News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to MinneKota@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Swiftboating Obama

Bill and Hillary Clinton, as Tom Daschle points out, have adopted the Republican playbook in campaigning. They subrept and misrepresent comments. The technique is also a favorite of bloggers of certain regressive persuasions.

When the Clintons contend that Barack Obama expressed admiration for Ronald Reagan and Republican ideas, they are absolutely falsifying what was said. Obama said that Reagan set the country on a new trajectory and the Republicans were raising different ideas. That by no means expresses endorsement of the new trajectory or the ideas that launched it. It is clear from the videos of Obama's comments that he was merely stating a historical fact about the impact Ronald Reagan had on the country, an impact that was damaging to many of us who were members of the American workforce.

The contention that any acknowledgment of another person's influence and successes is an endorsement is a particularly cheap kind of dishonesty. But Americans have become so slovenly in their listening and reading that they do let others interpret the words they hear for them. This is the ultimate result of a populace that has undergone intensive operant conditioning by a media designed to elicit responses, not induce thought. A good portion of the populace responds to media messages like Pavlov's dog salivating at the sound of a bell..

On the other side, we have more malevolent and vicious attacks like those on John McCain's record as a POW in the vein of the Swiftboating of John Kerry.

While working on a policy research project for a political committee when the news came out about Bill Clinton's assignations with Monica Lewinsky, I can remember being asked to compose a letter to Clinton and important congress people asking for his resignation. We felt it was time for Al Gore to take over the Oval Office. However, a senior member of the Senate staff quickly discouraged our sending the letter. Key legislation important to South Dakota was on the legislative floor and would have been jeopardized by the furor of a resignation or the request for one by members of the President's own party. Instead, Congress worked through the legislation so it could get on with the impeachment against Clinton.

Bill Clinton did strain the cohesion of his own party at times. He is at it again, and his campaign against Obama reminds us of how hard it was to keep him on track in the past.

John Edwards is right. What good does the squabbling do anybody? But apparently the American people do let it decide their votes. And all the country ends up with is legacy of petty rancor and deadlock.

I guess in a democracy people do get what they want and what they deserve.




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