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.


Jaye Ramsey Sutter said...

First what does anyone expect from Republicans--Reagan started his campaign from the city where civil rights workers were murdered.

Second, I wish I had some sympathy for Obama who insisted that Bill Clinton was a racist. In all fairness, Obama didn't encourage death threats, but he didn't discourage his surrogates from using such tactics to steal the black vote which must have the memory of well gee most stupid Americans when he said Dr. King was more important than Lyndon Johnson in passing the Civil Rights Act.

What goes around, comes around. When he tells the Clintons that he is sorry he lied like a cheap rug then I will feel something for him.

Also, did Jack Kennedy or even that asshole Romney quit his church to suit voters? No. And if Bill Ayers is still an asshole, then Obama needs to say he is or isn't and quit getting the benefit of the bomb thrower and turned peace nik vote.

Obama did this shit in his own special way, too. McCain according to him is crazy. Which may be true but I didn't know Obama was such an excellent judge of the mental health of Americans.

Porlock Hussein Junior said...

Gee, I missed that business that jaye ramsey sutter talks about, the one with Johnson and King and all. On the planet I inhabit, Barack Obama (pushing grass-roots action) spoke about political action from below, particularly M L King Jr; after which his opponent Hillary Clinton (pushing experience and professionalism) spoke to the effect that the reform would not have come about without Johnson's skilled action.

From which it turned into a really nasty business, in which many people really did believe that King was being slighted and that there was racist motivation. They did not wait for a cue from Obama for this -- not unless they were getting their cues by some fast and secret underground railway or something, out of sight of the rest of us. If you could bring yourself to read something Lower Manhattanite wrote in the Group News Blog, you could get an understanding of what was going on in people's minds.

BTW I thought LM was largely wrong (a nearly unique occasion in my experience) about the politics and motivations of the Johnson side; but that's just, you know, my opinion. What he said about his side was important.

If anybody came well out of that episode, I'd like to hear about it. What was most notable was a lack of desire to come together and avoid a tragic, predictable fight: a practice of appeasement, in fact. Or a lack of a true unpartisan approach.

Jaye Ramsey Sutter said...

Obama surrogates did indeed give Hillary all sorts of shit over the Johnson remark which every round table talk show worth anything had Johnson historians pointing out that she was right and the Obamabots were wrong.

What did you miss, the part where she was right?

Lewis was right there saying King was slighted. He was not. As Hillary said, he was the showhorse, Johnson the workhorse and not a fucking thing would have changed unless Johnson pushed Congress the way he had as majority leader to do the right thing. King wasn't an elected official and couldn't move Congress. Johnson did. And that is overshadowed by Vietnam and the "I have a dream" version of history. Not biography, not experience but abunch of rewrite because it sells.

King was important but Johnson got the work done.

Jaye Ramsey Sutter said...

And another thing, Obama is a sexist and has sexist surrogates. I have never been so disappointed in my party since they well supported that fighter John Kerry who allowed George Bush draft dodger to make a coward out of Kerry. Or that other brilliant Mass. politico Dukakis.

Obama may win this but he will go in with divided Democrats. I can't get behind him largely because I can't hear him from the chorus that follows him worshiping the empty rhetoric.

As Palin whips up ugliness and doesn't denounce it, Obama did the same with rap stars singing about the bitch ain't his problem no more. Did they mean his wife?

Anonymous said...

oh fuck me. Please. Please. If any women felt afraid after an Obama rally I never met one. It was fucking peace and love for ever and ever amen. Lewis and the rest of us are talking about an atmosphere at McCain's rallies where any non white person, or person with an obama pin, had better fear for their life and run like hell. The press itself has felt threatened. Get off our our lawn already with your faked up post facto pseudo hillary angst. Its over.


Leonora said...

I can't believe some idiot is rehashing civil-rights-leaders vs pols importance in passing legislation in the comments to a post that contains:

"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."