Saturday, October 11, 2008

There is no floor. There is no shame. There is no clue.

Ophelia states it well:

The McCain-Palin campaign is a revolting spectacle. It interests me that there seems to be no braking mechanism, no floor, no point at which they just can't stomach it any more. I realize they want to win, but I assume they also want to be able to live with themselves. Yet there is no floor. There is (as with good old Joe McCarthy) no shame.

Beyond their shamelessness, what strikes me is how desperate the campaign seems. I mean...Ayers? That's the best they can do?

C'mon, Sarah, doggone it, I thought you said your campaign was going to look toward the future and not dwell on all that negativity in the past.

I mean, I don't condone what Ayers did back, uh, around the time I was born. Indeed, I tend to think such inept hotheads (in whatever country) have been bad not only for the left but for everyone in general.

But, please: by the time Obama met him, Ayers was a fixture on the Chicago educational scene. One might say that this condemns the entire city...actually, this is what McCain-Palin has tried to say. (Which leads part of my Chicagoland-born and Chicagoland-bred self to respond in very vulgar terms that I won't share with you.)

When these accusations surfaced in April, Chicago's mayor, Richard M. Daley, issued a statement calling Ayers a 'valued member of the Chicago community' and praising his work on the city's school system.

More recently, Daley said:
“He’s done a lot of good in this city and nationally,” Mayor Richard M. Daley said in an interview this week, explaining that he has long consulted Mr. Ayers on school issues. Mr. Daley, whose father was Chicago’s mayor during the street violence accompanying the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the so-called Days of Rage the following year, said he saw the bombings of that time in the context of a polarized and turbulent era.

“This is 2008,” Mr. Daley said. “People make mistakes. You judge a person by his whole life.”

Maybe you agree with him, or maybe you don't, whether about that sentiment or how it specifically applies to Ayers. Either way, it's a bit difficult to cast Daley as some kind of hippie-loving counter-cultural socialist that 'real' Americans have to fear.

I am not interested in defending Ayers (or his educational theories, about which I know little).

My point is this: when Barack Obama was involved in Democratic Party politics in the mid 1990s, Ayers was an established figure. Obama was interested in education issues. Ayers was a very common presence on those topics in the city. It is not odd that they might, as the New York Times put it, cross paths.

They met via the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Take a look, if you will, at the people involved in leading it. I don't suggest for a moment that they are all perfect human beings. There may even be a few rather unpleasant people among the bunch. However, do they appear like a bunch of anti-American commie radicals? I don't think so.

If this issue weren't being hyped by Sarah 'Fatal Cancer to the Republican Party' Palin (who's been 'pallin around' with her own bunch of unsettling types) and turning a certain section of McCain supporters into a bunch of bloodthirsty rage addicts, it would be amusing. (Count me as one of those who is concerned about the potential for verbal violence transitioning into the real thing.)

Myself, I would prefer not be judged via each one of the people I might have spoken, lived or worked with over the last twenty years.

Especially those who do not seem to have been particularly influential on how I see the world.

Predictably, of course, anti-American Communist terrorist sympathisers -- such as...well, David Brooks, Christopher Buckley, and some other Republican (or formerly Republican) elected officials -- have voiced criticism of McCain's increasingly nasty campaign tactics or even come out in support of Obama.

That's those fuckin' lib'ruls for ya. You betcha.

In some ways, I can only welcome the right-wing obsession with Ayers, et. al. I really don't think it's going to work in rescuing the somewhat hapless McCain-Palin campaign, and the more red-meat berserkerdom that the campaign generates, the more they will turn off the independents and moderates that they need to win.

And if they want to crash their campaign into the ground, I'll be happy to watch.

That's the Chicago way.


Dale said...

Well said. The hope, I think, of attacks of this kind ("Obama is a pal of Ayers! Get to your nearest bomb-proof bunker and pray for deliverance!") is to tie up the opposition with defensive-sounding responses. But in this respect, too, it appears to be backfiring -- one has to be really far down the right-wing rat hole to see this attack as anything other than an attempt to change the subject away from, well, damn near anything, beginning with the economy. So McCain-Palin say "Ayers Ayers Ayers" and people hear a tactic -- they don't, by and large, see one side attacking and the other side in a crouch; they see one side scheming and trifling.

Not to mention it's utter bullshit, tactic or not.

I can haz optimism? About an election? In the USA?

Three long weeks to go.

Francis Sedgemore said...

"Yet there is no floor. There is (as with good old Joe McCarthy) no shame."

There is only the will to power. Statecraft at the highest level is devoid of shame. It always has been.

J. Carter Wood said...

Thanks Dale. I too am a bit caught between expecting that this won't work and (somewhere deep down) still fearing that it might. Three weeks is a long time.

And, of course you're right Francis. But I still think (and expect you agree) there are degrees of difference worth noting and boundaries -- however futile -- worth attempting to draw.

But it is a dispiriting spectacle.

Hope all is well both your ways, and thanks, as always, for coming by.