In a recent article in The Nation, Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future and president of Progressive Majority, writes of the importance of the upcoming presidential election, “The increasing vitriol of the Democratic presidential WrestleMania shouldn’t distract from the opportunity before progressives. The election this year has the potential to be not simply a change election but a sea-change election, one that marks the end of the conservative era that has dominated our politics for nearly three decades. It could be the progressive equivalent of the conservative triumph of 1980.”
It should be and, by all rational thought, it will be a repudiation of the radical conservative mindset as finally adopted and, perhaps, corrupted by George Bush. We have seen repeatedly over the past seven years instances of using unfounded threats of terrorism and other adoption of fear tactics to distract the American public from scandal and incompetence in the halls of government. (I have written a companion piece citing chapter and verse of some of these occurrences.)
Unfortunately both the campaign of Senator Clinton and others on the progressive/liberal political spectrum have gleefully adopted the smear-fear approach to the possibility that Senator Obama might well be the forty-fourth president of the United States.
So Senator Barrack Obama is the topic of blogs, e-mail, rumors suggesting, among other things, that he’s a Muslim. (He’s not, having been a Christian for many years.) He was sworn into office on the Koran. (He wasn’t, although at least one person was, indeed, sworn into office on the Muslim Holy Book – Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who was sworn in as a Congressman on a Koran once owned by Thomas Jefferson, that dastardly radical anti-American.) He doesn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance. (False, see the Washington Post story) His pastor is an anti-Semite. (His pastor is, indeed, a holder of social views that I find repugnant but I am not responsible for the non-religious political viewpoints of my or any Rabbi; neither should Obama and he has said so.) He’s a tool of Louis Farrakhan. He and his advisers are anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. (His speeches and positions have been uniformly pro-Israel.) He’s friends with terrorists. (As Ann, Rush, Glenn and their ilk gleefully point out, Barack’s middle name is “Hussein”.)
Each of these charges can be proven inaccurate and viscous smears but the totality of the anti-Obama rhetoric sticks to the extent that some people accept at least part of the garbage.
To be sure, there are substantial questions about specific details on addressing the impending meltdown of our economy; there are those who question his plan for health care. On the other hand, few candidates for office offer a complete blueprint. Usually, the plans are left vague: Nixon’s secret plan for getting us out of Vietnam, for one example. Situations that are unanticipated arise and we must make our decision on far broader rationale and determination of core values. In this regard I am comfortable that Senator Obama offers a new approach to governing.
But even this not my basis first concern. I worry that the name-calling by the Hillary Clinton camp, the tacit encouragement of irresponsible “bloggers”, the proliferation of ugly untruths that are not immediately and totally repudiated by Senator Clinton — all of these weaken both candidates and might allow the radical conservatives anti – progressives to win.
Senator Obama is caught in the middle. If he responds decisively and in kind, he violates one core belief that negative campaigns are unworthy of this country. On the other hand, if he ignores the vitriol he risks being considered weak and too wishy-washy to be president.
Why must the progressives retake the White House? I recommend Jeffrey Toobin’s excellent book, The Nine, a history of the Supreme Court over the past fifty years or so. Professor Toobin, a renowned scholar of the Court, established, at least to my satisfaction, that the two or three Justices the next president is likely to appoint, will shape our culture, rights and freedoms for several generations.
So, what’s the bottom line? Agree or disagree with Senator Obama’s political leanings, to the left side of the political spectrum. But there is neither justification nor rationality in suggesting that he not a loyal, patriotic American. There is no reasonable basis to show anti-white or any other bias.
There is little to distinguish the political viewpoints of Senators Clinton and Obama. What there are, however, are the differing personalities, the “likeable” factor. Here is where Senator Obama has the distinct advantage. Senator Clinton comes across as being unyielding, rude, unwilling to compromise and, frankly, just not that nice. Senator Obama, on the other hand, comes across as a gentleman. Senator Clinton’s attacks reinforce these impressions.
But whatever else happens, the Democrats must win.