October 22, 2008
The upcoming election has succeeded those of 2000 and 2004 as the most critical one since 1860. Regardless of who wins, however, that of 2012 will likely succeed this one in “criticality.” Here are a few thoughts for now.
Palin’s Debate Performance: Where Was the Box?
Palin’s debate performance has been much discussed. One element not noticed was the technological advances made by Republican debate managers since 2004. In one debate that year, Bush’s rectangular control box was clearly visible on his back, under his jacket. (Too bad Kerry didn’t ask him about it, but he was much too much of a “gentleman” to do so. Who was it who said “nice guys finish last?” [Actually it was the great Leo Durocher, who managed to manage both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants in the glory days of New York baseball, 1941-1957, before both teams deserted us for California.]) At any rate, the Repub. Debate managers are now obviously masters of miniaturization. But still one wonders just where they hid the Palin control box.
Guilt by Association: What a Net it Casts
As yes, guilt by association. Ain’t it just great? Not only is Obama a commie/liberal/terrorist for “associating” (even slightly, as was the case) with Bill Ayres on a community organization board of directors. But so, obviously, are: all of his fellow Board members (some of whom are — oh no — prominent Republicans); the University of Illinois, which had the audacity to make Ayres a full professor with tenure; the publishers of every one of Prof. Ayres’ 15 books; and Mayor Richard Daley and the rest of the group of Chicago industrialists and political leaders who all say that Prof. Ayres is a fine fellow. It’s guilt by association for ALL of them, not just Obama, dontchaknow. And by golly, let’s not forget who it was who first put Bill Ayres’ name into the political hopper. None other than good ol’ Hillary Rodham Clinton, dontchaknow.
In the last debate, when the Ayres subject came up Obama obviously could have quickly put it down with a few choice words like “Keating Five,” “McCain Transition-Chair Designate who was a lobbyist for Saddam Hussein,” and “McCain Campaign Manager, Rick Davis,” who was a lobbyist for Fannie and Freddie (what a lovely couple) until very recently. Why didn’t Obama go down that road? Obviously, Team Obama (and they are some well-organized team) decided that they didn’t need to, that McCain was flushing his own toilet with his constant attacks over irrelevancies, larded with falsehoods. We need only hope that they were right. As Sen. Obama will repeat every day from now until the election, the campaign ain’t over yet.
Speaking of Fannie and Freddie
Speaking of Fannie and Freddie, don’t you just love the fiction that the Republicans spin about how the financial crisis is all the fault of those dastardly Democrats who forced, forced I tell you, various bank and mortgage companies to make all those sub-prime loans under the guise of equal opportunity lending to all of those dusky folk? You know that back in 2003 Congresspeople like Barney Frank (gay and Jewish, you know, and Maxine Waters (black you know), were demanding that Fannie and Freddie guarantee loans to all those unworthies. And then came the crash.
Actually, as it happened, they might have demanded that, but, Republican Scream Machine, no one can require a bank to make a loan to anybody. They just demanded that the equal opportunity lending law be followed by Fannie and Freddie. But gosh, Rick Davis was lobbying away to get regulation of the two mortgage giants loosened. Anyway, it started on Limbaugh and Hannity, so at first I just sort of chuckled. But then there was John McCain, quoting the same fiction in the last debate.
First, as for the awful Democrats being responsible for the deregulation of Fannie and Freddie, as I recall, and correct me if I am wrong, SeanRush, the Republicans controlled the Congress in 2003. They certainly could have tightened regulation if they had wanted to. Further, even if any bank or mortgage company could have been forced to make all those sub-prime and misleading and perhaps even fraudulent loans, no could have forced them to slice and dice and resell them in “securitized” packages. No one could have forced subsequent buyers of those securities to buy them apparently without knowing anything about what they were truly worth. This is proven by the fact that as the government starts to try to arrange to buy such “toxic” paper, for openers no one seems to have the foggiest notion of their true value. But as I have often said, one must be very gentle with reactionaries and never, ever, try to confuse them with facts. Following that rule, Obama chose not to bring this one up in that last debate too. But again, the campaign ain’t over yet.
