Six Degrees of Speculation: October 2008: Archives
With more than ten days to the election of a new president, it's probably premature to attempt to decipher the missteps of the McCain campaign. At the same time, given the theatrical nature of the candidates erratic endeavor, it's not unusual for critical reviews to precede the cancellation of a poorly constructed production. The fact that the dogged director assumed it would be possible to indiscriminately insert and remove actors as if they were interchangeable only exacerbated the inevitable panning of the performances.
As I've sought to define the differences between the McCain and Obama campaigns, I've been forced to return to the issues of authenticity (believability) and character construction. It strikes me that the McCain campaign's prevailing problem has been an inability to portray the presence of either. Instead, those in charge have lurched to and fro while latching onto a litany of incoherent cameo caricatures.
One late appearing actor precipitated my decision to predict that the lights would soon be switched off on what may well be recorded as one of the most disjointed debacles in political theatrics. Enter Joe the Plumber with nary a week's worth of rehearsal, an unvetted vitae absent an iota of acting experience, and a hastily assembled set of scripted lines. John McCain's decision to write Joe into his debate dialogue and make him a fixture of his final act only attached an exclamation mark to his dubious and drama filled fiasco.
In short order, it became obvious that Joe the Plumber was miscast and unable to carry the arc of McCain's suspect story line...a stilted path that might evoke an abundance of pathos were it not the result of a reckless commitment to disassemble comity while utilizing an inordinate amount of conflict to carve out a constituency critical to his campaign's continuance. Sadly, the use of Joe the Plumber hasn't been any more authentic than the other tactics employed by the message challenged campaign.
From the outset, Joe's words didn't sync with his circumstances, and thus, rather than support McCain's effort to inject a much needed pivot point into his script, the plumber without papers simply highlighted the suspicions that John McCain's ambitions had eclipsed his ability to adhere to authenticity. In truth, if his goal was to attach a name and a face to an "everyman" meme, he needed to find one that fit. Instead, the haste with which he selected Joe undermined his sincerity; making him look more manipulative than measured.
Take a look at one of Joe's most recent remarks.
In an online chat session, a participant asked Joe the following question:
Hi Joe. If you are making the average plumbers' salary, you will get a greater tax break under Obama ~4x greater than McCain as well as an education credit to get your plumber's license. Will this help or hinder your dream of owning your own plumbing business? When you do start your business - according to your business plan - when do you anticipate personally clearing greater than $250,000 income/year?
This was Joe's answer:
Whether or not his tax plan, as he states it today, would help me, it still comes down to principles. I don't want someone else's hard earned money. How can you be sure they're not going to change their minds and decide you make too much money and want to take more of it to "spread" to someone else. Unfortunately, as much as Obama says he wants to help out small businesses, this small business opportunity is now dead.
As I read the answer, I was struck by the last sentence in which Joe suggests his small business opportunity is now dead. Rather than bring clarity, all I could wonder was why? In stating as much, he only accentuates the degree to which his situation is consistent with McCain's seemingly incoherent message. In retrospect, not only was Joe's original question of Obama an abstraction, it now seems as if it were little more than a stunt. As such, nothing McCain sought to demonstrate through Joe has felt real, which means Joe was just another in a long string of McCain's curious contrivances.
As one attempts to draw conclusions, it's the difference between lauding the believability of an Academy Award performance and laughing at the overdone and obtuse affectations of an actor in a "B" movie. The latter has been the nature of the McCain campaign while the former equates with the error free execution of Barack Obama's candidacy. This contrast leads us to see McCain as increasingly inauthentic while Obama's consistency strikes the observer as all the more genuine.
In the end, it's all about the audience. In John McCain's effort to pander, he has underestimated the profundity of the patrons, which meant his play and it's performers appeared superficial and suspect. Instead of invoking an air of inspiration, it left his audience hungry and unfulfilled...with more questions than answers...with more doubt and less hope.
As November 4th approaches, the critics are beginning to speak. In short order, the scarcity of ticket sales will begin to sink in. As the curtain is lowered for the last time, the lights will go dim and darkness will signal the death of a dismal drama. It's time to cue the finale.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Joe The Plumber, John McCain, Sarah Palin
Daniel DiRito | October 24, 2008 | 5:47 PM |
| Comments (1)
Oh how I love irony! My frenzied friends on the right have done their damnedest to portray the Obama's as snooty elitists...despite the fact that it's the McCain's who own seven homes, thirteen automobiles, and a virtual department store of haute couture for Cindy to show off on the campaign trail.
