Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 2, 2008

THE TOWN-HALL MYTH.... In an otherwise complimentary column, David Broder notes one of his biggest disappointments about Barack Obama's campaign.

He rejected McCain's invitation to hold joint town hall meetings -- opening the door to the kind of tawdry exchange of charges that we have seen.

This is, almost word for word, the argument that John McCain has made since August to explain why he felt it necessary to take his sleazy campaign into the gutter. And like McCain, Broder is terribly mistaken.

For Broder and McCain, the presidential campaign would be respectful and substantive if only McCain had gotten to know Obama better by sharing a stage with him. Debates, they argue, discourage "tawdry exchange of charges."

But this doesn't make sense. If McCain wanted to be an honorable candidate, he could be an honorable candidate, whether his opponent is a Senate colleague or a total stranger. Building a rapport is not a prerequisite for honest campaigning -- character, integrity, and respect for the political process are prerequisites for honest campaigning.

Whether there are three debates or 300 is irrelevant. It's not like McCain and Steve Schmidt got together one day and said, "Well, I wasn't going to spend the fall lying pathologically and smearing Obama, but since there are only going to be three debates, we might as well."

Indeed, Obama and McCain shared a stage three times, totaling more than four-and-a-half hours, including a town-hall-style debate. They also met at Saddleback Church, at the ServiceNation forum on Sept. 11, and shared a dais at the Al Smith dinner.

Did this lead McCain to clean up his act? Not even a little. After their joint appearances, McCain got even sleazier, running repugnant robocalls nationwide.

Broder is under the false impression that it's Obama's fault that McCain has run a dishonorable campaign. It's an argument without foundation in reality.

Steve Benen 9:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (79)

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Comments

It will be Obama's fault when McCain loses too, for having run a consistent campaign while never veering wildly from topic to topic, staying on message rather than changing the message from day to day, and surrounding himself with well seasoned surrogates instead of Sarah Palins and Joe Plumbers.

Posted by: Lew Scannon on November 2, 2008 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

Talk about a painfully thin premise for a new post.

Do you think townhalls are good or bad? That's Broder's point, not that they are good mechanisms for avoiding slimey politics.

Posted by: SJRSM on November 2, 2008 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Why do people read Broder anymore. He is way past his expiration date.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 2, 2008 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

I would say that YOU are under the false impression that Broder isn't a moron.

Posted by: Mark-NC on November 2, 2008 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

It is not a "myth." It is a lie.

Posted by: John McCain: Worse than Bush on November 2, 2008 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

The campaign style reflects future needs in governing. Obama needs widespread support for popular and populist reforms.

McCain needs partisan resistance to block Democratic reforms that the wealthy Republican base and lobbyists don't want.

So Obama MUST run an inclusive campaign while McCain needs rabid partisans (and Joe Plumber gimmicks) to support GOP: policies that lack popular support.

Posted by: bakho on November 2, 2008 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Broder also noted early on that the campaign strategy of Obama stating that there's no different between McCain with Bush just won't work. "Clearly they're different people with different agendas and policy interests." WRONG!!

David Broder: Wrong on the comparison; wrong on town hall meetings. We don't need 4 more years of David Broder.

I'm Walt and I approve this message.

Posted by: Walt on November 2, 2008 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

True, the decision on the 10 town halls is no excuse for the filth McCain has run. But allow me to go rogue here: the fact that McCain ramped up the sleaziness after their last joint appearance reinforces the point that he was more emboldened by the prospect of no future joint appearances. I'm just sayin'...

Posted by: bruce on November 2, 2008 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Dare we hope that the Obama era brings about an en masse retirement of GOP-talking-point-regurgitating hacks like Broder?

Posted by: henry lewis on November 2, 2008 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Eric Alterman wrote the definitive account of Broder's rampant stupidity in Sound & Fury: The Washington Punditocracy and the Collapse of American Politics, first published in 1992.

Posted by: liberal on November 2, 2008 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Building a rapport is not a prerequisite for honest campaigning -- character, integrity, and respect for the political process are prerequisites for honest campaigning.

One thing that's common to "radicals" -- Osama bin Laden, Karl Rove, Timothy McVey, that clown in charge of the Alaskan Independence Party -- is a contempt for the political process. They do whatever it takes to grab power to advance their agenda. McCain and Palin are the same -- they will lie and cheat, and on election day (with the help of the Republican establishment) try to steal to get what they want.

Barack Obama loves his country. McCain and Palin think the country should love them.


