Yesterday I received an emailed article which encapsulates just about every criticism thrown at Barack Obama by an increasingly desperate right wing.
I was tempted to send back a two-word response: “Double-barreled bullsh*t!”
Then, some words kept running through my head, words spoken by Michael Douglas in Rob Reiner’s “The American President:”
“We've got serious problems, and we need serious people, and if you want to talk about character, Bob, you'd better come at me … “
Here, then, is the article, followed by my response. Well, mine and those of 18 conservatives.
The Obama Temptation
by Mark R. Levin, right-wing radio talk show host, 25 October 2008 (LINK)
I've been thinking this for a while so I might as well air it here. I honestly never thought we'd see such a thing in our country - not yet anyway - but I sense what's occurring in this election is a recklessness and abandonment of rationality that has preceded the voluntary surrender of liberty and security in other places. I can't help but observe that even some conservatives are caught in the moment as their attempts at explaining their support for Barack Obama are unpersuasive and even illogical. And the pull appears to be rather strong. Ken Adelman, Doug Kmiec and others reach for the usual platitudes in explaining themselves but are utterly incoherent. Even non-conservatives with significant public policy and real world experiences, such as Colin Powell and Charles Fried, find Obama alluring but can't explain themselves in an intelligent way. (BJ: See Colin Powell’s explanation on my post, “What Powell said,” LINK)
There is a cult-like atmosphere around Barack Obama, which his campaign has carefully and successfully fabricated, which concerns me. The messiah complex. Fainting audience members at rallies. Special Obama flags and an Obama presidential seal. A graphic with the portrayal of the globe and Obama's name on it, which adorns everything from Obama's plane to his street literature. Young school children singing songs praising Obama. Teenagers wearing camouflage outfits and marching in military order chanting Obama's name and the professions he is going to open to them. An Obama world tour, culminating in a speech in Berlin where Obama proclaims we are all citizens of the world. I dare say, this is ominous stuff.
Even the media are drawn to the allure that is Obama. Yes, the media are liberal. Even so, it is obvious that this election is different. The media are open and brazen in their attempts to influence the outcome of this election. I've never seen anything like it. Virtually all evidence of Obama's past influences and radicalism — from Jeremiah Wright to William Ayers — have been raised by non-traditional news sources. The media's role has been to ignore it as long as possible, then mention it if they must, and finally dismiss it and those who raise it in the first place. It's as if the media use the Obama campaign's talking points — its preposterous assertions that Obama didn't hear Wright from the pulpit railing about black liberation, whites, Jews, etc., that Obama had no idea Ayers was a domestic terrorist despite their close political, social and working relationship, etc. — to protect Obama from legitimate and routine scrutiny. And because journalists have also become commentators, it is hard to miss their almost uniform admiration for Obama and excitement about an Obama presidency. So in the tank are the media for Obama that for months we've read news stories and opinion pieces insisting that if Obama is not elected president it will be due to white racism. And, of course, while experience is crucial in assessing Sarah Palin's qualifications for vice president, no such standard is applied to Obama's qualifications for president. (No longer is it acceptable to minimize the work of a community organizer.) Charles Gibson and Katie Couric sought to humiliate Palin. They would never and have never tried such an approach with Obama.
But beyond the elites and the media, my greatest concern is whether this election will show a majority of the voters susceptible to the appeal of a charismatic demagogue. This may seem a harsh term to some, and no doubt will to Obama supporters, but it is a perfectly appropriate characterization. Obama's entire campaign is built on class warfare and human envy. The "change" he peddles is not new. We've seen it before. It is change that diminishes individual liberty for the soft authoritarianism of socialism. It is a populist appeal that disguises government mandated wealth redistribution as tax cuts for the middle class, falsely blames capitalism for the social policies and government corruption (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) that led to the current turmoil in our financial markets, fuels contempt for commerce and trade by stigmatizing those who run successful small and large businesses, and exploits human imperfection as a justification for a massive expansion of centralized government. Obama's appeal to the middle class is an appeal to the "the proletariat," as an infamous philosopher once described it, about which a mythology has been created. Rather than pursue the American Dream, he insists that the American Dream has arbitrary limits, limits Obama would set for the rest of us — today it's $250,000 for businesses and even less for individuals. If the individual dares to succeed beyond the limits set by Obama, he is punished for he's now officially "rich." The value of his physical and intellectual labor must be confiscated in greater amounts for the good of the proletariat (the middle class). And so it is that the middle class, the birth-child of capitalism, is both celebrated and enslaved — for its own good and the greater good. The "hope" Obama represents, therefore, is not hope at all. It is the misery of his utopianism imposed on the individual.
Unlike past Democrat presidential candidates, Obama is a hardened ideologue. He's not interested in playing around the edges. He seeks "fundamental change," i.e., to remake society. And if the Democrats control Congress with super-majorities led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, he will get much of what he demands.
The question is whether enough Americans understand what's at stake in this election and, if they do, whether they care. Is the allure of a charismatic demagogue so strong that the usually sober American people are willing to risk an Obama presidency? After all, it ensnared Adelman, Kmiec, Powell, Fried and numerous others. And while America will certainly survive, it will do so, in many respects, as a different place. –End-
I just read the article you sent. This just scares you to death, doesn’t it? That is what it aims to do. That is the purpose of such propaganda. This is desperation from a political party whose own members admit has practically run this nation into the ground – financially, diplomatically and morally.
