Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 10, 2008

MCCAIN CAMP DEFENDS ENRAGED SUPPORTERS.... The Washington Post's Dan Balz argued today, in reference to the bile evident at McCain campaign rallies this week, "McCain's tactics are over the line, with no restraint in sight, and threaten to provoke reactions among partisans on both sides that will continue to escalate."

Also today, Frank Schaeffer, a self-described conservative who has supported McCain in the past, accused McCain of "deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate," concluding, "Stop! Think! Your rallies are beginning to look, sound, feel and smell like lynch mobs."

In other words, the hate/fear/ignorance strategy isn't going over well outside of those who are hateful, fearful, and ignorant.

Sam Stein reports that the McCain campaign has come up with a defense for the Republican ticket's efforts to create an angry mob.

"Barack Obama's attacks on Americans who support John McCain reveal far more about him than they do about John McCain. It is clear that Barack Obama just doesn't understand regular people and the issues they care about. He dismisses hardworking middle class Americans as clinging to guns and religion, while at the same time attacking average Americans at McCain rallies who are angry at Washington, Wall Street and the status quo," reads a statement from spokesman Brian Rogers.

Got that? McCain/Palin supporters have thrown around words like "treason" and "terrorist," while others have literally called for violence, and if Obama points this out, he's launching "attacks on Americans."

I keep expecting McCain to denounce some of the enraged rhetoric and put an end to this nonsense -- not out of a sense of decency, but because a reasoned tone might impress moderates and independents. But today's statement suggests the McCain campaign is perfectly content driving unhinged conservative activists into blind rage, apparently under the assumption that enmity works.

It's a base mobilization strategy built exclusively on anger and bigotry. How this campaign's candidates and staffers can look themselves in the mirror remains a mystery.

Steve Benen 4:49 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

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Doesn't matter what they see in the mirror, the rest of the country is looking right at them and seeing the Republican Party for what it is.

Posted by: jvoe on October 10, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Please help me understand this. A person goes to a political rally and in response to comments screams out "kill him" or "treason" or "off with his head" or "terrorist" and that person is deemed just a regular American. Maybe they should just fire off a few rounds or form a lynch mob.

Regular people are offended by these actions. Once again McCain/Palin just do not understand.

Posted by: Stuart Shiffman on October 10, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

The country will need a collective shower by the time he begrudgingly conceeds. You can almost feel a sence of national embarrassment in the air as this horror show continues. I can't imagine anyway he can go back to the Senate.

I have a feeling just like with Nixon, some big name Republicans will take that grim walk and tell him its over. I don't see him going out with a shred of dignity, though. All he wants to do now is scortch the earth on his way out.

Posted by: Saint Zak on October 10, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

may i direct your attention again to the weissedammerung.

Posted by: mercurino on October 10, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

There are not enough adjectives to describe the disgusting, despicable, dishonest, filthy, putrid, lying sack of shit that is John McCain.

But I'm just angry about the economy.

Posted by: ckelly on October 10, 2008 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt there are many people left who don't see through the nonsense, but there are a lot of bitter people clinging to wedge issues.

Posted by: Danp on October 10, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

I keep expecting McCain to denounce some of the enraged rhetoric and put an end to this nonsense...

He's too small for that. He's a teensy, tiny, dirty little man.

Posted by: cmac on October 10, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if Americans are upset about the status quo in Washington, then should they not be upset with the standard bearer of the status quo, Mr. John S. McCain?

GAWD, what a pile of shit.

Posted by: Andrew on October 10, 2008 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm passing the word loud and clear and to all who I love and know - JOHN MC CAIN IS UNFIT TO BE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

He is also unfit to be my neighbor! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on October 10, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

There is a bright side to this disgusting business: these actions will cut even further into any support by "independents" still given to McCain. The morning after the election we'll see the Republican Party cut down to 35%. hopefully less.
Pity, really, as the original Republican Party showed so much promise.

Posted by: Doug on October 10, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

We're getting very close to the point where McCain campaign events, especially those featuring Palin, are little different from KKK rallies. This isn't how you win an election, they are alienating the swing voters who could make it close, but it is how you provoke massive violence at the polls from supporters who are outraged at those who would vote for Obama. It's a very scary road we're heading down.

Posted by: Shalimar on October 10, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

i think we are past any point where anyone associated with mccain gets any kind of dispensation: the reason that the candidate and staffers can look themselves in the mirror is that they do believe this crap.

Posted by: howard on October 10, 2008 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

I must have missed the part where they shouted, "Kill Washington!" and "Wall Street is a terrorist!" Trust the liberal media to edit the shouted comments so they could be taken out of context. This makes me mad enough to kill somebody - on Wall Street, of course.

Posted by: Mark on October 10, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

They're no longer playing to the base. They're playing to the basest.

What do they hope to accomplish, I wonder?