Posted by: SteveT on November 2, 2008 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

Broder is especially wrong here because the people who know McCain best- his fellow senators- regard his as especially nasty.

Broder is an example of a wasted life. He's the Great Gatsby without the the redeeming features of brevity or an early death.

Posted by: serial catowner on November 2, 2008 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Why would anyone have any expectation that 15 town hall meetings would have been anything more than a wasted exercise in boring the electorate with the same talking points that were continuously repeated during the 3 debates?

Posted by: lou on November 2, 2008 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Frame it as a threat. If Obama did not agree to what McCain demanded, then McCain was free to run a nasty campaign. McCain felt the results of the town hall meetings would cause him to win, so their absenece required desperate measures.

Niether this situation, nor Broder's view of it, has anything to do with rationality. It has everything to do with McCain's view of what was needed to win. The shorthand is that Obama's refusal endangered McCain's chances and McCain felt obliged to go negative. It was Obama's fault. But then again, it was all about McCain all the time.

Posted by: Mudge on November 2, 2008 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

I'm thinking about running for public office. I'll begin my campaign by inviting my opponent to withdraw from the race and cede the election to me. Of course, if he rejects my invitation, he'll just be "opening the door" for me to make all sorts of sleazy accusations. And it will be all his fault!

Posted by: dan on November 2, 2008 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think Broder is saying that more debates would have made these guys friends and prevented tawdry campaigning.

I think he's saying that more debates would have given McCain a better chance to win [absurd] and that when he didn't get those debates, he was "forced" to wage a dirty campaign because it was his only chance to win.

It's still a stupid and corrupt argument, just not the exact one you're responding to.

It takes it for granted that McCain is "entitled" to win, so he's also "entitled" to conduct the campaign he thinks gives him the best chance to win. And if Obama won't hand McCain advantages, that means McCain is "entitled" to smear him instead.

It's funny that McCain's definition of honor is "whatever is to my advantage".

Posted by: Brian on November 2, 2008 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

McSame and Obama sat in the Senate together for two years.

Posted by: Richard on November 2, 2008 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Why would anyone have any expectation that 15 town hall meetings would have been anything more than a wasted exercise in boring the electorate with the same talking points that were continuously repeated during the 3 debates?
Posted by: lou

Because what is repeatable over 3 becomes too obvious over 15. And at least one of those would have let regular people ask some questions. And they would have built on each other.

Posted by: SJRSM on November 2, 2008 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Blaming the victim is a longstanding republican value. Obama is the cause of the nasty campaign because he didn't do what I want. The problem with health care is that sick people use too many resources. It can be fixed if they only use less health care--hence the McCain health care program aims to decrease utilization by cutting access.

Posted by: Cycledoc on November 2, 2008 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

McCain is nuts to think that our impression of him would have improved with 10 debates, especially town hall style debates. In fact, we would have found him 7 times more erratic, 7 times more elderly, 7 times more cantankerous, 7 times more lurching, 7 times more angry, and 7 times more of a Bush clone, but worse.

Posted by: mickiki on November 2, 2008 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Of course -- when Obama DID do a town hall style debate with McCain, he cleaned his clock -- it was arguably McCain's worst showing.

McCain is lazy -- always has been -- and cheap shots are easier than knowing something and having something to say.

Posted by: Artemesia on November 2, 2008 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

This is all just so silly - both campaigns made well considered choices about how to proceed. They both had the opportunity to think through and implement any strategies they wished. Obama's overall strategy to win this election has been very clear and consistent from day one. McCain's "strategy" has changed virtually daily and has no consistent narrative. Who gives a damn what David Broder has to say - we are all adults and can see with our own eyes the policies, choices, and associations of each candidate. On Wednesday morning we will all know what type of candidate Americans prefer to lead us for the next four years.

Posted by: HungChad on November 2, 2008 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Bruce got it right.
Broder isn't exactly blaming Obama, he's describing McCain's cowardly character.
If McCain had had to face Obama man to man, he wouldn't have had the guts to go negative.
Broder's still an idiot.

Posted by: jojo on November 2, 2008 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

And at least one of those would have let regular people ask some questions. And they would have built on each other.

Like Joe the Plumber? The "undecided" Republican-registered voter? McCain would have been using these townhalls to sandbag Obama just as he used Joe the Plumber. This was such an obvious case of astroturfing that I can't believe anyone ever took the Joe the Plumber moment seriously. Joe is a stereortypical blue-collar Republican and he's demonstrated that on the campaign trail for McCain ever since.

