Saturday, October 18, 2008


I barely have the words to express the sadness and literal sickness I feel at the sight of Sarah Palin campaigning around the country, deliberately pitting one against another, framing this election as about those who love this country vs those that hate it. The McPalin campaign is fully committed to such diviseness. They're funding robocalls by the very company that slimed McCain in 2000, denounced by him then, now hired by him to do the same thing to Obama. At the precipice, while one campaign calls for finding common ground, for an end to that sort of divisiveness, the other is doing the opposite. And the polls are tightening. It still works.

Do they really not see how damaging it is? Do they believe that serving on a charitable foundation with William Ayers portends more danger to our country than the seeds they are sewing? Does winning justify tearing us asunder? It's simply unfathomable. And yet, it still works.

Their people feel comfortable in their hatreds. These self-described America-loving, Jesus-following patriots need to hate. They find difficult problems too difficult. Really to follow their Savior's teachings is too complicated: how much more comfortable simply to hate than to make the effort required to find a way forward with people with whom you disagree on some things. The more challenging and threatening the times, the more they recede into simple-mindedness. To do otherwise is too scary. A closed mind keeps out the cold.

Therein lies the real secret of the Republican party. The smart people within it (and yes, I believe there are a few of them) know that in order to get their "base" (how appropriate a term) voters willingly to vote for policies that are clearly against their own interests, they need to tap the correlation between conservative thinking and religious and social fundamentalism. It's no coincidence that the most fundamentalist religionists are nearly exclusively in the right wing. People who need to see the world in black and white, who deal with existential questions by blanking them out with absolutist thinking, are not, by definition, contemplative. And so we have it: whipping up enthusiasm by pitting us against them; framing politics as an internal struggle, those who love the country against those that don't.

And the obvious -- that criticism and arguing we can do better is not unAmerican any more than correcting your children is child abuse -- escapes them. The paradox of their argument -- that exercising the very tenets of our country's founding: freedom of speech, speaking out against injustice means you don't love the country -- is unnoticed.

In the press conference that will never happen (why?), Sarah Palin should be asked: what are the areas of this country that hate America? In what way is that hatred expressed? What, exactly, are the "small town values" that she praises? In what larger cities do they not exist and what is the evidence? And this: do you think there's danger in pitting one half of the country against the other? Why not run a campaign on ideas, why not plant the seeds of reconciliation? And when she gets through those, how about comparing sitting on a board with William Ayers with sleeping with a guy who was a member of a party that literally hates America, to whose membership she herself has said "keep up the good work."

Who is doing more harm to America? Sarah Palin and her elderly enabler, pitching fear and hate, or Barack Obama and Joe Biden, who are speaking of hope and common ground? It's another of those things that seem as obvious as the sunrise. And yet, here we are again. It still works. It makes me fear for our future. And it makes me sick.


  1. I'm past the nausea. Now it just makes me sad. Incredibly sad.

  2. She reminds me of the 16 year old smart girl in the class that climbs her way to the top of the cafeteria social scale, stomping on everyone on the way up, then not getting why nobody likes here when she gets there. She is a nasty, classless, sneaky bitch that should have immediately turned down McCains offer of VP. I swear she actually thinks she is qualified.

    (and being a woman, I am allowed to call her a bitch...I know 'em when I see 'em)

  3. I wish more of the American public were psychologically minded, and could recognize this splitting behavior as pathognomonic for borderline personality disorder, which is hugely destructive, and virtually untreatable. Presidential candidates should be required to have a psych eval, with the results made public. The state of their mental health is arguably more important than their physical health.
    Sherry Gardner, Psy.D.

  4. There are no words to describe the stupidity, lunacy and hatred during this election. It keeps me up at night. However, the stupidity sometimes can provide some comic relief. I’ll give you an example courtesy of MSNBC. (You’ve probably heard about this)
    Obama gave a speech in Toledo, Ohio. Afterwards, the reaction from some conservatives was to work themselves up in a tizzy. You see, there were about 4 or 5 flags behind Obama’s podium. A couple of them were American flags. The other ones were not.
    Bob Grant from his nationally syndicated radio show: “What is that flag that Obama’s been standing in front of that looks like the American flag, but instead of having the field of 50 stars representing the 50 states, there’s a circle? Is the circle the ‘O’ for Obama? He’s not content with just having several American flags, just plain old American flags with the 50 states represented by 50 stars? He has the ‘O’ flag. And that’s what that ‘O’ is. That’s what that ‘O’ is.”

    Mr. Grant failed to realize that the ‘O’ flags are actually the Ohio state flags.

    I laughed for a good 5 minutes. Then I felt utter disbelief.

  5. Psst Sherry,
    ALL women could be considered to have an Axis whatever one is Personality Disorders diagnosis, thats why we love them so much!! Seriously, Y'all are funnier than South Park!! Still waiting for that Obama Electoral Vote prediction Sid, is that fear I smell?

  6. Dr. Schwab,
    In your opinion, why do you think that the Palin's involvement in the AIP hasn't really been exposed? No one has been able to answer that question for me. It boggles my mind.
    How can she stand there with a straight face and say Obama sees America as imperfect?

  7. jomarie: it's an excellent question. I assume it'd come up were she to have a real press conference, which she clearly won't. The words of the AIP founder are more hateful than anything Jeremiah Wright said. If ever there were a "hate America" group, that's it. It's amazing it doesn't get more coverage; part of the reason is that, far as I know, neither Obama nor Biden have made an issue of it, as opposed to her tactics.

  8. Did you read Martin Schram's column today? Scripps Howard News. He talks about witnessing a police beating as a reporter while he was covering Wallace's run in '68, and then when he told Wallace what he'd seen, Wallace's reaction was that usually the police were "too lenient." Wallace stepped up onto his plane, and immediately the cops ripped his notebook, scattered his wallet, and started to beat Schram. Wallace saw, came back down, told Schram, "You're always fair, you'll be there again Monday, right?" Schram answered, Yeah, "If I survive Cleveland." Wallace went back up into his plane--without saying anything to the cops--while the cops immediately stopped and apologized to the reporter.

    And those cops were knowingly doing this to someone whom they knew could publicly call attention to their behavior. But they thought they could intimidate him instead.

    The point being, the worries John Lewis rightfully gave voice to in order to help put a stop to what those of us who remember the 60's have been able to see coming from a mile away, are being aired out loud more and more. Kudos to Obama for calling McCain on it in the debate. Kudos to Schram for writing now about where incitements to hatred take us towards, and may there be more such memories aired if Palin and McCain keep going down that path. The hatred they have been inciting is evil, and they shame our entire country when they are successful at it, on any scale, large or small.

  9. Taking the higher ground does seem to be working for Obama. It’s one of the things that I truly admire about his campaign. It's just so hard to sit passively and watch Palin question his patriotism.
    Maybe they’re planning on using that information as a last resort. It’s my hope that if need be, they’ll fight back.

    I'll be attending a continental breakfast hosted by Jill Biden tomorrow morning. I don't think asking her opinion on this issue would be appropriate but it might be really tempting to bring it up...

  10. I find it funny that you wrote this before the SNL skit on Saturday night. Your 2nd to last paragraph about a Palin press conference reminded me a lot of the skit.


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