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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Village, Idiots

[Dana Milbank in Washinton Post, seen via Atrios]
John McCain and Barack Obama both appeared before the nation's newspaper editors yesterday. The putative Republican presidential nominee was given a box of doughnuts and a standing ovation. The likely Democratic nominee was likened to a terrorist.

Yet another stark reminder of the vapid venal topsy-turvicality of the Villagers of the corporate "librul media," so-called, and what we'll be up against in the General. Endless Obama Osama Orange Juice Gate Versus Good Guy War-Daddy McCain. Don't these shills and gossip columnists have an unspeakable war crime to cheerlead for somewhere? And, yes, I'm aware that the piece I'm quoting appeared in The Washington Post. And, yes, McCain is still going to lose.


jfehlinger said...

> The likely Democratic nominee was likened to a terrorist.

Well, there's only a one-letter difference between "Obama"
and "Osama". What else do you need to know?

> And, yes, McCain is still going to lose.

Wouldn't it be nice.

jfehlinger said...

> obama. . . Osama. . .

You know, just to play Devil's Advocate, there is an argument
that could be made here. (And I'm sure Ann Coulter could
make it. ;-> )

Something along the lines of the Democrats' appalling lack of
sensitivity and disconnectedness from the sensibilities of
ordinary folks exhibited by the fact that they could contemplate
a candidate whose very name would bring to mind that of a hated enemy.

An indication that the Democrats are slyly revealing a barely-hidden
contempt for the normal decencies of good citizenship, of patriotic
loyalty -- an almost treasonous urge to spit in the faces of the
defenders of our country, etc., etc., etc.

You know the song. I could outline the speech.

Like I said before, what's ad hominem for the goose isn't
always ad hominem for the gander. And the implicit messages
that liberals and conservatives will manufacture from the
Democrats' choice will **not** be the same.

And McCain will get mileage out of this, make no mistake.

Dale Carrico said...

And McCain will get mileage out of this, make no mistake.

Since the corporate media is largely in the tank for McCain, or at any rate endlessly forgiving and sympathetic and even fawning to this even worse than usually power-mad hypocritical out-of-touch war-mongering neoconman (the corporate media has been designated, after all, as the unpopular McCain's only actual "base"), you can be sure that this same media will give him "mileage" on everything that happens, no matter what anybody says, no matter what anybody does, no matter what anybody means. Doesn't matter, though, not even a Free Ride and full massage (with release) from a corporate media people are leaving in droves for the p2p media will get McCain to the White House. I'm only really worried about ensuring the Democrats once in office don't play kissy face with these corporatist war criminals in the name of cynical self-serving "pragmatism" the better to ensure that they will rise inevitably again with their same stupid thieving murderous antics in mind.

jfehlinger said...

> Obama. . . Osama. . .

And then of course there's William Gibson's
Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis.

You will return with us, Case, as will Armitage. But where,
exactly, will we all be going? To Switzerland, where you will be
merely a pawn in the trial of an artificial intelligence? Or to le BAMA,
where you can be proven to have participated not only in data invasion and
larceny, but in an act of public mischief which cost fourteen innocent
lives? The choice is yours.

I'm not sure what either side could make of this
intertextual resonance, however. ;->

seth said...

Much as I hope you're right about there being just about nothting that could get McSame to the Casa Blanca, the fact that, as you say, "you can be sure that this same media will give him "mileage" on everything that happens" combined with the facts of the cheating that got the not-lame-enough duck of the moment into office twice over now is enough to keep me nervous. If it's worked flawlessly in the past two elections, why should they stop now?

(sorry, don't mean to be a downer).

Dale Carrico said...

While I'm not advocating complacency, I do think we all do well to recall that their cheating hardly worked "flawlessly" at all -- the Supremes had to select Bush in a coup, and they scarcely squeaked by their win next time (all the deceptive crowing about mandates and values voters we were subjected to notwithstanding). I know, I know, enough is as good as a feast but every trend is against them (confusions yielded by an ongoing primary contest on one side against a clear candidate on the other will quickly resolve in the General, you'll see), Republican retirements are legion, right way wrong way polls are catastrophic for Republicans, money is skewed epically toward the Dems, especially given the precedents. Ask yourself, which state that went for Kerry do you expect to go Red this time? One more blue and the Dems win. It's that simple. I think it'll be a landslide, I think Dem numbers rise nicely in the House -- contrary to the usual trend after a major change election like 2006 -- and in the Senate the Dems will gain enough seats to put Liar Lieberman permanently on the shelf for his betrayals and still push sane proposals through against the protestations of the money-grubbing gun-toting gay-baiting Jeebus-loving swamp-state squawkers (both Red-Racist and Blue-Dog), to clean up some of the mess and restore a modicum of lawfulness to this superpower-cum-backwater.

