Friday, October 10, 2008

Reaping the whirlwind

John McCain is booed by his own rabidly anti-Obama crowds for telling them that maybe they ought to put down the pitchforks and torches after all.

The anger is getting raw at Republican rallies and John McCain is acting to tamp it down. McCain was booed by his own supporters Friday when, in an abrupt switch from raising questions about Barack Obama's character, he described the Democrat as a "decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States."

A sense of grievance spilling into rage has gripped some GOP events this week as McCain supporters see his presidential campaign lag against Obama. Some in the audience are making it personal, against the Democrat. Shouts of "traitor," "terrorist," "treason," "liar," and even "off with his head" have rung from the crowd at McCain and Sarah Palin rallies, and gone unchallenged by them.

...When a visibly angry McCain supporter in Waukesha, Wis., on Thursday told the candidate "I'm really mad" because of "socialists taking over the country," McCain stoked the sentiment. "I think I got the message," he said. "The gentleman is right." He went on to talk about Democrats in control of Congress.

On Friday, McCain rejected the bait....

Um, yay? Still three and a half weeks to go, though, and that Ayers ad...and there's still your charming assistant running around doing her best Anita-Bryant-at-Nuremberg impression...

Well. And now for your moment of WTF?

"I don't trust Obama," a woman said. "I have read about him. He's an Arab."

McCain shook his head in disagreement, and said:

"No, ma'am. He's a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with (him) on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about."

Arab: decent family man. Arab: decent family man.

"He ain't Arab, he's my colleague..."

'k then.

But no, there's no -racism- here or anything, so -stop saying that.- I mean, we totally almost don't even mind that he's -black.- What more do you want, for heaven's sake...?


GallingGalla said...

That's right, McPain, stir up your constituency's racism, use Saracuda as your proxy to do that, then when you see your poll numbers drop, flip around a bit, pretend to be the oil calming the stormy waters, until you can get away with more blatant racism again...

Trinity said...

Y'know I could be totally wrong, but I really do think he's trying. I mean, as you say, he's still racist, so it doesn't count for much. But I don't think it dawned on him just how UGLY some of the base can be, and I think he's shocked. I mean, I've seen him wince in some of these videos. Could be a ploy, but I think he's "Oh Jesus, what the hell did we DO?"

CrackerLilo said...

I almost feel sorry for McCain, as I said at Daisy's blog. I don't think this was really what he wanted. However, he was all too willing to sell or at least rent his soul to these devils in exchange for the chance to possibly be president before he got too old for the job. He's getting what he deserves for his poor judgment, to say the least.

belledame222 said...

Yeah, I think there's a wisp of conscience in there somewhere; it's just, you know, day late, dollar short. I mean he's been selling out for years and years; it's not just this.

and she is a total fucking nightmare. and yeah, I think she means all of it and would be happy to do more if she had the opportunity. I'm actually starting to feel physically ill when I see and hear her; I don't even remember feeling it this strongly with Dubya, except for the really scary months. she's a wrong'un.

Mandos said...

I believe that is your inner self-hating pornified misogynist talking.


Kevin Andre Elliott said...

I had that moment of feeling sorry for McCain too. I don't think he realized how ugly his base really can be. Or, at least, how ugly his base can be in public. It was only a moment, though. For reals, BD, "Day late, dollar short." Fact is that he fanned these flames and it's coming back to burn his ass.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

Looking at those deranged far-right-wing wackaloon fuckups cheering on Palin and her depraved drivel scares the fucking shit out of me. These shitbag right-wing GOP smugfucks are a motherfucking cancer on our polity.

The only people left in the Republican Party are depraved racist misogynist theocratic wackaloon scuzbuckets, irretrievably poisoned delusional fuckwit victims of decades of sick-fuck right-wing propaganda, and a smattering of greedfuck plutocrats. (Although the latter are beginning to flee to the Democratic Party in droves, seeing newer softer flesh to sink their vicious fangs into.)

belledame222 said...

aw! stuffed emu!! kyoot.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that what he's worried about is having Obama's blood on his hands when he gets shot / if he gets killed.

'Coz there will at very least be (more) attempts to kill him if they stoke that fire.

shiva said...

Yeah, what Cedar said.

My (semi-serious) prediction: Obama wins the election, gets assassinated, the result is some sort of "state of emergency"/martial law. When the smoke clears, there is some sort of Biden/McCain or Biden/Palin cross-party Republicrat administration, and the pretence that there are 2 parties which can be differentiated from each other is finally dropped...

belledame222 said...

You know, let's just not go there, there's enough wild fear spiraling out in all directions. IF he gets assasinated, (and I really hope it doesn't come to that) it'll suck badly enough for its own sake, don't you think?

in any case I'm not worried about a Biden presidency. I'm worried about the guy for his own sake, and I'm really worried about what something like that would do to the nation's "morale."

belledame222 said...

anyway, yes, I suspect McCain is getting cold feet at the idea that he might be responsible for actual -murder-. or at minimum that people are sure gonna be pointing the finger at him if that happens. this is also partly why they're screaming as loudly as they are about the John Lewis piece, although of course part of it is your standard "how DARE you call me a racist! that is SO MUCH WORSE than me -actually being racist!"

gee, John, guess maybe you'd better go out of your way to dissociate yourself from the hate and ugliness from now on and stop encouraging it, then, hadn't you?

belledame222 said...

murder, and, dare I say, -treason-, o irony irony.

"o hay, just whipping up some pro-assasination fervor, what's the harm? nothing compared to "palling around with" some guy who blew up a statue a zilion years ago who he didn't really know anyway, oh, and having a funny name and dark skin."

Poeschl said...

RE: McCain getting cold feet at the prospect of being responsible and also blamed for assassination attempts (hopefully unsuccessful attempts).

I'm not sure McCain is still mentally capable of getting cold feet. I think he's too debilitated at this point to understand the consequences of his passively tolerating the repeated calls for violence by his rally attendees.

He is also too debilitated to
understand the impact that Palin's racist dogwhistles have on the GOP "base," and the consequences of his passively tolerating the divisive rhetoric that Palin specializes in.

McCain's debility does not relieve him of responsibility for such consequences. But I think it's too much to expect that McCain will understand that he has to rein in both Palin and his rally attendees.