None of this should come as a surprise since the GOP has spent the last three decades pretending to care about the interests of the common man. With the emergence of the maverick McCain-Palin reformers ticket, that persona has been put on steroids...championing the likes of Joe Six-Pack, Joe The Plumber, and Tito The Construction Worker.
Unfortunately, it's not that easy to play a caribou killin' moose burger eating mom, with a doggone down home dialect, when one is dressed up in 150K of name brand clothing purchased with campaign funds. It's especially problematic when just days earlier your rabid right ring rottweiler's are pushing a story about Michelle Obama partaking of a delectable dinner fit for an airing on an episode of Robin Leach's "champaign wishes and caviar dreams" Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
So here's the problem...it turns out the Michelle Obama story was false...shooting a huge hole in the efforts to paint her as none other than an angry and arrogant African American manifestation of Mommy Dearest meets Leona Helmsley.
From The New York Post:
The source who told us last week about Michelle Obama getting lobster and caviar delivered to her room at the Waldorf-Astoria must have been under the influence of a mind-altering drug. She was not even staying at the Waldorf. We regret the mistake, and our former source is going to regret it, too. Bread and water would be too good for such disinformation.
Now cue the creation of Caribou-Barbie-wears-Christian-Lacroix (yea, that's close enough for Vic the Voter to draw a connection to hockey's Pierre Lacroix, right?) and you begin to see the sweet irony that comes with exposing those whose expertise is found in concocting ill-conceived illusions.
The Republican National Committee appears to have spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.
According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.
The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September.
The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August.
Politico asked the McCain campaign for comment, explicitly noting the $150,000 in expenses for department store shopping and makeup consultation that were incurred immediately after Palin's announcement. Pre-September reports do not include similar costs.
Spokeswoman Maria Comella declined to answer specific questions about the expenditures, including whether it was necessary to spend that much and whether it amounted to one early investment in Palin or if shopping for the vice presidential nominee was ongoing.
Think about it...when Sarah Palin asked us to imagine the difference between a hockey mom and a Pit Bull, we foolishly believed it was limited to lipstick. Well, we now know it includes skirts and suits, handbags and high heels, dresses and designer wear, and anything else one can buy on a paltry allowance of 150K.
Not to worry though, John McCain and Sarah Palin plan to share the pie with the two Joe's and Tito and Vic...that's what Republicans do when they cut taxes for all of Robin Leach's BFF's. A word of caution to the wise though...you better stay alert...I wouldn't want you to miss out on a few of the crumbs when they fall off the table.
Tagged as: Barack Obama, GOP, Hockey Mom, John McCain, Michelle Obama, Pie, Pitbull, Robin Leach, Sarah Palin, Waldorf-Astoria
Daniel DiRito | October 21, 2008 | 7:05 PM |
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I can't recall when I've detested a political candidate and his proteges as much as I do John McCain and his clan of contemptible claptrap kooks. Richard Nixon is the only other one that comes to mind, however my disdain for all things McCain is different...and much deeper.
You see, in many ways it's easier to accept the fact that Nixon was a garden variety crook than it is to accept that John McCain is nothing more than an inauthentic and self-serving fraud of a man with a Napoleon complex and an ego that is more fractured than his POW pulverized appendages.
McCain's manipulative "if only" mindset is little more than a manifestation of an impetuous and irascible man stuck in a state of perpetual adolescence. Each time I hear him explain away the tenor and tone of his campaign with "if only Barack Obama would have agreed to weekly town hall debates, it would have been different", I'm reminded of the degree to which this impish brat of a man believes the world revolves around him.
Frankly, the patterns have been there his entire life. I can practically hear the thin-skinned rationalizations that have taken place within his thick skull...especially the one that told him, "if only Carol (his 1st wife) hadn't gotten disfigured in an accident, he wouldn't have had to commit adultery and leave her". Were he merely a punk with a purpose, one might even find the means to restrict judgment. Unfortunately, he's far worse, which warrants unrestrained repudiation.
I've never had patience for those whose actions recklessly and indiscriminately impact and alter the lives of others. It seems to me that we live in a world where the flaws of the few are all too often forced upon the many. It's even worse when these weasels employ others in executing their self-centered subterfuge. John McCain's campaign is littered with these individuals and their endless instances of insolence. Yes, these participants do not deserve our respect and they should bear responsibility for their actions, but I've always reserved the lion's share of my contempt for the willful instigator. John McCain has earned that disgusting distinction.
