Thursday, March 20, 2008

Two Standards and The Nail

The current sequence of events in the presidential election have caused me to consider the existence of a disturbing pathology that makes it virtually impossible for anyone extraordinary to stand a chance in politics or many other endeavors. The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.

Unfair standards, scales, and expectations develop that derail and destroy the superior candidate or performer. I assert this occurred in the race between Gore and Bush in 2000. The country knew Gore had a brain, in depth knowledge of the world, an understanding of foreign policy and global respect. If Eggplant managed to get through a debate without wetting himself, he did "pretty good." The contrast in standards was shocking. Gore could provide answers with twice the insight, twice the grasp of the facts, and infinitely more clarity. So what if Eggplant was a moron? The country knew Eggplant wasn't really that good at the word stuff. He was "down to Earth."

We now see the same occurring. Barack Obama is performing at a level superior to the other candidates, but all the country does is raise the bar on him and let others off the hook. McCain can flounder all over the place as the reader has no doubt seen, and no big deal. Obama's preacher takes front and center before the nation. McCain can accept the endorsement of wacko preacher John Hagee advocating immediate war with Iran and barely a peep from anyone. Care to hear some of the sermons this character delivered? Are we getting the best hits of the ministers Hillary heard over the last thirty years? She also enjoys the freedom from the horde of inflamed, obsessed, fanatical pickers in search of nits.

Are we really going to hyper-analyze and blow up every remark, every word, every sentence, seeking to see if we can find an imperfection? If so, then we should apply it equally to every fu**ing candidate and have the most utterly STUPID, ridiculous and unproductive conversations the country has ever had.

When Bill Clinton was running for president while Eggplant Senior was in the White House, unauthorized access to passport records occurred, presumably to try to uncover something useful in alleging Clinton tried to dodge the draft. Now, under Eggplant's administration, three breaches of security have occurred regarding Obama's passport files. Like father, like son.

If Jesus Christ descended on Earth today and ran for office, we'd crucify him a second time. Can you imagine "Turn the other cheek" in the context of the fear mongering fanatics currently in the White House? They would portray the message as suicide. If this hasn't been produced as a film yet, it should. Surely someone has produced a film or written a novel where Christ returns and the Jesus freaks become the most adamant about killing him for heresy. Iris Murdoch has a metaphor for Christ in A Fairly Honourable Defeat but surely a more direct work has been produced.

Events of the past few years have produced a cynicism difficult to resist. The system does not elect the superior candidates. The system elects the candidates that best preserve the system. Change agents are perceived as threats. Our government does not want a President Obama. McCain and Clinton have been sufficiently indoctrinated, absorbed, and assimilated into the machine so as to never operate outside of its boundaries and expectations.

If my theory has merit, expect the following over the next few months. Obama will face incessant nay saying and fault finding of every speech, every statement, every development. He will face relentless, brutal scrutiny and negatively biased spin. McCain could allege that Iran has usurped control of US Catholic High Schools to abduct virgins for sex slave camps in Tehran. We'd forgive him. After all, he's old. We have already shown we don't need a president with any mental faculties.


Blogger The Navigator said...

I've been having similar sentiments, and some in the press have made remarks that point to this, but with less insight.

You "hit the nail on the head" and I think this is exactly what happens.

The chess image is blogger poetry. To use your language, "The astute will note color queues."

3/21/2008 12:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only what you have said, but they are trying to change the rules of the game.

Michigan and Florida will not count by agreement of all. On second thought.

3/21/2008 9:53 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

Interesting post, X4mr, but I'm not sure I totally agree with you. I've been following this all week and have some thoughts on the subject that I will write about later.

I do not think that what has happened to Obama these last few days is about being held to a higher standard because he is exceptional.

I think it is business as usual for the political attack machines.

I'll explain later.

3/21/2008 10:36 AM  
Blogger Cigar Man said...

I probably agree with Liza and await her further remarks.

Bill Richardson has endorsed Obama, which should have a measurable impact on his campaign.

I will acknowledge that the "system" you refer to is a significant component of what occurs. I would say that a large and powerful element that benefits from status quo works to sustain status quo and gives rise to the behavior you describe.

I agree with you completely about 2000. Gore could be a genius and "eggplant" just had to stand there and not fall apart. Expectations were so low for him that he had it made.

Am I the only one who thinks McCain does not look good? Recent footage has me wondering if he has the physical well being to make it to the election, let alone a full term.

Forget two terms.

3/21/2008 10:56 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

When Fox and other mainstream television media began running the video clip of the Reverand Jeremiah Wright saying, “God damn America,” every African American adult in this country knew what had just happened. Senator Obama’s Swiftboat had finally arrived, and it was going to be all about race. That was always the intention, unless something else might have occurred to discredit the Senator. But nothing did occur, so the right wing political attack on Senator Obama that is intended to decimate his candidacy and elevate John McCain will be focused on the fact that the Senator is African American. No one knows this better than Senator Obama himself.

It is very important to understand, first of all, that Senator Obama being African American is not what concerns his political attackers. Condoleeza Rice is African American and she has faithfully toed the line for George Bush and his neo-conservative administration. Colin Powell was also a team player who sacrificed his own legacy in a fateful speech before the National Security Council to advance the neo-conservative agenda. No, being African American is not necessarily a problem for the Republican elite.

