On McCain's Legacy Threat and GOP "Days of Rage"

Carol Platt Liebau
|
Posted: Oct 14, 2008 9:59 AM
Jonathan and Matt note below all the "legacy warnings" from Democrats and the MSM that John McCain's been getting since he's had the temerity to raise issues that make Barack Obama uncomfortable.

In fact, in recent days, Obama himself has insisted that John McCain is trying to “stoke anger and division” against him – a meme that Obama’s friends in the mainstream media have obediently adopted.  The always self-indulgent Maureen Dowd has accused John McCain and Sarah Palin – in Latin, no less – of “rabble rousing” against Obama, thereby making his Secret Service agents nervous (“nervosissmi”); the always-understated Frank Rich charges the Mccain Palin ticket with “inciting vigilantism,” wailing that “each day the mob howls louder.”

Certainly, all decent people can agree that no threat to the safety of any candidate should ever be taken lightly, and that inciting it is always wrong.  So it’s heartening to witness Obama’s and the media’s new focus on the danger of political “rage.” After all, they’ve sat complacently by over the last eight years as the current President has been called a Nazi, a traitor, a moron and more.  “Entertainment” like “Death of a President” (a fake documentary portraying the assassination of George W. Bush), “Checkpoint” (a novel including a discussion about assassinating President Bush), and now Oliver Stone’s “W” have been treated as mainstream and acceptable – even garnering some favorable press. 

It’s also worth noting that there’s no record of “angry” Republicans advocating violence of any kind.  No one on the right has seriously threatened that riots could result from Obama’s election – in contrast to some on the left who have raised the specter of widespread civil strife in the wake of a McCain victory.   Given all of this, it seems more likely that the stated concerns about GOP “rage” actually mask another agenda. 

First, they represent an effort to marginalize anyone who’s not prepared to accede to the virtual coronation of The One.[# More #]   Those suggesting a link between Republican “anger” and the possibility of violence slander McCain voters – and attempt to stigmatize them – by suggesting that their opposition to Obama springs only from intractable ignorance and bigotry.  In this formulation, the backwoods bigots (who presumably constitute the bulk of McCain supporters) are all-too-likely to be “easily led” by their leaders’ criticism to commit unspeakable acts against Obama in order to prevent his victory. 

Second, the “warnings” are designed to deter John McCain, along with the conservative intelligentsia and blogosphere, from either warning about or criticizing Obama’s alliances and record.  Much as Bill Clinton sought to link Timothy McVeigh’s Oklahoma City bombing to talk radio, liberals are now signalling that they will blame all Republicans -- including political leaders, thinkers and writers who have exercised their First Amendment rights responsibly – for any heinous act that a lunatic might commit.

Finally, the left’s strategy of denouncing “fear-mongering” and “rage” sets a troubling precedent for the future.  If Republicans accept the idea that even legitimate criticism of Barack Obama exposes him to grave risk, they are essentially forfeiting their free speech rights for the duration of an Obama presidency.  Concerns about his safety would only be exacerbated by his election; should he win, criticism of him would “up the ante” by purportedly endangering America’s president, rather than a sitting senator and presidential nominee. In the final analysis, to the extent it’s sincere, the fear of Republican “rage” expressed by Obama and the press is irrefutable proof of their elitism and insularity.  Perhaps if they were better acquainted with regular Americans – yes, the ones “clinging” to their guns and religion – they would better comprehend the nature of and the reason for the “anger” they’re denouncing.

They would understand that Republican dismay stems less from the prospect of an Obama win than from the realization of what it will mean.  Victory for Obama will mark the success of a unprecedented and concerted effort on the part of a radical candidate to hide his associations and record from the public, enabled (and supported, even) by his partisans in the press.  McCain supporters can hardly be blamed for their frustration with a news media that’s overlooked or underreported Barack Obama’s extensive ties to the hard left – from his relationships with Bill Ayres and Khalid Rashimi to his longtime alliances with ACORN and his membership in the Socialist New Party – and much, much more. 

There’s nothing illegitimate, wrong, or shameful either in objecting to Obama’s record, character and policies, or protesting the concealment of them by both the Obama campaign and its allies in the press.  In fact, ever since 9/11, the left has sought to convince Americans that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism,” as radical historian Howard Zinn put it.  If that’s the case, it’s high time that Barack Obama, his allies on the far left, and his friends in the press acknowledge that the expression of such “patriotism” isn’t reserved exclusively for them.