In recent days, McCain has chosen to push his divisive rhetoric even further...virtually calling Barack Obama a socialist intent upon dismantling capitalism. In doing so, he has further fueled the fears of his followers such that they equate Obama with a terrorist, with treason, and with a belief that he is a danger to this country. Creating such an atmosphere of anger and anxiety may well earn Senator McCain a place in history reserved for the likes of Joe McCarthy. If it does, it will have come at the expense of his honor.
The following videos represent the handiwork hatched at the behest of John McCain...handiwork that will undoubtedly live on beyond the termination of his troubling campaign. His ambitions may well be the harbinger of havoc and they could easily serve as the seeds of an era of heightened hostility.
In the first video, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann "turn-her-over...drive-a-wooden-stake-through-her-darkened-soul" spews incendiary innuendo designed to incite fear and division in order to further the goals of a GOP that has parlayed partisanship into power...and co-opted Christianity to control their duped disciples...transforming both into a disgusting deal with the devil.
Bachmann would have listeners believe that the U.S. is under siege from foreign influences intent upon destroying democracy and dismantling our way of life. In espousing as much, it is actually Bachmann and her ilk who seek to supplant our societal structure and transition voters into the tools by which it is achieved and affirmed.
In the second video, McCain campaign spokesperson, Nancy Pfotenhauer, proceeds to draw lines of demarcation intended to pit one group against another...laying the groundwork for good versus evil; legitimate versus illegitimate. The ease with which the words roll off her tongue demonstrates the virility of the infection and the degree to which the disease has taken hold.
In the final video, Sarah Palin puts forth the notion that the United States is divided into pro-American areas, which therefore, by omission, serves to define those areas that are neither patriotic or permissible in the party of John McCain and his mindless minions. In fact, her words are fuel upon the fires of those who may well feel justified to reject the results of an election...or carry out acts intended to undo those results...all the while convicted that it is not only their right, but their duty to do so.
Crass as this may sound, I'm sick and tired of listening to these frickin' fraudulent Jesus freaks trying to stuff their specious shit down my throat. If a progressive tax rate (which we have had for decades) is un-Christian, then Jesus was a jerk and a socialist. You can't have it both ways.
Frankly, these fools need to pull the priggish poles, upon which their petulant pin heads are perched, right out of their righteous rectums. As soon as they're done doing that, they can mount their mother frickin' snow machines and their straight talkin' express mobiles and head for the holier-than-thou hinterlands...you know...the rapture ready "I can see Putin from my porch" kingdom of caribous, moose burgers, and Miss "you can kiss my ass" Alaska.
If Jesus is due to return shortly, I'm afraid "my friends" who have chosen to adopt and advance the mendacious mindset of John McCain may find themselves on the outside looking in. Then again, that probably won't happen since Jesus isn't apt to be as mean-spirited as John McCain.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Capitalism, Joe McCarthy, John McCain, Michelle Bachmann, Nancy Pfotenhauer, Richard Nixon, Sarah Palin, Socialism
Daniel DiRito | October 18, 2008 | 2:18 PM |
| Comments (2)
I've been rather quiet of late...feeling I had little new to offer on the presidential campaign. Frankly, I'm of the opinion that more words aren't always wise words...so I often need time to ponder in the hopes of finding the right words. Having watched the final presidential debate, a couple things became evident and noteworthy.
By and large, pundits and political strategists have been seeking the means to understand the McCain campaign's strategy in light of its seeming inconsistency. There seems to be an inclination to view this as a function of mismanagement or incompetence.
I think that's an oversimplification that ignores the underlying adherence to ideology on the part of his handlers...an ideology that has blind intransigence at its core and believes the end justifies the means...an ideology that jumped the proverbial shark when its adherents became convinced that yesterday's successes should guide their present pursuits and thus assure their future relevance.
It's important to understand the why and how of this misguided mindset...as well as the motivations that led John McCain to make it his own. That brings me to a telling comment made by John McCain in the first debate. Take a look at the video.
While the topic being discussed at this juncture in the debate was the war in Iraq, it is a perfect metaphor for what ails John McCain, his campaign, and the Republican Party. When McCain asserts that Obama doesn't understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy, their collective house of cards is exposed...as is their vulnerability.
Here's the point. We can argue about the motivations for the war in Iraq, but there is little doubt that a number of the failures we experienced resulted from the calculated conflation of political strategy and military tactics on the part of the president and his minions. At the time, fear (as a result of 9/11) served to supplant the rationality and reasonability of the public and enabled the Bush administration to utilize the war as a cynical tactic in a political strategy. Hence, the Bush administration's strategy in prosecuting the war became a series of tortured political considerations.
