Friday, August 29, 2008

"Everything but 666"?

From today's main article in the New York Times:
Even in invoking the [45th] anniversary of the [Martin Luther] King speech, Mr. Obama only alluded to race. But he quoted a famous phrase from Dr. King’s address to reinforce a central theme of his own speech. “America, we cannot turn back,” Mr. Obama said. “Not with so much work to be done.”

Mr. McCain marked the occasion of the speech by releasing a television advertisement in which, looking into the camera, he paid tribute to Mr. Obama and his accomplishment. “How perfect that your nomination would come on this historic day,” Mr. McCain said. “Tomorrow, we’ll be back at it. But tonight, Senator, job well done.

The advertisement stood in stark contrast to a summer of slashing attacks on Mr. Obama by Mr. McCain that apparently contributed to the tightening of this race.
Ah! How sweet! How gentlemanly!


How appallingly calculated and calculating.

In a parallel article, Alessandra Stanley (on page A15 of the Times) comes closer to the cynicism needed here. She watched the stadium event, as most Americans would have done, on television:
In an unusual turn, even Senator John McCain, the expected Republican nominee, felt compelled to pay tribute to Mr. Obama’s historic milestone with a television advertisement congratulating his opponent on “a job well done.” (No good ad goes unpunished: after Mr. McCain’s spot on CNN came a Mutual of Omaha commercial about retirement plans for the elderly, and another promising to reverse baldness.)
Look closer, and the turn is hardly unusual, nor the deed as "good".

What does McCain's ad remind the audience?

Well, look at the Washington Post's coverage, and note the editorial elision:
Even McCain acknowledged what he called "truly a good day for America" with an advertisement before and after the Democrat's address, saying: "Too often the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed. So I wanted to stop and say congratulations. . . . Tomorrow, we'll be back at it. But tonight, Senator, job well done."

The writers, Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray, have spotted the elephant trap in that phrase, "on this historic day", and removed it. Now McCain appears to be playing up, and playing the game.

But the game's not cricket.

If anyone hasn't anticipated Malcolm's train of thought, try this: subtly, almost subliminally, McCain's phrase makes the connexion between Obama and race.

It is the "dog-whistle politics" that was introduced into British politics by Lynton Crosby, from the Australian Right, and exploited by the Conservatives in the 2005 campaign. Crosby, let us also recall, was back to work, largely unheralded, for Blasted Boris during the recent London Mayoral campaign. The cur returns to its vomit.

David Gergen is professor of public service at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and director of its Center for Public Leadership. He has been ahead of the curve here:

Even before Gergen, the Wall Street Journal (8th August) had spotted what was going on:
An Internet ad launched last week by the McCain presidential campaign has attracted more than one million hits by appearing to mock Barack Obama for presenting himself as a kind of prophetic figure.

The ad has also generated criticism from Democrats and religious scholars who see a hidden message linking Sen. Obama to the apocalyptic Biblical figure of the antichrist ...

The Obama campaign declined to comment. Earlier this summer, when asked about similar concerns circulating in Appalachian Ohio, David Wilhelm, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said the Obama campaign has no option but to confront voters' concerns head on.

"You let people know what makes you tick and what your values and proposals are," said Mr. Wilhelm. "Ultimately, they will make decisions that will reflect their economic interests and their sense of values."

The End Times, a New Testament reference to the period surrounding the return of Christ, were popularized in recent years by the "Left Behind" series of books that sold more than 63 million copies. The Rev. Tim LaHaye, co-author of the series, said in an interview that he recognized allusions to his work in the ad but comparisons between Sen. Obama and the antichrist are incorrect.
This is nasty stuff ...
... as ruthless and despicable, cunning and loathsome as it can get:


Yet, the scriptures have a word of advice to McCain and his evangelical dog-whistlers:

He that toucheth pitch shall be defiled therewith;
and he that hath fellowship with a proud man
shall be like unto him.
[Ecclesiasticus 13:1]
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1 comment:

yourcousin said...

Oh come on, someone had to do it. Don't tell me you weren't sick of that kind of behavior during the primary and all of the hooplah. If I recall correctly you had some biblical references for him yourself (March 15, Oink, Now I know that we're supposed to circle the wagons against the Republicans, but that's just funny. Now admitting that its probably aimed at a constituency that will take it seriously, but you know, the old Ricky Nelson line, "you can't please everyone so you got please yourself". So I say take the laughs where you can get them.

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