The town halls would have just been Joe the Plumber writ large. People never gave Obama $700 million to be as stupid as he would have been if he had done as many town halls as McCain wanted.

And it's not as if Obama ruled townhalls out either. McCain started with a suggestion of 10 townhalls, Obama countered with two of them in addition to the debates, McCain never countered back, thinking that it would be more useful to have this talking point the electorate has been subjected to the entire campaign. Check the facts.

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on November 2, 2008 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Nice David Broder -- the logic of the abuser. "She made me hit her. If she hadn't been such a bitch, I wouldn't have had to hit her. It's all her fault." Nice. Glad I've voted for "that one" ...

Posted by: Charlotte on November 2, 2008 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

The real stupidity of this is that the argument is basically that Obama should be blamed for running his own campaign in a way that is most likely to win the election.

1) Town Halls are to McCain's advantage and not to Obama's;
2) Without town halls, the only way McCain could win was by scorching the earth;
3) Obama decided not to arrange his campaign in a way that was advantageous to McCain;
3) Because Obama decided not to help McCain, it's his fault McCain chose to scorch the earth.

Posted by: Nathan on November 2, 2008 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Atrios, as always, sums it up perfectly. "If only the black man had obeyed the white man."

Posted by: Midwest MegL on November 2, 2008 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Because what is repeatable over 3 becomes too obvious over 15. And at least one of those would have let regular people ask some questions. And they would have built on each other.

I've never heard anyone defend try and defend the absurd town hall nonsense and didn't think I would. But there you go.

This campaign has gone an not for months but for years. Unlike campaigns of even thirty years ago there is 24/7 coverage through hundreds of media outlets of every conceivable political point of view.

If there's something about either candidate you haven't figured out out with that over abundance of coverage you're just not paying attention. Or more likely you're just dishonestly shilling for a candidate whose public comments were so frequently at odds with the positions of his own campaign that his campaign was forced at times to say that he didn't speak for it - making town halls even more of a moot point.

Next up: my opponent refuses to allow cameras on himself twenty-four hours a day. Just what is he hiding?

Posted by: trex on November 2, 2008 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Do you think townhalls are good or bad? That's Broder's point, not that they are good mechanisms for avoiding slimey politics.

That is exactly wrong. Broder did nothing more than repeat McCain's stock answer as to why he has run such a sleazy campaign. Broder's point was not at all "whether townhalls are good or bad", but that if Obama had engaged McCain in these endless debates McCain would not have run a dirty campaign. And the basic premise of both McCain and Broder is not true.

Posted by: Pug on November 2, 2008 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Broder is so over. Why bother?

Obama decides (strategically) not to engage McCain on his own turf (Town halls) so McCain is free to run perhaps the dirtiest campaign in modern times. Makes sense to me, if I'm an idjit, maybe.

Posted by: numi on November 2, 2008 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

The townhall request by McCain was because he wanted to box Obama into McCain's own lazy loping schedule. Obama has/had a gigantic advantage in energy, organization, and money. McCain's only hope was this town hall Broderite charade where McCain could look honorable and then smear Obama at the last minute instead of all along.

Posted by: grinning cat on November 2, 2008 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Broder is under the false impression that it's Obama's
fault that McCain has run a dishonorable campaign.

There's much more to it than that. If that was all Broder was saying, it would be bad enough. But Broder is also strongly implying that Obama played an equal part in what he calls the resulting "tawdry exchange of charges." He is implying that Obama not only caused the campaign to go south but also participated in the character assassination, name-calling, and the like, tit-for-tat.

Broder really needs to be called on this.

Posted by: Econobuzz on November 2, 2008 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

The only reason I wish Obama had agreed to the ten townhalls is because McPOW would need round-the-clock life support after such a schedule.

And you know they'd blame Obama for McPOW's condition.

This crap is the same line of "reasoning" you get from stalkers. "If you'd agreed to go out with me I wouldn't have boiled your rabbit!!"

Posted by: tAwO 4 That 1 on November 2, 2008 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

Precis of the editorial: I'm a scoundrel, too.

Posted by: duBois on November 2, 2008 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

The problem Broder has with the Obama campaign is that it's fresh and new and unique and not easy to talk about in the terms that he is accustomed to. The Obama movement threatens to upset the existing political order, and it doesn't fit the narrative that he'd like to impose on it. Life is a bitch when you're a cranky old white guy who doesn't have a clue.

