Violent Crazies

Kathy has a pretty good round up of the various levels of insanity permeating McCain-Palin supporters, and I want to use that as a bridge to make a larger point that I haven’t seen made yet. The attacks on Barack Obama by the right-wing crazies are disgusting and unconscionable, we all know that. But I think it’s important to note that, for the most part, it has little to do with race. Some of it may be motivated by racist tendencies to be sure, but, for the most part, race is a secondary factor in all this. The real problem is much bigger than that, and much more endemic, to make a long story short, this is the inevitable endpoint of the sort of rhetoric the right wing has been employing since the mid 1990’s, and at least since 9/11.

Think about this for a second; if you listen to Rush Hannity all day long, or if you read things like The Corner or Michelle Malkin or Little Green Footballs regularly, you’re constantly bombarded with the idea that liberals, not just Barack Obama, are evil, Godless, communist, hedonistic, tax-and-spend, coming to take your guns and ban Christianity, treasonous, satan worshippers. And let’s be clear, most of this rhetoric was around in 2004. John Kerry was called a socialist and a traitor. People were calling into talk radio shows suggesting Kerry should have been executed for his anti-war activism. You just didn’t hear as much about it because the corporate media didn’t want you to hear about it, and because it was somewhat tempered by the fact that Bush was leading the race through most of September and October, so there was always a general feeling on the right that Bush was going to win. This time around, it’s increasingly clear that Republicans really have almost no chance of winning, so the ire of the talk radio crowd is on full display, and the logical ends to the sort of rhetoric they absorb everyday are shining through.

This has, largely, played out before. G. Gordon Liddy joked that he used likenesses of Bill and Hillary Clinton for target practice, Jesse Helms implied Clinton would be in danger if he went to North Carolina, etc. The country survived the nastiness for the most part, and politics proceeded in a largely predictable, event driven manner. And indeed, we’re still seeing that now. It’s worth keeping in mind, after all, that as this sort of rhetoric plays itself out on the far right, Obama is widening, his lead in the race. He’s now consistently polling ahead in red states he’d been lagging in like Ohio, Missouri, and Florida, Virginia looks likely to go blue, Obama is competing in Indiana, North Carolina, and Georgia, and even if we exclude the ARG poll, Obama is narrowing the margins in West Virginia of all places. So clearly, most of the country is either ignoring this stuff, or responding to it innegative ways.

I’m also not convinced that Obama is in a place of “maximal physical danger,” as Andrew Sullivan puts it. Not that I’d particularly want to be Barack Obama these days, but Obama has round the clock Secret Service protection, and they’re very good at what they do. I mean, we’re going on 30 years since the last time there was an attack on the President, 45 since a President was assassinated. Through various advancements in technology and methodology, it’s becoming almost impossible to carry out an attack on someone with Secret Service protection, and I doubt the Obamas will prove much different. I also don’t know how much of an impulse there really is to actually do anything but talk tough and puff up your chest on the internet. There was deep hatred on the right of Bill and Hillary Clinton, after all, and it’s not like they were constantly dodging attempts on their lives. But what I do worry about is the safety of Obama supporters, particularly African-Americans, on or around election day. They’ll be the Marxists culpable in all of this though, and they won’t have big burly Secret Service agents following them around. In short, they’ll be easy targets for anyone who thinks he needs to “do something” about all of this. Hopefully nothing happens to them, but I’d be careful about how liberally, no pun intended, you announce your Obama support when you go to vote.