Sunday, October 19, 2008


We interrupt this blog for political rambling

By Edward Copeland
You all have been warned, so read no further if you are prone to get mad with political talk that you might not agree with. Besides, the impetus for this post is more about my own sadness about having to break with a friend, not because he's for McCain and I'm for Obama, but because his change saddens and frightens me.

He unleashed a rant that was unbearably close to some of the wackos at the McCain and Palin rallies who would shout "Terrorist" or "Kill him" about Obama when my friend expressed anger at McCain for daring to show respect for Obama and say nice things about him. He felt it amounted to a McCain endorsement of Obama by calling him decent and telling one of his supporters he had no reason to be scared of an Obama presidency, a comment that got McCain booed by his own crowd. My own friend wants McCain "to tear (Obama's) head off" with extraneous attacks such as Bill Ayers, even though all evidence shows that the tactic is working against McCain. While the McCain did tone done their act a little (no more "palling around with terrorists") they continue to use the line of attack through robocalls and mailings. When Colin Powell endorsed Obama today, he cited the negative tone of the GOP and the campaign as one of the major reasons.
"You know, I've spent my entire lifetime separating the Right from the kooks."
William F. Buckley Jr.

The late Buckley, one of the patron saints of the modern conservative movement and founder of the conservative bible National Review, said the preceding quote to his son Christopher, who recently gave up his column in his father's magazine after the angry response to his endorsement of Obama. Another conservative columnist, Kathleen Parker, who suggested that Palin was hurting McCain's chances was deluged with angry missives suggesting that her mother should have aborted her -- and this is from the pro-life party. Political discourse in this country has grown completely out of hand, but I never expected my good friend of more than two decades to turn against intellectualism.

As I said before, I wouldn't care if he was for McCain, what disturbs me is that he sounds like the loons who think Obama is a Muslim terrorist worthy of death, even when McCain's own polls show that it is a losing strategy for him. As a conservative/libertarian friend of mine backing Obama said, my former friend should try to be "more conservative and less Republican." This is a man who used to pursue all sorts of philosophies and ideas: Now he believes the Swift Boaters were right. I've literally cried wondering what happened to the guy I used to know. Now, while he swears by the right wing, he disdains the conservatives who come to their conclusions through a thought process. I seldom agree with George Will, but I respect him because you usually can tell how he reached his conclusion, even if you disagreed. In a way, it reminds me of Pauline Kael. She's my favorite film critic even though I seldom agreed with her but I loved her writing and could see how she got there. David Brooks, another conservative my friend dislikes, recently wrote about what he's seen happen to his party.
"Modern conservatism began as a movement of dissident intellectuals. ... Driven by a need to engage elite opinion, conservatives tried to build an intellectual counterestablishment with think tanks and magazines. They disdained the ideas of the liberal professoriate, but they did not disdain the idea of a cultivated mind. ... But over the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. ... Over the past 15 years, the same argument has been heard from a thousand politicians and a hundred television and talk-radio jocks. The nation is divided between the wholesome Joe Sixpacks in the heartland and the oversophisticated, overeducated, oversecularized denizens of the coasts. What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole. The liberals had coastal condescension, so the conservatives developed their own anti-elitism, with mirror-image categories and mirror-image resentments, but with the same corrosive effect."

Now, it is entirely possible that I overreacted but as I alluded to in an earlier post, the past five months for me have not been good ones. It's hard to write about this because it's so personal and there is no way for it to not sound like I'm just feeling sorry for myself. I have been essentially bedridden since May, first in hospitals, at home since the end of August. This post alone took me more than a week to write because I can't sit up that long without getting worn out. I've caught up with many movies on DVD, but I haven't had the energy or inspiration to write about them. I'm depressed and why the hell shouldn't I be? I'm dependent on my aging parents to care for me (and when they're gone, I'm shit out of luck) and few of my friends bother to call me and even fewer come by to see me. I don't blame them. I wouldn't see me either if I could help it. I can't even pet my dog. So now I've dumped one of the few people who did call me sometimes because my misery and pain were too much to be able to tolerate his growing madness, madness which can only get worse if Obama wins. I miss my friend, but he's vanished from existence.


According to some, McCain really, really wishes that these total nutjobs would just leave him and his campaign the fuck alone - they have become an acute source of embarrassment. And it's fine for him to feel that way, but here's the thing: if you pander to the lowest common denominator - and really, that's what all this Bill Ayers bullshit has been - then those are the people who are going to show up at your rallies and make the loudest noises. These wackos obviously do not represent the mainstream of the Republican party - I, like you, know plenty of good and reasonable Republicans who are just as appalled by these bloodthirsty yokels and their battle cries as I am. I think it's a proof of how out-of-touch McCain is with his OWN party base that his campaign has attracted so many extremists, while a fair number of moderate Republicans have decided that they want absolutely no part of the guy.

I commend you for separating yourself from this person. It's one thing thing to tolerate views that are different from your own, even those your find personally offensive. It's something else entirely to put up with behaviors and attitudes that are so backward and morally irresponsible that somehow violence constitutes an acceptable form of dissent; some of these people have not only lost touch with reality - they've lost sight of their humanity. That is a sad, sad thing.
There seems to be something in the modern "conservative" genome that promotes violence and violent reactions to folks that disagree. Though it's been more prevalent since 9-11, it's been there for some time in the violent reactions to peace marchers and the like.

I actually attribute it to not so much the conservative spirit as the "powers that be," those relatively-few who profit from and control the military-industrial complex protecting their power and hegemony, no matter which party is in power.

What we need in this country is a single-payer health-care system, but neither of the candidates are talking about that.
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