Had McCain not been too debilitated for his own candidacy in the first place, he would not have chosen Palin as VP. This is slightly off-topic, but McCain's selection of Palin as VP reminds me of Hindenburg appointing Hitler for Chancellor in 1932 on the grounds that Hitler could win over the Nazi movement to the cause of law-abiding government. At the time, Hindenburg's choice of Hitler was understood to be further evidence of Hindenburg's senility. I'm sorry to have gotten pedantic, but this parallel really does scare me, especially given Palin's now-documented contempt for law-abiding government.

But to get back on topic, I don't think McCain understands what his campaign has unleashed and what his passivity could lead to. So I just hope the FBI does a better job than it did before 9/11.

belledame222 said...

I don't think he's "debilitated," unless you mean morally. I think he's in end-justifies-the-means mode to the point where he forgot why he wanted the end in the first place, if he ever really had a good reason, but by God he won't -lose-.

Renee said...

I think his effort is too little to late. He has already supported this behaviour by refusing to stop it immediately. He further supported racsim by refusing to make eye contact with Obama, refusing to shake hands and calling him that one.

The other thing I wanted to point out is that he should have said to that woman even if he was Muslim, which he isn't that would not make him a bad man or someone that should be feared. Even in his "defense" of Obama he supported racism.

Westerly said...

I don't live in the States, but genuinely dislike McCain and his politics and am only mildly curious about what an Obama presidency would represent since I think I can make an educated guess what it would result in. (i.e Nothing meaningful, aside from a President who doesn't run around drawling 'eye-raq' in the most annoying way possible.)

But having read this thread I have to say this:


Stop trying to call manure by another name. Just stop.

I'm actually about to wretch.

The OP, gallinggalla's opening observation and mandos' cutting asides are the few posts here that aren't trying to desperately evade the screamingly obvious.

There's a real cognitive dissonance going on here. There's some indulgent hand-wringing and breezy faux-casual prognostication going on about Obama possibly getting his head blown off - and yet more than a few of these posts express sympathy towards... McCain?

As I've mentioned I'm not an American so clearly I am missing something here... But seriously - HOW does that work?

After running a campaign consciously based on inflammatory racism and stirring up rallies with the overtones of a Klan meeting, (where yes, the much-reviled *yawn* "Hitler-Palin" is following HIS cues and directives)I can't figure out what exactly John McCain has done to elicit so much sympathy, solicitous treatment, so many 'benefits-of-the-doubt'and even patronising praise on this thread?

Such as:

"Y'know I could be totally wrong..." (Hint - you should really run with that idea.)

"...but he's really trying..." (Trying at WHAT exactly? Trying to get Obama injured or worse?)

"He winced..." (Oh, the humanity.)

"He probably didn't realise it would be this bad..."

(Yeah, that's plausible. He's the one running these rallies, repeatedly massaging the message and expertly pushing buttons left, right and centre, and yet it somehow makes logical 'sense' (to you) that he wouldn't realise the great danger and harm in what he's doing?

Yet somehow YOU (and others) were aware of the real danger his approach represented...why? Because you are all so much more politically savvy, thoughtful and knowledgeable, than a poor old politically experienced white senator, who is almost old enough to have been around in the good ol' days of Jim Crow? Old enough to have lived through an era when racism was so overt that angry whites would congregate, deliver racial slurs and angry speeches - before lynching and the obligatory family picnics?

Right... *Somehow* you're all aware of this tendency for race-baiting and racist speech to lead to violence in your country, but *somehow* this has escaped McCain?

And I suppose he must have napped through all of the inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric and the 'conincidental' attacks on Muslims after the attack on the twin towers. I guess he also failed to 'realise' that the rhetoric facilitated an environment that encouraged assaulting Muslims?


You can go ahead and twist your brain into pretzel trying to convince yourself that a politician (of all people) is blissfully naive of the effect of rhetoric, but personally I prefer my brain to resemble a brain.

And I suppose McCain 'coincidentally' associates Obama with an already demonised, vilified religious group at every given opportunity, because he doesn't 'realise' what effect this has; because he truly thinks that his already hostile, prejudicial audience are going to send Obama a post-rally bouquet of flowers...

Naturally, McCain (unlike all of you) would be completely ignorant of the historical and social context that he's working in. Guess he thinks he's making speeches on Mars instead of in a traditionally racist and politically charged US of A.

"I don't think it has dawned on him..."

(And once again, this is a feeble apology. It makes absolutely no sense for it not to have 'dawned' on him - there is no logic or plausibility in such a claim. But even if it were (somehow) the case - even if you were correct in this bizarre speculation, it's NOT a defense.

It doesn't get him, or anyone's pathetic, twisted identification with him, off the hook.

If it hasn't 'dawned on him' that what he has been doing is downright dangerous and that *doh* racist mobs are characteristically hard to control once they are stoked, then what you should be asking him is why the hell it HASN'T 'dawned on him' and how, at his great age he could be so criminally oblivious to reality, instead of twisting yourself into knots trying to give him a pass on his behaviour!

How could it not 'dawn on him?' And who gets to be that cocooned from life, that immensely privileged, that utterly thoughtless?

Who, other than an arrogant white guy gets to behave with almost criminal irresponsibility, real malice, and utter contempt for a political opponent yet at the same manages to magically "not realise" how much damage he is doing, even as HE'S the one who's doing it? (It's like the classic white colonial response - i.e. royally screw people over and even kill them yet plead ignorance, or having other people plead ignorance on your behalf.)

Who on this blue-and-green earth gets to be that ignorant or so bloody careless of the damaging effect they can have on other people's lives?

Who else gets to do and say such vile things but gets given a pass for their behaviour?

It is only in the great illogic of white la la land that people go out of their way to commit hate speech, lie about and distort other people's history and identity, and deliberately play to past and contemporary prejudice - all because (gee shucks)it HASN'T dawned on them that there might be dire effects! *eyeroll*

Could it be that it DID cross McCain's mind that things could get 'that bad' and 'out-of-hand' but, because he's RACIST he did what most of us with racist tendencies tend to do - shrugged his shoulders, didn't care and figured that it was a calculated risk that he could afford to take (since, y'know he's not the one who's actually at risk in all of this?)

D'ye think? Maybe?
Nah...Couldn't be!)

"I think there's a wisp of conscience..."