Posted by: gizmo on November 2, 2008 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

"Broder is under the false impression that it's Obama's fault that McCain has run a dishonorable campaign. It's an argument without foundation in reality."

No, you mean broder is providing the false impression. It is an argument without foundation in honesty.

Posted by: jussumbody on November 2, 2008 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

When was the last time Broder was correct about anything?

Posted by: AltToPDX on November 2, 2008 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

So if Obama had "only" agreed to do 9 town halls, would Broder still think that it was Obama who 'opened the door' to these 'tawdry exchanges'?

What a tool.

Posted by: rnato on November 2, 2008 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Did Broder notice that when the candidates had a so-called town hall forum debate they didn't allow the audience to participate by allowing follow-up questions? The audience served as props.

And did Broder notice that McCain avoided taking Qs from non-Republican Americans by screening his audiences?

And did Broder notice Sarah Palin only minimally made herself available to the non-partisan media outlets?

Who is Broder's boss? Perhaps it's time for a campaign to retire the guy.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on November 2, 2008 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Broder is a guttersnipe. Always was and always will be.

Posted by: LJR on November 2, 2008 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if McCain's "reasoning" will catch on as a criminal justice defense!

"If those snooty people had invited me over for dinner a few times, I would never have had to rob their house."

"If that uppity woman had let me buy her a few drinks at the bar, I wouldn't have had to follow her outside and assault her."

"If that guy had chatted with me on the subway, I wouldn't have had to rob him at knifepoint when we were the only ones left in the car."

Posted by: gradysu on November 2, 2008 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK
Broder is under the false impression that it's Obama's fault that McCain has run a dishonorable campaign. It's an argument without foundation in reality.

This is news? During the Whitewater BS Broder thought the Clintons were a couple of sleazeballs who weren't sufficiently willing to cooperate with that nice moral crusader Ken Starr. Al Gore was trying to cheat voters with the Florida recount. The fact that Broder is regarded as something of a sage by our media elite is yet more proof that in our corrupt Washington media culture ass polishing and schmoozing counts far more than logic or factual reality. It must be so gratifying obtaining all that money and prestige for being incompetent at your job but supremely competent at working connections.

Posted by: Hieronymus Braintree on November 2, 2008 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK
Broder is under the false impression that it's Obama's fault that McCain has run a dishonorable campaign. It's an argument without foundation in reality.

This is news? During the Whitewater BS Broder thought the Clintons were a couple of sleazeballs who weren't sufficiently willing to cooperate with that nice moral crusader Ken Starr. Al Gore was trying to cheat voters with the Florida recount. The fact that Broder is regarded as something of a sage by our media elite is yet more proof that in our corrupt Washington media culture ass polishing and schmoozing counts far more than logic or factual reality. It must be so gratifying obtaining all that money and prestige for being incompetent at your job but supremely competent at working connections.

Posted by: Hieronymus Braintree on November 2, 2008 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

SJRSM:
Do you think townhalls are good or bad? That's Broder's point, not that they are good mechanisms for avoiding slimey politics.

You seem to have missed the part of Broder's statement that came after the hyphen. I'll highlight it for you to make it more visible:

He rejected McCain's invitation to hold joint town hall meetings -- opening the door to the kind of tawdry exchange of charges that we have seen.

Does that help?

Posted by: David Eoll on November 2, 2008 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, I'm sure he wouldn't have HAD to rape her if only she would have agreed to date him in the first place.

Posted by: getaclue on November 2, 2008 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK
Do you think townhalls are good or bad? That's Broder's point, not that they are good mechanisms for avoiding slimey politics.

Then why does Broder specifically say that they are good mechanisms for avoiding slimy politics, that by not agreeing to them, Obama was "opening the door to the kind of tawdry exchange of charges that we have seen."

No, Broder is not arguing that town halls are "good" in some abstract sense unrelated to reducing slime, he is repeating the McCain talking point that everything people don't like about the tone of the campaign stems from Barack Obama not playing McCain's "town hall" game.

And, personally, I don't think town halls are necessarily good. They don't provide interaction with many or particularly representative voters no matter how you structure them, and a substantial series of them would (1) would actually reduce the number of voters reached by the candidates message (particularly the candidate that would be reaching the most voters with other kinds of events), (2) would reduce each candidates scheduling flexibility , and (3) would reduce the ability of each candidate to make their own strongest case and to get that message, as more of the content of the campaign would be set by whatever compromise governed the "town halls".