Truth be told, the decisions and actions of the GOP, and George Bush in particular during the bulk of the last eight years, have been the by-product of fabrication and falsification. At the same time, the use of similar methods to victimize John McCain during the 2000 presidential primary set in motion his own amorphous transformation towards embracing the thoughtless pursuit of ideological purity for political gain. That transformation facilitated a flawed belief that his succession to the presidency was a linear equation.
In other words, McCain incorrectly concluded that if A plus B led to the election and reelection of George Bush, it would also lead to his victory in 2008. Unfortunately, he failed to consider the fact that variables can easily alter the validity of any equation...let alone one primarily constructed upon contrivance. John McCain's reliance upon many of the ideologues who cut their teeth crafting this mathematical myth only served to insure his ideological surrender, indoctrination, and his inevitable inability to intuit otherwise.
In the end, John McCain's campaign has therefore become a string of tactics absent a strategy. Without the constraining constancy of the fear fomented by 9/11 as its ally, his message became a muddled mix of momentary manipulations that has now fallen upon deaf ears. Efforts to employ fear as his cornerstone have left his house of cards uninviting...and without a formula or a foundation to build upon.
Adding to his apparent misfortune, John McCain also appears prone to an ego that personalizes everything he encounters. In doing so, he's not inclined to internal examination or engaging in thoughtful review of attendant circumstances; rather he's more likely to strike out and blame others. The fact that he so easily personalized the "hurtfulness" of the words of John Lewis, while seemingly ignoring the gravity of derogatory and dangerous remarks directed towards his opponent at his campaign's rallies, reinforces my contention and underscores the existence of his externalized one-sided persona.
In today's political environment, that makes him appear more like a surly and stubborn old man falling tragically upon his own sword than a wise wizard with the wherewithal to remove a sacred sword from a stone in order to assume his righteous role. The juxtaposition of tragedy and fantasy may well typify the extent of his disconnected duality...and therefore his drama-filled demise.
As I've watched McCain navigate these three debates, he has seemingly made the transition from a flummoxed politician, fumbling his handler's lines, to an agitated and boorish bully who indiscriminately hurls bricks of bitterness at the object of his ire. When it's all said and done, the man who asserted that he put country first has become the victim of his own ambition.
His willingness to embrace the expediency of ideology, while ignoring the fact that the enemy of one's enemy may not always be one's friend, may have driven his downfall. John McCain chose to surrender his honor in the hope that he could hire one enemy to defeat another...without properly gauging the dynamics of the moment or the merits of executing an encore of 2004 in the shadow of 2006.
Perhaps John McCain needs to examine and redirect a few of his anger-laden bricks in order to begin the process of rebuilding an authentic identity...one that isn't reliant upon the triviality of transparent tactics. Something tells me the task of constructing a sound and secure structure, premised upon self-awareness, will be a lengthy and painful project for the senator. Then again, until that happens, I fear his heart will be haplessly hollow.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Debate, George W. Bush, Ideology, Iraq, John McCain, Politics
Daniel DiRito | October 16, 2008 | 10:15 AM |
| Comments (1)
Keith Olbermann calls John McCain out on his feigned outrage at the remarks of Congressman John Lewis. Yes, a number of pundits and politicians believe Lewis went a step too far...but then again...who knows better how narrow the line between rhetoric and violence may actually be than a man who lived through historical examples wherein that line was crossed in the blink of an eye.
John McCain and Sarah Palin can justifiably claim that they don't share any of the virulent animosity George Wallace often exhibited...however...should their tacit acceptance of outrageous outbursts at their events precipitate the violence Lewis seeks to warns against, it will be difficult for them to avoid culpability. In that potential, the comments of Congressman Lewis may well be appropriate, poignant, and prescient.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, George Wallace, John Lewis, John McCain, Keith Olbermann, Racism, Sarah Palin, Special Comment, Violence
Daniel DiRito | October 14, 2008 | 9:29 PM |
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As we move closer to the election, I've witnessed a phenomena that has only recently begun to make sense to me (by the fact that it doesn't make sense). First, I have to hand it to my Republican friends...their tenacity in creating tangible talking points out of thin air is unmatched.
Let me provide an example before I attempt to draw the connection between the manner in which they analyze and strategize elections and the predisposition of some Christians to promote intelligent design over evolution.
Over at the National Review, flummoxed politicos are desperate to craft a salient narrative to leverage John McCain back into a position to win the election. What they fail to realize is that their lurching from one idea to the next is simply supporting the Obama mantra that John McCain and the GOP are erratic. Take a look at the following.
