The Associated Press is reporting that McCain’s words came as part of “an abrupt switch from raising questions about Obama’s character” and were an attempt to “finally tamp down” the “raw anger” at recent Republican rallies. McCain is trailing Obama in the polls, ensuring that “a sense of grievance spilling into rage has gripped some GOP events.”
“Some in the audience are making it personal against [Obama],” say Philip Elliot and Beth Fouhy of the Associated Press. “Shouts of ‘traitor,’ ‘terrorist,’ ‘treason,’ ‘liar,’ and even ‘off with his head’ have rung from the crowd at McCain and Sarah Palin rallies, and gone unchallenged by them.”
The Secret Service even confirmed today that it had investigated an episode reported in The Washington Post in which someone in Palin’s crowd in Clearwater, Fla., shouted “kill him,” on Monday, meaning Obama. There was “no indication that there was anything directed at Obama,” Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren told AP. “We looked into it because we always operate in an atmosphere of an abundance of caution.”
Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, told supporters at a fundraiser in Ohio earlier today that “it’s not negative and it’s not mean-spirited to scrutinize Obama’s iffy associations.”
Oh, Sarah, it’s the way you’re “scrutinizing” that’s negative, mean-spirited, and, let’s face it, potentially life-threatening - especially if your name’s Obama.
For as Bill Van Auken notes: “The atmosphere in these Republican events resembles more and more that of a lynch mob. And the continuous attempts to paint Obama as a ‘traitor’ and ‘terrorist’ have the potential of inciting real violence, including attempts on the Democratic candidate’s life.” I find the incitement of such rabid emotions and behavior to be absolutely reprehensible.
And what exactly are these “iffy associations” of Obama’s? Well, the one of primary concern to McCain and Palin seems to be with William Ayers. It’s an “association” that’s been described by Michael Winship as follows:
For several days now, Governor Palin has impugned Senator Obama’s patriotism and accused him of “palling around with terrorists” – specifically, William Ayers, a founding member nearly 40 years ago of the radical and violent Weathermen, now a prominent educator and professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Obama was chair of a school reform project, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and Ayers briefed board members on education issues. They both served on the board of a Chicago charity and Ayers and his wife hosted a coffee when Obama first ran for office.
Governor Palin cited The New York Times as backing up her accusations, despite that publication's previous characterization by the McCain campaign as a biased, inaccurate rag somewhere to the left of the Daily Worker. In fact, the Times reported, “A review of records of the schools project and interviews with a dozen people who know both men, suggest that Mr. Obama, 47, has played down his contacts with Mr. Ayers, 63.” But, the paper continued, “the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called ‘somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.’”
. . . [T]he charges made by the McCain-Palin camp are scattershot and approach demagoguery, hurled primarily by Palin, who has been cast as designated, campaign pit bull, the customary role given to a party’s vice presidential candidate.
But Governor Palin has skated onto the ice with a rare vengeance, not so much fiercely protective hockey mom as a political version of figure skater Tonya Harding, kneecapping the opposition and crying foul when caught in a media mess of her own making.
And finally, here’s how Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, has responded to this whole issue. She says the vitriol we’ve been witnessing at Republican rallies has been encouraged by inflammatory words from the stage.
“Red-meat rhetoric elicits emotional responses in those already disposed by ads using words such as ‘dangerous’ ‘dishonorable’ and ‘risky’ to believe that the country would be endangered by election of the opposing candidate,” she told the Associated Press.
Recommended Off-site Links:
Barbarians Inside the Gates - D. Stephen Heersink (Gay Species, October 10, 2008).
McCain-Palin Campaign’s Attacks on Obama: A Wiff of Fascism - Bill Van Auken (World Socialist Web Site, October 10, 2008).
Obama Notes McCain’s Effort to Temper GOP Comments - Charles Babington (Associated Press, October 11, 2008).
See also the previous Wild Reed post:
As Obama Campaign Gains Momentum, Fox News Goes Into “Oh, Crap!” Mode
Image: Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain speaks during a rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin October 9, 2008. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)