Politics postsFriday September 19, 2008
Tom Toles is Genius
He's got a good one today on the 180-degree flip-flops of the McCain campaign, but it's the editorial cartoon yesterday, particularly the coda, that got me. Brilliant. Our country in a nutshell:
Things to Read Before the Next Great Depression
A few bits and pieces collected from the Web:
- Chris Kelly has another so-funny-it's-sad piece about the current level of our political debate: specifically, John McCain, who implies the other guy thinks he's messianic, saying he will put an end to both evil (War on Terror) and now greed (banking crisis, uncapitalized thus far). “John McCain will not only take on special interests and Washington insiders, he'll fundamentally alter human nature. ... Or maybe he's just a desperate shell of a man, babbling glorp.”
- Please read Bob Cesca's piece on why, given the collapse of our foreign policy, our economy, our status in the world, this race is still close. Before I read Cesca, I would've assumed the race was still close becaue of race, but he's got a better point. There's a lot of noise in the right-wing media that never reaches my ears, but that noise is constant and overwhelming and unaccountable. It says what it wants. And right now it's saying some pretty nasty shit. Also known as lies. Often about race.
- David Brauer has a piece on MinnPost about my hometown newspaper, and the paper my father worked at for 30 years, that's sad but indicative of the current state of newspapers. Strib editor Nancy Barnes sent staff an e-mail about political coverage, a warning to remain objective, but then added this: “If you are involved in a political story, please look at it from several different perspectives and ask yourself: 'If I were running, would I find this fair and balanced?'” Brauer rightly adds, “I doubt the last thing Ben Bradlee said to Woodward and Bernstein was, 'Ask yourself:”'If I were president, would I find our Watergate coverage fair and balanced?''" Exactly. Being objective doesn't mean being stupid.
My Name is Erik Lundegaard and I Approve of This Message
Who is Barack Obama? Atticus Finch
For most of the year, Republicans have tried to negatively define Barack Obama. They compare him to the most empty aspects of our own society and the most violent aspects of global society. They twist everything, and lie about anything, and in doing so reveal exactly who and how desperate they are.
In the face of these attacks, Barack has remained calm, articulate, resolute. His anger, when it comes, is not the anger of a man with a hair-trigger temper, like John McCain, but the righteous anger of someone who knows that not only he, but our entire system, is being wronged.
And it got me thinking about who this reminds me of.
We know how John McCain defines himself — as a maverick — but anyone who’s been paying attention knows how empty that slogan is. He’s a follower at this point. He’s following the lead of Steve Schmidt, his campaign manager, who once followed the lead of Karl Rove. Whatever smear works, whatever lie works, no matter how sleazy, that’s what they’ll do. So regardless of what John McCain once was, he has now been reduced to the role of a not very bright man surrounded by extremely malicious people. The same malicious people, I should add, who have surrounded another not very bright man, George W. Bush, for the last eight years.
But they keep pumping out the myth. The chest-thumping, Paul Fistinyourface myth of the stupidly aggressive American. In a magazine interview, John McCain even compared himself to TV hero Jack Bauer of “24,” until he was reminded that Bauer’s main (and suspect) means of gathering information — torture — is what John McCain suffered under for five years. But I guess torture is good as long as we’re the torturers. I guess bullying is good as long as we’re the bullies. That’s what half the country seems to think anyway.
Barack, it’s true, is no bully. Here he is after the Republicans mocked him for his community service:
And here’s his response after Gov. Palin suggested that habeas corpus and the U.S. Constitution don’t matter:
Barack Obama is tough but ethical. He’s someone who can make friends out of our enemies rather than — as the Republicans keep doing — enemies out of our friends.
So who does Barack remind me of? He’s a civil rights lawyer who taught Constitutional law and is bringing up two girls the right way. When bullies gather, he stands up for what’s right, he stands up for the rule of law, he stands up. He’s an honorable man running an honorable campaign.
You’ve already read the headline so you already know my answer. Barack Obama reminds me of Atticus Finch, the hero of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and, according to the American Film Institute, the greatest hero in American movie history.
Here’s Scout on Atticus: “There just didn't seem to be anyone or anything Atticus couldn't explain.” Here’s Atticus to Scout: “If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”
This is the very lesson that chest-thumping Republicans have mocked for the last seven years. And where has it gotten us? Wasting billions pursuing the wrong people in the wrong places.
Republicans aren’t interested in understanding. They’re not even interested in talking. You can almost imagine this bit of dialogue between Atticus and Scout taking place between Obama and a certain Republican vice-presidential candidate:
Atticus: Scout, do you know what a compromise is?
Scout: Bending the law?
Atticus: Um, no. It’s an agreement reached by mutual consent.
We’re still in this midst of our own mythic internal struggle, aren’t we, between the violent and often lawless aspects that John McCain represents, and the tough but ethical rule of law that Barack Obama represents. I would’ve thought this battle was over by now. I would’ve thought rule of law triumphed long ago. Apparently not.
Even Atticus, that great hero, lost his case. He proved his case but the trial was rigged from the start by our own overwhelming prejudices, by our need to see things as they are not, by our need to buy into the lie.
Are we a better country now? Or do we still need to see things as they are not? Do we still need to buy into the lie?
Up to you.
OK, Everyone Read Andrew Sullivan
Everyone. The full piece is here. This is merely the overture:
For the past two weeks serious commentators and columnists have been asked to take the candidacy of Sarah Palin for the vice-presidency of the United States seriously.
Formerly sane people have written of the McCain campaign’s selection of this running mate as if it represents a new face for Republicanism, an emblem of can-do western spirit, a brilliant ploy to win over Clinton voters, a new feminism, a reformist revolution, and a genius appeal to the religious right.
I’m afraid I cannot join in. In fact I cannot say anything about this candidacy that takes it in any way seriously. It is a farce. It is absurd. It is an insult to all intelligent people. It is a sign of a candidate who has lost his mind. There is no way to take the nomination of Palin to be vice-president of the world’s sole superpower - except to treat it as a massive, unforgivable, inexplicable decision by someone who has either gone insane or is managerially unfit to be president of the United States. When, at some point, the hysteria dies down, even her supporters will realise that, by this decision, McCain has rendered himself unfit to run a branch of Starbucks, let alone the White House.