From Jonah Goldberg (Part One):
I have no idea whatsoever if there's merit to this, and if there is how much merit, but lots of email like this:
When are people going to start talking about the REAL reason the markets are down - Obama up in polls. If I was McCain, I'd start telling people, "If you want to lose more money, vote Obama."
From Jonah Goldberg (Part Two):
Now, it's far more likely that the causation and correlation suggested by some readers is backward: the markets tank for non-political reasons and Obama does well as a result, rather than Obama does well and then the markets tank. Still, I think Pethokoukis' point that Obama's success may make investors more pessimistic about the future has some plausibility to it.
Finally, it sounds like this reader has it right (and I should correct a bunch of emailers who seem to think I was suggesting McCain blame Obama for the crashing markets, which I think would be ludicrous).
The suggestion that markets are down because of Obama's rising in the polls shows a preposterous misunderstanding of economics, and McCain will be (rightly) pilloried if he tries to make that claim. I have no doubt Obama will be an utter disaster for business and economic growth/recovery in this country, but the markets are reacting to fact that unemployment is way up (and climbing), manufacturing numbers are way down, housing prices are still falling, credit has seized up, overnight funding is near impossible to acquire at anything but prohibitive cost, there continue to be real questions as to the solvency of financial institutions and their nightmarish balance sheets, etc. Just about every piece of data that comes back these days is negative, with the exception of falling commodity prices and a strengthening dollar, as Kudlow correctly mentioned last week. Companies growth prospects in this kind of environment are bleak at best, and the markets are reacting in kind. In addition, the ban on short selling of financials rolled off today, so some of the downward pressure that had built up over the past week released itself today.
We'll reach a bottom of the market eventually, however--and I mean no disrespect to the previous e-mailer you quoted below--it's naïve to suggest the continued hammering we're all taking has anything material to do with the political zeitgeist.
OK, to argue that the ascension of Obama in the polls is responsible for our crashing financial system requires the suspension of reality. Now in fairness, I have to note that Jonah, in his second posting, dismisses the notion offered by the emailer in his prior posting. At the same time, this has seemingly become standard operating procedure for my friends on the right. Again, there's no fault in testing trial balloons; though there is folly in releasing the ones that don't merit a moments consideration. Doing so gives them an air of legitimacy that fosters more of the same.
Here's the problem...all too often GOP operatives establish an outcome (the preferred fact or belief) and then they create a hypothesis to support it. Clearly this isn't out of the ordinary with regards to scientific study. Virtually every hypothesis has at its origin some level of belief that it may be true, which leads to its testing. The problem with many on the right is that their bias and partiality leads them to corrupt the construct in order to rig the results. In other words, the scientific method is an acceptable construct when it yields the preferred result. Should it refute the optimal outcome, the kitchen sink must be tossed at it in order to discredit it.
That brings me to the connections between those who oppose the theory of evolution in favor of creationism or its most recent stepchild, intelligent design, and those who would put forth an intellectually dishonest explanation to further their political objectives.
Let me be clear, it's a free country and we're all entitled to attempt to influence others with whatever arguments we choose to employ. The problems arise when the credible and convincing means to measure the validity of a theory are cast aside in deference to ideological intransigence. You see, when an individual can dissect the Bible into those portions they accept and those segments they set aside...all the while maintaining the infallibility of the process and the indisputable nature of the conclusion...fiction has been elevated to a level commensurate with fact.
Even worse, there is no rational or reasonable means to compel these believers to abandon their arbitrary assertions in favor of a fact driven formula. Once this rejection of reasonability is rejected relative to religion, the distance to its dissolution with regards to other disciplines is easily abridged. In the field of politics, once dogma is allowed to dethrone dutiful deduction, extremism is enabled.
Hence, the efforts to assign arbitrary attributes to Barack Obama is the epitome of embracing this elusive equation. Not only does this promote discord, it precludes its resolution. Before it can be corrected, the quintessential question must focus upon uncovering the underlying motivations.
As I watch John McCain and his minions grapple with the prospect of defeat...and the fear that imparts...it supports my suspicion that terror management is at the core of our conundrum. Terror management posits that we humans are prone to obsessing upon the fear of our mortality and acting to diminish it.
As such, religion and the promise of an afterlife is a strategy to assuage the anxiety. Those predisposed to acting from fear are therefore susceptible to strategies that allow irrational ideations to override objective analysis. When confronted with fearful events, the instinctual reaction is to resort to the suspension of reason in order to construct a place of comfort.
