Monday, October 13
Breaking...Riley Finally Endorses Candidate!
Representative John Robert Lewis, Democrat of Georgia.
LET'S see if we can get one thing straight, even if it doesn't make a hair's difference in the long run: if we want to return decency to our campaigns, our debates, our daily lives, for that matter, we have to eliminate public stupidity. Not the sort of stupidity that fumbles to describe a half-understood public inanity like Barack Obama's dedication to the Qur'an before coming up with "He's a...a.....a Arab!" This sort of shit will be with us always, and I don't blame John McCain for leading a pack of hate-filled racist xenophobes. I blame him for being a Republican. The rest of it's just part of the package.
No, what I'm talking about isn't, so far as is known, directly traceable to one's mother's pre-natal diet of Lucky Strike Greens, Moon Pies, and Old Overholt, or one's own preference for mercury-laden fish slow-simmered in a battered aluminum frying pan. What I mean is the widespread demonstration that the nation's politicians, its scribes and headline fashioners, and a large percentage of its well-paid campaign functionaries cannot understand simple declarative sentences. Or, quite often, produce them in response.
Consider as the middle-aged man with a reasonable respect for the conventions of English sits down in front of the teevee news to learn that John Lewis, a man he regards as one of his country's heroes, has "compared John McCain to George Wallace." His semantic sense goes into overdrive. How so? By height? By volume? By their similar indifference to professional tailoring? By the partly-congruent repugnance of their spouses? What? And who th' fuck besides John Lewis even remembers George Wallace anymore? The answer to that one is, drum roll--John McCain, who demands an apology and declares the comparison "beyond the pale".
Two things here, while our mind is working quickly: one, the simple fact that John McCain is demanding an apology suggests to us, without checking, that Lewis said no such thing, which will be proven out. And two, what's outside our pale, if anything (and we are not so naive as to believe our politics have ever been gentle) has survived three decades of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, is Cindy McCain, a part-time political historian whose full-time job is "heiress", calling the Obama campaign "the dirtiest in American history" when it's not even the dirtiest one she's participated in, not until the Obama campaign manages to top push-polling about her husband's black love child. What's beyond the pale is a dim-bulb petty criminal parading around the campaign trail denouncing Obama for "palling around with terrorists".
Or that is, those things are beyond the pale of what's supportable either factually or rhetorically, as constructed by people who still care about such things. And I didn't hear McCain rushing to apologize for them.
Just what th' hell are we supposed to imagine is Councilwoman Palin's role, exactly, if not shit stirrer? She stirred shit at the Convention, and she's stirred shit on the trail ever since, avoiding in the process any further embarrassing demonstrations of how utterly unqualified she is to be the industry's chosen representative on the Railroad Retirement Board. And so be it; if she's what the McCain campaign needed, so fucking be it. (Readers with long memories may recall her comparing herself to a lower mammal bred to latch onto anything and refuse to let go, which let to our last little national spasm from the Gee I Don't Understand English, Let's Make It Our Official Language brigades, which objected to her not being compared to a pig.) Palin represents nothing whatsoever beyond the Ill-Informed White Protestant with a Manufactured Sense of Personal Aggrievement. John Lewis represents an incredibly brave minority which fought murderous domestic fascists with ideals for a sword and its own craniums as a shield.
Lewis has every right to compare the tone of the McCain/Palin campaign to that of Wallace and all the other inciters of White violence in the name of collecting votes. Much of Wallace was an act, if you'd like to get right down to it, like all of Palin's appeal beyond her vaunted fearlessness in rooting out corruption. (How's that one goin', by the way? Was it insensitive of me to use "root" as a verb?) And unlike Wallace's case, the shit the McCain campaign's been stirring had long since settled to the bottom, at least officially. John Lewis has done us yet another service. He not only has the right to call things as he sees 'em, he's paid for that right many times over, the same way McCain paid for his military service. It's time to recognize the equivalence of that service. And it's time for McCain to either brush up on his English, or else to publicly acknowledge the reality of the party he belongs to, the same way his selection of the Councilwoman from Alaska acknowledged it tacitly.
Labels: White People in the News