OTOH, lots of such forums with just the Presidential candidate would provide a lot of free media to the candidate that was least capable of either purchasing or earning media coverage, and would minimize the media attention on the VP candidates, both of which would have served John McCain positively, so I can see why he's disappointed that Obama didn't fall for this.

And maybe they could have pulled have arranged more "Joe the Plumbers", "undecided" voters with fake backstories to serve as mouthpieces for McCain campaign talking points. And with a series of events at which to put them forward, rather than having to try to spring one on an Obama event, maybe they could have guaranteed by the time the fraud was penetrated on one of them, the focus would already have shifted to the next.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 2, 2008 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't even say it was an issue of Obama not building rapport. Obama plain and simple said no to one request.

That's all. Obama also said 'Yes' to dozens of others.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

McCain and apparently others now have actually bought the logic that one 'no thanks' equals carte blanche to unleash what would prove to be an unbelievably negative, ugly and debase campaign. It's not unlike a child being told no by an otherwise kind and fair parent-- and then acting out for weeks: throwing a long temper tantrum, refusing to go to school, refusing to clean his room, picking fights with others..

It's interesting McCain's didn't refute the negativity charges initially.

As I recall, when he was asked about this by the moderator at the "Service Forum" McCain gave three excuses: Palin was just defending herself against the not enough experience charges and then he added this is a tough campaign (so we can expect tough words, so we shouldn't try to raise the bar)and then he said none of it would have begun had Obama been willing to do Town Halls.

He didn't take responsibility for any of it. And he didn't even show any regret. Instead, he actually attempted to rationalized his (and Palin's) dishonorable behavior.

It was so transparent then, and it's so transparent now that he was going to be anything but a man of his word, that he would exhibit no humility and that he was going to do whatever it took to tear Obama down.

That day when he cried out "Who is the REAL Barack Obama?" to the crowd at his rally, we all heard ta violent, clearly audible immediate response: "Terrorist!" at least one person shouted angrily.

McCain heard it. He cringed. But did he speak to it? NO! Did he ask his crowds to stop? No! He went on for days like this and only stopped it when it was in his in his face on camera--when that one woman said "He's a Muslim" at his town hall forum.

BTW, it was clear and remains clear that so called 'crazy woman' is not alone in this belief. She was depicted as on the fringe, but the reports I've read indicate a substantial portion of the population (Joe the plumber's group) today still are convinced Obama is Muslim and to not a Christian and indeed a Terrorist, an enemy to Isreal and very dangerous threat to our country.

McCain did NOTHING (but that one weakish comment that day) to debunk this horrible character assassination mythology that persisted with even more fervor at Palin rallies. Absolutely nothing.

Posted by: I've always put country first on November 2, 2008 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Even the stale pundits of our day and age are now resorting to nonsequiter arguments! -Kevo

OK David, is that morons or morans? When the other side can't even spell their insults correctly no town hall meeting will ameleorate such name calling! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on November 2, 2008 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

During their debates McCain displayed obvious contempt for Obama, while Obama remained calm, cool, and collected in the face of slanderous lies and pointed insults (that one). So by McCains reckoning, if Obama had allowed himself to be insulted more often during town-hall meetings, McCain would run an honorable campaign.

It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant.

Posted by: Winkandanod on November 2, 2008 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Broder has joined the Republicans in the Party of Personal Responsibility. Their motto is, "Whatever bad happens, the Democrats must take personal responsibility for it."

Posted by: tomeck on November 2, 2008 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Broder's charge is false on its very premise. Sen. Obama asked McCain in kind for a series of Lincoln-Douglas debates across the country, and McCain refused. Where is the outrage there?

Posted by: Somacandra on November 2, 2008 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Exactly, Charlotte-- and I can't believe I had to go half way down the thread to find that response. She MADE him hit her--he didn't want to, but her behavior necessitated it. And it does say something a little weird that anyone has run with this argument publicly in America and not been called out as having serious issues. It makes me worry for Mrs. Broder, if there is one.

Posted by: qwerty on November 2, 2008 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

So Broder actually believes that if they had 10 debates instead of 3 that McCain wouldn't be out there claiming Obama is a socialist/terrorist/welfare-lovin' negro?

He actually believes that? That is the dumbest thing I've heard in months.

Posted by: Orson on November 2, 2008 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Has anyone pointed out to Broder that this argument about town halls is very closely analogous to the House GOP "We would have voted for the bailout except that Nancy Pelosi said mean things" argument?

