Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Red Bait of 2008

You can tell when a Republican is not doing well right before an election. They begin accusing his/her opponent of being a socialist, Communist, Marxist, and since 9/11 an Islamic terrorist. Such is the case with this week's bait contest between Tom DeLay and Sarah Palin in their descriptions of Barack Obama.

The irony is no one bothers to look at the record of Barack Obama on these accusations. First, that he is a socialist. The proof? He thinks people who make $250,000 a year should pay 3% more on their income tax. Yes, that is it. That is what makes him a socialist, an ideology that believes the means of production should be owned collectively by the people (even the state, depending on the situation). Three whole percentage points now makes you a socialist.

Notice, the one thing Sarah Palin and Tom DeLay are not talking about when mentioning socialism, and that is the government bailout of our banks, a piece of legislation that both Senators Obama and McCain supported and to which Sarah Palin was reduced to a pile of jello when attempting to explain her own support for it.

This is a $700 billion government takeover of our banking and lending industry, even if done for the interests of bankers and stockholders, not the people. That certainly sounds closer to socialism than paying three extra percent on your taxes. Alas, Palin and McCain are supporters of this government project, so it is apparently no longer socialist.

And speaking of tax hikers as socialists, what about Palin's own record as Governor of Alaska? Her claim to fame, before being named John McCain's VP albatross, was engineering the passage of the largest tax increase in the history of Alaska, on oil companies no less. Why is it that Joe the Plumber, who does not make two-fifths the salary of the group he is hooking for on the campaign trail, is considered a legitimate object of fawning on the campaign trail, and yet no one seems to bother asking the office of revenue in Alaska about how it was able to gain so much in the last fiscal year? I cannot think of anything in greater violation of the cult god of the market than increasing taxes on oil companies' revenues.

As for the charge about Obama's link to some Palestinian college professor, this seems even less of an issue than with Bill Ayers, and certainly less of one than Jeremiah Wright. Of course, the Palestinian prof. is a Muslim, and if you are a Republican supporter of a policy of perpetual war and unapologetic supporter of all things Israel, this actually makes sense (even if done because people like Palin have nothing else to talk about). The problem is Obama is as fanatical of a supporter of Israeli imperialism in the Middle East as any lobbyist in AIPAC. After all, it was Obama, not Palin, who came out in support of Israel if it decided to attack Iran, something which the media still does not report on very often. And before Governor Palin was agitating for an invasion of Pakistan, there was Barack Obama calling for the use of US military force to destroy al-Qaeda in Pakistan (good luck with the details on how to make that happen).

The problem here is posturing and the fact very few people still believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim himself. And, of course, we no longer live in the era of George Wallace, so they cannot just come out and say what they are really thinking, although their supporters seem to have no difficulty in doing so.

Instead, we get to endure the sight of such candidates going after an associate of his/her opponent. Well, since who you meet or know is now a campaign issue, I suppose Governor Palin would not mind explaining why she is a married to a supporter of a secessionist party that advocates breaking away from the US and whose founder declared that he "had no use for America."

Foolish non-issue, sure, but then this is what the campaign is reduced to, because no one wants to admit that there are few issues of real disagreement for them to talk about. Not only that, on the issues they disagree on, on real policy, it is obvious that neither wants to risk losing undecided voters by declaring their belief in 4,000 year old dinosaurs. Thus, we get to hear about hanging out with some campus radical from the '60s or who is palling around with some Palestinian.

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