Yet Another Political Rant. Enjoy!

February 20, 2008

I have to admit to being a bit obsessed with this year’s political campaign.  I watch election returns on CNN every Tuesday as if it were a favorite drama series.  I watch debates whenever they’re on.  And I have an embarrassing number of political websites that I check on a daily basis. 

In the course of watching and listening and surfing, I’ve heard certain things again and again that bug the hell out of me because, a) they’re just not true, and b) they fit a narrative that the mainstream media wishes were true.  What things? you ask.  Let’s start with these: 

1.  Barak Obama’s support has become some kind of “cult of personality.”  Give me a break.  The guy is charismatic and unbelievably eloquent, but he’s not a modern day Hitler, as one Fox “News” commentator had the nerve to suggest.  All candidates for national office attract something of a personality-based following, but Obama’s is in no way “creepy” or “dangerous” as some have said.  In fact, the chants that one hears at McCain rallies (“Mac is Back, Mac is Back”) and Huckabee rallies (“We Like Mike, We Like Mike”) are much more rooted in cults of personality than Obama’s trademark “Yes we Can!”  And if you’re looking for a disturbing cult of personality, check out the way Republicans speak of Ronald Reagan, the way they wax delusional about his administration.  Now that’s creepy. 
2.  John McCain is a “straight-talking maverick” who will draw moderate Democrats and Independents away from whoever wins the Democratic nomination.  Straight-talking?  In the last few weeks he has flip-flopped on the Bush tax cuts (he voted against them twice; now he wants to make them permanent) and torture (he had been an outspoken critic of the Bush Administration’s willingness to use what are euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation techniques”; last week he voted against an amendment that would have barred the CIA from using those techniques).  A maverick?  In addition to these two reversals, both of which were clearly designed to ingratiate himself with the right-wing of the GOP, he has also been a steadfast supporter of the Bush Administration’s illegal, immoral war in Iraq.  He has reversed himself on banning gay marriage — in 2004 he opposed a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage; in 2006 he supported a state initiative in Arizona to do just that.  He has retreated from his principled stand on illegal immigration.  In short, he has been willing to say and do anything necessary to win over GOP conservatives, regardless of his previously stated beliefs.  In what way is he a maverick or a straight-talker?  Which of the views he now espouses are likely to win him support with moderate Independents, much less Democrats? 
3.  Democrats need to find some way to overcome John McCain’s advantages on national defense and foreign policy issues.  A recent poll done by the Rasmussen public opinion group (hardly a bastion of liberalism) indicates that sixty per cent of American voters want U.S. troops withdrawn from Iraq within a year.  60%!  John McCain not only supports this war, he says that he can foresee leaving a U.S. military presence in Iraq for one hundred years.  ‘Nough said. 
4.  Barack Obama gives great speeches, but he speaks in generalities and offers few specifics.  As opposed to who?  First of all, Obama does offer many specifics:  he talks about his health plan in great detail; he has presented a plan for dealing with the mortgage crisis; he has offered a proposal to give a $4,000 per student college tuition tax break in return for a year of national servce; and he has a raft of other position papers available on his website.  Second, I listened to McCain’s victory speech last night in Wisconsin, and the most specific thing he said (aside from criticizing Obama’s “empty speeches”) was that he had a plan to keep America “safe, prosperous, free, and proud.”  Funny, I missed the part in Obama’s speech where he called for making the country vulnerable, impoverished, enslaved, and ashamed.  What a load of horse crap.
 5.  There is an overarching Myth in this country that feeds all these other myths.  The press, we have been told, is biased to the left.  I’ll grant that at one time, decades ago, there might have been some truth to this.  But it hasn’t been true in years.*  There is no network on television that is as biased as Rupert Murdoch’s right-leaning Fox “News”.  No network even comes close.  And yet The Myth persists, driving networks like CNN and MSNBC to give forums to crackpots like Glenn Beck and mysogynists like Chris Matthews.  
The Myth enabled the swift-boating of John Kerry and the demonization of Max Cleland — networks were so afraid of seeming biased to the left that rather than dismissing out of hand vicious lies and unsubstantiated rumors, they reported them as news, thus giving them credence.  The Myth allowed the Bush Administration to lead us into war with lies and half-truths.  Networks were so afraid of seeming unpatriotic and sympathetic to the Administration’s critics on the left that they refused to look critically at the White House’s deeply flawed rationale for war. 
And now, in this election, they’re doing it again.  They accept the narrative of John McCain because they want it to be true, and because they’re afraid that by casting doubt on its verity they will betray a bias for the left that doesn’t exist. 
*No doubt my friends on the right will leave comments pointing to a study done last year that indicated that members of the press who vote, tend to support overwhelmingly Democratic candidates.  Certainly the right-wing media pounced on this study, saying it proved what they already knew to be true:  that the press has a liberal bias.  But it should be noted that this study was done by Accuracy in Media, a group with deep and significant ties to right-wing political organizations.  To see a different side to this debate, take a look at this link: http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2447And this one:  http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/6/25/173/40630 

