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Reaching Critical Mass

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Reaching Critical Mass

By Victor Davis Hanson


The sudden change in the polls the last 10 days, even though it may be temporary, has prompted a furor in the media that has no parallel in modern election history. Vicious words like "treason", "abasement", "liar", and "lying" are in the air now in an unheralded attack on McCain, often in association with the sex education ad, and the lipstick identification with Palin as a pig. (cf. e.g., Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen today). But as Byron York has shown, that ad alleging that Obama supported detailed information about matters of sex to be disseminated to younger children (for a variety of educational reasons), while tough and unnecessary, was nevertheless not a lie.

And as far as the silly lipstick moment, if one studies the tape carefully as Obama lets go with his similes, it is clear that the hooting audience at least seemed to make the association with Palin, and the further elaboration on a stinky old fish seemed to cement the allusion to McCain.

What otherwise are we to think of this silly controversy?— 1) a candidate is complaining about McCain and Palin; 2) in his exasperation the candidate next uses two metaphors (not 1, not 3) 3) one to a pig with lipstick (after Palin had famously just used a lipstick/animal metaphor in her speech), and 4) a second one to an old fish --a theme of the Obama campaigning has been to suggest McCain is "losing his bearings", "confused", has "lost track", and "couldn't remember."

But from anger at those two inconsequential ads, and the selection of Palin, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, for example, makes a rather large leap to this conclusion:

"... the lies of Vietnam and Watergate and Iraq. So many lies. Who believes that in Afghanistan last month only five civilians were killed by the American military, instead of the approximately 90 claimed by the Afghan government? Not me. I first gave up on the military during Vietnam and then again when it covered up the death of Pat Tillman, the Army Ranger and former NFL player who was killed in 2004 by friendly fire."

What does "give up on the military" mean, and what does it have to do with a McCain ad reminding voters of the difference between Obama and himself on the appropriate age to introduce children to sex education learning materials?

What we are seeing is a sort of meltdown in which the selection of Palin is associated with the first real possibility all summer that the messianic Obama may not necessarily ascend; that triggers a certain repulsion toward her in particular, and a general furor at the once likeable McCain (once likeable to present-day Obama's supporters in the past sense that in 2000 he was going to lose, perhaps divide Republicans, and was not George Bush), which, in turn, can conjure up all sorts of no longer latent demons, going back to Vietnam onto to Iraq and the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

The problem (inter alia) with this vicious, loose use of "traitor" and "lie/liar/lying" and blanket condemnations of the US military is that it achieves the opposite of what the authors intend and is repelling most readers to such a degree that they are scared off from anything the writer seems to be advocating.

We've seen that with the Atlantic Monthly pictures and blog rumors about Palin's recent Down Syndrome pregnancy, the unhinged hatred columns of the sort of a Salon's Cintra Wilson or those suggesting riots or global hatred of the U.S. if Obama loses, the Matthews/Olbermann rants, the daily salvos from the NY Times columnists, and the hourly Palin rage from spoiled Hollywood prima donnas.

Do they have any idea of how they sound or where this leads? Despite an unpopular incumbent, economic upheaval, unpopular wars, and a charismatic Democratic candidate, the media, hand in glove with Obama's messianic sense of self, are doing all they can to lose a once sure election by the sheer repugnance of the way in which their anger is expressed and expressed and expressed . . .

And again, it seems uncontrollable. Didn't anyone learn from the General Betray-Us ads?


Edited by libertyworld

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