(Really? Under which magical microscope? And on what evidence? People with 'wisps of conscience' don't even think about doing what McCain has done, or running those kinds of risks period. No matter how desperate, anyone with a 'wisp of conscience' would have been responsible enough to consider that the fall-out might extend beyond the stereotypical scenario of Obama being blown away ala MLK, or Malcolm.

Now that he's stoked the fires of racial hatred what's to stop Michelle Obama (who is too beneath him to even shake hands with) or their daughters being a target? Like I said, I'm not buying this sorry schtick that he's a thoughtless old fool, whose political opportunism has (unfortunately) had results that has runaway on him.

Wake up. He's machiavellian and callous.)

"I almost feel sorry for McCain..." (Because?)

"He is also too debilitated to understand..."

(Yeah. That's not patronising in the least, and it just so happens to be a great way of divesting a GROWN MAN of any responsibility for the campaign that he's running or the country that he's vying to run.)

"I suspect that what he's worried about is having Obama's blood on his hands when he gets shot / if he gets killed."

(Which also seems to be the central concern of this thread. Because that would raise the unholy spectre of White Guilt. And God knows that there is no experience in this world that is worth meditating on a (potentially) Tortured White Soul.

Although the possibility of getting your head blown off might indeed 'suck' - it can't possibly compete with the intense, soul-destroying agony of y'know - being forced to feel BAD because you might in someway be complicit in the whole mess.

Yeah, forget about what's-his-face. I think I'm starting to have MY grand moment of sympathy for McCain too...)

Instead of of LYING (like McCain) to yourselves and to anyone else unfortunate enough to stumble on this thread, why not simply admit the truth?

You want to give the guy a pass and obfuscate your way into willful blindness about who he has openly revealed himself to be by hoping like hell that he's suddenly 'regretful' and that by implication he is 'not all that bad after all' and 'not really like that?'. Why? Because the alternative (i.e. the truth that that he IS that bad and your eyes are not deceiving you) is too uncomfortable and 'scary' for you to confront.

Which raises the question - why would that be?

Maybe it is an inherent part of the ('white') American psyche but I can almost smell the stink of desperation on this thread to minimalise McCain's actions - to make the atrocious in someway palatable, understandable, and relatable, and to make the man himself less accountable for what he has done.

So instead the blame is displaced elsewhere. It's *scary* Caribou-Fundy-Barbie Palin's fault ( - and while the woman is truly frightening on her own terms, she is NOT the one running this campaign); it's the 'ugly', unthinking brutality' of his base to blame... (who has its own share of culpability; he's senile, in a delicate condition and doesn't really know what he's doing) and so forth.

Blame anything and anyone but this poor, fragile looking old white gent.

Anything but the truth.

Westerly said...

I agree Renee. McCain using people's prejudice against Muslims has disgusted me.

Suddenly admitting that Obama isn't a Muslim and suddenly backing away from milking prejudice against Muslims for all it's worth doesn't address the problem that there is such fear and loathing of Muslims in the first place.

Poeschl said...

RE: Westerly's comments dated 10/13 at 5:08 a.m.

All your points are well taken.

But no one on this thread has divested McCain of responsibility for his campaign or for any catastrophic consequences that might result from the inflammatory language used by rally attendees and by Palin.

I'll respond only to your remarks about my own initial comment and leave it to the others on this thread to respond about their respective comments as they see fit.

First, I emphatically held McCain responsible when I wrote, "McCain's debility does not relieve him of responsibility for such consequences [i.e., assassination]."

I should have made clear in my initial comment that my point was not that McCain is not responsible for his campaign but that he's too senile at this point to fully understand the impact of what he's unleashed or to process the fact that he would indeed be blamed for any assassination attempts. If McCain really did process the possible consequences of racist rhetoric in his campaign, he and his staff at the very least would have gotten control of the rallies and revised Palin's soundbites.

McCain is indeed machiavellian and callous. But even machiavellian minds, if they lose their acuity through age or other causes, can fail to recognize obvious dangers. Julius Caesar and Marshal Petain (the leader of Vichy France) are two examples that come to mind. And no one absolves Caesar or Petain, despite their obviously failed faculties, of accountability for their actions.

It is precisely because televised GOP rallies normally are tightly controlled, whereas McCain's and Palin's recent rallies have not been tightly controlled, that I suspect that McCain himself is too senile to understand exactly what the consequences could be of his passive toleration of the hatred expressed at his rallies.

It doesn't matter if the term "debilitated" is patronising, if McCain is in fact debilitated. And to repeat my initial comment, McCain's debility does not relieve him of responsibility.

It is also true that McCain is morally debilitated, as he showed when he reconciled with Jerry Falwell and the Christian wingnuts. But his choice of Palin for VP reflects not only moral debilitation but a failure of judgment so enormous that some of it must be due to senility.

Again, McCain's senility does not absolve him. He's accountable for the consequences no matter what.

belledame222 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
belledame222 said...

I don't think he chose Palin because of "senility." Truth is, y'know something--my grandmother has dementia; I kind of don't love the comparison, or the whiff of...something (ageism, ableism, what you will) about "he's senile."

I think he chose her because he really didn't have many good options and it seemed like a good idea at the time, especially to his advisors; there's no question that he's run a crap campaign, and no doubt a lot of it is his own fault but it doesn't seem like any of the rest of them can find their ass with both hands and a map either.

No, they knew they had to get someone who could excite the base, who was young and vibrant, and could maybe even have swing appeal. Palin -seemed- to fit the bill at first. In the first two regards she still does. Their mistake was just not bothering to make sure she had half a brain in her head before vetting her. Ooops. Or, maybe they figured it didn't matter; but they didn't realize -just how bad- she was. Why would they? She'd never been tested on that level before, and no, that alone didn't give them any warning bells: she's only veep, McCain's running on "experience"...etc. etc. Listen, in early September everyone was saying this seemed like a smart move on their part. Who knew she was so bad at even bullshitting she couldn't figure out how to bluff tough questions like "what do you like to read in your spare time?"

belledame222 said...

and yes, I don't think there's any question that he's racist as well as a plutocratic shit, ffs. I'm just saying it's barely possible he might actually have a twinge at the idea that he might get someone DEAD. ultimately though I really don't much care what's in his heart o'hearts. actually. sort of the point of what everyone was saying: results of one's actions matter, not how "good" a person "really" is.

