This has been the worst week ever for American capital markets. And in some respects, it has been another 'worst week ever' for John McCain. He failed to stop his poll numbers from sliding. He failed to attack Obama effectively at Tuesday night's debate. He is realizing that he is in danger of losing Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, and perhaps even Missouri. Four of those are 'red' states (from 2004). And his campaign has been forced to unleash its most viscous attacks on Obama yet. Beginning Tuesday, McCain has allowed the participants of rallies to stir and provoke the crowd into anti-Obama and anti-ACORN chants. McCain used to tell vocal members of his audience to turn their anger down a notch and show some respect. But those days are gone. And in an additional, almost unprecedented move, he has deployed Cindy McCain as a second attack dog, to supplement Sarah Palin.
Conservative and right-wing Americans have been sharing wingnut opinion articles, books, and conspiracy theories for years on the Internet. And of course, before there were right-wing blogs, there was (and still is) right-wing talk radio. But the wingnuttery has finally come to our televisions, with McCain supporters voicing their fear and anger that this country seems to be on the verge of electing a non-white man with an Arab/Swahili name to the White House.
Try to see it from their perspective. It is scary. It's bigger than the Yankees not making it to the playoffs. New Yorkers can always ignore the Yankees, stop going to the Stadium, or follow the Mets for a while. But for these active right-wingers, the election of Barack Obama would cause genuine pain and discomfort for months, and perhaps (hopefully) years. These are pissed-off people.
At a normal campaign rally, it's the candidate who tries to whip the crowd into a frenzy. At John McCain's town hall in Waukesha, Wis., Thursday, it was the other way around. "I'm mad, and I'm really mad," said one man who'd been called on to ask a question. "It's not the economy. It's the socialist taking over our country." McCain started to respond, and the man shot back sternly. "Let me finish please. When you have an Obama, Pelosi, and the rest of the hooligans up there gonna run this country, we've got to have our head examined. It's time that you two who are representing us, and we are mad."Here's the video of that guy. He is indeed mad, and this clip has been shown on all major US cable news networks. The crowd cheered him as a hero, and you could say that he upstaged McCain.
James T. Harris, a local African-American talk-show host, stood and said, "I doubt that anyone in this room has taken, pardon me, the ass-whuppin' that I have taken for supporting you. Sir, I believe that in the next coming debate it is absolutely vital that you take it to Obama and that you hit him where it hits" [sic]. The crowd exploded. "ACORN is out there, we have Reverend Wright, all of these shady characters that surrounded him. I am begging you, sir." McCain told the man that he would take his advice—but that he also will offer a "positive plan of action" to address the financial crisis.I don't think that crowd wants to hear about the financial crisis. Their priority is to prevent an Obama presidency. And for time, the time to play dirty is well overdue.
With McCain passing up the opportunity to level any tough personal shots in his first two debates and the very real prospect of an Obama presidency setting in, the sort of hard-core partisan activists who turn out for campaign events are venting in unusually personal terms.Which beings me back to my previous point about the opinions and soundbites of the wingnuttosphere making their way into live campaign events with the mainstream media candidate present.
"Terrorist!” one man screamed Monday at a New Mexico rally after McCain voiced the campaign’s new rhetorical staple aimed at raising doubts about the Illinois senator: “Who is the real Barack Obama?”
"He's a damn liar!” yelled a woman Wednesday in Pennsylvania. "Get him. He's bad for our country."
Such contempt for Democrats is, of course, nothing new from conservative activists. But in 2000 and 2004, the Republican rank and file was more apt to ridicule Gore as a stiff fabulist or Kerry as an effete weather vane of a politician.
“Flip-flop, flip-flop,” went the cry at Republican rallies four years ago, often with footwear to match the chant.
Now, though, the emotion on display is unadulterated anger rather than mocking.
Activists outside rallies openly talk about Obama as a terrorist, citing his name and purported ties to Islam in the fashion of the viral e-mails that have rocketed around the Internet for over a year now.
Some of this activity is finding its way into the events, too.
And here is some if of that anger and wingnut behavior, albeit provoked by the videographer.
UPDATE: The fastest comment in the history of this tiny blog reminded me that Indiana is also in danger of falling into Obama's column. I will try to make my state-by-state predictions this weekend. I'm doing it for fun. But this election is dead serious. We have up to nine red states from 2004 that are totally in-play in 2008. In fact, New Mexico and Colorado might already be beyond John McCain's grasp. So my predictions are coming soon.