Unfortunately, this behavior has an "imprinting" quality such that it is self-reinforcing the longer it persists. In the political realm, it is manifested in a refusal to allow or applaud alternate avenues of governance. The Clinton presidency is an excellent example. There is little doubt that his tenure was a period of relative peace and prosperity...and yet many on the right refuse to recognize as much. These individuals often argue that the time a president is seated in office isn't the essential measure of his merit...or they prioritize other considerations...such as morality in the case of Clinton.
Here's the problem. This approach isn't applied consistently. Ronald Reagan receives credit for his time in office as well as for a number of ensuing years. Questions of morality, such as his having been married twice and his silence on the AIDS epidemic, are ignored. Shades of gray are danger zones and the pursuit of black and white...regardless of either's availability...is the ultimate safe haven from which to view the world. With the passage of time, the GOP and its pliable and therefore palatable propaganda becomes the only amenable world view...facts be damned.
Doubt is equated with death and it must, therefore, be banished. Science, though seemingly certain, is still too slow in providing a palatable domicile from which to proceed. To embrace it is to risk the possibility that one's earthly existence could end before it can afford acceptable answers to free one from fear. A retreat to the malleability of irrational ideations is the only avenue by which one can construct an illusory and idyllic island, insulated from the unmovable manifestation of mortality.
Death is certain; political suicide is optional. Come into the light my GOP friends...I promise it won't kill you. Besides, you'll still have heaven as a backup, right?
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Bill Clinton, Creationism, Death, Economy, Evolution, GOP, Intelligent Design, John McCain, Jonah Goldberg, National Review, Religion, Ronald Reagan, Science, Scientific Method, Terror Management
Daniel DiRito | October 9, 2008 | 4:30 PM |
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It seems to me that a significant question will emerge in the aftermath of the 2008 election. The crux of that question has been framed by the inflammatory rhetoric of the McCain-Palin campaign in recent days. In its effort to sway voters and win this election, the McCain campaign has chosen to ignite animosities that will undoubtedly linger beyond November 4th...animosities that have the potential to unleash the very kind of violence that typified the groups and individuals the McCain campaign has attempted to link with Barack Obama.
At the core of the conflicts that marred the sixties and seventies was an immense divide between those who supported the continuation of the war in Vietnam and those who viewed it as an act of unnecessary imperialism. At the same time, issues of racial equality and morality were drawn into the equation...pushing many to embrace increasingly radical avenues of dissent.
Let me be perfectly clear, I am in no way offering a defense of those who perpetrated the destruction of property and acts of violence in order to deliver their message of disapproval. At the same time, prudence requires us to identify circumstances that could encourage members of our current society to feel justified in fomenting more of the same.
Each time Sarah Palin and other McCain operatives frame this election as a choice between preserving the status quo (patriotism, capitalism, and exceptionalism) or the emergence of a radical new order (postnationalism and socialism), the mechanisms to spark the fuse of righteous rebellion are accelerated. The tenor has the potential to trigger untold turmoil.
Take a look at the rhetoric being offered by Sarah Palin at yesterday's rally in Florida and note how it seeks to portray the above distinctions.
From The Chicago Sun-Times:
So I'm reading the New York Times, though, and I was really interested to read about Barack's friends from Chicago, as the New York Times (put it ?).
Now it turns out one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers.
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."
And then there's even more to the story. Barack Obama says that Ayers was just someone in the neighborhood, but that's less than truthful. His own top adviser said that they were quote, "certainly friendly." In fact, Obama held one of his first meetings of his political career in Bill Ayers living room.
And they worked together on various projects in Chicago. And, you know, these are the same guys who think that patriotism is paying higher taxes.
Remember, that's what Joe Biden had said. And I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way that you and I see America, as the greatest source for good in this world.
I'm afraid this is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country.
This, ladies and gentlemen, has nothing to do with the kind of change that anyone can believe in, not my kids, not for your kids. What we believe in is what Ronald Reagan believed in, and that is America is an exceptional nation.
Many in the media have argued that John McCain has failed to craft an economic message that resonates with a majority of Americans. While conventional metrics suggest the pundits may well be right, I contend they are missing the fact that there is an economic (and political) ideology contained in the McCain campaign's fundamental framing of this election. The fact that this message has elicited cries of "Terrorist", "Treason", and "Kill him" from members of an agitated audience is frighteningly foreboding.