I find her creepier because she seems more able to energize the base. Whether it's because she has charisma or because she really means the fundamentalist zealotry more, whatever: she's young and healthy and, unlike McCain, she's probably not finished after this election.

belledame222 said...

The other thing I wanted to point out is that he should have said to that woman even if he was Muslim, which he isn't that would not make him a bad man or someone that should be feared. Even in his "defense" of Obama he supported racism.

Well, yeah.

belledame222 said...

actually there is a lot to be said for the argument that the "real" McCain, the one that was supposed to have been a moderate and a maverick and so on for reals before he sold out, never really existed as such: he just looked slightly more moderate when he thought that might be in his favor. his voting record and rep over the decades doesn't reveal much more than a basically right wing politician with a bad case of entitlement and anger management issues.

what he -did- have, maybe, was half a brain. compared to our current Fearless Leader and the sidekick he picked. maybe. enough to at least intellectually recognize when he's spouting blatant bullshit that he knows he contradicted himself on the day before, even if he goes ahead and does whatever he needs to do to get ahead. Bush and Palin, I think, play better because they manage to -believe- what they're saying when they say it.

p.s. Westerly: Y'know, I might actually write that I occasionally " feel sorry for" a LOT of people I overall find utterly reprehensible and think they're getting exactly what they earned (see topic title). It is sort of entertaining to be accused of not being rabid -enough- for once, I guess.

And, nice to meet you too, dude, really.

belledame222 said...

and, the reason I'm talking about McCain in a rather detached way rather than dwelling on possible scenarios of Obama actually getting shot is because I -really- don't want to go there, because it's fucking upsetting, alright?

belledame222 said...

..o well, so much for the honeymoon, such as it was. -snif-

This seems like it might make a bit of news today. At the end of an interview with a small TV station in Virginia yesterday afternoon, John McCain declined to condemn a Virginia Republican's comparison of Barack Obama to Osama Bin Laden, saying he needed "more context" first.

McCain was asked about comments by Virginia GOP chairman Jeff Frederick, who told McCain campaign volunteers that Obama and Osama "both have friends that bombed the Pentagon." Here's McCain's response:

QUESTION: The chair of the Republican Party in Virginia has said, quote, in Time magazine, "both Barack Obama and Osama Bin Laden have friends that have bombed the Pentagon. That is scary." Is that appropriate for a state party chair to be saying?
MCCAIN: "I have to look at the context of his remarks. I have always repudiated any comments that have been made that were inappropriate about Senator Obama. The fact is that William Ayers was a terrorist and bomber and unrepentant. I don't care about that. But Senator Obama ought be the candid and truthful about his relationship with Mr. Ayers in whose living room Senator Obama launched his campaign and Senator Obama said he was just a guy in the neighborhood."

that whole, "sure, I can compare him to terrorists without tripping peoples' racism/xenophobia/incipient fascist horde-baiting detectors" is working about as well as the bit where he's a Republican who -so does not approve of- what Bush did, except for all the times he really did and uh he's not a Democrat either and he doesn't want to alienate the base and uh. Um.

"Look, over there! Shiny, I mean SCARY!"

I mean, it's sad in the way that the discovery of any creature -entirely made of- Fail and Flopsweat would be.

But...really, he can knock this bullshit the fuck off any fucking time. Like, now?

Anthony Kennerson said...

Personally, I don't see the mystery of what McCain is doing at all....he's basically lost every serious issue to Obama on the merits, and being attached to probably the lowest ranked President of all time at the time of economic meltdown isn't helping him either; so why not grab the only fig leaf he and the Republicans have to save their asses...namely, whack the Black guy as "The Threatening Other"???

The problem with all this is that the only way you can successfully throw shit at other folks is that you have to make definitely sure that you have no raw sewage plants in your own back yard. Bill Ayers may be a former Weatherman who may have worked to bomb a few buildings when Obama was 8 years old....but he at least didn't attempt to secede from the Union like...well, the very folks that Sarah Braun was "pallin'" with just TWO YEARS AGO?!?!?! Jeremiah Wright screams "God Damn America!!" at some sermons?? What about Father Murthee giving Sarah Palin an alter call at her home church that included protection from witches??? And that Alaskan seccessionist who openly riffed about opposing "America and her damned institutions??" Oh..and let's just add in McCain's ties to such wonderful patriots as Charles Keating and Gen. John Singulab at the US Council on World Freedom, who were so expert in promoting democracy through death squads and contras and drug runners??

Of course, if JohnnyMac really, really did give a care about how his campaign was running deep into the cesspool, he would have remained the favored "maverick" and never approached within 500 miles of Sarah Palin. Unfortunately for him, he doesn't run his campaign or his party; Jim Dobson and Karl Rove do, and they were the ones along with the Right Wing Noise Machine (i.e., Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, National Review, the Wall Street Journal editorial staff) the House Repub Class of 1994) who induced McCain to tack far, far Right and pick Palin rather than a more sensible conservative choice like Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee...or even, Holy Joe Lieberman.

It might have even worked as it nearly did for Dubya (though even with the ineptitude and pure idiocy of John Kerry's campaign, the Repubs still had to recruit Ken Blackwell and some prime political fixing to seal the deal in 2004)...until the economy tanked and McCain decided on his "suspend my campaign for the good of the country" bit, which blew up in his face big time when the House Repubs stoned him for voting for the "bailout" against their principles.

Well, quote a lyric from ELO's Evil Woman: "You poured the wine, now you drink the cup." Racism doesn't play nearly as well when your 401K loses 70% of its value and your next paycheck threatens to be your last. Rant as much as you want and play the race/terrorist/"He's a RADICAL LIBERAL MUSLIM!!!!111!!ONEHUNDREDELEVEN!!" card all you may, old man, because it will make the 380-400 EV ass whooping you will receive all the sweeter to this Black man.

And I'm not even voting for Obama, either. Cynthia McKinney's my candidate...but right-wingers getting their well deserved thrashing after 30 years of destruction will never make me sad.


Anthony Kennerson said...

Oh....and I forgot one other name that should be mentioned whenever JohnnyMac shoots off his mouth about Obama rolling with terrorists:

G. Gordon Liddy.

"Head shots!! HEAD SHOTS!!!!!"


Westerly said...

Belledame222, I'm not a 'dude' (I'm using my partner's google account) and you haven't 'met' me in anyway.