That is, that it assumes America has the emotional maturity of a sixth grader? Ad it reveals that same thing in the arguer?

Posted by: Joe Bourgeois on November 2, 2008 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

@Charlotte

Broder shows more the logic of the notorious Texas judge who asked the battered woman, "What did you say to make him hit you?".

He gets to act all impartial, high and mighty, while enabling the abuser.

(PS I can't find the quote; am I mismembering it?)

Posted by: ThresherK on November 2, 2008 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Broder repeating the idiot arguments of warmonger John is hardly surprising. That death cultist goons chop off the ends of sentences, like their brethren chop off heads, isn't surprising either.

Luckily for the nation the voters, after eight years of pure malice infesting the White House, are going to reject John of the 100 Years War and instead put in charge someone who actually loves the United States.

Posted by: the on November 2, 2008 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Myth is the word! It's process crucial to Naomi Klein's brilliant Shock Doctrine that I say is our new and improved Goering method for manufacturing consent, to myth-jack to hell whole nations at a time, as we did with Chile as the test case, or just single voting blocs, and then stick them with the bill.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: My hands tremble, but my heart still throbs. I read this quote: “Naturally, the common people don’t want war. But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.” Hermann Goering, president of Reichstag, Nazi Parliament, 1934 (emphasis added) [1]

"We imported fascism," Gore Vidal has said.

NAOMI KLEIN: "And so, the Chicago Boys were born. And it was considered a success, and the Ford Foundation got in on the funding. And hundreds and hundreds of Latin American students, on full scholarships, came to the University of Chicago in the 1950s and ’60s to study here to try to engage in what Juan Gabriel Valdes, Chile’s foreign minister after the dictatorship finally ended, described as a project of deliberate ideological transfer, taking these extreme-right ideas, that were seen as marginal even in the United States, and transplanting them to Latin America. That was his phrase—that is his phrase."[2] (emphasis added)

We get fooled, again and again, by being mind-fucked into believing this myth: we are only part things that must relate to the Whole via bachelor fathers with terrible tempers and unspoken habits.

My beloved science, psychology, has helped spawn this monstrosity.


Did you see the movie, _White Squall_? On a plaque below the ship's bell was inscribed the best phrase I've ever read: "Where we go one, we go All."

Where Rovian attack politics smears one, they smear All. Or, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, "We cannot walk alone."

[[[Absolute Supremacy / The Commons///[[[{{{Absolute Subjugation}}}]]]]]]

The brackets and slashes represent the walls we hide behind, including the most fundamental wall of all: the self / other divide. As you can plainly see, a dominant group asserts privileged access to the Commons, simultaneously denying access to an underclass. Substitute any dom/sub pairing you like.

Until we get beyond the absolute dualism of 'Us Good Guys Here' vs. 'Them Evil-Doers Over There,' the dread methods of dividum et imperium will continue to succeed, dooming us to repeating the wars of the past.

This bears repeating. As you can see, for the APA to uphold torture is perfectly in character: it's what we've been doing at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and our black sites all over the world.
[4] http://psychoanalystsopposewar.org/blog/2007/11/17/leaked-guantanamo-document-confirms-routine-use-of-isolation-as-psychological-torture

What are we gonna do about it? "Change the way society changes," as a philosopher at Honolulu's East-West Center suggested 9 years ago.

PETER HERSHOCK:
Importantly, if changing our patterns of attention necessarily changes the pattern of our interdependence as such, and if all things are dynamic or irreducibly characterized by impermanence, nothing can be more deleterious in our effort to relieve suffering or end conflict than inflexible habits of thought, speech, and action. Meaningful -- that is, karmically effective -- solutions to our personal and communal troubles can never be imposed or universally legislated. They must be improvised.
If this much can be said about the first step of truly social engagement, about the second it is possible only to affirm that it must be taken locally, and in a direction compatible with eliciting the meaningful participation of all concerned in realizing an increasingly valuable situation -- not the institution of a new "state of affairs," but the improvisation of a new direction for our dramatic interdependence.
http://www.buddhistethics.org/6/hershock991.html#Change

Posted by: knowbuddhau on November 2, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "And like McCain, Broder is terribly mistaken."

No, no, no, no, no, no. No.

Do I have to get Bob Somerby to come over here to knock some sense into you?

