Friday, October 10, 2008

Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail

You didn't ask me, but I'm getting a little scared - scared about the anger and potential violence that Palin and McCain are unleashing at their increasingly hate-filled rallies.

In an earlier post I wrote that the 2nd Presidential Debate marked what would be a month-long campaign of mud-slinging by the McCain campaign. But I really didn't envision the rhetoric to escalate into what at this point is pure hate-mongering.

Even David Gergen, a very serious and somber man, said on CNN last night (via AmericaBlog) that
"there is this free floating sort of whipping around anger that could really lead to some violence. I think we're not far from that."

Over the past several days McCain and especially Palin have been whipping their rabid base into a frenzy of anti-Obama froth.

It's been so bad that Frank Schaefer,
a founder of the modern evangelical movement, publicly denounced McCain in a Baltimore Sun opinion article today, saying...
"John McCain: If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as "not one of us," I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence. ...John McCain, you're walking a perilous line. If you do not stand up for all that is good in America and declare that Senator Obama is a patriot, fit for office, and denounce your hate-filled supporters when they scream out "Terrorist" or "Kill him," history will hold you responsible for all that follows."
Earlier this week The New York Times, in a lead Editorial, said "...We certainly expected better from Mr. McCain, who once showed withering contempt for win-at-any-cost politics. He was driven out of the 2000 Republican primaries by this sort of smear, orchestrated by some of the same people who are now running his campaign."

The Washington Post said that "Anger Is Crowd's Overarching Emotion at McCain Rally."

And Bob Cesca, in his Huffington Post blog, said that
"Senator McCain and his cowardly running mate have been accusing Senator Obama of associating with terrorists and consequently inciting violent partisans to blurt out death threats about the Democratic nominee. ...The McCain campaign has become nothing less than a well-financed whisper campaign -- a desperate, dishonorable tabloid operation on the same level as the thoroughly debunked trolls who spread lies via forwarded e-mails..."
On TalkingPointsMemo today, Greg Sargent says, "In remarks he's giving in Ohio right now, Barack Obama seeks to make a campaign issue out of the unhinged tone that's been gripping McCain-Palin rallies of late, directly blaming the McCain-Palin ticket for stoking all the rage and linking it to his slowly crescendoing attack on McCain as unfit to lead the country."

Serious people, with serious concerns, are increasingly addressing the hate.

And Obama addressed it directly today. He said, "It's easy to rile up a crowd by stoking anger and division. But that's not what we need right now in the United States. The times are too serious. The challenges are too great. The American people aren't looking for someone who can divide this country -- they're looking for someone who will lead it. We're in a serious crisis -- now, more than ever, it is time to put country ahead of politics."

I think all reasonable people must have to agree with Obama - but I'm still scared - for him and for this country.