Divide and Forfeit

In the face of what seems an insurmountable electoral challenge, in spite of running the most negative of campaigns and dubious eleventh hour challenges to the rights of non-Republicans to vote, the Republicans have withdrawn to their last line of defence, unilateral declarations of treason on the part of their opponents:

"We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America," Ms. Palin said, according to a pool report. "Being here with all of you hard-working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans."

Mark Leibovich - Palin Visits a 'Pro-America' Kind of Town NYT 17 Oct 08

'Wonderful little pockets of what I call real America?' As Obama spokesman Bill Burton wondered, 'What part of the country isn't pro-America?' But never mind, they're just throwing out red meat to the remaining 'little pockets' of their constituency, right?  Apparently not, from these recent comments by McCain surrogate, Representative Michelle Bachman:  

"What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look.  I wish they would.  I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or Anti-America?  I think the American people would love to see an expose like that."

thereisnospoon - Help Kick Michelle Bachmann out of Congress. NOW. www.MyDD.com 17 Oct 08

So now we have McCain surrogates questioning the loyalty of our elected representatives?  This kind of 'madhattery' would lead you to believe that these are just isolated outbursts from reckless and undisciplined voices in the campaign, wouldn't it?  But the evidence is starting to accumulate that we are seeing a concerted effort to delegitimise the majority of the country which doesn't happen to be McCain Republican.  For example, specific localities are being targeted for rhetorical disenfranchisement, in this case the non-rural areas of Virginia:

It's all about division. For Sarah Palin, it's about dividing "pro-America" communities from those parts of the nation she's less fond of. For Michelle Bachmann, it's about dividing "un-American" members of Congress from the rest of the chamber.

And for the McCain campaign, it's about dividing individual swing states, pitting one region against another.

On MSNBC this morning, McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer asserted that "real Virginia" does not include Northern Virginia: "I certainly agree that Northern Virginia has gone more Democratic.... But the rest of the state -- real Virginia if you will -- I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain's message."

MSNBC host Kevin Cork gave Pfotenhauer a chance to revise her answer, telling her: "Nancy, I'm going to give you a chance to climb back off that ledge -- did you say 'real Virginia'?"

But Pfotenhauer didn't budge, and instead dug a deeper hole: "Real Virginia, I take to be, this part of the state that's more Southern in nature, if you will.

This comes just two weeks after Joe McCain, the senator's brother and campaign surrogate, referred to Virginia's two most northern counties as "communist country."

Steve Benen - The 'Real' Virginia... Washington Monthly 17 Oct 08

If there is a winning electoral strategy in all of this one could be forgiven for failing to see it.  'Real' America is very likely about to deliver the biggest defeat Republicans have had for a long time.  It would seem that instead of contesting this election on it's merits the Republicans have in fact conceded the 'real' election and are retreating to the bunker of false rhetorical divisions, indefensible distinctions of 'values' and politically useless assumptions of moral superiority.  Am I missing something here or are the Republicans conceding the election and preparing to fight a bitter war of absurd ideological legitimacy to explain their pending failure?:

"It comes down to values - in America, do we simply value wealth, or do we value the work that creates it?" Obama said at a rally under the Gateway Arch. "I'm not giving tax cuts to folks who don't work. I'm giving tax cuts to folks who do work. That's right, Missouri - John McCain is so out of touch with the struggles you are facing that he must be the first politician in history to call a tax cut for working people `welfare.'"

Obama made the remarks at a rally that drew an estimated 100,000 people--second only to the 200,000 people who turned out for his speech in Berlin, Germany, and more than the 80,000 people who attended his Democratic National Convention speech--in a state that John Kerry had pulled out of at this point four years ago.


"At least in Europe, the Socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives," McCain said in his Saturday radio address. "They use real numbers and honest language. And we should demand equal candor from Sen. Obama. Raising taxes on some in order to give checks to others is not a tax cut; it's just another government giveaway."

Obama would "convert the IRS into a giant welfare agency, redistributing massive amounts of wealth at the direction of politicians in Washington," McCain said.

Carrie Budoff Brown - 100,000 at Obama rally--calls McCain 'out of touch' Politico 18 Oct 08

Socialist? Republicans have regressed into the anachronistic culture wars of the 20th century as we move forward toward the greatest challenges of the current one.  If they are 'redefining' the Republican party it is certainly starting to look like a paranoid, poorly informed and angry little group.  We just might have a good, long run in government if this is the alternative they seem determined to offer the American public for the future.

Tags: Barack Obama, Election 2008, John McCain (all tags)



Re: Divide and Forfeit

Really great work, Shaun. I never thought I would live to see the likes of these types of people paid by and encouraged by a national political party. At this point I can say with conviction that a McCain win would mean the end of hope, integrity and honor in the US. I actually feel that way about most Republicans at this point. All Americans need to stand up and be counted, and vote against and speak out about this Republican attack. And thanks to the ongoing efforts of Republicans, it appears that we need to focus on counting every vote and fighting for the right for American citizens to vote. If I did not personally know many Republicans who are repulsed by this behavior, I would have no hope left for this country.

by Jeter 2008-10-18 05:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Divide and Forfeit

Nate Silver over at FiveThirtyEight dotcom did an interesting analysis of what Palin's "wonderful little pockets" of America actually look like.  His finding:

Since her coming out in Dayton, Ohio on August, 29th, Palin has held (or is scheduled to hold) public events in 44 cities according to the Slate.com candidate tracker. These include all events described as "rallies", "town halls", "gatherings" or "discussions", but not things like press availabilities, fundraisers or debates.