I agree with your original post and many of your other posts and I like what I've read on your site.

But on this particular issue I happen to be more aligned with the likes of gallinggalla and Renee who treat McCain as an adult who KNOWS the score, who knows exactly what he's doing and is highly unlikely to be suffering any remorse, aside from the fact that he's failed.

However, you're right. Temper aside, I'm in no position to tell anyone that they should or shouldn't speculate on whether John McCain is now feeling genuine human regret. (It's up to people whether they find that kind of speculation worthwhile or not.)

What I should have done was what usually works best - speak for myself, and in this instance explain why I don't think it is.

I can see that McCain is an old white guy who is not particularly steady on his feet and doesn't 'terrify' people like Palin does - I'll admit that I find her deeply frightening myself and often have a visceral reaction every time she opens her mouth. But I have set it aside, because fear is always a poor vantage point.

I can't let my revulsion at the woman cloud my judgment or my knowledge on how white colonial societies work. And what I know is this: They are designed first and foremost to privilege and protect white men, and to explain away, obfuscate and absolve them of any wrong doing. It allows them to do maximum damage, to spearhead the most horrific, callous, or terrifying deeds - but never be an actual source of fear, terror or revulsion. Instead the culture colludes to perpetually position them as 'likeable', 'decent', (relative) 'good guys' or at least somewhat sympathetic or understandable human figures.

No matter how inhumane they actually are, to the members of a colonised society, they never SEEM to be all that bad. And for me, I have to ask why that is. There is always a bottomless 'benefit of the doubt' or an escape clause that is extended towards them. It's not merely white men and women who are eager to do this but the entire society will bend over backwards to be complicit in the process. I've done it myself in the past (with other white men) - but no more.

It seems like a small thing, but I think that it is a critical part of white supremacy. The refusal or inability to think that white individual X could 'really' be quite as bad as you suspect they are. And that lingering sense of always feeling (vaguely) sorry for them, despite their misdeeds thinking that it indicates a generosity of spirit etc.

But in real terms, I suspect that it enables them. I think that every single one of us is conditioned to be particularly overly sympathetic and sensitive towards white-men-behaving-apallingly (even as we hold others, including or especially our own to a much higher standard.)

White men behaving dangerously don't even have to come up with excuses because somebody is always looking to excuse them. We hunt for signs of humanity in the glaring absence of it, as though we're panning for gold.

I know that white women aid, support and and abet, complicitly share the spoils of power (when they can), beg for the keys to kingdom, and are routinely used as excuses and distractions to protect the mantle white male power. The whole thing wouldn't be possible without them. But while they are often deeply culpable, they are seldom in the driver's seat.

And that's the same old dynamic I see playing out in this McCain/Palin alliance. I don't have much doubt where the power really lies...

As crass and as overtly awful as she is, ultimately she is but a power-hungry, opportunistic, and willing pawn in this whole charade. The reins of power DO not lie with her.

I refuse to make the mistake of thinking that he is somehow more 'benign' or less dangerous than the malignant Palin, seeing that it's his damn campaign. That, to me, would be a mistake. She's the so-called 'pitbull'. Guess who's the master?

Last time I looked in your history books or present for that matter - whether they were lynchers, slave owners, the founding fathers, CEOs, presidents or whatever, those people looked a hell of a lot more like McCain than they ever did Palin. So, I think that if I have to be deeply suspicious of anyone, if there is someone that it would be actually wise for me to fear...then in real terms it's McCain.

And yeah, I think that the brave POW does what white men have done throughout the history of America - he hides behind the so-called pitbull's skirts, uses her to get attention and enforce his cause and gets her do to so much of his dirty work. That's what she's there for.

And yet, believe it or not, I'm not asking you or anyone to foam- at-the-mouth, and hate McCain like they were (or he) was Kujo. It would be hypocritical for one thing, seeing that despite my previous post (and this one) I actually don't hate him.

However I seriously DESPISE his tactics and think that he is a frightening (rather than 'frightened') man. As a result I refuse to go down the track of "McCain did this awful thing...BUT hey! Maybe he's just a teeny leetle bit sorry for it after all."

For me?

Just. Don't. Care.

(And to be fair? I know that no-one is asking me to!)

But at the same time, I also feel that I have to openly reject that track and seriously question people as to why they open it up in the first place - even as it is their right to - because to me, it is not a question of extending 'charity' to the understanding.

The guy has more than enough - a lifetime, a generation, and hundreds of years of white privilege to be getting on with that he certainly doesn't need this particular POC to bolster it up, by entering the old "what he did was bad, but still..." I honestly think that to even contemplate it is a part of ensuring that privilege.)

Lastly, I am not suggesting that this thread's 'rightful' focus should be on Obama's possible assassination which I think is a.) Unlikely, despite some of the ugliness that has arisen, and
b.) Uselessly morbid.

At the same time, to repeat: Couldn't care less about McCain's possible reservations, regrets, finer feelings etc. Just can't afford to.

belledame222 said...

For me?

Just. Don't. Care.

Well, ultimately, I don't either. It's a bit of idle speculation, is all. Certainly it doesn't make any difference as to what I think should happen to him/his campaign/future career, if any/and so on. I mean I might "feel sorry for" a murderer who evinced signs of...conflict, let's say; but it doesn't mean I think they should get a lighter sentence for it.

"by their deeds you shall know them."

Anyway. Oh, sorry: I call everyone "dude," sometimes. as with "suck," homage to my Valley roots, there.

belledame222 said...

In terms of racism: I certainly think there's no doubt whatsoever that McCain is playing on deeply ingrained racism/colonialism, his own and his base's, and that's plenty bad enough. And yeah, I think he "means" that.

Difference between him and Palin, or Bush for that matter: I don't know that he's temperamentally as much of a -fascist.-

I mean someone who gleefully says that America is "exceptionalist" because she doesn't even know what the word means exactly but clearly also doesn't -care- is, well, Special.

I also think, what people were maybe picking up on--there's something about the raw energy of a crowd like that that's...

I wonder if, ultimately, what really rattled his cage was the realization that in fact it could turn on -him- just as easily. Or just the sheer disturbing power of it. I haven't followed his career enough to really have a sense of whether he's been comfortable with that sort of direct Nuremberg-ish invocation in the past. It does feel like he's out of his league in it now. Which, again, the fact that he still keeps trying to invoke it anyway because he thinks it'll help him somehow (sometimes, maybe) is absolutely despicable.