Michael Anissimov said...

In this case, the Osama thing was a genuine misspeak.

Why are Obamabots so quick to jump on it as intentional, when the footage is widely available, and makes it quite clear it was truly a mistake?

Dale Carrico said...

the Osama thing was a genuine misspeak

It always is. Every time. Over and over and over and over and over again.

Why are Obamabots so quick to jump on it as intentional

Because they (we?) must be cra-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-zy.

jfehlinger said...

Michael Anissmov wondered:

> Why are Obamabots so quick to jump on it as intentional, when
> the footage is widely available, and makes it quite clear it
> was truly a mistake?

Obamabots, huh? Curious. Some analysts of the left claim
that the Democratic Party is usually too slow to call out
this kind of "mistake".

Drew Westen, _The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion
in Deciding the Fate of the Nation_

p. 15

Republicans understand what the philosopher David Hume
recognized three centuries ago: that reason is a slave to
emotion, not the other way around. With the exception of
the Clinton era, Democratic strategists for the last three
decades have instead clung tenaciously to the dispassionate
view of the mind and to the campaign strategy that
logically follows from it, namely one that focuses on facts,
figures, policy statements, costs and benefits, and
appeals to intellect and expertise.

They do so, I believe, because of an **irrational emotional
commitment to rationality** -- one that renders them, ironically,
impervious to both scientific evidence on how the political
mind and brain work and to an accurate diagnosis of why their
campaigns repeatedly fail.

pp. 243 - 247

Getting Corkered

If Democrats were to start to speak the truth about race,
they would be free to retell the Republican story on race.

Since the mid-1960s, the party of Lincoln has desecrated
his memory. Republicans have opposed every effort to extend
equal rights to anyone who isn't white. They have played
the race card in every presidential election they have won
since 1968. As long as Democrats don't turn racism into a
**character issue**, Republicans will continue to use it as
an instrument of political persuasion.

Perhaps the most egregious example of a successful racist
appeal occurred during the midterm election of 2006.
Democrats outflanked Republicans in every closely contested
Senate race except one: Tennessee. At first blush, the
loss in Tennessee was surprising, given that Harold Ford,
like so many of the other Democrats who defeated Republican
incumbents (e.g., Bob Casey, Sherrod Brown, Claire McCaskill),
was an emotionally compelling candidate. Ford, however,
was taken down by an extraordinarly sophisticated stealth
campaign orchestrated by now Senator Bob Corker and the
Republican National Committee. The centerpiece of that
campaign was an infamous ad created by a protege of Karl Rove.

The stealth attack, designed to fly far enough below the
radar to allow plausible deniability, played unconscious racial
networks like a fiddle at Opryland. As Corker began to run
into trouble in public opinion polls, he began describing
himself as the "real Tennessean," using as a cover story that
Ford was a city slicker from Washington. The Republican
National Committee then ran an ad the Corker campaign
predictably disavowed, allowing Corker to claim distance while
taking advantage of its effects. Corker then followed it up
with another ad of his own that made clear that the ads
were coordinated.

The ad that drew media attention featured a scantily-clad white
woman declaring excitedly, "I met Harold at the _Playboy_ party!"
She returned at the very end of the ad, appearing as if an
afterthought, with a seductive wink, saying "Harold, call me."
The obvious goal was to activate a network about black men
having sex with white women, something about which many white
men still feel queasy (particularly if they imagine their
daughter with a black man). Martin Luther King understood the
power of this image for white men and disarmed it, declaring
"I want the white man to be my brother, not my brother-in-law."

The "call me" line cam just after the ad had ostensibly ended with
the following words on the screen, while the narrator was
distracting viewers with a different message, effectively rendering
the words implicit: "Harold Ford. He's Just Not Right."

