Today's Phrase of the Day refers to those folks who see the bogeyman of "class warfare" whenever anyone dares to bring up the maldistribution of wealth in our society, the ones that willfully ignore the fact that much of the economic progress we made as a society in the decades after WWII has been lost, the ones who believe that human toil is nothing but a commodity to be used and abused as those who take (typically false) risks see fit.
In the spirit of Safire and Agnew, I offer today's entry:
"In a televised interview last spring, Senator John McCain, Mr. Obama’s Republican rival, asked, 'How can you countenance someone who was engaged in bombings that could have or did kill innocent people?'
Of course, at the time he was referring to William Ayres, a founder of the Weather Underground nearly forty years ago, now a long time Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Hmmm. Let's see. "Someone who was engaged in bombings that could have or did kill innocent people." Does Bill Ayres fit that profile? Yes. Undoubtedly. Though exactly which bombings he actually participated in is something known only by Professor Ayres himself and likely a handful of others, the likelihood that he was involved in bombings that had the possibility of killing innocents is at least reasonable.
Strangely, though, the exact same phrase describes one of the candidates for president as well. After all, what exactly was John McCain doing in the summer of 1967? Say what you will about the intentions of the war in Vietnam, the Cold War and everything else; looking at it through the lens of history is not my intention here. Still, given his commentary, there's an obvious question: What, after all, is the likelihood that, in his twenty three bombing missions over North Vietnam, no innocent was killed?
Back in the day, though it was clear that he "played for the wrong team," John McCain at least seemed to have a basic integrity. Yes, he was always clearly a Reaganite (not even remotely a compliment in my book), but he was also more than willing to buck the Republican base orthodoxy when conditions required it. In the 2000 primary campaign he was viciously pilloried for that lack of orthodoxy.
Then it happened. He decided that, as an old man, he wanted to add "POTUS" to his resume. And the only way to do that in the world of the GOP was to kiss the rings of those who comprise the darkest of the dark side. And kiss he has.
In watching a campaign appearance just now, there he was, spewing lies and half-truths, giving a speech that seemed to come directly from the Rovian playbook (page 27, I believe). When in doubt, as the playbook goes, go directly to the fear card. Truth is secondary. Say it often, say it loud.
In referring to Barack Obama, the following tidbits (all paraphrased):
"He's naive. He doesn't understand the world stage!" (As if the realpolitik/neocon bunch have been so amazingly successful.)
"He's going to raise your taxes!" (Well, yes, if your income is over $250,000 -- in other words, if you're among those who have benefitted most from the gutting of the middle class during the current administration -- you're going to pay more to assist in getting our national finances back in order. Since this was not a fund raising gathering of what President Bush used to refer to as "his base", I suspect a suitably small percentage of those present fall into that category.)
Who is the "man behind the curtain" to whom we are to pay no attention, anyway?
I'm listening to Sarah Palin doing a stump speech in Golden, Colorado -- and the vapidity is absolutely stunning. There she goes, talking about the current financial turmoil -- and railing against the effects of all the financial deregulation that has been the mantra of Republicans for decades now. Of course, after mentioning that, she spent an equal amount of time celebrating sports figures who ply their trade in Colorado who have Alaska roots. At least.
It's amazing. Can anyone actually buy this nonsense? How long can the lies continue?
In my several decades of following the political scene (I got an early start on that one) I have never been moved to rage quite as quickly as has been the case over the last week or so. And I mean rage -- unbridled, vocabulary limiting, screaming rage. The abject lies and mischaracterizations that have been flowing from the newly anointed St. Paul duo have been just astounding. "Change!" they bellow. "Change!" What kind of change are they proposing?
We have an economy that's rapidly declining. Why? How could this possibly be the case when we continue to hear stories of how the productivity of the American worker keeps rising? Wouldn't that "rising tide raise all boats," as the three decade Republican mantra says? Well, no. Think of what "productivity" really means. It means that goods and services are delivered with less labor cost. Hmmm. "Less labor cost." In other words, people are getting paid less to do more. the increased number of overall dollars are being funnelled to fewer and fewer pockets. And we wonder why "the consumer" is tapped out?