I looked at the racial composition of voting-age (18+) population in these 44 cities as according to the 2000 census.** They are, on average, 83.3 percent non-Hispanic white, 7.5 percent black, 5.2 percent Hispanic, and 4.0 percent "other". By comparison, the US 18+ population in 2000 was 72.0 percent white, 11.2 percent black, 11.0 percent Hispanic, and 5.9 percent other. Thirty-four of Palin's 44 cities were whiter than the US average.

Over the same interval, Barack Obama had public events scheduled in 48 distinct cities. The racial composition of these cities was 69.8 percent white, 17.4 percent black, 8.9 percent Hispanic, and 4.0 percent other. The percentage of whites very nearly matches the US average 72.0 percent; 22 of Obama's cities were whiter than average, and the other 26 were less white than average.

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/10/r eal-america-looks-different-to-palin.htm l

Although a certain amount of this can be chalked up to the political calculation that Obama has won the Black vote and there's no reason to waste time in those areas, when you think about the nature of the job McCain/Palin is after a 50-State strategy should not be a "strategy" at all but should be a requirement.  

What a difference in Obama's campaign which exemplifies a campaign run by people who believe in uniting, not dividing the country.  From an article in the Wall Street Journal:

Since the end of June, ads for the senator have run almost nonstop across Montana, even though Arizona Sen. John McCain is leading his Democratic counterpart in the state by five to 11 percentage points in the latest polls. Sen. Obama has 20 campaign offices in "Big Sky Country," including the first ever for a presidential candidate in this eastern Montana cow town. The candidate has made five campaign visits to Montana...

Few places are less likely to go for Sen. Obama than here in the badlands around Miles City, a staunchly conservative ranching town of about 8,500. Yet the campaign has an office in a downtown hotel and has had volunteers canvassing streets and country roads in search of votes the past few weeks...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12242895 9385246655.html

This, Miss Sarah, is what a real campaign for the President of the real United States should look like, not one based on snide and cynical comments which seek to divide us between rural and urban America.  

by Piuma 2008-10-18 07:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Divide and Forfeit

It's also interesting to note Obama's gains among America's white male population, a demographic which Democrats have failed to win for quite some time.  I simply don't understand the McCain/Palin strategy, if that's the right word, they are creating considerable controversy, to be sure, but I don't see where their line of attack is going to win over anyone but their existing constituencies.  And they seem to be doing a credible job of alienating or scaring everybody else.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-10-18 08:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Divide and Forfeit

I'm seeing the word "socialist" pop up more and more on letters pages and in commentary from the right. It's the new McCain mantra. Watch how "Obama" and "socialism" are going to appear less than a breath apart in every mention of one or the other.

I figure it's meant to keep the base fired up and frothing at the mouth, and to keep the underinformed moderate conservatives just plain confused for the next two weeks, while they throw as much racist innuendo as they think they can get away with. The sight of a failed movement and a corrupt ideology in its last throes is not going to be pretty.

by BobzCat 2008-10-18 08:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Divide and Forfeit

The funny thing is I don't think many of them even understand what 'socialism' actually means, and though we rarely consider doing it you can be sure their elected leaders would never, ever nationalise private institutions, like banks...  Oh, wait...

No, not pretty, and like wounded animal a bit dangerous, still, it's an entertaining spectacle I wouldn't miss watching from a safe distance.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-10-18 08:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Divide and Forfeit

My right wing brother-in-law in Miami is apparently attaching the socialist tag to Obama now. I'm hardly surprised. I avoid any semblance of opinion while speaking to him, or my sister who he is married to. It's simply not worth it. They attack with condescending smug expressions and dismissive attitude. If it weren't family members I'd unload in return but I need it to remain somewhat civil.

The only reason I'm aware of his opinion is my aunt made the mistake of quizzing him on the election yesterday. She said he started rambling for 5 minutes, calling Obama a socialist and claiming he had 10 associations with terrorists and similar. That must be the theme on Fox News. They watch Fox News obsessively, by admission.

The attacks I'm seeing here in Las Vegas are commercials from the NRA. Are they popping up everywhere? It's the type of thing I expected from the GOP throughout this cycle.  

by Gary Kilbride 2008-10-18 08:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Divide and Forfeit

The irksome thing about this 'socialism' nonsense is that Obama's policy merely reverses the Bush tax rates on some higher brackets.  It's as if the Republicans didn't understand we have had a progressive taxation structure since 1913.  It is tempting to consider it calculated and wilful ignorance.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-10-18 09:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Divide and Forfeit

The details don't matter. My brother-in-law is very representative of the type of person who needs summary labels. He follows politics briefly every four years and relies on terms like individualism, and whatever Republicans attach to the Democratic nominee. I'm sure in 2004 it was flip-flopper.

by Gary Kilbride 2008-10-18 09:38PM | 0 recs
Brilliant diary Shaun

Unfortunately, the socialism/UnAmerican activities  thing is gaining a little traction - only a few percentage points - but it speaks to some atavistic fear.

The Republicans are an example of evolution in reverse. With the McCarthyite slurs they have gone back to the 1950s - now with the eschewal of any kind of Progressive Taxation, they have gone back to around the turn of the 20th Century.

Obama should hit back ads and a speech along the lines of Missouri, talking about Tax breaks for working families, about reversing the REDISTRIBUTION to the hyper-rich of the Bush years, and adding -

This isn't socialism. This is caring about your country. This isn't UnAmerican. This is justice and fairness and democracy. This is the American way.

by brit 2008-10-19 04:07AM | 0 recs


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