The right-wing blogosphere is permeated with this Mark R. Levin article, which, as planned, targets both the ignorant and the innocent.
The ignorant do not think for themselves, fact-check unsigned and undocumented claims or bother to keep abreast with what is going on in the government of this nation. They are happy to let Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter or Sean Hannity do it for them.
The innocent, unlike me, are just too busy with their own lives, their jobs, their families, to spend their waking hours just trying to keep up with the multilayered scandals manifested in the current administration. I am happy to do it for them.
Sadly, the article will find an audience. The good news is the audience it will find – and it is posted across the Web - is among the 25 percent of Americans who STILL think George W. Bush is doing a good job (Gallup, October 2008, LINK). This core constituency will vote for McCain-Palin no matter what the platforms of either party.
So, this piece of propaganda is not going to affect the outcome of this election.
This is merely a way to deflect the fact that intelligent persons who are very much aware of what is going on in America and in our government are, in great numbers, supporting Barack Obama. This includes many able members of the Republican Party and many right-wing thinkers.
I am not swayed by such propaganda. Don’t you think after eight years of dedicated research and objective thinking, of examining the performance of the current administration and the path the Republican Party has taken, I am capable of deciding the leadership which is best for this country?
Let me scare you. Ask yourself if you really are a conservative, for the path the Republican Party has taken over the last eight years has absolutely nothing to do with traditional conservatism.
I do not always agree with that most outspoken conservative Pat Buchanan, but I respect his strength of conviction and his love for this country. Buchanan, in his The American Conservative magazine, has this to say about conservatism as it has evolved in the Republican Party:
"The conservative movement has been hijacked and turned into a globalist interventionist, open-borders ideology, which is not the conservative movement I grew up with."
Buchanan is joined by an ever-growing cadre of conservatives who are disenchanted with the Republican Party and our current president, particularly in the area of fiscal responsibility.
The cover story in the November 3, 2008, issue of Buchanan’s The American Conservative magazine is titled “The Right Choice?” (LINK) Quoting the “lede” of the story:
“Traditional conservatives have no clear favorite in the November election. Is there a lesser evil? Should we vote third party? Would we be better off just staying home? TAC asked 18 conservatives, libertarians and independent thinkers how they plan to vote and why.”
I have read the 18 responders’ statements – they are both brief and enlightening - and if you want a true picture of what’s at stake in this election, I recommend you read them, too. What is an hour of your time when it comes to making “The Right Choice?” (LINK TO STATEMENTS)
Of the 18 persons:
6 will vote “third party.”
4 say they will not vote.
3 will vote for John McCain.
5 will vote for Barack Obama.
All 18 right-wing contributors hold in disdain both the Bush administration and John McCain. Most said Barack Obama is “the lesser of two evils.”
Of the three who are voting for John McCain, here’s what two had to say about their vote:
“An exercise in futility.”
“A better writer said of a charmless woman that rousing any affection for her would be like ‘smoking an unlit cigar, walking a dead dog, swimming in an empty pool, or listening to the radio when it is off.’ The same goes for the Republican nominee. When John McCain appears on screen, all vacant grin and Eeyore cadence, I reach for the mute button. I hate his wars. I don’t trust his maverick pose. When he says ‘my friends,’ he doesn’t mean me. But, I am voting for him.” This woman calls her vote “damage control” against what she believes will be a sweeping victory for Democrats in Congress.
Of the four who say they will not vote on Nov. 4, one quoted a character from Richard Linklater’s “Slacker:”
“Withdrawing in disgust is not the same thing as apathy.”
In conclusion, if the article you sent me scares you, let me frighten the hell out you. The article is the product of right-wing desperation: the inability to stand on its merits.
In the eight years of the Bush presidency – six of which saw a Republican majority in both the House and Senate – this country has been in a downward spiral – a far cry from the country you grew up in, or the country you expect your grandchildren to grow up in. A vote for McCain-Palin is a guarantee that the policies which brought about this decline will continue.
That is why Barack Obama’s message of “change” is resonating across America, and that is why the core right-wing, Palin and McCain are fighting him nail and tooth with all they have to offer – an unprecedented smear campaign.
Just a few days ago I posted an essay, “How to Detect Propaganda.” (LINK) It is important to point out here that the devices of propaganda are not only rampant in the above article, but appeared throughout Obama’s 30-minute TV appeal last night. Propaganda, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. It is the “predetermined ends” it seeks to accomplish, which should be examined, and those ends can be either good or evil. The essay equips you to know the difference.
In my opinion, Obama’s message for this country appeals to our better selves.
Will the smears against Obama stick? Maybe, if voters do not take the time to fact-check them.
But, don’t take my word for it. Your vote is your American birthright. It is both a duty and a privilege. Some time in the remaining days before you vote, spend an hour or so reading what 18 of your fellow right-wing Americans have to say about the McCain-Palin ticket: LINK