I was commenting on Anthony's thoughtful, as usual, essay, Are Americans Suspicious of Intellectuals?. My answer was a resounding "Yes." The conversation went back and forth, somewhat heated at times, and I chimed in: "Ultimately, my primary reason NOT to vote for Palin/McCain can be summed up by the frenzy of hate they and their supporters have stirred up. My favorite example. Seems somehow antithetical to what the country needs right now."
Someone named Kevin Benson responded: "Roger - Wow! Do you really feel that there is less hate on the left than on the right? If so, you have been doing some very selective listening. Unfortunately, ignorance, hatred, and prejudice are too prevalent across the political spectrum. If you are going to vote based on the 'frenzy of hate', you really should not vote for anyone."
Anthony jumps in, and says, in part: "Kevin - I agree with you that there is equal disinformation and hateful rhetoric on both sides of the political divide, but I have seen more appeals to 'not one of us' rhetoric coming from the McCain/Palin camp during this election season. What I mean is that Palin particularly, and some of those at the McCain/Palin rallies have directly and indirectly presented Obama as 'not a genuine American,' a man who has other than American interests at heart. And, maybe it is just me, but among all the negative campaigning on both sides, this particularly gets to me."
I respond: "Kevin - What Anthony said. Sure there have been attacks on McCain as old, out of touch, plus some legitimate health concerns. Even HE jokes about his ill temper. Palin is portrayed as not very with it, though not until her conversations with Gibson and Couric suggested that. Biden is a loose cannon who doesn’t always know when to shut up, he might acknowledge.
"But Obama’s been called a traitor, doesn’t love his country, an Arab (not that there’s anything wrong with that except it was used to evoke post 9/11 feelings and it’s not true), a Muslim (ditto), etc. I mean, what does “Who is Barack Obama REALLY?” supposed to suggest? Not Repudiated: Hate Talk Express-McCain/Palin Hate Every Day!".
Apropos of that, the picture Colin Powell alluded to on Meet the Press during his endorsement of Barack Obama :
Painfully, some of the smearing works. A Democratic committeeperson in Albany County asked me just yesterday, "But what about Obama being sworn in on a Koran?" I could have screamed, but gently, rationally noted that the information was NOT true and that she ought to go to Snopes.
Oh, I hear LOTS of frenzied stuff on both sides, to frankly a tiresome degree. But some independent entity determined that while virtually all of McCain's ads during a recent period were attack ads, only 1/3 of Obama's were. And I dare say, most of those were responses to the McCain ads, such as one noting that the McCain ads were "not true", lest he be swiftboated.
No, Kevin, I totally disagree that the "frenzy of hate" is caused equally by both sides. The "otherness" attack which may be code for race-baiting, and race is still the subtext, is hardly the equivalent to suggestions that Palin could be an extra in the movie "Fargo". And heck, the abandonment by folks from the political right of the spectrum is certainly fueled at least in part by the realization that the McCain-Palin rhetoric is fundamentally flawed.
And while I'm noting things from other blogs, Nik wrote: "Obama has proven to be pretty masterful at projecting a cool, collected vibe, even if it sometimes is a bit stiff. But McCain has been all over the bloody show at all three debates, by turns hyperactive, frazzled, arrogant and insecure." To which I wrote: "I'm convinced the "stiff"-ness you perceive (probably correctly) in Obama is his self-training in not being the 'angry black man'."
Amazingly, it was only then that the obvious parallel came to mind: Jackie Robinson. Jackie was a proud (and occasionally angry) black black man, who Branch Rickey told to suck it up, take the insults, and break baseball's color line. I think that Barack may have learned to be preternaturally calm because he's had to learn to straddle the color line virtually all his life.
The person sent me the picture above wrote, "What must it feel like? To carry the hopes and dreams of an entire race of people on your shoulders?" And I suppose that's become true. Though less than a year ago, it was Hillary, not Barack , who was the choice of most black Americans. And most blacks would probably have voted for whatever candidate the Democrats put up, though I think Obama's candidacy will spur a greater turnout.
Finally, Arthur and Jason had their post-debate podcast, and there was a discussion about polling. It's my contention that polling will be "off" significantly, not just because the pollsters miss all of those mostly younger voters without landline phones, but also because many states allow for early voting without cause. (In New York, I would have to be out of town or in the hospital. Oooh, I'm not feeling so well. May I vote now? PLEASE?)
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