I hope no one is counting on this kind of horror going away after the election. It could well get worse.
Memo to Republicans on the Hill: If you care anything at all about your country or your party you'll stand up to the nut-job supporters. If there is violence, it won't be hard to figure out whom to blame.
The Nov. 4 elections are just that critical.
With everything at stake, Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain should lay aside trivial pursuits and engage the economic issues of debt, war, credit, and steadying global confidence. While the candidates' individual purposes may be served by fingering the villains who caused the wreck, the public interest is better served by indicating how this calamitous rupture might be repaired - and soon.
If recent trending of the campaign is a guide, however, the debate will showcase no such regenerative statecraft. If the Arizona senator discusses the economy, one aide said recently, he loses. McCain's fear of constructive engagement over the economy makes Obama downright giddy. Yet it frustrates his every attempt to debate the issues.
In the clutch of sagging poll numbers, the former POW has submitted himself to the incubus Karl Rove whose disciples have submerged "The Straight Talk Express" deep in the muck where the fish have no eyes. The dirty work has been assigned to Gov. Sarah Palin, the vice-presidential candidate McCain dragged in out of the Alaskan woods as a veritable wolverine in spectacles.
Palin's bland ferocity lends itself easily to vitriol of the type that inflames half-wits. A bald-pated Florida sheriff, one Mike Scott, got carried away under the swoon last week in Estero, Fla., in introducing Palin. Stressing Obama's middle name, Sheriff Scott paced the stage, in violation of police rules, while inciting the crowd in his full uniform adorned with colorful patches, stars and medals befitting a grand wizard of some mystic order of white knights.
At Clearwater, Gov. Palin lathered up the crowd herself. "You're going to have to hang on to your hats," Palin told the rally, according to The Washington Post, "because from now until Election Day it may get kind of rough." Linking Sen. Obama to a reformed radical of the '60s, Palin shrieked her signature smut line, "he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country."
"Kill him!" a man in the crowd reportedly responded to Palin's rabble-rousing. Her related attacks on the media had already whipped a frenzy among the crowd of about 3,000. Tempers rose to a boil when she blamed Katie Couric's questions for tripping her up as a seeming dimwit. The Post wrote, "Palin supporters turned on reporters ... waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. ... One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African-American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."
As with McCain's fingering of Obama as "that one," in the last debate, supporters dismiss a white Southerner calling a black man a "boy," as mere words. Perhaps so, but, given the nation's sad, racial history, such language still elicits ire.
"Let's get it on" seems to be Palin's campaign refrain. "It's about time the pit bull got loose," the Post quoted Ken Gow, a 47-year-old police officer who was among the more than 10,000 people at a rally in Carson, Calif.
McCain struck the racial chord in the Nashville debate. When an African-American asked his question, McCain assumed that he was ignorant of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the entities the senator blamed for the Wall Street meltdown. "I'll bet you, you may never even have heard of them before this crisis," McCain said, telling the questioner, Oliver Clark, that he would "stabilize home values" - not particularly for him and his family, but - so that "Americans, like Allen [Shaffer] can realize the American dream and stay in their home." Shaffer was the white male who asked the earlier question. Neither had indicated that they owned a home or had a troubled mortgage.
This is the sort of racial profiling routinely spouted and acted upon by influential, white decision-makers far gone in racial denial such as Sen. McCain. With terminal cancers wrecking the body politic - problems we must all address together as Americans - McCain and Palin are lancing the racial boil to distract our attention from other grave problems.
This campaign behavior is curious; it is reckless and it is potentially dangerous.
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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.