Friday, October 10, 2008

The Dynamics of a Lynch Mob

As a continuation of my previous posting about the vitriol that is becoming more prevalent at many Republican rallies, particularly since McCain and Palin decided to make an issue of Obama meeting some ex-60s leftover, these campaign stops are getting more overtly hateful. With calls of "kill him" and "off with his head," thus it is the truest expression for the valuation of human life that we are witnessing from Republican voters, as they watch their party go down in flames before the election.

McCain booed after trying to calm anti-Obama crowd

By PHILIP ELLIOTT and BETH FOUHY, Associated Press Writers Philip Elliott And Beth Fouhy, Associated Press Writers 2 hrs 37 mins ago

LAKEVILLE, Minn. – The anger is getting raw at Republican rallies and John McCain is acting to tamp it down. McCain was booed by his own supporters Friday when, in an abrupt switch from raising questions about Barack Obama's character, he described the Democrat as a "decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States."

A sense of grievance spilling into rage has gripped some GOP events this week as McCain supporters see his presidential campaign lag against Obama. Some in the audience are making it personal, against the Democrat. Shouts of "traitor," "terrorist," "treason," "liar," and even "off with his head" have rung from the crowd at McCain and Sarah Palin rallies, and gone unchallenged by them.

McCain changed his tone Friday when supporters at a town hall pressed him to be rougher on Obama. A voter said, "The people here in Minnesota want to see a real fight." Another said Obama would lead the U.S. into socialism. Another said he did not want his unborn child raised in a country led by Obama.

"If you want a fight, we will fight," McCain said. "But we will be respectful. I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments." When people booed, he cut them off.

"I don't mean that has to reduce your ferocity," he said. "I just mean to say you have to be respectful."

Presidential candidates are accustomed to raucous rallies this close to Election Day and welcome the enthusiasm. But they are also traditionally monitors of sorts from the stage. Part of their job is to leaven proceedings if tempers run ragged and to rein in an out-of-bounds comment from the crowd.

Not so much this week, at GOP rallies in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and other states.

When a visibly angry McCain supporter in Waukesha, Wis., on Thursday told the candidate "I'm really mad" because of "socialists taking over the country," McCain stoked the sentiment. "I think I got the message," he said. "The gentleman is right." He went on to talk about Democrats in control of Congress.

On Friday, McCain rejected the bait.

"I don't trust Obama," a woman said. "I have read about him. He's an Arab."

McCain shook his head in disagreement, and said:

"No, ma'am. He's a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with (him) on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about."

He had drawn boos with his comment: "I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States."

The anti-Obama taunts and jeers are noticeably louder when McCain appears with Palin, a big draw for GOP social conservatives. She accused Obama this week of "palling around with terrorists" because of his past, loose association with a 1960s radical. If less directly, McCain, too, has sought to exploit Obama's Chicago neighborhood ties to William Ayers, while trying simultaneously to steer voters' attention to his plans for the financial crisis.

The Alaska governor did not campaign with McCain on Friday, and his rally in La Crosse, Wis., earlier Friday was much more subdued than those when the two campaigned together. Still, one woman shouted "traitor" when McCain told voters Obama would raise their taxes.

Volunteers worked up chants from the crowd of "U.S.A." and "John McCain, John McCain," in an apparent attempt to drown out boos and other displays of negative energy.

The Secret Service confirmed Friday that it had investigated an episode reported in The Washington Post in which someone in Palin's crowd in Clearwater, Fla., shouted "kill him," on Monday, meaning Obama. There was "no indication that there was anything directed at Obama," Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren told AP. "We looked into it because we always operate in an atmosphere of an abundance of caution."

Palin, at a fundraiser in Ohio on Friday, told supporters "it's not negative and it's not mean-spirited" to scrutinize Obama's iffy associations.

But Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania an author of 15 books on politics, says the vitriol has been encouraged by inflammatory words from the stage.

"Red-meat rhetoric elicits emotional responses in those already disposed by ads using words such as 'dangerous' 'dishonorable' and 'risky' to believe that the country would be endangered by election of the opposing candidate," she said.

Beth Fouhy reported from New York. Associated Press writer Joe Milicia contributed to this story from Cleveland.

You reap what you sow, John. I can assume that if anything does happen to Senator Obama, the prosecution of Palin, at the very least, as well as Senator McCain and his wife, will be forthcoming. Maybe even Hillary Clinton, too, since she began this coded race-baiting during the primaries (including not only Ayers, but the use of Reverend Wright), and even went so far as to compare Obama to Robert Kennedy, right before he was assassinated. My own dislike for many of the corporatist positions of Senator Obama notwithstanding, I cannot help but to find his most viable opponents to be an odious lot.

Then again, since the Connecticut Supreme Court has just ruled in favor of gay marriage (becoming the third state to permit it), maybe Governor Palin and Senator McCain will find a new target of opportunity for their last few weeks before being returned to lower office. It certainly appeared to work for them back in 2004, when the GOP used gay marriage (and several states' ballot initiatives to ban it) to help manufacture the reelection of George Bush. Then again, we were not in the economic situation that we are in today. Yes, even homophobic voters will sometimes have issues more important than legislating the control over the private, consensual use of our sex organs. And congratulations to the GLTB community of Connecticut. It is a victory long overdue. I cannot wait until one day when the US Supreme Court rules in a similar fashion and gays and lesbians in Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi are getting married alongside their brethren on the East and West coasts.

No comments: