a wink and they'll believe whatever you say! Especially if it means your ridiculous lies give them excuses not to vote for Obama, when in many cases they'd already decided for other reasons.
Keep in mind that this will only work in parts of the country that are "pro-America." You and I may not know the difference, but Sarah Palin does. Makes me wonder what she thinks should be done about these other areas.
Michelle Bachmann has a good start. "What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out if they are pro-America or anti-America. I think people would love to see an expose like that," she said.
I bet she has in her hand a list of names that were made known to her as being un-American and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the legislature. I bet she already knows. I bet it's somewhere around 51.
What do you do when your campaign makes no sense? Quit fussing with little lies. Man up and tell the big lies. You should "fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation."
I won't even tell you who pointed out the efficacy of that particular tactic. The comparison is so ugly that no one really wants to go there. Even when they should.
But come on. What else can you do when your campaign makes no sense? When smaller lies aren't working well enough or fast enough to make people frightened and angry enough? Tell bigger lies.
Because voters are stupid.