The Republicans—or maybe I mean the right-wing faction of the Republican Party that has controlled it for so many years and now seems to be extending its control into McCain’s campaign—believe, as I’ve said before, in the power of “the big lie” technique of propaganda, if not originated certainly perfected by the Nazis and Soviet Communists.
They know from experience that if you make a lie outrageous enough—that is, so obviously untrue it seems counterintuitive—and repeat it often enough, most people will begin to accept it as truth. Especially most people in the media, and especially those media outlets controlled by corporations whose interests are often served by these lies.
So here are three more or less recently promulgated lies that have been getting the right-wing repetitive onslaught treatment that makes it clear this is no accident, and which need to be countered by Democrats much more clearly, simply, and repetitively than they are doing so far.
1. IT’S THE DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS FAULT
After totally controlling the executive branch for the past seven years, and congress for six of those seven, and still holding enough seats in the Senate to block any legislature they want to, Republicans and their right-wing media spokespeople and outlets are now repeating the charge that our country’s problems are the result of a “Democratic Congress” which has “failed to do anything” to redress these problems.
This is obviously false. First of all, during the years when the Republicans (controlled by their right-wing) totally controlled our government, no energy plan was passed that addressed our dependence on foreign oil, nor the causes for the rise in gas prices and therefore food and close to everything else, which was a direct result of the policies put into effect by Junior’s administration and rubber stamped by a Congress controlled by his party, including the ill-advised invasion of Iraq.
The mistakes and crimes committed by Republicans during Junior’s tenure are too numerous to even list (it would take days just to type the list up), but the top ones including the invasion of Iraq and the policies set in motion there after the invasion, as well as the response to Katrina and the unrest and corruption in Nigeria (where ten percent of our oil comes from, and the “sweetest” ten per cent, in oil quality terms) and climate change and incompetence among political appointees of this regime, etc. are exactly what the Democrats have been attempting to redress.
The Democrats in the Congress have introduced numerous bills to counteract many of these mistakes and deliberate crimes, but have managed to get only a few through, including the recent Democratic Senator Webb sponsored G. I. Bill for Iraqi veterans (passed despite McCain’s and Junior’s objections and the latter’s threat to veto it, because it got enough other Republican support from politicians afraid to be linked with keeping benefits from Iraqi veterans) and extending unemployment benefits during this supposed “downturn” that to many has been a recession for a while and for many others is already a depression. They’ve also passed legislation addressing the housing mortgage crisis, the flood damage crisis, etc.
The political possibilities, given the narrowest of margins by which the Democrats are a majority in the Senate, makes it impossible to pass any laws that the Republicans set out to block, and therefore, any legislation passed has to be truly bi-partisan, so these accomplishments and more are a sign of a major difference between the formerly Republican controlled Congress and executive branch that caused many of the problems and the Democratic majority one that is attempting to solve those problems.
2. BARACK OBAMA IS JUST ANOTHER POLITICIAN
Because he opted out of federal financing for his campaign in favor of private financing from millions of small contributors and hundreds, maybe thousands of big contributors, and has seemed to veer toward the center now that the primary season is over, Republicans are painting Obama as “just another typical politician” and McCain as anything but.
The fallacy in this one is equally obvious, but people are easily fooled. The main issue that brought Obama to the general public’s attention is the war in Iraq. Just go back and read the speech he made before the invasion to see how prescient he was. (I should have a link here but I’m not that techno adept to find it quickly or even figure out how to find it exactly.)
He predicted what would happen. And it did. That’s the kind of judgment he’s running on, and still is. He has been totally honest about the problems of getting out of Iraq easily, but at least he is focusing on ways to do it rather than defending ways to stay in, as McCain is.
And as one of the three or four most important issues facing this country, the fact that Obama has remained consistent on this one while McCain has been all over the map in the years since the invasion, demonstrates Obama’s NOT being your typical politician, no matter how the right parses every phrase Obama utters as an indication of shifts in policy and the media responds with its usual Pavlovian response.
In terms of any other major policy shifts, Obama hasn’t made any. He has always said he would pick what he thought were the best ideas for resolving problems, no matter whether they came from Republicans or Democrats or Independents or elsewhere. And whether you agree with his recent speech about keeping an altered form of Junior’s initiative to use faith-based organizations to address local problems, there isn’t anything in Obama’s proposal that counteracts anything he’s said before either about his faith or about local organizing.