The problem being faced by Republicans in 2008 is losing the presidency and being the minority party in the Senate and the House of Representatives, a situation they may have to endure for many years to come. With the Senate and the House already lost, they still have their long shot at the presidency. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than having nothing. The attack on the Democratic contender is guaranteed to be as brutal as anything we have seen, and last week’s attack on Senator Obama that originated on Fox and spread to the other mainstream networks is only the introduction. The timing of the recent attack on Obama was intended to open the door for the less popular Hillary Clinton to possibly win the Democratic nomination, perhaps through superdelegates, and improve McCain’s chances to prevail in November.

How can any Republican win the presidency in 2008? The contenders for the Republican nomination, with the possible exception of fringe candidate Ron Paul, were as unappealing and unremarkable as any random selection of white, conservative, middle aged and elderly men. John McCain emerges as the winner and this excites no one, but this is what they have to work with.

John McCain has every political disadvantage imaginable as he faces down a Democratic contender. The incumbent Republican president is already being tagged by many as the worst president in American history. The US occupation of Iraq, the major part of the Bush II legacy, is also considered by many to be the worst political mistake made by a US president, and John McCain has been an enthusiastic supporter of this debacle. The remainder of the Bush legacy consists of colossal failures in every aspect of governance and at record breaking financial cost to the American taxpayers of today and tomorrow.

Middle and lower income Americans have nothing to gain from a Republican presidency that would essentially be a continuation of current economic and social policy. And most Americans have come to the conclusion that the US occupation of Iraq is costing money that could be better spent here at home. They might be opposed to “socialized medicine,” but they are more than ready for the government to address the health care crisis in some manner that does not exclude 50 million Americans.

Even so, there is still good news for Republicans. Elections are about demographics and voter turnout, and they know that voter opinions are easily created and controlled using fear based politics. Even better, conservatives have an immense amount of support in mainstream media particularly at Fox News, and whatever message they choose to disseminate will reach tens of millions of people. So, all that is needed is a short, controversial video and an inexhaustible supply of pundits and hacks who can run their mouths forever and fan the flames.

So why did the right wing choose a race issue to launch their mainstream media war on Senator Obama? Because the exploitation of racism in the white majority is the easiest, most obvious, and most acceptable attack available to them. Furthermore, it is likely to be the most effective.

If you are in your forties or younger, you have no memory of segregation in America. That is difficult for me to imagine, because I grew up in the Deep South during the civil rights era, and images of Jim Crow are more or less seared into my brain. My parents and relatives were white racists, to be sure, but they were passive. Nonetheless, they were satisfied with segregation, and they did not concern themselves with any problems related to racial inequality. “That’s just the way things are,” they would say. The Civil Rights movement only intensified their fear, the systemic fear that is ever present within the members of the “superior” race.

As a historical period, the civil rights era is relatively recent. Many of those who faced down the fire hoses, the dogs, and took the beatings are still in their 60’s. Senator Obama is part of the first generation of African Americans who have become the beneficiaries of the movement. Try to imagine his emotional connection to those people who risked their lives to give hope to the next generation.

I have said several times on this blog that, at this time, the possibility of an African American president is a fragile concept. Many white people who accepted segregation are still alive and they vote. Many younger people who did not grow up with segregation were taught to believe in white superiority and they vote too. But none of these people were going to vote for Obama anyhow, so how can the right wing use race to destroy the candidacy of Barack Obama?

I believe that what the right wing is exploiting is the residual fear of African Americans in the white majority.

Racism is easily defined but it can be subtle in its manifestations. The racism that I grew up with was raw, brutal, and exposed. Towards the end of the civil rights era, it was less exposed, but the hatred and the fear were the same or worse. Even as a child I understood that this form of racism would be part of southern culture until the more racially tolerant younger generation came of age and began raising families, and that is more or less what happened.

Racial equality can be legislated, but the process of social acceptance is evolutionary. We tend to believe there is widespread social acceptance of racial equality in 21st century America. Yet, there is massive evidence of racism that ranges from subtle to overt, the most extreme recent example being the handling of hurricane Katrina. Racism, in its present manifestations, is not diminishing. If anything, the residual fear of racial “others” in the white majority has been extended to other groups, particularly Mideastern people since 9/11.

The right wing conservatives who are trying to derail Senator Obama’s candidacy understand that they can capitalize on residual and new fears by showing the white majority that he is not one of them and he cannot be their leader. And, by repetition, they hope to amplify this fear so that a sufficient number of voters from the white majority discount the obvious deficiencies of the Republican candidate and the Republican party, and choose instead to prevent the ascension to the presidency of an individual who is not one of them.

The fact that the right wing has been able to create this “controversy” about Senator Obama with a video of his pastor and keep it going for several days shows how deep and pervasive this fear really is. Under most circumstances, reasonable people would not condemn a politician because his pastor gives fiery, controversial speeches. But the video is their solid evidence that Reverend Wright is a racial “other” and an adversary of the white majority straight out of the 60’s. By association, Senator Obama must be supportive of his views. Therefore, Senator Obama must not be the president.

The right wing is attempting to legitimize the residual fear of the white majority and assure them that they are not racist, they are decent people who love their country and they must protect it from radicals. They must vote for the white patriot.

That is all they are trying to sell.

3/21/2008 8:10 PM  

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