Along with chants of “terrorist” and “kill him”, the following clips are undoubtedly a result of this type of rhetoric and this type of politics. Ignorance and hostility are a dangerous combination.
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank reported an incident at a Palin rally that should open America's eyes to the central role violent rhetoric now plays in the McCain campaign. Milbank describes how Palin told the crowd in Florida that Obama has close associations with a terrorist who sought to bomb the Pentagon and the U.S. Capital, in response to which the crowd responded with a threat on Sen. Obama's life.
"Now it turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers...And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,'" she continued.
"Boooo!" the crowd repeated.
"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.
Palin went on to say that "Obama held one of the first meetings of his political career in Bill Ayers's living room, and they've worked together on various projects in Chicago." Here, Palin began to connect the dots. "These are the same guys who think that patriotism is paying higher taxes -- remember that's what Joe Biden had said. "And" -- she paused and sighed -- "I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way you and I see America, as the greatest force for good in the world. I'm afraid this is someone who sees America as 'imperfect enough' to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country." (link)
Palin's new rhetorical strategy signifies an alarming new development in the 2008 Presidential election, and one that has been not only been documented by such high profile newspapers as the Washington Post, but confirmed by the McCain campaign itself.
"It's a dangerous road, but we have no choice," a top McCain strategist recently admitted to the Daily News. "If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we're going to lose." (link)
The 'dangerous road,' however, is not just a generic attack on Sen. Obama's trustworthiness or honesty. Rather, the McCain campaign has chosen to stand before campaign rallies and accuse Sen. Obama of hiding sympathies with domestic terrorists --to accuse their opponent, essentially, of being a terrorist. With the McCain campaign now using the Palin stump speech to accuse Sen. Obama of hiding a terrorist agenda, the McCain campaign has staked its future on rhetoric that skirts the boundary between character assassination and incitements of actual violence against their opponent.
Meanwhile, while McCain is not yet accusing Obama of terrorism in his own stump speech, the crowds at his rallies are. In a recent video clip from MSNBC, McCain asked a rally, "Who is the real Barack Obama?" In response to McCain's rhetorical question, a voice from the crowd can be clearly heard to shout in response, "Terrorist!" (link)
Since the start of the election campaign well over a year ago, voters have been subject to ongoing smear campaigns in emails and push polls accusing Sen. Obama of ties to and sympathies with domestic and foreign terrorist groups. No matter how many times these smear campaigns have been exposed, they continued. Now that John McCain and Sarah Palin have echoed these accusations--the idea that Sen. Obama is secretly a terrorist has the stamp of approval of a presidential campaign, but of a multi-term U.S. senator and a U.S. governor.
One wonders at this point how the various agencies charged with the responsibility of protecting the Presidential candidates from violence will respond to this latest tactic from the McCain campaign. If, for example, a McCain supporter threatens the life of Sen. Obama by shouting 'Kill him!' at a Palin rally, should Sen. Obama's Secret Service contingent launch an investigation? Having been accused of terrorist ties by the McCain campaign, will Sen. Obama's name be put on the 'No Fly' list, effectively making it impossible for him to engage in normal airline travel?
An even more basic question, perhaps: Is Gov. Palin trying to incite violence against Sen. Obama as part of an ill-conceived campaign strategy to change the topic from the economy at any cost? Time will tell how law enforcement will respond, but one thing is already certain: the more Palin and McCain incite calls for violence against Sen. Obama, the more their chances of achieving a victory in November disappear.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Over the Line
On Frameshop, Jeffrey Feldman recently shed some light on the violent rhetoric coming out of the McCain campaign and its implications.