Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Just Because You Make it Up, Mr/Mrs. Wingnut, Doesn't Make it So...

Dedicated encounters with religious leaders are a routine thing for politicians. Sen. Obama took in a meeting with a Michigan imam while campaigning out there last week. Guess what? The right wing blogosphere goes berserk: all of a sudden it turns out Imam Hassan Qazwini is...

one of Hezbollah’s mos
t important imams and agents in America

an agent of the Iranian government,” who supports “Palestinian homicide bombings, HAMAS, and Hezbollah.”

And because Obama met with this imam, it “says a lot about the company Obama keeps…and why he shouldn’t be President,” according to wingnut Debbie Schlussel (which is kindly described as “the K-Mart version of Ann Coulter” by blogger Oliver Willis).
Tough spot for Sen. Obama. Except…

Imam Hassan Qazwini gave the opening prayer before Congress in 2003; met with this administration’s National Security Council concerning the toppling of Saddam Hussein; has been invited to the Bush White House about a half dozen times; was an active participant in the president’s Faith Based Initiative event held at the White House.

So, Bush shouldn’t be president since he associates with “one of Hezbollah’s most important imams and agents in America ,” “an agent of the Iranian government,” who supports
Palestinian homicide bombings, HAMAS, and Hezbollah?” What does that say about him?

How dare you?!” say the wingnuts.

Um, well…


That's Imam Hassan Qazwini on the right.

Wait, it gets better...


Yup.

People, every day the wingnuts pull “facts” out of their asses and think that if they recite them loudly and forcibly enough, we’ll believe them to be true. Or that we’ll forget they’re coming from a criminal hypocrite. (I’m looking at you, Oliver North.) Just like the L.A. talk radio host, Kevin James (not the comedian), who appearing on MSNBC’s Hardball last week, called Obama a ‘terrorist appeaser’ and thus compared the senator to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Of course, when host Chris Matthews called him on it, we discovered Kevin James had no idea what Chamberlain did or who he was. Why let truth or knowledge get in the way of a good propaganda smear?

How ‘bout William Kristol’s column in the NY Times stating that Obama had no chance to get the Dems’ nomination since no candidate who had lost a state primary by such a wide margin as Obama did in West Virginia—41 points—had, in recent times become a party’s presidential candidate. Hmmm…didn’t McCain get trounced earlier this year by 85 points in Utah and 41 points in Colorado by Mitt Romney, and again by 41 points by Mike Huckabee in Arkansas ?

That’s why the Obama campaign has to be vigilant and confront these clowns immediately and swiftly with catchy sound bites—my new favorite is ‘John W. McCain’—that both sucker punches them in the gut and gets the point across to the masses. That’s what I’m talking about.

[Photos courtesy of
OliverWillis.com]

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mess with the Bull

Since the late ‘70s when my parents moved my brother and I from the Bronx to their native country, my mother and late father were closely involved in local politics. I routinely heard them passionately discuss the cynicism, the hypocrisy, the strange bedfellows and alliances, but most importantly the foul nature of politics itself. (And once I was old enough I joined in on these conversations, as well, for baseball and politics are the great pastimes of the homeland and my parents loved both.) Taking in all of these conversations and watching local events unfold, this is the lesson I’ve taken most to heart: politics is dirty, so be an inspiring statesman once in office, but on the road there break every arm you need to, ‘cause they won’t think twice about breaking yours.

This has been on my mind quite a bit lately; since I am an Obama supporter who fears his candidate may in fact make the critical mistake of taking the supposed high road and waging a mostly positive campaign that, in the end, will have us uttering these dreaded two words: President McCain. [shudder]

Remember how the Democrats decided that for their 2004 convention they would “go positive” because that’s what, allegedly, the American people wanted to hear? The Republicans, on the other hand, came to New York, used the tragedy of September 11th, as both a literal and figurative backdrop for cheap political gain, and hit the Dems hard and nasty. We all know how that election turned out.
But fast forward four years and within the ranks of the Democratic Party itself. Take the Clintons, for example. Everyone knows they play for keeps. They know it’s a dirty business and that it’s the only way to win elections. (Nice guys don’t win playing nice; Jimmy Carter being the lone exception.) They don’t even care about the potential for forever alienating their most loyal constituency, African-Americans, with this kind of race-baiting:

"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said. As evidence, [Sen.] Clinton cited an Associated Press article that she said "found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

Nice. Classy dame. Say what you will but she knows what the deal is. And that’s the only reason I would feel comfortable with her as the Dem nominee: she probably wouldn’t win, but at the end of the campaign, Sen. McCain would be one of the most blood-soaked president-elects in the history of the United States . I don’t get a feel for that same level of offense for Sen. Obama. We don’t need a more charismatic John Kerry, what we need is a brawler. He can revert to high-mindedness and fair play once the address on his business card reads 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Meanwhile, Sen. McCain, a paragon of virtue if I ever saw one, has been lumping Sen. Obama in with the likes of Hamas, publicly on the The Daily Show and semi-privately by way of his campaign literature mailings:
Barack Obama's foreign policy plans have even won him praise from Hamas leaders. Ahmed Yousef, chief political adviser to the Hamas Prime Minister said, ‘We like Mr. Obama and we hope he will win the election. He has a vision to change America.’
We need change in America, but not the kind of change that wins kind words from Hamas, surrenders in Iraq and will hold unconditional talks with Iranian President Ahmadinejad
.”

To which the senator from Illinois responded:

For him to toss out comments like that, I think, is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination.”

This got the McCain camp whining and accusing Obama of using “the age card”. Yeah, well, so what? You think the race and ‘Hussein’ cards won’t be vigorously flashed in the upcoming months left in this race? More of this kind of defense and, more importantly, a pointed offense is what Obama needs to give himself a fighting chance. The audacity of hope only gets you so far.

Which is why I’m worried. But I need not be. Yes, Clinton is waiting or fabricating another ‘gotcha’ moment for Obama, as her above statement indicates. But she’s on the ropes and hopefully she’s done her worst damage to him already (feeding Rev. Wright to the media). And McCain is easily beatable. Yes, easily beatable. He has one thing, and one thing only in his favor: that in the end, regardless of multiple defining criteria, a majority of the American people may favor an old white man over a young black man. Period. If that can be neutralized or diminished somehow, the laundry list of his crucial blunders, ineptitude-bearing gaffes, galling hypocrisies, flat out lies, and two, yes, hate-mongering, paranoid pastors he has yet to disown, make him a very easy target.
But this is if, and let me reiterate, IF Obama steps up and hammers him like a candy starved, red-headed stepchild going after a piƱata. Otherwise…