So we've had nearly 8 years of lefty assassination fantasies about George W. Bush, and Bill Ayers' bombing campaign is explained away as a consequence of him having just felt so strongly about social justice, but a few people yell things at McCain rallies and suddenly it's a sign that anger is out of control in American politics? It's nice of McCain to try to tamp that down... but, please, can we also note the staggering level of hypocrisy here?Does Reynolds (who's single-handedly responsible for a lot of the traffic this blog has received) really not see any distinction?
There might be a genuine parallel if McCain and Palin hadn't actively attempted to stoke hateful feelings toward Obama. But they have.
Or there might be a parallel if Obama had been conducting his campaign by insidiously playing on "lefty assassination fantasies." He hasn't.
Palin deliberately caused people to associate the word "terrorist" with "Obama." As just about everyone has now heard, she says Obama likes to "pal around" with terrorists and hang out in their "living room." The McCain campaign put out a press release last week referring to "the terrorist group founded by Barack Obama's friend William Ayers." Those are just a couple examples of many. While none of that is literally calling Obama himself a terrorist, any competent politician understands the effect of repeating two words or phrases together over and over. (See Bush's constant repetitions of "Saddam Hussein" and "September 11" in rapid succession.)
All of that rhetoric is carefully constructed to avoiding mentioning that Obama has only associated with Ayers long after he became a reformed, productive member of society. Even the lead prosecutor who prosecuted Ayers said, in a letter to the New York Times:
I am amazed and outraged that Senator Barack Obama is being linked to William Ayers’s terrorist activities 40 years ago when Mr. Obama was, as he has noted, just a child.I've seen this ad in my web browser countless times (the screen shot is from this blog post):
Although I dearly wanted to obtain convictions against all the Weathermen, including Bill Ayers, I am very pleased to learn that he has become a responsible citizen.
Because Senator Obama recently served on a board of a charitable organization with Mr. Ayers cannot possibly link the senator to acts perpetrated by Mr. Ayers so many years ago.
knows what he's doing with this ad.
I know that many people who read this post will dismiss my suggestions. I understand that there's a deep human impulse to vehemently deny that subliminal messages are effective or even being attempted. The notion that our thoughts are susceptible to being manipulated makes people mad.
Keep in mind that the McCain campaign has been flinging the "terrorist" language at Obama for months and months (going back to the days when McCain used to have the nerve to say this out of his own mouth rather than cowardly saying it through his surrogates). The Obama/Ahmadinejad ad has also been showing up on the internet for months and months.
None of this is an accident.
If you use those kinds of images and buzzwords over and over, trying to firmly implant them in Americans' minds, you shouldn't be surprised if the language at your rallies starts to run along the lines of: "Terrorist!" "Kill him!" "We're scared, we're scared of an Obama presidency." "I can't trust Obama ... he's an Arab." And so on.
UPDATE 1: According to a commenter on my mom's blog responding to this post, I am "a very callow youth with a limited understanding of American political campaigns." I would like to respond to this, but I'm only 27 years old so I'm not smart enough to know whether he's right.
UPDATE 2: Lots of comments on this post (over 40 right now). Most are vigorously disagreeing with me. I always welcome vigorous disagreement.