So I was over at Pam’s House Blend this morning and
noticed this clip from Pastor Rick Warren about Proposition 8.He’s got a right to be a bigot, I
guess.It’s a free country.But if President Johnson had asked a
preacher who had just recently told all his minions to get out and fight
against the Civil Rights Act to give the invocation at his inaugural in 1964, I
guess we’d a' thought he was nuts.What’s more, we’d think he wasn’t too serious in his support for civil
So I’m thinking that President-elect Obama needs to get a
grip on this Rick Warren friendship of his.First, Warren’s selection is a real slap in the face to gay
Americans and to those of us who love our gay family members and friends.He’s an out-and-out bigot, who’s
running around recording pleas for others to be bigoted.Not acceptable as a choice to begin
your Presidency, Mr. Obama.
But second, Mr. President-elect, Rick Warren isn’t your
friend.I watched that Saddleback
Forum debate he sponsored.Time
after time, he couched the terms of the debate in such a way that you were at a
real disadvantage.He clearly set
it up for McCain to walk away the winner.(As Pam puts it, he sandbagged you, man.)It wasn’t just about gay marriage, which, of course, you
aren’t really standing up for anyway, unfortunately.The guy obviously just tolerates you; he doesn’t embrace
you.So why piss off all of us —
and set a homophobic tone— to have him bless your Presidency?
Rick Warren just oozes sanctimoniousness.I play this clip below because the sanctimony
and the lying just flows out of it.First, when he says that five thousand years of Christianity tells us
that marriage is an unchanging sacred thing, he’s sanctimonious—and wrong.For quite some time, Christians were
urged not to marry.It was giving
in to the carnal urge.Celibacy
was a virtue.Then, marriage was
accepted because Christianity became mainstream.Cultures change religious traditions as they evolve.Come on, aren’t you the religious
Second, when he says that two percent of the country are
homosexuals (don’t say ‘gay’ fella, that would be just too respectful, right?),
he’s just lying.Even government
surveys, which understate the number of gay people in the population, double that
number and most researchers would put a more accurate figure at closer to ten
percent of the population.He
knows that, but his construction is designed to make gay people seem freaky and
odd (not like ‘us.’).
Lastly (the clip was recorded before the election), when
he says he’s not endorsing a candidate, remember, he’s already sandbagged Obama
at his forum repeatedly.So,
again, the sanctimoniousness…Please, don’t let this selection be a harbinger of self-flagellation to
come in this Presidency.The man
is not your friend.You gotta be a
friend to have a friend.
even get me started about the way he treats the court system in this little
ditty…go ahead, watch it
It’s clear that the upper echelon of the McCain campaign knows that the way to win the upcoming November election is to bait the Democrats into a culture war. The fact that McCain was convinced to abandon his choice of either Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge over their pro-choice positions and pick an unknown backed by the Christian Right is the first indication. Next was the baiting at the RNC, designed to frame the opposition as the “in” party of liberals and elitists, despite the fact that the campaign is to succeed George W. Bush.
Now, we have a groundswell of interest from previously disengaged right wing fundamentalists in the Republican ticket, focused on the number two rather than on John McCain, followed by a barrage of innuendo and association between Barack Obama and all that is not Holy. Yesterday, the McCain campaign began airing this little ditty linking an Obama vote in the Illinois legislature to include information about HIV transmission in any existing “comprehensive sex education” class to teaching kindergarteners about sex. The ad shows a leering image of Obama while the narrator intones, “Obama's one accomplishment? Legislation to teach "comprehensive sex education" to kindergartners. Learning about sex before learning to read.”
I’m not going to speculate on the Willie Horton aspects of taking a picture of an African American man (smiling while looking down, as if at a small child) and juxtaposing him with a chilling warning about sex and children, but the breathtaking dishonesty of the ad makes it clear that the McCain campaign is interesting in luring the opposition into rebutting charges that fan the culture wars.
This strategy has far better possibilities for McCain than addressing economic issues and conditions that spell certain defeat at the polls. Whether the Obama campaign will take the bait is another question.
