This morning, I was in a mood to write an email to my father, in regards to the Presidential contest currently underway. He was an early supporter of Barack Obama, though partly because he couldn't stand Hillary Clinton. He felt that Barack offered something different, and really was the same kind of leader that JFK was. Then the Reverend Wright happened, and FOX News started slapping that together with a bunch of other rumor-stuff, and fed it to my early-fifties, white male, blue-collar father. I tried to combat it, but he had his mind made up. I have really never understood why he watches FOX. Yesterday, as I passed by him, reading his paper, he made a comment about how "this wife of his is gonna be what sinks his campaign." So I argued. He's not entirely convinced, but he also doesn't know anymore who he'll vote for. He seems unwilling to entirely discount the internet rumor-mill regarding Barack, but still hopes he's a JFK figure (he's also quick to note that Barack might be a good President, but will be assassinated faster than any other President has been, by some racists who don't want a black man in the White House). He has also held the view of McCain left over from 2000, of the maverick. Lately, however, he's noticed that McCain seems confused. "If he didn't have Lieberman there to lead him around, he'd never get anything right," he informed me yesterday. So this morning, I felt I had to pop off an email to explain these rumors, and address the new John McCain. It was something I sank a good deal more energy into than I originally intended (I was shooting for a short paragraph, maybe two), so I've decided to share it here, as my thoughts on the chain emails going after Barack and his family.
Barack Obama has been getting a lot of crap from anonymous people online, sending chain emails and such, a lot of which get picked up by FOX News, especially people like O'Reilly and Hannity. The attacks all claim that Barack (or his wife) are un-American, or are secretly Muslims (though she's usually an atheist in the stories). They say that Barack and Michelle Obama hate America, hate white people, and want to destroy everything that America is founded on.
They take film clips of Michelle saying that she has "never before been this proud of [her] country," and chop out one word; now Michelle in the clip says "I've never before been - proud of my country." She was referring to the fact that one of the major-party nominees would be either a black man, or a woman. But leave it to the people who send these emails, and the Republican Party (which did the same edit job in Tennessee) and suddenly, Michelle has never found anything to be proud of in America. FOX News runs a banner declaring her "Obama's Baby Mama." A "baby-mama" of course, is often defined as "a woman you got pregnant on accident during a fling, who you can’t stand but you have to tolerate because she has your child now." This of course carries some real negative connotations, which stand in stark contrast to their marriage and relationship. It does, however, fit neatly with the message that the Obamas are different, and dangerous, and very Black.
Barack doesn't wear a flag pin all the time. As he explained it, he felt that the pin had become too much a stand-in for real patriotism. He wears it sometimes, but not all the time, so the anti-Obama crowd declare that he NEVER wears one, and provide a half-dozen photos of him without the pin. Of course, John McCain almost never wears a flag pin, but no one can question his patriotism—even when McCain recently said that it can be "very tough" to be proud of America lately. Or Barack doesn't put his hand over his heart for the national anthem, or refuses to say the pledge of allegiance, and was sworn in on a Koran instead of the Bible. All to paint him as foreign and frightening. Someone who hates white people and America.
There's lots worse that's been suggested. Basically, that Barack is a rapist, murderer, thief, and just about anything else you could think of. So now he has started a website to address the attacks. Also, the always popular Snopes site, which addresses the truth of rumors, myths, and urban legends, has a page on the rumors about Barack Obama.
On the other hand, John McCain no longer represents what he stood for in 2000. He doesn't represent what he stood for 2 years ago. He opposed the Bush tax cuts, saying they only benefited the wealthy; now he thinks they need to be made permanent. He once denounced Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and the like as "agents of intolerance." He recently sought out, and then had to reject the endorsements of Evangelical preachers who suggest that Hitler was doing God's work with the Holocaust, and that America was founded solely to destroy Muslims. He helped write and pass the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform law, and has now violated at least two different provisions of it. Fortunately for him, the Federal Election Commission only has 3 out of 6 seats filled, so they can't even hold him accountable for his violations. He has opposed the use of torture (for obvious reasons), but then voted against a bill formally outlawing the use of torture by American forces. In 2003, 2005, and 2006, he advocated shutting down Guantanamo Bay, and transferring all the prisoners to Fort Leavenworth, where they would be put on trial as criminals. Now, when the Supreme Court rules that these people have the right to challenge their detentions in US Courts, he declares it "[o]ne of the worst decisions in the history of this country." He now responds as if taking them to Fort Leavenworth and giving them a trial, as he himself repeatedly suggested, is the same thing as just setting all of them loose on the streets of America. It's simply terrifying that we might hold on to our foundational American principles, freedoms, and rights in the face of terrorists. John McCain isn't the man he used to be, and even though he was my choice in the 2000 elections, I cannot support him in any way anymore. He has become worse than George Bush, and his principles have left him.
I'm glad that Barack is choosing to take on these vicious rumors directly. John Kerry never did, and they never went away. Barack has to deal with far worse ones, and despite his pledge to campaign cleanly, he is not going to simply take these attacks lying down.
Listening to: Foo Fighters - Learn to Fly