Broder is not "mistaken". Broder is doing what he is very, very well paid to do: propagandizing on behalf of the interests and agenda of his employers, the giant media corporations that own virtually all of America's mass media, to whom John McCain has promised $1.44 BILLION in corporate tax cuts, plus millions more in personal tax cuts for their ultra-rich CEOs, plus continuation of the Cheney-Bush policies of radically deregulating media ownership, thereby enabling those corporations to gobble up America's last remaining independent TV and radio stations and networks.

Broder's job is not to impartially and honestly analyze the campaign as a public service to his readers, nor has he made some sort of "mistake" in attempting to do so. His job is to help get McCain close enough to steal the election by amplifying and legitimizing the McCain campaign's propaganda. There's no "mistake" about it.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on November 2, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

McCain should have been allowed to vet Obama? That's not middle of the road BS we can believe in!

Posted by: bdbd on November 2, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

To rebut the characterization of the "sleaziest" campaign in history, the McCain camp often claim Obama has run the "dirtiest" campaign ever (seen that coming!), explaining that Obama's spending on negative ads is irrefutable evidence.

Now in fairness, McCain is seemingly acknowledging the difference between the 'dirt' of Obama's campaign and the 'sleaze' of his own. Everyone can tell the difference between the repeated attempts to link McCain to Bush and those that attempt to link Obama to Osama.

It is sad that it's come to this, and it'll be even sadder if this is how McCain moves forward. A hero would never shirk responsibility and accountability for his own actions.

Posted by: ThatGuy on November 2, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

"It's an argument without foundation in reality."

....nor a shred of decency.

Posted by: bobbyp on November 2, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

"It's an argument without foundation in reality."

....nor a shred of decency.

Posted by: bobbyp on November 2, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Blaming the target of personal and vicious attacks is the mark of every abuser: "Look what you made me do." A bully is a bully, and incapable of assuming responsibility for his/her actions.

Posted by: SF on November 2, 2008 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

"It's an argument without foundation in reality."

It's a Broder column.

Or is that an oxymoron?

Posted by: on November 2, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Why does this sound like a wife beater claiming "she made me beat her. If she had only done what I asked I would not have had to hit her....it's her fault" ......

So when did McCain stop beating his wife?

Posted by: Diane on November 2, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Obama refused the town halls format. Obama did not want McCain to end up supporting Obama, embracing Obama's ideas and programs, and endorsing him. Then Obama would have nobody to run against, which'll sort of take the wind out of a campaign's sails.
You haven't noticed that through the latter part of the campaign it was Obama who was actually propping McCain up. Obama had to have an opponent, and if McCain couldn't be a worthy one, then obama had to make him one.
Besides, if they had town halls the voters would just end up confused, and might have voted for McCain because he agreed with everything Obama said, and he was white! That wouldn't have helped Obama, certainly.

Posted by: Mooser on November 2, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

if you go over and read the comments, many people are pointing out that the 'refusal to hold town halls opened the door' argument is bullshit.

your pal,
blake

Posted by: blake on November 2, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Poor old McCain - I think he thought he'd enliven his own dull campaign by holding town meetings with his more popular, charismatic opponent. But now - claiming that Obama "made" him go negative by refusing the town meetings...it's just obnoxious. I can't help but think Broder is identifying with the older man.

Posted by: damselfly1213 on November 2, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Broder is a guttersnipe. Always was and always will be."
LJR at 10:30 AM

Damn, hate it when someone beats me to the punch. Broder is a nasty little bitch, a sunshine superman ready to spew his toxic garbage in support of whatever douchebag du jour needs fluffing. He's the sniveling gutless shit in grade school who ingratiates himself to the school bully by lecturing the kid with the broken nose, in a a sanctimonious tone of "I feel your pain," on how to go along to get along. I'll take Krauthamer's batshit honesty over Broder's pathetic mewling any day of the week.

Posted by: Conrad's Ghost on November 2, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you.

Why ANYONE would think it a good idea for Obama to campaign on McCain's terms, I have not been able to fathom.

To "accept" McCain's invitation would have diminished Obama's stature, making him appear a guest of McCain's, or at least deferential to McCain.

Obama's task has always been to convince people to see him as a leader, as Presidential material, and giving in to McCain at the outset would have been a big, big mistake.

Does no one remember the nasty letter McCain wrote to Obama when crossed on some Senatorial matter? (Sorry I don't remember the issue, all I remember is the condescending and petty tone of the letter.)

