Getting Ugly Out There
From the Huffington Post:
Earlier on Friday, Barack Obama had criticized John McCain recent campaign appearance saying it was "easy to rile up a crowd by stoking anger and division."
"I think that folks are looking for something different," he said. "But that's not what we need right now in the United States. The times are too serious."
In responding to this charge, Rogers attempted to deliberate simplify and obscure some of the rhetoric that has recently come from McCain supporters. Videos taken of people heading into McCain-Palin rallies have shown individuals who label Barack Obama as a terrorist, a communist and a threat to the well-being of the country. At a town hall meeting in Wisconsin on Thursday, several attendees urged the Republican nominee to attack his opponent on the Ayers issue and Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who McCain himself has said should be off limits.
The rabid nature of the scene has startled longtime political observers and even former associates of McCain himself.
John Weaver, the Senator's former top strategist, has said McCain is making a tactical mistake by letting abusive hecklers have their voices heard during his forums. David Gergen, a longtime Washington strategist, has warned that the rhetoric from these attendees could "lead to some violence."
Veteran Republican Congressman Ray LaHood criticized Sarah Palin in particular, saying her rhetoric did not "befit the office she's running for."
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney denounced the recent campaign stops as dangerous and expressed alarm that the top of the Republican ticket would not protest the crowd's language.
"Sen. John McCain, Gov. Sarah Palin and the leadership of the Republican party have a fundamental moral responsibility to denounce the violent rhetoric that has pervaded recent McCain and Palin political rallies. When rally attendees shout out such attacks as "terrorist" or "kill him" about Sen. Barack Obama, when they are cheered on by crowds incited by McCain-Palin rhetoric -- it is chilling that McCain and Palin do nothing to object."
Veteran reporter Dan Balz has opined that "McCain's tactics are over the line, with no restraint in sight, and threaten to provoke reactions among partisans on both sides that will continue to escalate."
And Frank Schaeffer penned a solemn and critical column (first published in the Baltimore Sun) personally addressed to McCain himself: "If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as "not one of us," I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence."
McCain, through Rogers' statement, is gambling that the voices of caution don't matter as much as the sentiments of the people. But he is also implicitly arguing that even the vilest rhetoric sent Obama's way is fair game when chalked up to concerns about the Illinois Democrat's past associations and judgments. And he's acknowledging that he won't lift a finger to dissuade the raging tempers.
The McCainRaisers and Palinistas are egged on by their leaders, who encourage the "Hussein" and "traitor" catcalls. Who do nothing to stop people yelling "Kill him!" Who appeal to the very lowest and stupidest hicks among us to be no better, indeed, worse, than their nastiest fears and fantasies.
And then they accuse OBAMA of lying and dividing? I think not, my friends. And I guarantee that afterwards, when we're all watching the inauguration of President Obama, they will wonder where it was they went so very, very wrong.