Recently, I wrote here about the latest McCain internet video, “The One,” which purports to be a sarcastic, dark-humored put-down of Barack Obama as self-appointed savior. I wrote that there’s no accident in the use therein of certain terms used in apocalyptic fundamentalist literature about the Anti-Christ, like “The One” and “anointing himself” in describing Obama precisely the way that these texts describe the Anti-Christ.
It’s clear to anyone who has seen the methodology used in past Bush campaigns, that their sustained attacks are designed to mobilize fundamentalist voters with coded messages. The plan is to get cozy again with the Right’s favorite shock troops, the nutty and fanatical Christian Coalition supporters. The messages will continue along these lines, paired with e-mail messages circulating about the dangerous 'Muslim' man with the giveaway middle name.
The problem for the McCain campaign, of course, is that Barack Obama is a very devoted Christian, a longtime churchgoer, who takes his born-again belief in God too seriously to be dismissed as a pagan or unbelieving Manchurian candidate. In fact, too many of his supporters are inside the walls, so to speak, of the American fundamentalist churches for this plan to go unnoticed in mainstream media for long. It’s not possible, this year, to challenge the Christianity of the Democratic nominee without a defense being mounted quickly and effectively.
So, since Christian supporters of Obama are hollering about this dirt, Time Magazine now carries an Amy Sullivan story about the creation of the “One” ad, created by Fred Davis, nephew of climate change disbeliever Former Senator James M. Inhofe. Davis has saved other GOP campaigns with smear efforts. Readers of this blog might remember Davis from 2006’s Tennessee ads for Bob Corker, contrasting the Republican with Democratic opponent Harold Ford as a GOP family man from the state, implying (without saying outright) that Ford was a womanizing guy (who just happened to be African American) from Washington and therefore a carpetbagger to boot.
Sullivan runs down all the similarities between the way Obama is portrayed in “The One” with the characteristics of the fictional Anti-Christ in the “Left Behind” series of fundamentalist end-time novels. It’s too long a list to be accidental. Check out Sullivan’s piece for a full rundown of the coded appeal to the 65 million-plus readers of these books.
A new TIME poll finds that the most conservative
Evangelicals are the least enthusiastic about
McCain's candidacy. Convincing them that Obama
does have two horns and a tail might be the best
way of getting them to vote.
If you haven’t seen the latest McCain internet ad, which portrays Obama as “The One” and as “anointing himself,” you really ought to. In fact, I encourage readers to go to the McCain for President website, where the entire set of McCain attack ads are available and just soak in them for a while. You’ll begin to feel the dirt seeping under your skin. The effect of the ads is beyond question. They are designed, in total, to depict Obama as an uppity and perhaps evil Black man, living well above his station in life.
The combination of code words for the fervently fundamentalist, like “The One” and “anointing himself” refer to descriptions of the anti-Christ in apocalyptic Christian literature, and the constant references to “foreign” and “country first,” as well as the subtext of linking him to white women of a sexualized reputation are unmistakable.
One of the most important voices coming out to call the McCain campaign front and center on this racist and religiously intolerant strategy is David Gergen, whose moderate GOP leanings aren’t keeping him from telling the truth about a fellow Republican. To his southern ear, the McCain attacks send a clear message: this Black man needs to be put in his place by a ‘real’ American.
It’s not surprising that the attacks are working (although if Obama's campaign turns to the economy, they'll seem as lame as they are). Most Whites don’t see the ads as racist, since the mainstream media culture tends to excuse subliminal racism and the McCain campaign is careful not to use explicit messages that can be quoted as explicit. But racism, as anyone who has encountered the civil rights struggles of the past few decades can attest, no longer should be defined only in the nonadaptive ways of the 1950’s and 60’s. Racists, and those who would use racism to mobilize racists on their behalf, know how to use symbols and code words and to duck behind them when called on it.
This is why it’s useful to go to the McCain site and spend a few minutes letting the ads play for you. The effect becomes much clearer in toto than by watching any of the individual ads. It’s a campaign designed to break down Barack Obama in the eyes of the viewer. His background becomes mere ‘celebrity,’ his speeches part of a foreign culture. Only McCain will put country first and repel the invader who beguiles the weak and pointy-headed intellectuals and liberal press.