Posted by: doubtful on October 10, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

The contrast is so striking when you watch or attend Obama rallies and compare them to McCain/Palin events. The difference is like night and day. It's like all the cynicism and bitterness has drained off into the Republican world, so dense now that it can't be hidden away.

Posted by: President LIndsay on October 10, 2008 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

The McCain campaign will not back off. It's obviously a 'strategy', so they're going to be committed to it. And it's self-perpetuating: it only works if it feeds off itself.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on October 10, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

The morning after the election we'll see the Republican Party cut down to 35%. hopefully less. Doug

Actually a Pew poll in March found only 27% identify themselves as Republican.

Posted by: Danp on October 10, 2008 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

McCain/Palin and their wild eyed followers have convinced themselves that Obama would be a profound threat to the US -- thus justifying any means to save the country. We have lived through an ugly polarization for 15 years, thanks to the right, but this could be truly explosive under extreme economic conditions.

The political atmosphere over the next month will be critical to the future of the nation. We will see if McCain can find his patriotism.

Posted by: jb on October 10, 2008 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

What do they hope to accomplish, I wonder? posted by: doubtful

My theory? McCain is at this point little more than a hapless tool. The Rovians, who had no loyalty to McCain to begin with (heck, they disemboweled him in 2000 with glee) are political enough to know this race is over. They are now working on 2010 and 2012 by trying to poison the well, to make the country ungovernable for Obama and, geez, if some nutjob happens to shoot him as part of the deal, well, none of them actually pulled the trigger, right? They just tell McCain he still has a chance if he does what they say, they tell Sarah the Impaler that if she is a good enough pit-bull they'll run her in 2012 on the top of the ticket. Then they laugh behind both of their backs, and call and report in diligiently to KKKarl on how well the master plan is unfolding.

Posted by: zeitgeist on October 10, 2008 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Ignorance and Denial are not acceptable.

We've been down this road before.

Palin to the rally today: "Some may say: 'Gee, they're kinda getting really negative'. No, this isn't negative, this is the truth".

She went on to insist Obama launched his campaign in a terrorist's living room and yet he has the gall to deny the same.
It's shameful so many have yet to speak out against this incitement of violence.

It's time for a large collective voice that says 'Enough!'

Worse yet, to actually hear anyone at this point actually defend it--wow--
I don't know about others, but this is the scariest public display of hate and bigotry that I've heretofore witnessed as an adult.

Add to the mixture the extreme economic stress of our nation and you have a mighty potent potion.

Any social scientist or psychologist who studies how stereotype and prejudice solidifies into bigotry and then violence will tell you that all the ingredients are now there.

Posted by: iseerussiafromyhouse on October 10, 2008 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

I think the Republicans are in danger of loosing control over the beast they've been riding for the last 45 years.

That is why we are starting to see some of the saner members of the party actually looking aghast at what they have created.

What scares is the possibility that McCain might still win (most likely by crook) and these views will be legitimized in that victory. And even if he looses he has (as others have said) poisoned the well. Deliberately dividing this nation in ways not seen in decades.

Once again, I fear Gergen is right, there will be violence before this is done.

Posted by: thorin-1 on October 10, 2008 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

People who scream out "kill him" at rallies are not "regular people."

Posted by: The Answer Is Green on October 10, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Remember when any criticism of Bush Administration misdeeds was met with snide references to "Bush Derangement Syndrome"? Wasn't that quaint?

Now we're getting a chance to see what real derangement looks like.

Posted by: noncarborundum on October 10, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

The brownshirts screaming murderous threats at Palin's rallies are not the creation of Sarah Palin or her sidekick John McCain. They are the creation of at least two decades of relentless, shameless, systematic, corporate-sponsored, right-wing extremist, racist hate mongering by Rush Limbaugh and his ilk. The Palin-McCain campaign is just trying to use that cult of hatred for its own purposes.

No matter what happens with this election, that cult of hatred is not going to go away, and the right-wing corporate interests that created and nurtured it will continue to do so.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on October 10, 2008 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

If you go to americanthinker.com, another far right site, they're dead serious that Bill Ayers ghosted Obama's Dreams memoir.

And that Obama moved to Chicago after college (and returned after law school) because Ayers was hsi controller.

They actually believe BO is the Manchurian Candidate.

Posted by: Auto on October 10, 2008 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

If some enraged psycho takes a shot at Obama, it will be on McShame's hands. How can they not see that?
This whole episode further shows the desparation and short-sighted stupidity of the McShame campaign.

Posted by: cboas on October 10, 2008 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Scorched earth tactics are the tactics of the damned.

Posted by: Brojo on October 10, 2008 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not trying to cut McCain any slack, not trying to concern troll, not trying to justify anything the Right is doing...

