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Saturday, October 11, 2008
I Remember That Guy

Anyone watching the news over the past ten days knows two things about the election coming up:

John McCain seems to be falling behind.

Barack Obama is a terrorist.

These two developments are connected. As the economy dives closer and closer to an "Apples For Sale" level, Americans are increasingly frightened. From everything I've read, and the little I actually understand, you damned well ought to be.

Because we're a diverse people, we also have unresolved wars in Iraq, a joke of a health care system, prison overcrowding, an addiction to petroleum, and a score of other issues that should have been taken on by a competent government, but I don't feel like looking backward again to the past, when I should be telling the American people what I'm going to do for them.

I'll try to get to that.

Now, however, the country is nervous, jumpy, and an emotional powder keg ready to be set off by the smallest spark. I suppose that's why it's so astounding that John McCain, a man whose political career has dealt often in common sense, has decided to allow his campaign to brand an American citizen, a United States Senator, and a man with tremendous achievements, as a terrorist, or at the very least, a terrorist sympathizer.

At McCain and Palin rallies over the past couple of weeks, barely veiled assertions have been thrown regarding Obama's relationship with a man named William Ayres. Bill Ayres was a member of a terrorist group that did some depicable things, this is true. Ayres and Obama did work together on the board of a charitable organization. Ergo, Obama pals around with terrorists.

Never mind that Ayres' group did their deeds when Obama was 8 years old, the Senator is a terrorist, and you should be scared. And because the final line of our national anthem is now just wishful thinking, it worked.

McCain and Palin rallies have been increasingly hostile, with yelps from the crowd of "terrorist!" "traitor!" and cries of "Kill him!" The campaign has actively bred a mob, and it is a mob they have on their hands. Some footage from a Palin rally:

As a person born and raised in Ohio, I am completely embarrassed by this footage. I spent over twenty years in the state, and I do not know who these people are. They appear to be willfully ignorant, frightened, and in the case of the woman who keeps jumping in front of the camera, mildly retarded. I know these people exist in every state in the country, and in every part of the world, but I'm still mortified.

Friday, at a McCain town hall in a hall in some town in Minnesota, McCain took questions:

I was flipping around the TV that day, and Chris Matthews was commenting on all of this, noting that McCain's actions at this rally reminded us of what it is we used to really love about John McCain. He's right. We finally get to see a glimmer of the man a lot of us wanted to vote for in 2000 before McCain's campaign was sandbagged by the same people whom he has hired to run his current campaign. His poll numbers will probably react favorably.

Matthews' effusive praise reminded me of something else.

A favorite movie of mine is Quiz Show, which was about the quiz show scandals on American television in the 1950s. The gist of it is, a college professor and son of a prominent family, Charles Van Doren, goes on one of these shows, finds out that it's rigged, and even though he knows better, plays along anyway. He becomes wealthy and beloved across the country, and as an investigation reaches fever pitch, he testifies before Congress.

At the conclusion of the speech, Professor Van Doren is praised by the senators on the committee for the "guts it took" to admit the truth, and for being so forthright. The politicians are effusive with praise for Van Doren's admission of wrongdoing. Just as the lovefest begins to spiral out of control, a congressman from upstate New York, Steven Derounian, said the following:

"Mr Van Doren, I'm also from New York. A different part of New York. I'm happy that you made the statement, but I cannot agree with most of my colleagues. You see I don't think an adult of your intelligence ought to be commended for simply, at long last, telling the truth."

You started this fire, Senator McCain. I'm not going to thank you for spitting on it now.

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posted at 9:36 AM

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