On to ACORN
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (now that’s a scary name, isn’t it?), has become the whipping boy for the Republican Party and their media hacks as they maneuver to find a cover for their obvious attempts to suppress Democratic votes once again and once again steal the lection (as they did in 2000 and 2004). First the Republican Scream Machine, as with the Fannie and Freddie fiction, lead by Hannity and the Fox”News”Channel. Then, again, McCain-as-echo-chamber himself in that self-same last debate. “ACORN is fraudulently registering voters.” The problem with that one is that ACORN does not register voters. Only election boards do that. ACORN simply circulates forms and submits the filled-out ones to the local Boards of Elections. Yes, some of their over-zealous workers (over-zealous for a variety of reasons, for they do get paid by the piece) have submitted or attempted to submitted fake forms.
But: A) state laws require ACORN to submit every form they collect, B) ACORN itself flagged all of those forms they determined to be even possibly fake, and C) ACORN has fired workers caught doing the wrong thing.
Again, Obama chose not to bring this one up in that last debate also. The obvious strategy, which has been there since the beginning against HR Clinton and all her charges of “inexperienced” and “questionable character” (Wright and Ayres), has been to stick to the issues, and in the debates to “look Presidential” by doing so. So far it is working. Let’s hope that it continues to do so, through Election Day and with enough votes, both total and in the key states, to overcome the Republican Election Theft Machine, now obviously operating at full throttle.
Kristol v. Kristol
Bill Kristol has had a major influence on this Presidential campaign. He was one of the Right-Wingers who discovered Plain on a political vacation in that neighbor of Russia, Alaska, in 2007. In his Sept. 29, 2008 column in The New York Times, Kristol laid out just how McCain could win. By doing things like hustling back to Washington for the first meeting on the “bail-out” (in which he apparently sat there and said nothing of significance — anyway how could he? He knows little about economics by his own admission); “liberate” his running mate; reintroduce the Rev. Wright to the conversation; and go on the all-out attack against Obama as an all-out “liberal.” This was all to be managed by McCain’s great campaign leaders, Rick Davis and Steve “Bullet Head” Schmidt.
(You know, of course, what a “liberal” is. Someone who advocates: talking first and shooting second overseas, real health care financing reform, rebuilding the nation’s infra-structure, re-establishing Constitutional Democracy, re-invigorating regulation of “the market” so that it might operate with some semblance of equity; dealing with global warming in a meaningful way; ending the War on Iraq within some reasonable period of time. Someone who is defined by Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh as a “traitor.”)
Then comes Kristol on October 13, 2008, in The Times. “Fire the Campaign,” the headline read. McCain and Palin should go back to being their “cheerful” selves (not there is any public evidence that either is very cheerful, even though Palin smiles a lot. There is the real danger, heaven forefend, of a Democratic Presidency AND a Democratic Congress (which Republican operatives like David Frum said over a week ago on the Rachel Maddow show, where he made a complete fool of himself). Seems to me that Republicans didn’t fuss about that issue for the first six years of this decade, but you know, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. Boy I tell you, ol’ Bill makes powerful (sic) arguments on both sides of the question. Like McCain/Palin telling us in one breath all of the things they are going to do when they have control over the government to fix “what has been wrong with the last eight years,” and in the next telling us that “all that has to be done for the American people is to get government out of their way.”
McCain and Palin and Kristol should just make up their minds. It would be a lot less confusing.
This column is based in part on a Commentary of mine that appeared on BuzzFlash on Thu, 10/16/2008.
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and a www.TPJmagazine.us Contributing Author; a regular Columnist for BuzzFlash; a Special Contributing Editor for Cyrano’s Journal Online; a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century, POAC; and a Featured Writer for Dandelion Salad https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/.