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

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hey, boy! Who do you think you are?

The McCain campaign is whining at hurricane force about "race cards," It is plumbing the depths of racial implication in going after Barack Obama. Under the guise of humor which has all the wit of playground taunts, McCain campaign ads have put on display the mentality that has so degraded politics. The television ad that compares Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears shows a political party so challenged intellectually and morally it regards juvenile depravity as wit.

It has been clear since the primary that the McCain campaign is going to be devoted to ad hominem attacks on Barack Obama. The Republicans call the process "defining" him. As New York Times columnist Bob Herbert points out, they have chosen to define him as "boy." He hasn't the experience, they say, to be president. That damned boy doesn't know his place. Abraham Lincoln did not have any more experience than Obama, and he was elected largely on the effectiveness of his words and his rhetoric. And, says McCain, that Obama boy sure can be glib. Watch out for him.

The so-called conservatives grow indignant when it is suggested that race is a part of their pogrom of character assassination. Their indignation rings hollow when all they do is "define" or assassinate the character. Their intention is clear. Character assassination is their motive and their motif. It's all they have--besides a history of preferring corporate fascism to democracy, war mongering, and incompetence. But they can't turn the country over to that boy.

In South Dakota, this kind of campaigning is familiar. John Thune used it in "defining" Tom Daschle, and it worked. He provided those with festering hate in their psyches with images that raised their provincial ire and against which they could vent their invective. And Thune found college professors who sacrificed their profession to their simmering malevolence and intellectual dishonesty. They got that boy Daschle, alright.

As soon as Barack Obama looked like a viable presidential candidate, the town tavern wits began their campaign on the blogs. Obama is is muslim. And that black bitch he has for a wife. And in the Republican commercials, he hangs out with white women. All the appeals to racist notions are there. Some of the blogs tried to disguise their "defining" through tendentious posturing, but the motive of character assassination has been clearly apparent.

The same tactic is being used on Tim Johnson. The petit-fascists line up like the playground goons taunting the class stutterer. He is slow in speech, so how can he be a senator. Who does that boy think he is?

The real issue in this campaign is whether the values of people of such ill will and malign intentions should rule the country. While we fervently hope Obama wins, it would be politically stupid not to frame options in case he doesn't. In their ad hominem frenzy, the Republicans have defined themselves. They have brought politics down to a depraved and perverted level. Their political mode has become a culture. And those who despise such cultures need to plan their lives on something more than politics.

Better watch yourself, boy.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States