Thursday, October 09, 2008


I'm probably going to be the only person in the left blogosphere to say this, but I don't think Blogger Interrupted's video of "the McCain-Palin mob" is particularly terrifying, and I worry that an excess of self-righteousness on our part could backfire at the polls.

Responding to the video, Politico's Jonathan Martin says, "it's difficult to imagine even the most hard-core conservatives saying that Al Gore or John Kerry were terrorists," and his colleague Ben Smith adds, "Despised as John Kerry was, it's hard to imagine Republicans calling him, personally, a 'terrorist,' and speculating about his 'bloodlines.'"

No -- Kerry was just accused of being soft on terrorism in Bush campaign ads, and was deemed by his opponents to be guilty of treason for his conduct in the Vietnam War and afterward. And "bloodlines"? Maybe it didn't seem as sinister, but it was a running joke in 2004 that Kerry "looks French," and that certainly didn't help him at the polls.

In his first run for the presidency, Bill Clinton was said to have been a youthful collaborator with the KGB; later, he was reported to be responsible for a series of "suspicious" deaths. And the rumor that Kitty Dukakis once burned an American flag was spread by a U.S. senator and made its way, in barely disguised form, into a speech by Poppy Bush.

So we haven't sunk much lower this year than we have in the past.

Maybe the people questioned in this video really do have bloodlust, but there's no evidence of it in the video. They just seem like angry, ill-informed partisans who get their backs up when challenged. Their minds have been filled with poison regarding the Democratic candidate, but that's a quadrennial problem, not an unprecedented one, given the state of modern Republicanism.

Yes, I want actual calls for violence in angry, fevered crowds to be denounced, and I am upset about the determination of McCain and especially Palin to whip up such anger. But I don't want the last few weeks of this campaign to be full of media reports implying that if you support McCain and Palin, you're a violent bigot by definition. That has the potential to tip fence-sitters into the McCain column, in a backlash reaction. People don't react well when they think they're being told their opinions are forbidden.

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