When I first saw the ad, something about the syntax of that last
sentence struck me as peculiar. What did they mean by "He's just
not right?" That's a phrase often used to describe someone with
a psychiatric problem, and no one was suggesting that Ford was

Then I realized what was wrong. If you were going to use that
syntax, you'd say "He's just not right **for Tennessee**." What
viewers of that ad were not aware of (unless they were Tweetie Bird,
or couldn't pronounce their _r_s) was that another network was
being activated unconsciously. This second network was primed
both by the racial overtones of the ad and by the broader campaign
emphasizing that Ford isn't "one of us": He's just not **white**.
In fact, had the narrator spoken the words, the intent would likely
have been too obvious, especially when followed by the "call me"

As Corker began gaining in the polls following the "Call Me" ad,
he followed it with a radio ad, whose cover story was again to
compare and contrast the two candidates on the extent to which they
were "real" Tennesseans. In the radio ad, music plays continuously
in the background, but every time the narrator talks about Ford,
the listener is exposed to the barely audible sound of what,
with close listening, is the sound of an African tom-tom.

The ads run against Ford suggest that Rove and crew are well aware
of recent research on subliminal priming. It is difficult otherwise
to explain the tom-toms, and I have not heard an alternate
explanation for them.

Unfortunately, Democrats responded to twenty-first-century science
with twentieth-century intuition. They lacked the knowledge to
respond with the only known antidote to racial appeals made below
the radar of consciousness: **make them conscious**.
George ["Macaca"] Allen was heading for an easy victory in his bid for
re-election to the Senate and a serious run at the presidency in 2008,
but he took a nosedive when he flew his prejudice at the wrong
altitude. Bob Corker succeeded with a stealth appeal that largely
stayed below the radar.

Harold Ford couldn't have been his own messenger in this case, as he
well knew, and as evidence by his muted response. Doing so would
have activated another network that would have blown up in his face:
**black person crying racism**. What he needed was a Southern white
elder statesman to do it for him.

The person who could have done it was Bill Clinton, who won Tennessee
twice and stumped for Ford in the final days of the campaign.
A fiery response like the following would likely have shifted the
dynamics of the race from Ford's color to Corker's character and
put Corker on the defensive:

'Mr. Corker, the people of this state know what a skunk smells like,
and they know when they've been sprayed. You knew exactly what you
were doing when you ran that ad with the white woman saying with
a wink, "Call me, Harold." The first time I saw that ad, a phrase
came to my mind that I hadn't heard in fifty years: "All they
want is our white women." And if it came to my mind, it came
to a lot of people's minds. And that was just the point.

The fact is, you couldn't beat Harold Ford Jr. in a fair fight so
you decided to beat him however you could. You starting talking
on the stump about how he wasn't **really** from Tennessee, how he
wasn't **really** one of us. Who, exactly, did you mean by "us,"

That young man was **baptized** in a church in **Memphis**. If that
doesn't make him a "real Tennessean," perhaps you can tell us
just how you tell a real Tennessean when you see one.

You want to know what it means to be a **real** Tennessean? It
means to understand the words of our founding fathers: that **all**
men are created equal.

Mr. Corker, the difference between you and Harold Ford Jr. isn't
in the darkness of your skin. It's in the darkness of your heart.'

As of this writing, many Democrats are expressing tremendous enthusiasm
about Barack Obama in his running for the 2008 Democratic presidential
nomination. And rightly so: he has enormous charisma, all the nonverbal
behaviors that portend political success, and a first-rate intellect
combined with an ability to talk to people where they live. But
Obama, like every African-American candidate for Senate or president
in the near future, needs to study the tapes of the Ford-Corker
race, and study them well. The orchestrated campaign against Ford
was as psychologically sophisticated as it was racist, and it took
no time for Republicans to call attention to Obama's middle name:

The only way to put an end to ever more sophisticated versions of race
baiting is to understand it, to use the best available science to
counteract it, and most importantly, to put Republicans on notice
that they will pay for it.

Democrats failed to make Corker pay for it in 2006. But there's no
time like the present to turn **Corker** into a verb, as in "We're not
going to get Corkered again." Democrats should use to phrase so
frequently that it enters into popular political language.

No one wants **that** as his legacy. And no one deserves it more.

. . .

Fearful of talking about race, Democrats have failed repeatedly to
weave these facts into the only coherent story they actually tell:
that the leaders of the Republican Party think it's morally acceptable
to play on people's prejudices to win elections. . .