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Monday, October 13, 2008

McCain's Legacy

Pretty nice photo, huh? That's Barack Obama at Madison's Monona Terrace Convention Center last fall. Monona Terrace was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, so it's hard to ignore the architecture when you're shooting in there. But this photo does just that -- it could've been taken anywhere. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on what's right about this photo, so let's just say the composition is pretty nice. Balanced from corner to corner, it's a great example of a photographer thinking on his feet and using the golden section.

But, of course, it's not my intention to write about what a great portrait of Barack Obama Joseph W. Jackson III took for the Wisconsin State Journal. It's the accompanying article that's the newsworthy item -- the photo just jumped out at me and I thought it was worth mentioning. The bigger news is that one of my local papers has endorsed Barack Obama.

I can't remember the last time WSJ has endorsed a Democrat -- perhaps never in my lifetime. Until recently, there were always two print papers in the city, The Capital Times and the Wisconsin State Journal -- the Journal was the conservative paper. Losing money as the evening paper, the Times ended their print edition and moved to a web-only format. WSJ's endorsement of Obama is kind of a big deal.

In fact, according to Dane101, the Journal is the first Wisconsin paper to endorse Obama. That WSJ endorsed Obama before The Capital Times is worth mentioning, since the Editorial Page Editor for the Times is lefty John Nichols of The Nation fame.

In terms newspaper endorsements, yesterday was a bloodbath for Team McCain. McCain scored two, Obama got sixteen.

Editor and Publisher:

The Wisconsin State Journal and The Sun of San Bernardino had backed Bush in 2004. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch called Obama's opponent, John McCain, "the incredible shrinking man" who had made a horrific pick for his running mate.

Backing Obama: In Ohio, The Blade in Toledo and the Dayton Daily News; the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Tennessean of Nashville, the Wisconsin State Journal. the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times, and in California the Fresno Bee, Sacramento Bee, Contra Costa Times, The Herald of Monterrey, and The Sun of San Bernardino (which had picked Bush over Kerry), plus the New Bedford Standrd-Times in Massachusetts.

Joining the Obama team in battleground states were the Muskegon (Mich.) Chronicle, the Lehigh Valley (Pa.) Express-Times and Springfield (Ohio) News.

McCain registered two pick ups: The Wheeling News-Register in West Virginia and the Napa Valley Register in California.

The E&P article tells us that Obama leads the endorsement race, 26-11. Damned liberal media, right? Well, in the case of WSJ, no. In fact, the newspaper industry is the one place where the "liberal media" charge most definitely does not wash. The majority of newspapers in the US are editorially conservative.

What I believe is happening here is something that should seem pretty obvious -- angry mobs aren't all that attractive. I've already written about how frightening McCain rallies have become. Over the weekend, more info has come in. It's not pretty.

TIME Magazine:

With so much at stake, and time running short, [VA state GOP Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick] did not feel he had the luxury of subtlety. He climbed atop a folding chair to give 30 campaign volunteers who were about to go canvassing door to door their talking points -- for instance, the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden: "Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon," he said. "That is scary." It is also not exactly true -- though that distorted reference to Obama's controversial association with William Ayers, a former 60s radical, was enough to get the volunteers stoked. "And he won't salute the flag," one woman added, repeating another myth about Obama. She was quickly topped by a man who called out, "We don't even know where Senator Obama was really born." Actually, we do; it's Hawaii.

McCain is currently behind in Virginia. This comes out after John McCain told supporters they needed to back off on the hateful rhetoric -- something his own crowd booed him for. And the Virginia GOP telling volunteers to compare Obama with Bin Laden is ironic, considering that domestic terrorism has been committed to benefit McCain.

The L.A. Times was sent an envelope of white powder and note calling for "death to Obama." It also called for a retraction of a story critical of John McCain. The LAPD bomb squad and a HazMat team were also dispatched to Obama's campaign headquarters to deal with a "suspicious envelope" there.

The question the McCain campaign needs to ask themselves is who wants to be a part of that? Who wants to be associated with an angry mob spouting lies? Who looks at a crowd yelling "KILL HIM!" "OFF WITH HIS HEAD!" "TERRORIST!" and "TRAITOR!" and thinks to themselves, "Now those are my kind of people..."?

Newspapers are endorsing Obama because endorsing McCain suggests an endorsement of McCain's campaign tactics. It's the same reason that people are moving to Obama -- McCain's campaign has become repellent. The economy did a lot to get the ball rolling, but that only goes so far.

Looking back after the election, I think the consensus will be that McCain did more harm than good in his final weeks of campaigning; that he lost before then, but cemented that loss with an appeal to the most insane among us. That the strong streak of rabid and unreasoning hatred for the new President-Elect Obama will have been made stronger because John McCain legitimized it. Because all of these idiots aren't going to wise up on November 5 -- there will be a significant percentage of the population who believe that the President of the United States is an actual terrorist.

Maybe we need a new word for this movement, these stupid and gullible people who are taught to hate and those who teach them to do it. These domestic terrorists who terrorize in the name of fighting terrorism, these racist dicks who equate "Arab" with terrorist, these idiotic loons who think that Obama's pulling a fast one to sell out the US to al Qaeda or Socialism or whatever the hell crazy-assed conspiracy theory it is floating around in their empty heads.

I say we call it what it is -- McCainism.



Anonymous said...

nice essay.
while i never bought the "maverick" nonsense, i at least thought mccain was (for a politician) a reasonable and decent human being when he ran in 2000.
watching him for the last few years has been a perversely fascinating experience.
there's the big blip in his record as a consistent conservative voter: right after bush takes office in '01 and mccain votes against his own party in a fit of obvious personal pique.
and if that isn't pathetic enough, he balances it out by sucking up to bush and the religious right when making his second presidential bid.
and now there's the disorganized, embarrassing and hateful mess of a general campaign he's run.
his legacy, if he loses, will be this: there was never much to him anyway, and somehow running for president exposed this.
i'd feel sorry for him if he wasn't such a horse's ass.

Anok said...

You know that old saying, it isn't the heat, it's the humidity? Well in McCain's campaign I think you could say, it isn't the people, it's the stupidity.

Seriously though - I have found some of the endorsements of Obama lately to be refreshing - and some totally unexpected. I think this is a matter of people coming to their senses a bit.