McCain NEVER forgets what he perceives to be a slight and the tone of the campaign would NEVER have been less nasty no matter how many "town halls" they had participated in together.

Not to mention the logistics of two campaigns trying to seed the audience with their voters, schedule around campaign stops in the states important to them, etc. etc.

Broder is not really a very deep thinker, and this proves it.

Posted by: Cal Gal on November 2, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Time for Grandpa Broder to retire. The end of his beloved W's reign would be the ideal occasion for a misty-eyed, "Washington Just Isn't the Polite Place It Would Be if I Were Still in Charge" column and a final bow. No one is interested in reading his quadrennial "Give the New Guy the Benefit of the Doubt for 100 Days" column. Because he wouldn't really mean it, and we all now know it was always an act. He'll be pining for the good, decent, compassionate George W. Bush that he used to know, while condescending to that over-ambitious outsider Obama.

Buh-bye,Broder. You're were a useful idiot for your buddies Cheney and Rumsfeld, and nobody trusts you anymore.

Posted by: W Action on November 2, 2008 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Barack Obama loves his country. McCain and Palin think the country should love them."

Posted by: SteveT

Oh, very good.

"Frame it as a threat. If Obama did not agree to what McCain demanded, then McCain was free to run a nasty campaign."

Posted by: Mudge

Not quite there.

"1) Town Halls are to McCain's advantage and not to Obama's;
2) Without town halls, the only way McCain could win was by scorching the earth;
3) Obama decided not to arrange his campaign in a way that was advantageous to McCain;
3) Because Obama decided not to help McCain, it's his fault McCain chose to scorch the earth."

Posted by: Nathan

That's essentially it. When it was clear that McCain and Obama were going to be the nominees, it was also clear that Obama was getting crowds of ten to one hundred times more people to come out and listen to him. McCain NEEDED Obama to get any kind of crowds to listen to his "positive" message. Lacking that, the only path to victory that Schmidt could map for him was a road through the muck. Thus, McCain's total loss of honor and decency, reputation and face are all Obama's fault.

And David Broder must be such a lazy ass to bring this lie back. Can't he write a new column once in a while, especially two days before the election.

Or it stands repeating:

Atrios, as always, sums it up perfectly. "If only the black man had obeyed the white man."

Posted by: Midwest MegL

Posted by: Lance on November 2, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Parts of my townhall hypothisis have been said above, but let me say it this way:

McCain never wanted townhall meetings, he wanted sound bites. Then he and his crew could edit them so they said what McCain wanted Obama to say and McCain could use them in attack ads.

Posted by: madstork123 on November 2, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

In the same circumstances that McCain was in, Obama ran a clean campaign all along. So what is the rationale for McCain needing to run a dirty one? These results a more a reflection of the mindset of the two candidates than one having "made" the other campaign as they did.

It also is the end of the perception of the infallibility of Rove-style politics. The public has not bought it this time, thank God.

Posted by: stvwlf on November 2, 2008 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Barack Obama loves his country. McCain and Palin think the country should love them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuQ0AQ7YWS8

Posted by: Idi Amin's Last Meal on November 2, 2008 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

wrong.

Posted by: exile on November 2, 2008 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

I've been reading Broder since A) he had all his hair and B) it was DARK.

I'm trying to remember a time when he had anything of value to say about anything.

......? Nah.

......? Nah.

......? Nah.


.....

Can I get back to you?

Posted by: dougR on November 2, 2008 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

My take on why McCain has repeatedly raised this point (that it would have been a clean campaign if Obama had agreed to the town halls) is that he thinks that if Obama had taken McCain up on the traveling town hall road show idea, McCain would have been able to win cleanly, and he wouldn't have had to resort to mud. But for McCain, winning is more important than honor, and he refuses to look at this part of his character. So Obama is to blame for refusing to play according to rules that favor McCain.

Posted by: Joe Buck on November 2, 2008 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

I was brought up to 'do unto others as you would have done to yourself'. There is no argument really, you either have manners or you dont. It appears that Broder requires a lesson in 'dont stamp your foot like a child because you didnt get your own way' and as for John McCain, he is no gentleman. Does he really think that because Senator Obama didnt agree to townhall meetings that this gave him the right to behave in the way he has. He has acted like a hoodlum and certainly not as someone who wanted to be President of the United States. He forgot one thing, the world has been watching and will not forget. What a fool he is and as for our Sarah, well the sooner she gets back to Alaska the better, she is dangerous.

Posted by: Freda from Scotland on November 3, 2008 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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