But I do wonder if McCain knows just how badly he's self-sabotaging his campaign AND his reputation. I know Bush's handlers made an art of shielding Dubya from negative criticism. Could Rove's minions be keeping McCain in the dark - so he doesn't know the scary sh*t being shouted at his rallies (acoustics often suck in those situations, and he might hear somebody shouting something, but not what or from which direction)? So he doesn't know WHY the tide is turning against him, or even that the tide HAS turned? That people
are loking at him as unhinged, dangerous, unpresidential, unamerican?

If the handlers are doing their job as the right has programmed them to do, it's possible McCain doesn't really understand any of the recent consequences of his actions, just that he's losing and his staff have an idea how to turn it all around, so he better do what they say.

Not Palin though. She knows exactly the damage that she's doing. But consequences for your actions aren't for beautiful people, so she's OK with all of the hate.

Posted by: slappy magoo on October 10, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

When I saw the name "Frank Schaeffer" I blinked. It couldn't be THAT Frank Schaeffer. But it is. This is the man who, with his father, Francis Schaeffer, did, in fact, as his book title says, create the Religious Right and the theological underpinning for it -- and has spent most of the last few years taking it back, and figfhting against religious influence in politics. I believe he is still a 'believer' -- in a more liberal form of Christianity -- but he knows how evil these passions can be when roused. He's someone McCain ought to listen to -- but won't.

However, he IS -- at last -- trying to tone things down in person. I just saw a tape where he almost grabbed the mike from someone who said she thought Obama was an "Arab" and denied it, and earlier said that 'he was a decent, hard-working American who you shouldn't be afraid of becoming President -- though I think I'll be many times better or I wouldn't be running.' (When McCain started he almost got booed by the audience, and he was shaking his head as if in horror at what he'd unleashed.)

I do think McCain regrets this, but he's on a wildly bucking horse that is carrying him away and he's lost control. Unfortunately for him -- and for the country if some fool acts on what he's been saying -- and still is -- he's unwilling to 'drop the reins and try and jump off' -- while his co-rider is whipping the horse as hard as she can, because she really doesn't care.

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on October 10, 2008 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican Party and the entire conservative movement resemble nothing so much as an onion that's started to go bad. The outer layers started slowly peeling away with debacle of Iraq, and picked up steam with Katrina, with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans who once would have proudly declared themselves "Republican" or "conservative" starting to have serious doubts about the whole enterprise. With every mind-boggling scandal and example of corruption in the GOP and the Bush administration, more people were peeled away. Then the economy started to go south, with housing and the stock market taking it on the chin at the same time that it became obvious the anti-regulatory platform of the GOP was having all-too-predictable effects on Wall Street, with the result that many more have peeled off. Only now do you begin to see what's left of the conservative/Republican onion: a rotting, putrid core that's fit only for the compost bin.

Posted by: bluestatedon on October 10, 2008 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Don't waste your pity on John McCain, because at some point he decided winning was more important than anything else. That's the point at which he began adding radical nutjobs to his campaign, knowing they were radical nutjobs because they had smeared him before, and he knew this is the way they roll. He doesn't realize, or is willfully ignoring the fact that America under his rule would now be ungovernable - he maybe thinks he could mumble a few platitudes during his acceptance speech, and all those who invested so much in getting Barack Obama elected would decide to let it go, for the good of the country.

It's important to remember that the base of foam-flecked barking mad room-temperature-IQ moonies is too small to get him elected. If he continues to throw them handfuls of red meat because it feels so good to hear them scream, he's gone into a delusional loop where the approval of a few crazies is the approval of the masses, and is rapidly going crazy himself.

But it would be wrong to downplay how McCain's tactics are tearing apart and weakening the country. I really think Obama is the last hope for revival of the America we knew, and maybe it's already too late.

Posted by: Mark on October 10, 2008 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

slappy magoo at 6:23 PM, look at McCain's reaction during the rally where some fool screamed "terrorist." He looked shocked for a second, then went back to The Usual Crap. He knows what he's doing, even if he doesn't know what he's doing to himself.
Listening to the radio, the noise from Obama's rallies and McCain/Palin's is astoundingly different. Obama's people sound enthused, energized; the McC/P crowd sounds like howling, vicious animals. It's truly frightening.
I remember where I was, what I was doing, even what I was wearing on 22 November 1963, 4 April 1968, and 6 June 1968. I never want to feel like that again.

Posted by: Georgette Orwell on October 10, 2008 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

I, too, lived through the horrible days on 1963, 20 Nov 1963, 4April 1968, and 6June 1968. We lost incredible leaders in John Kennedy, Matrtin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy.

With all the ranting by the McCain supporters, I am concerned by what is happing at his rallies. I hear all the hatred and fear for Obama and Biden. The tenor and comments of McCain/Palin's audiences are vicious and out of control.

Posted by: Nancy O'Dell on October 11, 2008 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK



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