Saturday, March 08, 2008

"As Far As I Know"

Last Sunday, Hillary Clinton was on "60 Minutes." In her interview with Steve Kroft, he asked her about the comments a supporter had raised of Obama during a campaign rally. The supporter had said that he thought Obama did not know the national anthem and that he was a Muslim.

Kroft asked her if she thought that Obama is Muslim. Clinton's response:
No. No. Why would I? No, there is nothing to base that on, as far as I know.
As far as I know.

That's one hell of a qualifier: With those five words, she left open the possibility that there might be something in his past that would make one suspect he is or was Muslim, as far as she knows.

It's worth noting that her campaign was behind the claim circulated a year ago that Obama was educated in a madrasa as a boy in Indonesia (in American lexicon that means terrorist training camp; but in Arabic it simply means school; he was educated in a madrasa, but in the Arabic, not the American sense).

The insinuation that Obama is Muslim is being used as a slur, an attack. The implication is that it's a bad thing to be Muslim. To be Muslim is to be a bad guy, a terrorist, one of them. Wanted: Dead or Alive (In Bush's worldview).

Can you imagine if "Jew" were being used in our public discourse in the same way? [I grant that sometimes it is . . .]

I have yet to hear any outrage over the use of the label "Muslim" in this way. The only outrage I hear is over the attempt by various forces, including the Clinton campaign, to label Obama Muslim when in fact he's Christian. The response is more than simply to correct the record: "No, he's not Muslim, he's Christian." It is an attempt to redeem him or clear him from being one of them: "No, he's not a terrorist, he's one of us."

So, I am disgusted by the Clinton campaign for attempting to smear Obama by insinuating that he's Muslim. I am equally disgusted that such a tactic works in this theoretically inclusive culture.

[I can imagine a critic reading this blog post and calling me a stupid idealist, a softy, who does not understand that they are, indeed, the bad guys out to get us. But, for every radical terrorist who might wish Americans harm there are hundreds of thousands of Muslims who want nothing more than what Americans want: security, love, sustinence, life.]

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Demeaning Internet-Savvy Voters

I've gotten in the habit of reading the "inside baseball" of politics website Politico.com. It's not a place to find in-depth reporting of pressing national issues, but a place to read what the insiders' perspectives of the presidential campaign are.

Today, Politico reported on Clinton's efforts in the days ahead. The article notes that Clinton aims to compete in states like Wyoming and Mississippi, states that Obama is predicted to win.

Of Wyoming, one of Clinton's lead supporters in the state, Kathy Karpan, a former candidate for Governor, said
“We are going to do very well with the rank and file. The question is, will those people who get captivated by e-mails” — Obama supporters — “be willing to sit through the call to order, the nominating and seconding speeches. It takes a little bit of patience and interest in the process to do this,” she said.

Let's unpack what's being said here. Obama supporters, especially young supporters (since presumably, they are the ones "captivated by email," and also more likely to support his campaign), don't have, at best, the attention span, at worst, the intelligence to follow the voting process in Wyoming. Ouch.

There's another implication here, too, which is that Obama supporters are not "rank-and-file members of the party." That is, they are outsiders, and don't really belong.

Where did the inclusive, big tent party go?

Sad.