Of course, at the same time, we've experienced a time when exactly the kinds of monies that are flowing into the fewer pockets are taxed at a lower rate than regular income.
Have they said word one about how they're going to change that? Well, no. Of course not. That's exactly the kind of thing they believe in. There will be much talk about "earmarks", with easy candidates like basic science ("three million dollars for studying the DNA of bears.....") -- and making the assumption that all earmarks are things like that.
One more point: In a speech by Gov. Palin, she says something along the lines of: "Our opponents say they will fight for you. Well, of the four of us, only one has truly fought for the American people...." alluding to Sen. McCain's military record. Fine. We respect his service. But "fought for me"? Dropping bombs from great height, many of which fell on innocents? All in the name of fighting a nationalist movement halfway around the world? No. I'm not buying that one either.
Back in the day, when I was growing up, you were either a Russell fan or a Wilt fan. I was a Wilt fan.
Then in the 'eighties, you were either a Bird fan or a Magic fan. I was a Magic fan. Besides, outside of his wonderfully arrogant artistry on the court, every time I see that white "33" on a green tank top, I think of the white guy in "Do the Right Thing" saying "I was born in Brooklyn!" (I was, too, by the way.)
But that embrace between Kevin Garnett and the aforementioned Bill Russell (who won his first championship 51 years ago) -- well, that was good stuff!!!
I do, however, continue to not be a Celtics fan...
I have a theory about the Belmont Stakes last Saturday. Sad to say, I have to make the assumption that some kind of chicanery was going on. Yup, it was crooked. The race was thrown.
Neither the ownership, the trainer nor the jockey was involved. Nor was any other human.
Yes, I have to say it. Big Brown threw the race all by himself. Faced with the prospect of making a lousy quarter on every dollar he bet, he tanked. Gave it up. Took a dive. Basically, he bet the field and made a mint.
There was another reason; had he won the race, he would have hit a track just once more, at the Breeders' Cup in the fall. Now he gets one additional start, in Saratoga later this summer. After all, once his racing career is over what does he have to look forward to at the tender age of three? An endless supply of high strung athletic fillies? What's the fun in that?
[note: No research was done in preparation for his post.]
Can John McCain be fish and fowl and beef and tofu and whatever other protein food group you might care to mention? Can he be a "maverick" and adhere to what has become the standard Republican mantra all at the same time? Can he simultaneously satisfy the religious hard right and the swing voters? Will perceived "national security" issues trump choice? Can a traditional Republican "spend less" (and tax rich folks less) approach fly in a time when rising prices and the lack of the old-time union "wage floor" will be putting a serious squeeze on the largest swath of the American public?
Much has been made about the fact that the late poll numbers -- both the independent polls and those conducted by the campaigns themselves -- were way off the mark on the Democratic side of yesterday's New Hampshire primary. The answer, it seems, is really quite simple.
It was not the Bradley effect. It was not a case of primary voters walking into the voting booth, closing that curtain and saying to themselves, "Here in the booth, alone with my thoughts, I cannot pull the lever/mark the box/whatever for the black man." [note: This is in contrast to the more public forum of the Iowa caucuses.]
So it was not a case of "can't vote for the brother." What it was, on the other hand, was a case of women going into the booth and thinking: "Gotta vote for the sister!!!" Simple as that.
I'll admit it: I've become an Obama supporter. Not a hugely strong one, but that's the button I would push were the Texas primary to be held today. I like his resume (community organizer, president of Harvard Law Review). I like the break with the past.
Realistically though, from a policy perspective, the differences are not huge. And, given the history, I can certainly understand the late Hillary vote. [It's not anything like voting for "one of your own" who's clearly a member of the "other side" -- the prospective "Condi effect" as it were.]
It's early -- and the beat goes on. As John Edwards said: "Two states down, forty-eight to go!"