Nov 2, 2008

November 2, 2008: Further Reflections on the Swine, Kicking and Squealing, No Badge of Courage

“The size of our challenges have outgrown the smallness of our politics.”
----Barack Obama, speech at Henderson, Nevada 11/01/08

Obama has been quite right to make this election a referendum on the “generation of swine”. The swine have held sway over the electoral process for going on four decades now and have done their level best to lay waste every last vestige of our ancestor's legacy. Following the siren song of greed they have done their level best to realize Newt Gingrich's dream of returning America to the glory days of the roaring '20's. It is now 1929 and the time has come for this country to pry from the throat of the republic the cold fingers of this “boomer” generation. It is time to end the death grip of this “Generation of Swine”.

The swine will not go quietly for they have had their snouts and both front trotters in the trough for far too long now. No instead they will have to be forced from the trough kicking and squealing. It is an unpleasant task but a necessary one in order to get on with the nation's business.

Of late the good Marshall of Tombstone and the Guttersnipe have been about the country accusing Obama of being a socialist. Quoting his remark made during an exchange with “Joe the Plumber”, about “spreading the wealth a little”, the McCain campaign has torn the words out of context and blown it up into a full blown ideological confrontation between “Capitalism” and “Socialism”, even as McCain joined the ranks of those who moved to save the Capitalist from himself by way of huge injections of government funds into suddenly unstable institutions. Nevertheless adopting Adams' view that every American is an aristocrat on the make, the good Marshall was found making his last stand on Main Street deploring the lurking “socialism” and decrying Obama for wanting to take money from the well-to-do (the fittest and therefore the deserving in the eyes of the Social Darwinists) and giving it to those who “pay no taxes at all”. This line is met with the predictable chorus of boos from the assembled and is taken to mean the lazy and shiftless welfare recipients; the 'unfit' and, therefore, the 'undeserving'. While the good Marshall makes such references frequently on the stump he appears to do so with some discomfort, half believing his own press releases. To shore up this line of attack the Rescumlican slime machine brought out that old Austrian Arnold Swartznegger who promptly tells audiences, after mocking Obamas evident thinness and body physique, that he fled the old country because it was socialist. Some appropriate surrogate in the Democratic camp needs to respond by telling Arnold that Obama is more fully developed than the governor is certain more important areas. Then, after a pregnant pause, say “the brain". He possesses a more superior intelligence than the Governor of California as evident by the political party he chose to join.

Political Columnist David Broder, discussing a column he wrote in the Washington Post on NBC's “Meet the Press” today said that McCain has run a campaign free of racism. I disagree. To hold such a position is to give McCain a free pass, one which he does not deserve.

McCain rightly deserves the calumny of history for the campaign he waged for the presidency this year. This business about “Socialism” goes directly to the point. On the surface it is made to appear as a simple, albeit false, ideological dichotomy in which the voter is asked to chose between two competing economic systems. This is, of course, nonsense inasmuch as Obama is no more a socialist than either Teddy or Franklin Roosevelt, or Dwight Eisenhower for that matter. But to pose the election in those terms is to set up a convenient 'straw man' to flagellate for the benefit of the electorate. It isn't the first time an overt appeal to the greed, gluttony and avarice of the American people has been made, nor is it the first time that the public has been underestimated. And, of course, it makes perfect sense if one hopes to ride to power on the backs of real swine.

But the issue as presented cuts much deeper into the psyche of the nation. Beneath the ideological and pseudo-ideological posturing runs a message that hopes to further open the deep divisions of class and race. One hears it in how McCain follows his introduction of the issue. Charging Obama with being, at heart, a “Socialist”, he then accuses his opponent of wanting to take money from the rich, thereby “punishing success”, and giving it to “those who pay no taxes at all” thereby rewarding the unsuccessful and the undeserving.

This is, of course, complete nonsense for the Obama plan is aimed primarily at middle class tax relief. But no matter, lets take the Marshall at his word. Lets assume that that the Marshall is right and that Obama wants to take money from the rich, successful and therefore deserving and give it to the Welfare Queens. What are we to make of the characterization? For decades the face of welfare has been a face of minorities. Never mind that until well into the 1990's the majority of poor in America were white. Never mind that with the seven million that have fallen from the middle class into poverty under the Bush Administration the face of poverty in America may again be white. The fact is that when most Americans think about poverty in America, when they think about it at all, they do not conjure up their own image. Think about it. Obama was ridiculed as being a “social activist working in the projects”. Now he wants to take money from the 'fittest' and give it to “those who pay no taxes at all”. This isn't the first time campaigns have been waged against “Welfare Queens”. Ask George Corley Wallace. Class divisions in America have racial overtones. Here is high relief is the secret of the Republican success and the reason the good Marshall has finally used his last bullet in his shootout with Obama at high noon. By waging war against 'welfare' he can unabashedly support the rich while using race to keep the middle classes in line. This is why you will search in vain for any references by McCain to the middle class in America. To bring it up would highlight his weakness, for he has nothing in his bag of tricks for them. Instead he will appeal, as the Republican party has always appealed—at least since the days of Richard Nixon and Kevin Phillips—to the middle class using race, not economics, as the medium. That's how, as Phillips so astutely observed all those years ago, one goes about forging a majority when one's natural constituency is a mere 7 percent.

Is it not clear why the good Marshall begged off talking about economics from the first, saying that he didn't know as much as perhaps he should about the subject? Is it not clear why internal memo's leaked from his campaign saying that McCain needed to shift the subject from the economy to Obama because to talk about the economy would mean certain defeat? And so, true to recent form, the Rescumlicans have gone about the business of devising weapons of mass diversion. They have set up a socialist straw man, questioned Obama's character, patriotism, religious convictions, even going so far as saying that he “pals around with terrorists”. None of this, given the current economic crisis, has gained traction. And so it is back to race. Race reintroduced through the back door, but race nonetheless. Reverend Wright meet the Socialist Bogeyman and the Welfare Queen by extension. The more things change the more they remain the same.

David Broder is wrong. The Marshall isn't wearing the badge of courage.

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