The campaign is a scurrilous and despicable adoption of the techniques of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, tweaked to support a Republican who would pretend to be more open and bipartisan, while running a campaign that is designed to make race an issue. The ingenious part of the effort is that it thrives on being attacked by Obama, as he very mildly did in making comments about the attacks last week. Obama’s reference to the difference of his face to those on the dollar bill was then seized upon to bring the race issue into the foreground, charging Obama with being the racist!
Watch all the ads and view Gergen’s comments. Think long and hard about how small-minded and simple the McCain campaign believes the American people are. And wonder, “Are we this low?”
After days of MSM craziness about the Obamas in the Oval Office New Yorker cover, perhaps the best comment I’ve read is by illustrator Steve Brodner. From a political art perspective, he sees Blitt’s cover succeeding beyond any expectation. If the goal was to unpack the viral whispering campaign branding the Obamas with vicious rumors about “terrorist fist bumps,” Black racism, and a secret Islamist Manchurian candidate—it has. The unexpected help from a “shocked” MSM only serves to make the point to a much larger audience.
…basically we have the Wolf Blitzers pretending not
to get this to rev up ratings which rely, largely, on
the "outrage of the day." However, in that process a
dialogue is forced, satire is discussed, the truth
about Obama is put on the table. And so, even if it's
taking the long way to get there, Barry Blitt's strong
image does what we need it to do: put these issues
up for discussion and in a very real way, educate
(PS- If anyone's still interested, the Ryan Lizza article about Obama's Chicago political roots inside the New Yorker is worthwhile too.)
Just in case you thought our leaders had a corner on the market of apocalyptic psychosis, here’s a sample of what Iran’s thoughtful President had to say today:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad predicted
on Monday that Muslims would uproot "satanic
powers" and repeated his controversial belief that
Israel will soon disappear, the Mehr news agency
"I must announce that the Zionist regime (Israel),
with a 60-year record of genocide, plunder, invasion
and betrayal is about to die and will soon be erased
from the geographical scene," he said.
"Today, the time for the fall of the satanic power of
the United States has come and the countdown to
the annihilation of the emperor of power and wealth
Ahmadinejad also again expressed his apocalyptic
vision that tyranny in the world be abolished by the
return to earth of the Mahdi, the 12th imam of Shiite
Islam, alongside great religious figures including
Just another day of entertaining foreign guests for the Iranian head of state… Agence France Presse noted that domestic critics say, “he would be better solving bread-and-butter domestic problems rather than talking about Iran's divine responsibility.”
Today’s NYT carries a major piece by Andrea Elliott about the hatchet job done on Debbie Almontaser and the Khalil Gibran International Academy, an attempt to teach Arabic in the New York City school system.
Daniel Pipes, Rudy Giuliani’s Middle East policy advisor and head of the neoconservative Middle East Forum, figures heavily in the story’s description of the PR campaign to fire Almontaser and brand her as a fundamentalist.
Ultimately, Mayor Bloomberg caved in and demanded Almontaser’s resignation after a NY Post article apparently twisted Amontaser’s words to associate her with the Palestinian intifada. Soon thereafter, the Mayor’s office made the following deal:
… in exchange for her resignation, the school
would still open, and she would remain employed.
She resigned the next day, taking an administrative
job at the Education Department. She kept her
principal’s salary of $120,000.
On his radio program, Mayor Bloomberg
announced that Ms. Almontaser had “submitted
her resignation,” which “was nice of her to do.”
“She’s certainly not a terrorist,” he said, adding that
she was not “all that media savvy maybe.”
Three days later, Ms. Almontaser was replaced by
an interim principal, Danielle Salzberg, who is
Jewish and speaks no Arabic.
The school opened in chaos and in an atmosphere in which Arab students have frequently been harassed and taunted. Meanwhile, Pipes’ organization, the Stop the Madrassa Coalition, has lobbied for the school’s closure.
For those who would like to know more about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who we mostly are acquainted with through the 5-second “God damn America” sound bite that the North Carolina GOP and others want to play over and over and over, Bill Moyers will be interviewing him on his Journal tomorrow (Friday) night.
Might just be more interesting than a flag pin discussion…