Friday, September 12, 2008

Crevasse

I can argue like a Republican. Check this out: here's how a Republican would argue against the McCain-Palin candidacy.

Premise #1: Watch this.

Premise #2: Read for yourself what Obama wanted taught to kindergarteners. Search in the page for this phrase: "All family life courses of instruction," and then jump down to paragraph nine. Read it in its entirely, especially the parts about "touch an intimate part of another person."

Let it dawn on you that Obama wanted Kindergarteners to learn about bad touches, so they could protect themselves.

Now, if I'm a Democrat, I stop here. I've refuted another Republican lie. But I'm a Republican, remember? Of course I won't stop here.

JOHN MCCAIN BELONGS TO THE PARTY THAT GAVE US MARK FOLEY.

HE SPENT CAMPAIGN FUNDS ON A TELEVISION ADVERTISEMENT ATTACKING BARACK OBAMA FOR TEACHING KINDERGARTENERS ABOUT BAD TOUCH.

THE CONCLUSION IS CLEAR.

JOHN MCCAIN IS PRO-CHILD MOLESTATION.

NOT JUST THAT, BUT JOHN MCCAIN PERSONALLY RAPES CHILDREN. SEEN YOUR CHILD LATELY? JOHN MCCAIN IS PROBABLY RAPING YOUR CHILD RIGHT NOW.

Here's the point of what, I admit, is an incredibly tasteless post. Do you find it over the top? Do you find it excessive? Hyperbole?

Have you forgotten Susan Smith?

Have you forgotten Newt Gingrich's words to the AP, explaining what happened to her? "I think the mother killing her two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick society is getting and how much we have to have change. I think people want to change, and the only way you can get change is to vote Republican."

And you did know, didn't you, that Susan Smith's stepfather was a local Republican leader, right? And that he molested her? YET ANOTHER REPUBLICAN CHILD MOLESTER. THE REPUBLICAN PLATFORM REQUIRES EVERYONE TO MOLEST THEIR CHILD EVERY HOUR ON THE HOUR OR BE PUT TO DEATH.

See? I can argue just like a Republican. Keep this in mind the next time you get tempted to say that there's no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats, that all politicians lie. Ask yourself if you can even imagine Obama saying any of the kinds of things I've laid out above.

And then be honest with yourself, and ask if Republicans would hesitate for one heartbeat before they leveled charges that were that inflammatory, or even worse, based solely on the two minor, easily-explained gaffes that I pointed out above in John McCain's clumsy attack.

These are all things Republicans would say in the blink of an eye, with no twinge of conscience.

A few weeks ago, we heard about how Barack Obama was playing the race card when he referred to an image from a Republican ad. In the ad, Ben Franklin's face on the hundred dollar bill turned into Obama's. Obama mentioned, in passing, that Republicans would point out that he didn't look like the guys on the currency, which was factually 100% correct. For the next several days, all we heard was how Obama was playing the race card.

Now, all we hear is about how sexist Obama and Biden are. Not about the sexism card. Not about the McCain campaign's ineptitude in failing to vet Sarah Palin, in failing to find out about the ethics investigation, in failing to find out about her comical reversal on the Bridge to Nowhere, on failing to find out all sorts of embarrassing details. No, Obama's a sexist. Previously, when he made an objectively, factually verifiable comment, he was playing a race card. Now that he's pointing out facts, he's a sexist.

And they aren't embarrassed. They aren't capable of being embarrassed.

I have my problems with the Democratic Party. Part of me will not be pleased if they win the White House this November. But part of me is ready to say that I will no longer live in a country ruled by a party that embraces wrong, that is unashamedly vicious and dishonest. I am not idealistic about politics, but there are lines that may not be crossed, and there is wickedness that is not tolerable in a leader.

I think John McCain and Sarah Palin want, by their own understanding of the country's problems and their own proposals, to make things better. But I think they've weakened, and realized that doing wrong brings short-term advantage, and their moral cowardice has moved them to embrace that short-term advantage. And they've taken their block of voters with them. Plenty of people I would otherwise respect and think of fondly, I get closer and closer to hating. This resentment can't fester forever. The Democrats can't be the adults, the party that chooses decency, the party that stops at the line, forever.

For most of the twentieth century, the white supremacists took every vicious, violent, dishonest, and wrong advantage they could to keep nonwhite folks out of any position of power. When the dam broke, it broke violently. And I just can't believe Republicans can't see what they're storing up for themselves. They are brewing up a broth of hatred, and immersing themselves in it, thinking they'll always be safe. I keep telling myself, they can't be that foolish. They can't. There are limits. They just can't.

But maybe they can. They did, after all, elect George W. Bush, and then return him to office for a second term.

He was incompetent. Utterly unequal to the office. In hindsight, that's open-and-shut, and no longer a matter of opinion. It wasn't that he was stupid, because he wasn't; but it was flat true that he was stubborn, self-satisfied, and incurious. A competent president must question himself. That simply isn't a hard idea to understand. Bush refused to do so, so Bush was unfit to be president. I said this, over and over and over and over and over again, in 2000. I have never been so right in my life. And it has never felt worse. I said it again in 2004. Right again, overruled again, should've listened to me again. Being Cassandra sucks.

Three times in a row is not tolerable.

Robert Lifton has written several books explaining how doctors who practiced in Germany during the Nazi years could break down every principle they ought to have embraced, to silence their consciences so much that they could be concentration camp operatives. He's talked about the kind of disconnect, the kind of dual consciousness, that made such choices tolerable. And I am convinced that perfectly intelligent, perfectly principled Republican friends and associates of mine have given in to exactly that kind of mental disconnect. If they ever stopped to really associate the words, the attacks, the decisions, with themselves, they'd be too appalled to continue one more second. But as long as they can convince themselves that it's all some sort of semi-real game, some sort of fake Monopoly money and Monopoly speech and Monopoly debate and Monopoly ideas and Monopoly smears and Monopoly slanders, it's all okay, all the game pieces go back in the box, and the next morning everyone is friendly again.

That will not work forever.

That won't even work one more time. The time for that has passed.

I am already at the end of my rope, and I am a born-and-raised Texan. I have all the reason in the world to feel fondness and patience toward the Republicans in my circle. But this is no longer something I can wink at. This has crossed the line.

It's too late for John McCain to clean up his act and run the kind of campaign he promised. He simply has to lose. If he wins the presidency, then this nation has lost its soul, has violently flung aside everything that made it special.

McCain once opposed torture, saying that torture strikes not only to the very heart of right and wrong, but to the very heart of who we are. When he said it, his words delighted me, because in my academic work I've been building for years on a core idea that ethics aren't a set of rules, but are a set of identity elements that tell us who we are. But as part of the image overhaul he carried out on himself to quiet the fears of the Republican base, McCain has even backed off from his anti-waterboarding position, and now apparently no longer cares who we are, or whether we're throwing away who we once were.

And that is not tolerable.

He has to lose.

In a landslide.

1 comment:

k said...

And...no argument with that last comment (or any of it, really) here!

Karin