Still, I find it...interesting, in a Sorceror's Apprentice sort of a way. Be careful what you invoke, and all that.

She, on the other hand, I swear I think she vibes on it. Her worldview is so starkly black and white--I mean she just gave a speech about "good guys and bad guys"--that's what really spooks me. They flock to her because she generates and rolls with that energy, not just the words.

McCain is an old-school colonialist who's outraged that a jumped up ___ like Obama is threatening to take away his rightful inheritance. I think he's also disgusted that he even needs to make this much effort to convince people that This Is Not The Way Of THings in the first place. Entitlement city; it's just a somewhat different vibe.
Classic McCain, when they caught him after the "bomb bomb bomb Iran" business and suggested that erm maybe some people might've found it offensive; his response, if I can find the link...

ah, I started to write a post on the video and someone took it down. anyway there's an interviewer with him, and the dialogue goes something like this:

Lighten up and get a life.

(someone off camera calls something to him)

..(incredulously) Insensitive to -what?- The -Iranians?-

(snorty laughter)

..And my response to that is, "Lighten up and get a life." I will continue to joke with my veteran friends...


also see: the "gooks" comment. Look, there's no question what he is. I'm just worried that the -next- person, whether it's actually Palin (doubtful, I think, really) is going to be more charismatic, fresher, and better at this.

what they really want is someone as smart as Buchanan and winsome as Palin. a man would ultimately suit them better. Yeah, I worry.

belledame222 said...

Why I'm "interested," p.s.: psychology student, here. Peoples' inner shit interests me: it just does. It doesn't preclude my having moral judgments about what they've done. But I know a number of people who're more strictly political don't often love analysis on a personal/"character" level. I mean besides the whole, no one likes feeling alone when everyone else seems not to be "getting" the level of outrage that something deserves, emotionally or cognitively.

belledame222 said...

also, I should say: I can't speak for each and every one of the other commenters here, but you know, I think a number of people are fairly fluent with the arguments you're making, here, and largely agree with them. That they don't share your gut response doesn't necessarily mean much besides they don't share your gut response. You're certainly welcome to stick around, click on other people's logins and check out their own sites if you haven't already, and judge for yourself.

belledame222 said...

It seems like a small thing, but I think that it is a critical part of white supremacy. The refusal or inability to think that white individual X could 'really' be quite as bad as you suspect they are. And that lingering sense of always feeling (vaguely) sorry for them, despite their misdeeds thinking that it indicates a generosity of spirit etc.

But in real terms, I suspect that it enables them.

I agree with this, actually.

Speaking only for myself, really not feeling it toward McCain, but I'm willing to entertain that I've got some unexamined Small White Dude still sitting inside me asking for special allowances under the conscious radar. I don't actually think he's got any particular generosity of spirit, though. I just think that -complete- Evil McEviltons are rare, and the cognitive dissonance he's evincing is mildly interesting.

I felt a bit sorry for Palin while she was floundering under Couric. Didn't stop me from going right back to loathing her or even simultaneously taking schadenfreudisch glee in the same floundering. "I am large, I contain etc."

Obviously I don't find any of this more important than the results of his/their clumsy baiting. I think we're all waiting on pins and needles to see what other shoe might drop. I, too, think the likelihood of Obama actually being shot isn't much (certainly hope so), but for sure every time this shit happens there's a rise in random aggression from the fired-up masses; it's been happening all along for a good while now.

I -really- would like to see him called on that Obsession DVD, actually. I'm pissed that no one's brought it up. Whether he directly authorized that or not, there's clearly a connection with the campaign, and ffs if Obama has to answer for Ayers he damn well ought to answer to -that-.

belledame222 said...

...what I was starting to say was: yes, refusing to see "good cop" as being really THAT bad is a problem; I just also think that there's a danger of becoming a mirror image of their own nuance-free good guy/bad guy worldview. but I mean, we're all in our own place about that shit; I don't really think it's up to anyone to tell anyone else how to -feel.- Belief is something else; ideas you can argue with. The atavistic shit: not so much. Not usefully, anyway.

belledame222 said...
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belledame222 said...

One more thing: I have to argue with you wrt Palin. I don't think it's inappropriate at all to be focused on her. The idea that white women are "seldom in the driver's seat" and thus Palin is copping more than her share of criticism while McCain gets off the hook: there's something to it, but there's also a lot to be said for Palin relying on Special White Woman Syndrome for protection, including for a lot of feminists that damn well imo ought to know better. I mean, you've been reading here, you probably know what I'm about to say more or less, but:

Palin may not be at the top of this particular campaign, may be being used as a figurehead; but that doesn't mean much as far as I'm concerned. McCain's over after this campaign. She may or may not be. If she is, it won't be because she's a woman; it'll be because she's too damn shallow even for the Rovian spinmeisters to salvage into a viable top-of-the-ticket candidate. For sure I think she'll be running for Senate or such, and that we haven't seen the last of her.

and the thing is: all the energy in the McCain campaign is coming from her. The fact that she's a woman interacts with it in complicated ways, but Jesus, don't let's buy that we can dismiss her as not as important because of it. I'm incensed that so many people I damn well thought would know better are willing to cut her slack -because- she's a (white, gotta say it, too) woman.

I mean ultimately while you can't dismiss the hierarchy of privilege, the mechanism for "oh well so and so is -on our side- because of where sie's situated demographically" always works in the same way. Always, always. Sometimes people identify with the "oppressor" class rather than their own, which is a product of institutionalized __isms, yes; but whether or not we're correct in identifying with the class of the representative person, it -still- shouldn't blind us to the reality of who the person actually is and what sie does.

I think Palin's a fuck. I don't happen to think I'm one of the "us" she's speaking for, even though I, too, am a white woman; and part of it is because I'm queer, Jewish, urban, etc. etc.

Nonetheless. There's a reason why I react to certain radical feminists who go trans-baiting (for instance) as viscerally as I do: it's the same bad bargain. The stakes are lower, and this time I -am- potentially one of "us" if I chose to accept the invitation (gay cis woman with feminist sympathies and many shared beliefs, blah blee): but they -still- don't get off the hook -either.-

And every once in a while, the accusation of only focusing on them because I'm sympathetic with the REAL power (men-as-a-class in this case) comes up.

