Saturday, October 4, 2008

Here We Go

Finally, we've reached the beginning of the end of the 2008 presidential campaign, and this beginning is marked by a new line of attack from John McCain and his campaign. Finally, they are beginning to unleash the below-the-belt, outlandish and baseless attacks that many feared would come at some point in the election

With McCain's numbers slipping both nationally and in key battleground states, and Sarah Palin's not harmful but also not overwhelmingly great debate performance, the desperation within the McCain camp is so thick you could cut it with a knife. So, they've decided to attack Barack Obama by linking him with William Ayers, a man who has been labeled as a domestic terrorist for actions he participated in back in the 1960s - when Obama was a whopping eight years old! Just as there is no real substantive link between Obama and Franklin Rains (the sinister looking black former Freddy Mac executive) the Obama-Ayers connection doesn't extend beyond living in the same neighborhood and serving on a charitable board together.

Way back during the primary election pointed out that there is no substantive link between Obama and Ayers. I expect that they will be ripping this new McCain line of attack to shreds in the coming days.

Of course, in this morally deficiant society of ours, lies have become par for the course in high stakes elections. However, this particular lie reeks of an attempt to paint Senator Obama as a terrorist himself. It conjures up those nasty e-mail smears that are going around, spewing some hate-filled version of: "Barack Obama is a secret Islamic terrorist who is infiltrating the country by running for president so that he can destroy it from the inside out." This is code language, a dog whistle intended to appeal to the worst aspects of American society by sending the message that "he's not one of us, be scared of him."

Expect McCain campaign surrogates and Conservative commentators to began questioning Senator Obama's Christian faith within the next few days. This will probably be followed by a renewed bashing of his former mega-church Christian pastor. And if Obama tries to respond with that annoying little thing we know as the truth, expect the right-wing fanatics to accuse him of playing the race card.

Those of us who actually pay attention to the world around us, watch with a critical eye, and aren't fooled by such shenanigans know exactly what this is. We know that Republicans couldn't get away with this against a white candidate (although the fact that Obama is a Democrat and that Democrats are often portrayed by Republicans as weak does help some). We recognize this as an attempt to paint Obama as one of those crazy, unpatriotic, radical, angry black people who we must all fear and hate because he has the nerve to speak up when our nation does something wrong.

We must also know that there is more to come. It remains to be seen how close the Republicans will come to using overt racism to scrape together votes. The more desperate the become, the more likely it is. As their poll numbers slip, they will have less to loose by using race as a tool to create fear of an Obama administration. We should expect to see more ads that depict Obama as a sinister black man, soft on crime, wanting to give handouts to lazy welfare queens, and willing to sacrifice the safety of the nation to meet his own personal ambitions. Expect that the Republicans to be reckless in their lies (as they already have been). Be prepared for the possibility that [publicly] independent organizations will be overtly racist, especially in ad campaigns targeted as specific media markets.

This is the test of America's morality that we all knew would come if we nominated a black man. Now it's time for us to see if we pass the test, and to respond appropriately to the results. The next 30+ days are not for the faint of heart.

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