Thursday, October 16, 2008

Enchilada de Pundit

Photo by Jim Burg/Reuters

Since everyone is a pundit, here are my two cents:
Cent number 1:
Obama is very smartly not falling into the trap that the McCain campaign has tried to set up for him. They want to bring up civil rights, because they want him to behave like a put upon Black man and they incite this through terrible speeches and absurd accusations. But he is not taking the bait. He refuses to make it a race issue because he is not going to give them the satisfaction of confirming their stereotypical expectations of him, or of behaving like a victim or a whiner, which is what they are trying to provoke in order to remind those undecided of their own fear of a Black man.
The McCain campaign insidiously played the race card allowing and inciting the craziness at their rallies and it was a terrible miscalculation.
I'm sure our country is full of racist people and even more full of people who do not consider themselves racist but are very prejudiced. However, I don't think that anybody in this country, except for people with a penchant for wearing white pointy sheets on their heads, wants to turn back the clock and go back to the kinds of ugly racial divisions we have managed, through great sacrifice, to leave behind. Nobody wants to go back to pre-civil rights America, nobody wants to revisit the nastiness of racism and segregation, and most especially nobody wants the remote possibility of race riots. There was a very disturbing ghost of that ancient nastiness in the ugliness of Palin's rallies and it did not help. It actually hindered their cause. The McCain campaign may be in touch with the lunatic fringe base of the Republican party but they are hopelessly out of touch with the majority of Americans of both persuasions. And luckily, Barack Obama is intelligent and collected enough not to stoop to that level. I'm extremely impressed with the way he has handled himself.
Cent number 2:
The unfounded Muslim accusation leveled against Obama is a convenient way for prejudiced people to hide the fact that they don't want to vote for a Black man but they don't want to admit it. In this day and age, such opinions are so embarrassing that they are better left unsaid. So you can substitute the word "Muslim" for "Black" and voilá, you can smugly pretend yours is some sort of a patriotic concern. At this point, even though a lot of people may still believe in this canard, which is as nasty and effective as the worst kind of antisemitism in that it sticks no matter what the evidence is, the Muslim argument can't be really taking hold. And the reason for this is that it is plain to see that Obama, regardless of color or origin or middle name is simply a much superior candidate.
But even if Obama were a Muslim, why is this considered to be such a terrible thing? Islam is one of the three major monotheistic religions; as long as he was not a fundamentalist or a standing member of an Islamist terrorist organization, why would this be a problem? What if he were a Buddhist or a Mormon, like Mitt Romney, or a Jew (in which case he'd be in a very similar situation, lots of people just not ready to vote for a Jewish person)? I pine for the day when we can swear in a non-believer. That is the day I hope for with all my might.
Bonus cent:
I knew from the beginning, (not because I'm a seer, but because it was obvious), that the choice of Sarah Palin was beyond hubristic and inappropriate and it would come back to bite McCain in the ass. In fact, if there is one big reason for McCain's eventual loss, I think it could safely be chalked up to this one decision. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time (who said this?). The Palin debacle is a perfect emblem of the absolute collapse of the Republican party. They don't have a single fresh idea, not one serious, useful proposal, they have been taken hostage by extreme ideologues that do not represent the core of America's true values and now they are paying the price. They have been corrupt and arrogant and completely out of touch with the reality of Americans and no amount of cynical moralizing and revolting displays of empty patriotism can disguise their incompetence and their hypocrisy. And to top it all, this is their legacy: a country in the worst economic disarray in almost 100 years, a United States without credibility in the world, having lost its moral compass, a country dangerously diminished by their contempt for science and reason, an empire crashing to the ground. I don't know why we had to wait all these terrible years for the Republicans to finally crumble, but it is happening as we speak. The McCain campaign is just a pure reflection of who they are, and how low they have fallen.

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