And you know what: not really.

Fuckers is fuckers.

And by the way, white women may not be in the driver's seat as -often- as white men, but when they are, they can be pretty fucking powerful. Thatcher, anyone?

bint alshamsa said...

I pretty much agree with what Westerly's partner wrote. I have a lot of admiration for the majority of the commenters on this thread. That said, I am a little disappointed at how this discussion has gone. I honestly do believe that the tendency to want to believe that McCain is at least a little bit sorry is has more to do with white privilege than it does his actual actions. Even without trying, I really feel like his actions don't show anything that suggests he isn't trying to fan the flames of racism as much as he possibly can. And I don't understand why it seems like a lot of folks just don't see this as I do. I mean, I know this is a thoughtful, intelligent bunch of folks on this thread so I'm fairly sure that no one is purposely cutting him so much slack simply because they want to make a horrid man like McCain look "not so bad" because he's white. I just think that maybe people are more willing to think about the possibility that he might not mean to actually cause the frenzy he's created because of the "values" that white privilege has instilled in us all (to some extent or another).

I don't know if I'm making much sense here. Anyway, I took most of my ranting on this post to my own blog because I didn't want to just come in with both guns blazing and criticize people. I think you'll find it linked to this thread below the comments.

Anthony Kennerson said...

Responding a bit to Bint:

I can see the argument that some may be trying to cut McCain some slack because he happens to be an old White man (not to mention, an old White man with some obvious signs of senility and who may possibly not even last the next two years because of his advanced melanoma), and because they have been a bit taken in by his "Moderate Maverick" schtick that basically is a thin veneer used to cover up his essentially right-wing record.

However, I'm totally with Bint that his recent behavior in unleashing the Dark Side of the Neo-Confederacy that makes up the GOP "base" is more fitting with his history of bigotry (the "gook" smack, his votes against the MLK holiday). It's as if he has become completely unhinged since the Rove team has taken over his campaign.

But then again, it's really not about McCain or even Palin as much as it is about the entire Reagan/Bush41/Bush43 neoconservative empire crumbling down right before their eyes; and this is really the last gasp attempt by the Right to maintain their power before the grownups and liberals regain control and shut them out for the next 25 years. It's so much easier to lash out at the Other when your power is fading fast.

Unfortunately for JohnnyMac, he no longer can control matters; he's laid his bed with Rove and Palin and the neo-fascists; and now he will sink or swim with them. If the GOP isn't too careful and doesn't nip this thing real quick, they could be swept down the hole right along with him when the inevitable Obama tsunami/Cat 5 hurricane/EF5 tornado hits them on November 4th.

Couldn't have happened to a nicer fellow, I say.


Kristin said...

I have to agree with what westerly and bint have said. I also think armchair psych directed at political candidates often serves the function of depoliticizing what is ostensibly thought to be "political discourse." I've seen it all over the place in the past couple of days, comments ruefully suggesting just how "bad" McCain must feel about all of this.

Well, I mean... What's happening right now, as others have suggested, isn't really about McCain the Individual. It's about a desperate conservative base that is clinging to the worst and most despicable aspects of its historical--and current--ideology in order to retain power. It's about the fact that social and political circumstances being what they are... Well, McCain has every reason to think that this kind of race-baiting may serve his purposes. And it may. It's energizing the base, as many have suggested. And he's operating within a system of power that makes all of this okay to an alarmingly large segment of the population--as long as he goes on television and says that he doesn't support an Obama assassination. He's playing to the worst elements of this countries politics and getting away with it simply by assuring us that he's really *not that bad.*

Whether or not he feels *bad* about it not only seems beside the point to me, but it also seems to depoliticize the conversation. Your blog post did not do this, Belle, but I have to agree with those who have expressed concern about the turn that this conversation took.

So, does it change anything if he feels bad? Not really. Not on the ground. Not given that it's still the major campaign strategy and that he and Sarah Palin are inciting mob-like groups across the country who are calling for violence against people of color.

That shout to "kill him!" was heard not far from where I live in Pennsylvania, which has the highest per capita hate group membership of any state. Here, the KKK and lots of neo-Nazi groups are rapidly attracting new membership by calling for violence against Latin@s and Blacks. That McCain and Palin are relying on this bloc of supporters to boost their campaign's energy should be terrifying to us all, and I don't really give a flying fuck whether not he *feels bad* about it.

I understand having a personal interest in the psychology of these things... And I tend to believe with you, that no one is Purely Good or Purely Evil. That that "goodness" that is latent in McCain's "conscience" is becoming a part of the national discourse is extremely disturbing to me. And from a psych perspective... What about the psychology of mobs and of mob violence? What about the psychology of racism and how many of us have believed despite all evidence to the contrary that McCain is a "moderate" and one who isn't incredibly dangerous?

I do think there's something there in the fact that we can be willing to give some people a free pass and that the workings of white privilege are at work here. I've noticed this in trying to deal with the fact that my grandparents have told me they support McCain. I wanted to explain the decision away and paint it as "not all that bad." I thought, "They're too old to understand about abortion, and they were always self-employed farmers who purchased their own health-care, so they don't really understand about the healthcare system." I didn't really want to think about the fact that they are also strongly motivated by white supremacist beliefs. And in the end, it does make a difference for my feelings toward my family, but it doesn't matter politically. They're two more votes for McCain/Palin, and they could make the difference for the outcome in North Carolina. The political consequences are what they are whether or not I'm able to come up with a nicer explanation for their choices.

Kristin said...

Also, it's just... When we focus on the way certain individuals might "feel" about some of these events, we do tend to lose the analysis of the systemic hatred that is fueling all of this. Even though I'm not willing to ascribe some kind of rational choice calculus to every decision, I feel pretty certain that McCain would have clamped down on this if he felt certain that his campaign could be damaged by it. At the moment, it's the only thing they've found to inject new energy into the campaign... And the question of whether or not McCain actually *believes* seems like a moot point. I think it's more about the way that racist discourse is operating in this election, on the right wing base and on the larger electorate. That is... The mainstream media is largely allowing him to get away with this. We're led to understand that he's had a talk with Palin, and she's been instructed not to encourage the racist epithets and that he doesn't like it... Meanwhile, it's the only thing that's keeping the campaign going. I really don't think it's about the individuals themselves or about which (Palin or McCain) may personally be the most despicable.

