Heating up

i-49c4aeccda44bda923d3ef70fcd5a841-SeussCoughlin.jpgShorter John McCain:

Barack Obama is the “biggest celebrity in the world, but I don’t know “who is the real Barack Obama.”

John McCain is dishonest and dishonorable, and he is now crossing into truly dangerous territory.

In response to McCain’s own incitement, his audiences are crossing further and further into violent and eliminationist rhetoric. In response to McCain’s leading and dishonest question “Who is the real Barack Obama?,” an audience member shouted out “a terrorist.” At a Palin rally, the audience responded to Obama’s name by calling out “treason,” and later called out “Kill him!” At another event, a description of Obama’s tax policy was greeted with cries of “traitor.” At a townhall meeting in Wisconsin, an audience member “blasted the ‘socialists taking over our country’ and referred to Obama and Nancy Pelosi as ‘hooligans.’ McCain didn’t utter one syllable of objection. In fact, he nodded bemusedly at the ‘socialist’ mention. And at the end of the man’s rant, McCain said that the man was ‘right.'”

At a rally for Georgia’s incumbent Republican Senator, Saxby Chambliss, a mention of Obama was met with boos and an audience member’s demand to “bomb Obama.” The Pennsylvania Republican Party sent out a press release with the title “PAGOP: OBAMA ? A TERRORIST’S BEST FRIEND.”
The Secret Service is investigating the reports of calls to kill Obama, treating them as legitimate threats against their protectee. And the fault for these calls to violence rests squarely on the shoulders of John McCain. Josh Marshall is right to compare this rhetoric to that of Father Coughlin, an antisemitic fascist from John McCain’s childhood, who had a popular radio show in the ’30s where he praised the work of Hitler and Mussolini. His newspaper republished the classic anti-Semitic hoax The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and he founded a group called the Christian Front, which the FBI shut down in 1940. J. Edgar Hoover explained the raid, saying that “The Christian Front was planning to murder Jews, communists and a dozen Congressmen. ? They advocated a dictatorship, similar to the Hitler dictatorship in Germany.” The cartoon above is Dr. Seuss’s take of Coughlin’s propaganda.

A few members of the press are seeing the danger here. David Gergen worries that this will lead to violence, and wonders why McCain and Palin haven’t reined in their followers. Joe Klein writes that “We are on the edge of some real serious craziness here and it would be nice if McCain did the right thing and told his more bloodthirsty supporters to go home and take a cold shower.”

But it hasn’t happened yet. And the situation is escalating. The Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank reports:

Palin’s routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric’s questions for her “less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media.” At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, “Sit down, boy.”

The epithet was, apparently, “uppity negro,” though I wonder how that last word was pronounced.

This is bad news, and will only get worse, unless McCain and Palin display some sort of leadership. And if they can’t do that now, how can they possibly do it in office?


  1. #1 bumblebrain
    October 10, 2008

    I’m not sure if you’ve seen this clip of Senator McCain telling a crowd there is no reason to fear Senator Obama, but my respect for Senator McCain just went up considerably. I am not sure his assurances did anything to calm fears, anger and prejudice, but I’m glad he said something about it. I won’t be voting for him, but I do believe that if he won, we’ll survive just as we’ve survived the Bush years. I hope that Republican supporters can come to that realization as well, about Senator Obama (although I also think the crowd’s reaction did nothing to feed that hope).

  2. #2 Becca
    October 10, 2008

    Why aren’t Palin and McCain being tried for hate crimes or insight to riot right now?
    This is illegal and just plain evil.

  3. #3 Coturnix
    October 10, 2008

    It may be too late, but someone told McCain to tone it down.

  4. #4 Bert Chadick
    October 10, 2008

    Wow! Dr. Seuss drew editorial cartoons! Way cool.

    Note: The Freeper wingnuts are organizing a crash of a Biden event in Florida.

  5. #5 a lurker
    October 10, 2008

    “Wow! Dr. Seuss drew editorial cartoons! Way cool.”

    I saw a book of them once. If memory serves correctly one had a bit on war industry manpower shortages with a “No negros allowed” sign in front. He was consistently attacking racism long before it was “cool” to do so.

    Googling I find: Web site with some of his cartoons. And this was probably the book I saw: Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel. I put in a NCSE tag in the Amazon link in case anyone wants to buy it.

  6. #6 Paul Lamb
    October 11, 2008

    I think John McCain is only now speaking against the hate speech of his followers because the negativity of his campaign is costing him points in the polls (not that he has a chance anymore). Why didn’t he speak up weeks ago when all of this started? And will Palin get reined in or will McCain talk nice while she gets to continue stoking the fires of hate?

    John McCain has not gone up one inch in my esteem.

  7. #7 Art
    October 11, 2008

    I would read both more and less into McCain’s telling there a crowd he respects Obama and there is no reason to fear him.

    If someone spends a month screaming at the top of their rhetorical lungs ‘dog whistle’ phrases and associating every alarmist fear of the audience with Obama and then turns around and calmly whispers these calming phrases it is easy to understand which gesture is going to stick and be remembered.

    It seems to me that it is a very cynical move to drive your followers into a raging, violent froth and then to, at the last second, make sure your on the record telling them not to fear him and how he has McCain’s respect. Lead pipe cinch that if anyone attacks Obama McCain will cite this as proof he had nothing to do with it. He will then, in true Rovian form, claim that what drove his followers mad and inspired violence was Obama’s relatively mild attack ads and his ‘well known friendship’ with an America hating terrorist.

    I would like to see McCain as a honorable man who is just a little too desperate to win and a little too far out of his depth to have thought all this through so he has, almost by accident, slid into playing dirty. But in my experience it is simply impossible to be too cynical when dealing with the GOP noise making and manure tossing machine. Every time they make some gesture moderating the rhetoric and backing off the smears it has only been a flourish intended highlight their next, even more outrageous, assault.