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Yet Another Political Rant. Enjoy!

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=2447

And this one:  http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/6/25/173/40630




( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 20th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC)
I really think Obama is a victim of his own success. People who don't remember RFK or other truly inspiring figures from our political past seem skeptical of anyone who can truly excite people about the political process. It's not a cult. It's how people living in a Democracy ought to feel about the men and women we elect to lead our nation.

Thanks as always for the comment, Alis.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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