And as for McCain possibly "feeling bad" about it. I mean... This seems alarmingly similar to the free pass we (White Folk generally) can sometimes give to those we see as Good People or at least as Moderately Tolerable People. We're able to do that because in this sense we are privileged. We are not often affected by this kind of racism. We are not the people whose deaths are being called for, and it's easy for us to turn around and say, "Okay, it can't be that bad, right? I mean, he's not really *that* much of a bad guy, is he?" And I do think it's true that we do that from a place of privilege. Absolutely, it is.

And anyway... Yeah, I am all about the systemic analysis, not because I don't hold anyone responsible for this, but because I firmly believe that this country has been moving in this directly for at least the past twenty years. And it's those years that made what's happening now so potentially helpful to the McCain campaign. Personally, sure, I do think he's a despicable fuck. But whether or not he's a True Believer isn't really important. Hannah Arendt wrote about how what seemed to motivate the worst of the Nazi atrocities was "careerism," and not True Belief. So, whether or not that's generalizable isn't really the point... The point is that a lack of real belief doesn't mitigate the danger that this person poses.

Kristin said...

And I should've worded the "old" thing that I attributed to my grandparents better. I should have said that I think they tend to be out of touch when it comes to these kinds of debates, and it has to do with growing up in a rural, conservative, Baptist commumnity that didn't privilege anything we'd think of as Women's Rights. I think it's more that there are no social reasons for them to really care about abortion or think about the way in which restrictions might affect younger women. So, yeah... Again, whether or not I can rationalize it or explain the social context... Still two votes for McCain.

Lisa Harney said...


When somebody picks my pocket, I’m not gonna be chasing him down to figure out whether he thinks he’s a thief deep down in his heart; I’m gonna be chasing him down so I can get my wallet back. I don’t care what he is, but I need to hold him accountable for what he did. -- Jay Smooth

What I mean by quoting that isn't to say that he's not deliberately doing this. I'm saying that even if he really truly honestly regrets doing it in the darkest depths of his soul, I don't care. He still did it.

Plus, I believe he deliberately did this.

belledame222 said...

I honestly do believe that the tendency to want to believe that McCain is at least a little bit sorry is has more to do with white privilege than it does his actual actions. Even without trying, I really feel like his actions don't show anything that suggests he isn't trying to fan the flames of racism as much as he possibly can. And I don't understand why it seems like a lot of folks just don't see this as I do. I mean, I know this is a thoughtful, intelligent bunch of folks on this thread so I'm fairly sure that no one is purposely cutting him so much slack simply because they want to make a horrid man like McCain look "not so bad" because he's white. I just think that maybe people are more willing to think about the possibility that he might not mean to actually cause the frenzy he's created because of the "values" that white privilege has instilled in us all (to some extent or another).

Like I said, it's possible. I mean I can't speak for anyone but myself, but you know, it could be. I get that it's now apparently popping up all over the place, this, though.

Going back to psychology, I also think it's a bit of "good cop, bad cop" working as well as this general sort of...I dunno. it's fucking scary as shit to think that someone within reach of the White House is pulling this shit, yes. Denial, okay.

The point is that a lack of real belief doesn't mitigate the danger that this person poses.

oh, I agree with that. If I thought it was working better than it was in terms of him/them actually winning, I'd have been a lot more fired up, rightly or wrongly. It's still plenty fucking bad enough with what it does to the zeitgeist. I'm just getting up to--that fucking lynching ad is just...charming.

and yeah, it's like...I mean, again, I -really love- the outraged foot stomping he's been doing over the comparison to George Wallace. dude, if the shoe fits. and I mean...pull all this shit and then turn around and -whine- when someone calls you on it. I have no sympathy for that at all. I get why Obama's campaign found it diplomatic to say that that bit was going too far, but I'm glad they stood firm about the basics of the charge, the seriousness of it; and speaking for myself, you know, if the worst thing that happens to McCain is being likened unto Wallace...well, boo fucking hoo.

belledame222 said...

He's totally fucking responsible for it, yes.

I think some people were giving the bare minimum of cautious acknowledgement for arguing with the audience, there; it still never should've been "oh okay, all is forgiven," no. and whatever faint percentage of a micron of a point I might've been inclined to think about entertaining giving pretty much evaporated when I saw he's still pushing the Ayers crap for all its worth and now the Obama/Osama "well it depends on the context" shite.

and yeah, the continuing rampant anti-Arab/Moslem baiting is completely unchecked. it's like they at least know "racist" is a serious charge when the nods to our own Jim Crow past come up, even if it's just to whine about being lumped in with the -bad- racists even as they keep tooting the dog whistle for all its worth; but anything else is, well, what? fair? what, worry about offending the -Iranians-? (or pick your Scary Brown Terrorist Filled Nation du jour) don't be ridiculous.

belledame222 said...

Hannah Arendt wrote about how what seemed to motivate the worst of the Nazi atrocities was "careerism," and not True Belief.

I have to read her again.

I think that's definitely true insofar as the actions carried out, yes; but that's once it's gotten to the point of...well, I guess propaganda counts, too.

my hackles just raise when I see they've actually found a charismatic speaker, however inept. which, whatever else about McCain, he's not one.

belledame222 said...

The mainstream media is largely allowing him to get away with this. We're led to understand that he's had a talk with Palin, and she's been instructed not to encourage the racist epithets and that he doesn't like it... Meanwhile, it's the only thing that's keeping the campaign going. I really don't think it's about the individuals themselves or about which (Palin or McCain) may personally be the most despicable.

well, that's the real issue innit. They backpedal to the point of x, the media and everyone goes "oh all right then! whew!" and meanwhile it keeps going and going and going and...

so yeah, I can see why this thread looked like part of that dynamic. again, all I can say is: really never was giving him any sort of pass, speaking for myself at least.

belledame222 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
belledame222 said...

and this is really the last gasp attempt by the Right to maintain their power before the grownups and liberals regain control and shut them out for the next 25 years.

well, from your mouth to Maud's ears...

belledame222 said...

And from a psych perspective... What about the psychology of mobs and of mob violence? What about the psychology of racism and how many of us have believed despite all evidence to the contrary that McCain is a "moderate" and one who isn't incredibly dangerous?

Good questions.