Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

All Aboard the Hate Talk Express: Updated

For months we’ve been rightly warned that the only hope for the Rovian styled McCain campaign was to paint Barack Obama as an ‘angry black man’.

I see the charged comments about ‘palling with terrorists’, Ayers, not being a ‘real American’  as deeply offensive, but above all provocative. They want to provoke Obama. They want him to respond angrily, and then they can say he’s played the race card first, and thereby remind the electorate he is black, black, black and potentially angry.

Now we all know what happened yesterday

John Lewis, respected civil rights leader and apparently one of McCain’s heroes, wrote an impassioned piece for Politico this morning decrying the tone of the campaign, and reminding us of how violent words incite violent actions. I’m sure you’ve read it by now, but the sharpest point was this:

As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all.  They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy.

Faced with such a trenchant criticism, what did McCain do? Did he try to tamp down the smouldering flames of hatred, or did he pour gasoline on them?

Congressman John Lewis’ comments represent a character attack against Governor Sarah Palin and me that is shocking and beyond the pale. I am saddened that John Lewis, a man I’ve always admired, would make such a brazen and baseless attack on my character and the character of the thousands of hardworking Americans who come to our events to cheer for the kind of reform that will put America on the right track.

I call on Senator Obama to immediately and personally repudiate these outrageous and divisive comments that are so clearly designed to shut down debate 24 days before the election.

To me this is pure Rove: blame the victim. Use any opportunity, even the historically explosive background of racial politics, to play the ‘who played the race card first game’.

So how can Obama respond? He knows Lewis has justice, history and personal experience on his side. He also knows from 16 years of elected political office how Republican strategists like nothing better than to turn elections into a polarising race and culture wars.

Given the box the Republicans are trying to put the campaign in, Bill Burton’s job was near impossible.

Senator Obama does not believe that John McCain or his policy criticism is in any way comparable to George Wallace or his segregationist policies.  But John Lewis was right to condemn some of the hateful rhetoric that John McCain himself personally rebuked just last night, as well as the baseless and profoundly irresponsible charges from his own running mate that the Democratic nominee for President of the United States ‘pals around with terrorists.’  As Barack Obama has said himself, the last thing we need from either party is the kind of angry, divisive rhetoric that tears us apart at a time of crisis when we desperately need to come together.

To me, this is oil on troubled waters, water on incipient flames. But what else could he have said?

UPDATE: thanks for the frontpage, but it looks like this attempt to distract us from the credit crunch and McCain’s impetuous campaign hasn’t really gone anywhere. The primary wars explored so many of these issues, they’ve lost a lot of traction now. And most democrats understand the constraints on Obama’s campaign.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vigilant. Next week we should be prepared for the rollout of the Reverend Wright Videos.

Meanwhile, here’s the New York State ‘Barack Osama’ ballot

[poll id=”




  1. rfahey22

    essentially, they agreed with Lewis without going to the trouble of comparing McCain to Wallace.  If that isn’t enough for McCain, he can keep whining about it for the next 25 days.  I don’t want to mention a certain four-wheeled object, but it’s time that we stood up for fellow Democrats and against the Republicans.  There have been too many Democratic casualties.

  2. McCain ‘Jumped the Shark’ when he allowed Palin to be his running mate.
    At this point I believe he is torn between restoring what honor he may have left (and his future as a senator) and continuing the fight the fringe of his Party wants him to fight.

    The next few weeks will tell us whether McCain decides to go the way of O.J. or be the Man he claims to be.

  3. NavyBlueWife

    but perhaps they are counting on massive polling errors? or at least using this language to play on this effect…

    i’ll leave that to the polling gurus on this site…

    i don’t know what would be worse…mccain winning because of “family values” or mccain winning because of latent racism…

  4. alyssa chaos

    the key part is where Bill Burton mentions

    But John Lewis was right to condemn some of the hateful rhetoric that John McCain himself personally rebuked just last night,

    That part is key because it justifies the rebuking by Lewis, if McCain did it first.  

    The tone of the response it stern but not angry so Im gonna categorize this in the ‘success’ section.

Comments are closed.