That may offend some of Obama’s fans, who have a knee jerk reaction to anything involving religious organizations because of the biases of many of those organizations toward homosexuality or other religions etc., but what Obama has made clear, unlike any other politician, is that there are no short term solutions to the economic and health system problems either created by or made much worse since the 2000 complete Republican takeover of the government, and if local faith-based groups can be useful in bringing people some quicker relief, they should be used.
As for the rest of the petty hectoring of Obama’s policy stances, whether stated or implied or made up entirely by the right, the main thing is what I mentioned above, that he continues to be refreshingly honest about the possibilities of actual solutions being achieved rapidly or not, and with or without bi-partisan participation and/or compromise where necessary.
Do I agree with everything he’s saying? Not necessarily, but I haven’t heard anything yet that contradicts the new reality he brought into the public arena with that speech he made at the last Democratic presidential nominating convention in 2004, the reality of ending the blue-red divide, the control of government by extremists (in this case right-wing ones beholden to oil interests etc.) who fuel that divide, and the disputes of the 1960s that no longer apply.
That’s what he said he stood for, and he still does, and I think has been proving it in every speech he makes and every position he takes on the issues.
3. OBAMA IS AN ELITIST
I’m sure you’ve all heard or read by now about Carl Rove’s depiction of Obama as the kind of guy who leans on the wall at the country club dance with a hot date on his arm making fun of the rest of us! I know I know, how could anyone fall for that amazingly impossible scenario (the country club in the town I live in now wouldn’t even allow Catholics into it when my older siblings were kids, let alone Jews and Blacks and Asians etc.)?
Some have tried to parse Rove’s statement as secretly racist, implying that Obama would be the guy in that club who is married but is out on a “date” with someone not his wife, etc. A little too complicated and subtle for most I think, not exactly as blatant as that right-wing ad that hurt the Tennessee “black” candidate (Ford) with a white blonde looking into the camera and telling the happily married Ford to call her.
I think the real implication from pudgy, bald, Porky Pig looking Rove, is that because Obama is slim and handsome and has enormous charisma for people of all races and genders, he must think he’s superior and look down on the rest of us.
It was always part of the right’s undisguised envy as well as anger toward the Kennedys, from JFK to Ted. These are not only handsome, physically fit (until recent years for Ted) and highly attractive people, they’re also obviously really smart and articulate and successful, which undermines many of the basic tenets of the right (whose history includes the idea that the Irish were drunken dumb Papist cultists etc. and blacks were lazy shiftless un-ambitious sensualists—just look up the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Renquist’s early statements, and other Republican politicians over the past few decades).
But most objectionable to the upper echelons of the right, is that Obama has proven one of their basic tenets, that “anyone can succeed in America” through hard work and good character, but that success has not made him forget his roots, any of them, nor have to fake them (ala Junior’s cowboy jive) and obviously that’s a tenet they only subscribe to if the success means money and the person achieving it credits their own initiative or the opportunities in the corporate America “free” enterprise system rather than in community organizing, scholarship, diversity and Democratic Party ideals.
I just hope that the media’s lack of scrutiny of McCain’s regular guy style, as well as of his record, personal and political, doesn’t lead to voters buying McCain’s regular (old) guy image and the “Obama elite” charge as they did the Junior’s just a Texas good ole boy and Kerry the spoiled brat charge (when of course Junior was the spoiled brat and Kerry was the overachieving come from less success story).
Because, let’s face it, Obama has much more in common with almost all of us, than McCain has with almost any of us. Even those who made a branch of the service the focus of their early life and getting elected to and staying in the Senate the focus of the rest of their lives so far, never had the advantage of entering that service as the son of one of the most prominent of its elite, and then leaving the wife who had seen him through his early struggles when she was in need to marry a younger heiress whose worth is estimated at 100 million.
John McCain has no experience of what it is like or ever has been like for the rest of us, (as we will hopefully never have to endure what he experienced as a P.O.W.), but Obama does. That’s the message his camp needs to make clear and get out repeatedly. A lot clearer than I’m afraid I just did.