Yes, I think it's safe to say that it may be impossible to discern the underlying motivations of John McCain and his minions. While the possibilities are limited, the outcomes are ominous. On the one hand, one might assume that the spoken words match the essence of the ideology supported by McCain, his handlers, and the base of the Republican Party. On the other hand, McCain and his handlers may simply be exploiting the fears and beliefs of the party's base in the hopes of political advantage. Regardless, once the cogitated cat is out of the bag, walking it back in will be problematic...and perhaps impossible in the short term.
Here's the issue. Should this tactic be allowed to blossom...and Barack Obama wins this election...the McCain campaign will have played an integral role in legitimizing any ensuing acts of anarchy designed to unseat those who are viewed as promoting a new and unpalatable paradigm. The fact that race could be a consideration serves as an acrid accelerant. By characterizing the opposition as the impetus for dismantling our long standing societal structure, the McCain campaign will have arguably participated in fueling the fires and offering tacit acceptance of those acts undertaken in obligatory opposition.
Ironically, by invoking the unacceptable acts of those associated with the unnerving unrest of another era...and attempting to attach them to Barack Obama...the McCain campaign may be laying the foundation for its repetition...albeit manifest as the mirrored opposite in its construction. When Joe Biden, during the vice presidential debate, suggested that the "past is prologue", I doubt he understood how prescient his words may have been.
As one looks back on the last ten years, one will invariably see the emergence of a short-sighted scorched earth strategy. The election of George Bush, along with the belief by Karl Rove that his politics-by-division would grant the GOP unbridled political dominance, set in motion a maelstrom capable of inflicting great damage.
When Sarah Palin playfully suggests "the heels are on, the gloves are off", she may not realize the harm her heated hyperbole may unharness. The fact that John McCain, once the victim of these wicked waves of wrath, has chosen to embrace it in Sarah Palin and employ many of Rove's mercenaries to execute his own tectonic triangulation may well be seen by history as the trigger that pushed America to the precipice of partisan political armageddon.
That brings me back to identifying the question that will fundamentally define the 2008 election, "At what point did John McCain forego putting country first and at what cost?"
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Bill Ayers, Joe Biden, John McCain, Karl Rove, Sarah Palin
Daniel DiRito | October 7, 2008 | 1:28 PM |
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Keith Olbermann wasted no time in responding to Sarah Palin's latest stump schtick. According to Palin, she's decided that it's "time to put on the heels and take off the gloves" in her efforts to sully Barack Obama. In tonight's Special Comment, Olbermann takes the governor up on one of her suggestion and pulls no punches...and the results may not be what Palin had in mind.
As Olbermann notes, it's rather puzzling that Palin would choose to focus upon linking Barack Obama to individuals of questionable character...or as she likes to infer..."terrorists", given her own brow raising associations with a witch doctor and a secessionist organization run by an anti-American radical.
It seems to me that people who wear rose colored lipstick and run around in glass stilettos should think before they kick every hockey puck in the arena. After all, she wouldn't want someone to suggest that her rhetoric is little more than a pig in a poke.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, John McCain, Keith Olbermann, Sarah Palin, Special Comment, Thomas Muthee
Daniel DiRito | October 6, 2008 | 7:44 PM |
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If affectations were authenticity, Sarah Palin's debate performance would have been Oscar worthy. If flirtations were facts, Sarah Palin could transform ennui into an astute entry in the encyclopedia. If muddled mutterings were metrics, Sarah Palin could be a mathematician. If serendipity were substance, enlightenment would emerge from Palin's equivocations. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas. If audacity were hope, John McCain and Sarah Palin would be our saviors.
Look, by virtually any means of measurement, the performance of Sarah Palin during last nights debate was an insult to voters and a mockery of our political process. While I realize Republicans want to support their ticket and hold the White House, the fact that any American could ignore the utter inanity of her performance last night...and cast a vote for the McCain-Palin ticket...is an affront to the integrity of our democracy.
To grant legitimacy to tactical cynicism is to empower the reckless acts of those who would sacrifice our society for their own exigent egotism. The only salient conclusion one can draw from John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate is that he may be the most dangerous man in America. Make no mistake; John McCain's life is the epitome of insolence and self-indulgence. Sarah Palin's selection is simply the exclamation mark.
With that said, John McCain is merely a symptom of a far more endemic illness. John McCain embodies a segment of our society that is willing to sacrifice rationality and reasonability for the pursuit of power and profit. Were that the limit of this egregious era of enmity, I might reconsider this recitation. The gravity of this moment doesn't afford that luxury.
