Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

GOP losing ground

Gene Lyons

Let’s get real. If John McCain had a long-standing professional
relationship with somebody who’d bombed abortion clinics, Democrats
would never let him hear the end of it. And properly so. We’re engaged
in an American presidential election here, not a tea social. Got a mad
bomber in your past? Sorry, it’s an issue. It’s therefore neither
shocking nor surprising that Republicans are attempting to exploit
Barack Obama’s relationship with William Ayers, a founder and former
member of the Weather Underground, which claimed credit for bombing the
Pentagon to protest the Vietnam War. This was not only absolutely
predictable, this column predicted it months ago. Never mind that Obama
was 8 when that insane act took place in 1970 or that his relationship
with Ayers doesn’t appear to have been close. They did serve together on
charitable boards in Chicago, where the ostensibly rehabilitated but
unrepentant Ayers is a professor of education at the University of
Illinois. They appeared together in panel discussions. Obama wrote
favorably about Ayers’ 1993 book, “Fugitive Days: A Memoir,” in the
Chicago Tribune. In 1995, the up-and coming politician attended a
reception in Ayers’ Hyde Park home.

That’s about the size of it. There’s no evidence that Obama approves of
Ayers’ violent past. None. Why he chose to dissemble when ABC’s George
Stephanopoulos asked him about it, only Obama knows. He incorrectly
described the former radical as an English professor and said he was a
slight acquaintance who lived in his neighborhood.

Like his repudiation of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose impolitic sermons he
implausibly pretended never to have heard, Obama’s evasiveness was
disingenuous at best, so he asked for it. But it’s beginning to look as
if he was politically shrewd.

See, the preposterous Sarah Palin is running around accusing Obama of
“palling around with terrorists.” She tells audiences of true believers
that Obama “is not a man who sees America the way you and I see

According to Time, the chairman of the Republican Party in Virginia, one
Jeffrey M. Frederick, explicitly compared the Democratic presidential
nominee to Osama bin Laden: “Both have friends that bombed the
Pentagon,” he said. “That is scary.”

McCain artlessly tries to have it both ways. He chastised one elderly
nitwit who called Obama an “Arab,” no doubt synonymous with terrorist in
her mind. He called his opponent “a decent family man with whom I have
some disagreements.” But he also declined to criticize Frederick.

“Senator Obama,” McCain said, “ought be candid and truthful about his
relationship with Mr. Ayers in whose living room Senator Obama launched
his campaign and Senator Obama said he was just a guy in the

Hotheads at some of Palin’s rallies have yelled out “terrorist” and
“treason” at the mention of Obama’s name. “Kill him!” one crackpot
reportedly hollered as the onetime Miss Congeniality chattered blithely
on. Possibly she has a hearing problem, because an American politician
with the intellectual acumen God gave a squirrel would know better than
to leave the impression that she finds such remarks acceptable.

This has, in turn, alarmed commentators sympathetic to Democrats. New
York Times columnist Frank Rich accused Republicans of stoking
Nazi-style rage that could encourage assassins. “The McCain campaign,”
he wrote, “has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and
inciting vigilantism, and each day the mob howls louder.” Bloggers on
the Chicken Little left express fear of what one called “rubes with
pitchforks out in Jesusland.”

On ABC News’ “This Week,” Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman—has any American
public intellectual ever deserved the honor more?—supplied much-needed
historical perspective.

“For a long time we have had a substantial fraction of the Republican
base that just does not regard the idea of Democrats governing as
legitimate,” he said. “Remember the Clinton years. It was craziness,
right? They were murderers, they were drug smugglers, and the imminent
prospect of what looks like a big Democratic victory would drive a lot
of these people crazy even if Sarah Palin wasn’t saying these
inflammatory things.”

Except that during the Clinton years much of the “mainstream” press
collaborated in peddling Looney Tunes story lines.

The ongoing catastrophe of the Bush administration, however, appears to
have helped rationally consequent minds to sober up. Polls show voters
taking the November election with unusual seriousness. Everybody knows
somebody who went nuts over Vietnam. People want substance this time.
ABC News reports that Americans find McCain/ Palin more focused on
personal attacks than discussing issues by 59 to 35 percent. (Among
independents, it’s 68 to 26 percent.) A FOX poll—FOX, mind you—found
Americans saying that the Obama-Ayers connection wouldn’t cause them to
vote against the Democrat by 61 to 32 percent. In other words, the ugly
tone of Mc-Cain/Palin rallies doesn’t demonstrate growing intolerance
and hatred. What it shows is that hardly anybody but far-right soreheads
is showing up at GOP rallies anymore.

—–––––•–––––—Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and
recipient of the National Magazine Award.


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