 

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7 Responses to “Yet Another Political Rant. Enjoy!”

  1. Charlotte said

    I don’t know why the GOP has to gang-up on the LGBT community to prove what real men they are. Marriage is a basic civil right that should be attainable by all Americans. For the truth about gay marriage check out our trailer. Produced to educate & defuse the controversy it has a way of opening closed minds & provides some sanity on the issue: http://www.OUTTAKEonline.com

  2. davidbcoe said

    Thanks for the comment and the link. The GOP has used wedge issues for years to divert attention from the fact that their core economic principles are at odds with the self-interest of the vast majority of voters. So they use fear and hatred. Nixon used race (his so-called “Southern Strategy” — George H.W. Bush used this, too. Remember Willie Horton?); Reagan used fear of Communism (remember the Bear Commercial?); Bush has used homophobia.

  3. Brian said

    Good Post David, I have been watching Obama’s latest speech from Houston and he definitely spelled out his plan for Healthcare and economic issues.

    Homophobia has come up lot in recent years, and sadly its used as a rallying cry for “conservative’s” who basically want to legislate their religious beliefs to the rest of the country. Im a Christian and I am strongly against legislating any religious doctrine including abortion and the religious side of marriage. Marriage is a tough one because so much of our country’s political history comes from religious issues, and at least I was taught in school, the nation was founded on the principle of religious tolerance, and by extension, the policy of separation of church and state. But I think the country as a whole has become less religious and that tends to bring out the reactionary “christians”. I put that in quotes because of the obvious contradiciton betweeen hate-mongering and christianity. Well as much as I embrace my religions teaching on the subject of marriage I dont think that we can claim marriage solely belongs to the religious in the country.

    Anyway Im rambling, so Ill just say that I think the freedom to marry should belong to anyone, but its going to be a hard sell to people who cant separate marriage from their religion.

  4. I don’t get why its such a big issue. If you don’t want to see same sex couples making out, don’t go to a gay bar. If you don’t want to see straight couples making out, don’t go to a straight bar. If you don’t want to see making out in general, don’t go to the bar.

    …It seems simple to me?

  5. Brian said

    Yeah I feel the same way, I dont go to bars much

  6. Frank said

    Hey, don’t forget McCain’s big “Falwell Flip-Flop” from a few years ago, when the “Agent of Intolerance” on a par with Louis Farrakhan, was suddenly deemed okey-dokey.

    And now, TORTURE is okay too? That is something that really ought to be un-flip-floppable. If you can’t draw a line in the sand at torture, then you don’t deserve to be involved in the military at all, much less commander-in-chief.

    Oh, and if you think it’s odd that your comment thread turned to the topic of Gay marriage, which you mentioned nowhere in this post, you should know that I saw “Charlotte” post the same comment, nearly verbatim, on another, completely unrelated blog. Here.

    http://artruch.wordpress.com/2008/02/18/george-lakoff-on-right-wing-ideology-and-same-sex-marriage/#comment-13738

    I think your blog may be being used as a tool for Charlotte’s kinda spammy marketing strategy. Make of it what you will.

  7. davidbcoe said

    Yeah, Frank, I had the sense that Charlotte’s post was a bity SPAM-y, but I approved of the message so I let it pass. That said, I agree entirely with Michele and Brian about this. Nancy and I joke all the time about how the idea of gay marriage has ruined our own marriage, by cheapening it. As I say, we’re joking of course — but there are people out there who really feel this way! How wacked out is that?

    And I agree with you entirely about McCain’s torture flip-flop (“un-flip-floppable”? I love that!!). This is an issue that cuts to the very core of who this man is. He was tortured during his time as a POW in ‘Nam. That is central to his political identity. It’s part of what makes him “an American hero.” If selling out on that issue is not akin to a pact with the devil, I don’t know what is.

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