Saturday, August 2, 2008
Saturday 02 August 2008
by: Bob Herbert, The New York Times
John McCain (on screen) delivers speech at annual conference of the National Urban League in Orlando, Florida. (Photo: Mary Altaffer / AP)
Gee, I wonder why, if you have a black man running for high public office - say, Barack Obama or Harold Ford - the opposition feels compelled to run low-life political ads featuring tacky, sexually provocative white women who have no connection whatsoever to the black male candidates.
Spare me any more drivel about the high-mindedness of John McCain. You knew something was up back in March when, in his first ad of the general campaign, Mr. McCain had himself touted as "the American president Americans have been waiting for."
There was nothing subtle about that attempt to position Senator Obama as the Other, a candidate who might technically be American but who remained in some sense foreign, not sufficiently patriotic and certainly not one of us - the "us" being the genuine red-white-and-blue Americans who the ad was aimed at.
Since then, Senator McCain has only upped the ante, smearing Mr. Obama every which way from sundown. On Wednesday, The Washington Post ran an extraordinary front-page article that began:
"For four days, Senator John McCain and his allies have accused Senator Barack Obama of snubbing wounded soldiers by canceling a visit to a military hospital because he could not take reporters with him, despite no evidence that the charge is true."
Evidence? John McCain needs no evidence. His campaign is about trashing the opposition, Karl Rove-style. Not satisfied with calling his opponent's patriotism into question, Mr. McCain added what amounted to a charge of treason, insisting that Senator Obama would actually prefer that the United States lose a war if that would mean that he - Senator Obama - would not have to lose an election.
Now, from the hapless but increasingly venomous McCain campaign, comes the slimy Britney Spears and Paris Hilton ad. The two highly sexualized women (both notorious for displaying themselves to the paparazzi while not wearing underwear) are shown briefly and incongruously at the beginning of a commercial critical of Mr. Obama.
The Republican National Committee targeted Harold Ford with a similarly disgusting ad in 2006 when Mr. Ford, then a congressman, was running a strong race for a U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee. The ad, which the committee described as a parody, showed a scantily clad woman whispering, "Harold, call me."
Both ads were foul, poisonous and emanated from the upper reaches of the Republican Party. (What a surprise.) Both were designed to exploit the hostility, anxiety and resentment of the many white Americans who are still freakishly hung up on the idea of black men rising above their station and becoming sexually involved with white women.
The racial fantasy factor in this presidential campaign is out of control. It was at work in that New Yorker cover that caused such a stir. (Mr. Obama in Muslim garb with the American flag burning in the fireplace.) It's driving the idea that Barack Obama is somehow presumptuous, too arrogant, too big for his britches - a man who obviously does not know his place.
Mr. Obama has to endure these grotesque insults with a smile and heroic levels of equanimity. The reason he has to do this - the sole reason - is that he is black.
So there he was this week speaking evenly, and with a touch of humor, to a nearly all-white audience in Missouri. His goal was to reassure his listeners, to let them know he's not some kind of unpatriotic ogre.
Mr. Obama told them: "What they're going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He's risky."
The audience seemed to appreciate his comments. Mr. Obama was well-received.
But John McCain didn't appreciate them. RACE CARD! RACE CARD! The McCain camp started bellowing, and it hasn't stopped since. With great glee bursting through their feigned outrage, the campaign's operatives and the candidate himself accused Senator Obama of introducing race into the campaign - playing the race card, as they put it, from the very bottom of the deck.
Whatever you think about Barack Obama, he does not want the race issue to be front and center in this campaign. Every day that the campaign is about race is a good day for John McCain. So I guess we understand Mr. McCain's motivation.
Nevertheless, it's frustrating to watch John McCain calling out Barack Obama on race. Senator Obama has spoken more honestly and thoughtfully about race than any other politician in many years. Senator McCain is the head of a party that has viciously exploited race for political gain for decades.
He's obviously more than willing to continue that nauseating tradition.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Plenty of news… so many good friends and even a few members of the family have RSVP’d for the Anniversary party on the 9th. Our son and his girlfriend are coming, cousins and their family, neighbors, dear friends from Portland and Los Angeles. There is M’s family and parents in Brasil who cannot be here yet wish they could, and there are members of my family who don’t want to be here on the day (their great loss). It should be a grand time.
Some folks have asked why we are doing this. After all, we were married and domesticated 8 years ago in a tremendous ceremony by 90 Methodist ministers who laid their hands on us. M may have his reasons, but mine are simply, “because we can”.
There are thousands of couples across the country who cannot marry, or even receive domestic partnership benefits. There are many of my friends who have passed away, who would have wished to have had the right to marry. So besides being absolutely besotted by my partner of 10 years, I want to do this for those who cannot.
So we do this for them… and will raise a glass in their memory because we can!
10 things you should know about John McCain (but probably don't):
- John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has "evolved," yet he's continued to oppose key civil rights laws.
- According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain "will make Cheney look like Gandhi."
- His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.
- McCain opposes a woman's right to choose. He said, "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned.
- "The Children's Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children's health care bill last year, then defended Bush's veto of the bill.
- He's one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a "second job" and skip their vacations.
- Many of McCain's fellow Republican senators say he's too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He's erratic. He's hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me.
- "McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.
- McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his "spiritual guide," Rod Parsley, believes America's founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a "false religion." McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church "the Antichrist" and a "false cult."
- He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0—yes, zero—from the League of Conservation Voters last year.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sen. Barack Obama now leads Sen. John McCain among national registered voters by a 49% to 40%, according to the latest Gallup Tracking Poll."The margin, coincident with the extensive U.S. news coverage of Obama's foreign tour, is the largest for Obama over McCain measured since Gallup began tracking the general election horserace in March."