Saturday, March 15, 2008

Political Chicken Wire

Last week I was taking a bag of clothes to the thrift store and inadvertently drove over some chicken wire lying in an alley at the side of the store. There was a terrible sound and the car wouldn't drive properly. Not knowing what had happened, my inner panic button went off and I jumped out to see what the hell was going on. The problem was resolved a few minutes later with the help of a nice lad from the store, who came to the rescue and untangled the wire from underneath the belly of the car, but not before my blood pressure had shot way up! The image of being tangled up in chicken wire has stuck in my brain all week long, as I've watched the unfolding of political events this week, and I find myself experiencing similar feelings of generalized panic all over again.

Those of us who see Obama as our one chance for getting rid of the strangling chicken wire of "old politics" have worried plenty that if he were to be elected, he could get shot, but I think we were not quite prepared for the opportunistic and disgusting spectacle of seeing him symbolically shot down by his own camp--that is, by another Democrat, Hillary Rodham Clinton, over this past week. Then there is the matter of "the surge is working," John McCain's insidious mantra to election success. It's another real reason to panic because, just in case you don't already know this, John McCain, as Pat Buchanan has said, "will make Cheney look like Gandhi."

In what follows, I offer up some snippets of chicken wire from the blogosphere this week: it's no fun feeling panicky all alone.

from Arianna Huffington:

The idea that the surge is working and that the U.S. is making progress -- the self-declared make or break issue of John McCain's candidacy -- is taking hold with the public. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that nearly half of Americans -- 48 percent -- believe that the military effort in Iraq is "going well." This is an 18 percent jump from a year ago. Along with the White House and McCain, who pounds the "surge is working" drum at almost every campaign stop, we can thank the media for much of this shift. Over the last seven months, there has been a massive 80 percent reduction in the amount of coverage devoted to the war. And this lack of attention has taken a profound toll: a new study found that public awareness of U.S. deaths in Iraq has plummeted since August 2007, when 54 percent of the public was able to say how many American soldiers had been killed in the war. Now, just 28 percent are aware that the death count is about to reach 4,000. Chilling. So McCain and the White House PR machine are able to promote the myth of success in Iraq without much pushback from the media. Or from Democrats....

There is one area, however, where the surge has been a resounding success: it has succeeded in seriously damaging the capabilities of the U.S. military. Extended tours, abbreviated stints back home between deployments, stop-loss orders, lowered recruitment standards, declining sign-ups, 158,000 troops in Iraq, another 28,000 in Afghanistan, depleted equipment, vets' families coming apart at the seams, and even 121 returning soldiers being arrested for murder. It's a recipe for a military meltdown.

from Lynda Obst:

What I saw that ugly week with Tex/Ohio, was a woman [HRC] yelling, shrieking, mocking, changing her strategy every day. I can understand the desperation, but I can't understand smart women mistaking that for strength. When she said shame on you, I was ashamed. Does that make me a sexist? Since I am her peer and a woman? No, I wanted her to be strong but consistent, not lose her cool at 3 a.m. The way Senator Obama had behaved all week.

And now she is the killer of Hope. (It was just too delusional to manage). We are not that multi-racial post-oppression society that shocked the world and for a moment was its wonder. We are, thanks to Hillary's kitchen sink and staff, the same old America they thought we were. The racially charged, fractured America Bush & Rush left us with that Obama has the prescription to heal. The one that attracted us original believers during his miraculous 2004 convention speech then swept 11 primaries in a row and apparently had to be stopped (thanks, SNL). We are the broken polarized America she wants to rule, will to anything to rule.

from Keith Olbermann:

Senator, ... your own advisers are slowly killing your chances to become president. Senator, their words and your own are now slowly killing the chances for any Democrat to become president... in fact, senator, you are now campaigning as if Barack Obama were the Democrat and you were the Republican. As Shakespeare wrote, senator, "that way madness lies."

from Jon Robin Baitz:

There is something stomach-turning about the Clintonian strategy for winning the nomination. Underneath that which is so disgusting, however, there are little passion plays playing out -- about the state of the nation, and the state of its soul-sick psyche. While there is no overt reason to conclude that they are racists, (if that sentence seems luke-warm, take a look at Hillary's own concession that Obama is not a Muslim), there is every possible reason to label the Clintons opportunists of the very first order. ... That is their true, true heartfelt religion. "Campaign" in Florida and then deny it? Fine: It's all fair game. Or the cynical suggestion by Senator Clinton that Obama would be a fine VP while at the same time declaring how unready he is seems to me precisely the sort of cynical paranoid post-modern solipsism of people who will say anything whatsoever to get what they want and then act stung when called on it. It borders on sociopathy. And like all opportunists, those in Camp Clinton have reached the conclusion that even a scorched earth campaign which devastates the party, vulgarizes the discourse even more than it already is vulgarized, and alienates millions of people who actually have come to hope for real change in this country, is worth the cost of a possible win. Personally, I find it far more likely that the only beneficiary of the Clintonian ugliness will of course be none other than that half-mad proponent of hundred-year wars, John McCain of Arizona, swooping in to the circular firing squad after the smoke and blood have cleared, so as to snatch a victory because the Dems cleverly snatched defeat.

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