Saturday, October 11, 2008


Doubling Standards

A thought:

What I find most unconscionable is the refusal of the McCain-Palin tandem to publicly condemn the cries of "traitor," "liar," "terrorist" and (worst of all) "kill him!" that could be heard at recent rallies. ...

Is inaction tantamount to consent? The McCain campaign certainly thinks so when it comes to Obama and incendiary remarks from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. By their own inaction, then, are McCain and Palin condoning these slurs? Or worse, are they willfully inciting the angry and venomous response that we have been witnessing at their rallies? If not, then what reaction are they hoping to evoke by their relentless public suggestions that Obama is basically an anti-American liar who won't put "country first" and has an affection for terrorists? Do they not understand the kind of fire they are playing with?

I -- and, I suspect, millions of Americans like me, Republicans and Democrats alike -- couldn't care less about Obama's middle name or the ridiculous six-degrees-of-separation game that is the William Ayers non-issue. The Taliban are clawing their way back in Afghanistan, the country that I hope many of my fellow Americans have come to understand better through my novels. People are losing their homes and their jobs and are watching the future slip away from them. But instead of addressing these problems, the McCain-Palin ticket is doing its best to distract Americans by provoking fear, anxiety and hatred. Country first? Hardly.

Khaled Hosseini, author of "The Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns," Washington Post, October 12, 2008

"Distracting" a population "by provoking fear, anxiety and hatred" is a well-proven strategy that has been - and still is - employed by embattled politicians around the world and throughout history. The only good thing you can say about it is that those who adopt it are effectively admitting their desperation - that they have nothing more attractive to offer.

I think John Lewis delivered the most telling blow against McCain and Palin by comparing what they have been saying to George Wallace's inflammatory rhetoric and the terrible crimes it may have incited.
FiveThirtyEight had an interesting take on Lewis' comments, namely that complaining about them might be a trap for McCain, forcing him to back off personal attacks which are, nonetheless, his most effective tactic.
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