John McCain and Sarah Palin do not represent the heart and soul of America...they are impostors who wrap themselves in the superficial rhetoric of patriotism, righteousness, and religiosity. They do this by denigrating and casting doubt upon those qualities in others. It takes the form of narcissistic negation designed to deny worth to those who refuse to check their cerebral capacities at the door and adopt their mindless mantras. When I witness the chanting of "USA, USA" or "Drill baby drill" at a McCain rally, I don't hear the collective cries of informed and evolved individuals; I hear and see the summary suspension of identity for the comfort of canned incantations.
The fact that this lockstep submission to simplistic circumlocution is being glorified in the disingenuous gesticulations of Governor "give me a frickin' break" Palin is an insult to true patriots, the resolutely righteous, and those who respect religion enough to forego flaunting it as if it were the latest fashion. Yes, John McCain served his country in the military...but the measure of a man must be his motivations...just as is the case with regards to the service of one's God. If patriotism or religion is employed as the means to manipulate others, neither is noble or noteworthy.
To understand this concept, and its relevance in discerning the essence of John McCain from the caricature he has carefully crafted, I highly recommend reading the recent article in Rolling Stone that traces his less than laudable biography.
As I read the article, I found myself recalling the story of Forrest Gump. While there may be symmetries in these two men's situations, they begin to diverge at the moment one delves into an examination of the purity of happenstance versus the cunning of calculation. While this exercise in illumination is intended to inform as to the integrity of the individual, it becomes especially insidious when a number of the observers can no longer apply objectivity in identifying the insincerity of the protagonist's executions. Ironically, the juxtaposition of fiction and fact only serves to amplify the premise of my argument...a belief that America is on the verge of becoming a tragic caricature of itself...prosecuted by icons hatched from the thin air of our illogical imaginations.
To understand the inevitable outcome of this diminishment-by-denial brand of obfuscation...carried out by and for the McCain-Palin candidacy...take a look at its full and frightening manifestation in Rich Lowry's summarization of the "performance" of Sarah Palin, posted at the National Review.
A very wise TV executive once told me that the key to TV is projecting through the screen. It's one of the keys to the success of, say, a Bill O'Reilly, who comes through the screen and grabs you by the throat. Palin too projects through the screen like crazy. I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think she just winked at me." And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can't be learned; it's either something you have or you don't, and man, she's got it.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but isn't the moment at which projection becomes an acceptable substitute for substantive competence and principled character, the moment at which reality has been rejected? The fact that this analysis...deliberately divorced from the fundamental consideration of John McCain's judgment in selecting Palin...can be put forth by Lowry and embraced by millions only exacerbates the erosion of rational thought.
As I read Lowry's inanity, it seemed as if this election was being reduced to the kind of manipulations one might expect to witness when a scantily clad vixen engages the unbridled libido of an adulterous husband on the prowl. Ah, yes, nothing better than pecker politics. Not only is this the epitome of a sexist oversimplification, it suggests the Governor is simply an object used as the means to an end. The cynicism is shocking.
That brings me back to John McCain and Forrest Gump. You see, the trajectory of the life of Forrest Gump was best exemplified by the flight of a feather in the wind...whereby the unintended acted upon the soul of an innocent. On the other hand, Sarah Palin is an offshoot of John McCain's path...a path that is akin to the clever carpenter cutting corners to build a house of cards...whereby his suspect soul is little more than a hypocritical hologram that puts Palin forth as the purposeful act of a sullied snake-oil salesman. In the progression of the pathology I'm describing, Sarah Palin is merely a distraction offered by the disease in order to further its spread and prevent its detection and destruction. The Rich Lowry's of the world are its toxic foot soldiers and the voting public is its intended victim.
In the end, it is insufficient to diagnose the source of our sickness and excise it from our body politic. Absent an aggressive intervention aimed towards inoculating the entirety of the organism, the unseen outposts of our oncology will continue to multiply. Treatment must be comprehensive. The return to rational health must include the rejection of those who would willingly drink the elixir and subscribe to the suggestions that it is an essential element of our identity.
Those who consume the potion called Sarah Palin at the behest of John McCain and his minions do so at their own peril. Once the pathogen gains a foothold, prevention will prove futile. America is on the precipice of a pandemic. Those of sound mind and steeled judgment must speak out against the allure of inauthenticity. Sarah Palin is poison. John McCain is pushing and promoting that poison. Stand up and demand that America purge itself of this vile virus. Restoration is coming...rejection is the cure.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Debate, Forrest Gump, Joe Biden, John McCain, Politics, Religion, Sarah Palin
Daniel DiRito | October 3, 2008 | 9:31 AM |
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