Monday, September 8, 2008

Back in the US of KKK A

I was perusing the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal on Friday and was struck by a couple of the articles. One was an AP account of how community organizers are miffed at the merriment some GOP speakers enjoyed at their expense at the recent convention. The article pointed out that community organizers do good work, help poor people cope with a variety of stresses, and should not be belittled.

Well, of course they shouldn't, but that's not what was happening at the convention. What Republican speakers did was not deride people who are community organizers or the work they do, but rather deride the notion that that work is a qualification for the presidency of the United States. A community organizer is something like a secular missionary. Missionaries do wonderful work, and few would demean it, but three years in an inner city mission field is not the sort of experience that, by itself, prepares one for the Oval Office.

A second column, by an Intelligencer staffer named Jeff Hawkes, who apparently couldn't think of anything else to write about, fretted over Obama's safety during a campaign swing through Amish country last Thursday. I certainly don't wish to scoff at concern for anyone's safety, but the unspoken implication of Hawkes' overwrought essay, it seemed, was that Lancaster County is McCain territory and is therefore filled with, you know, lots of those right-wing, racist, extremist nuts. Hawkes cited a number of other fans of Barack at the Lancaster rally who harbored similar fears. One of them worried that "Every time there's somebody of promise, it's extinguished." He concluded his column by noting that "nothing bad happened" and breathed a sigh of relief as if we just missed tragedy by mere inches here in the US of KKK A.

Mr. Hawkes is perhaps unaware of the much more tangible threats against George Bush from both the rabid left and Islamic terrorists. If he is aware of them, I wonder how many anguished columns this worrywart has written about the very real risk George Bush takes every time he sets foot outside the White House, or if this is something Mr. Hawkes even thinks or cares about.

In any case, it seemed curious that Hawkes uniquely singled out senator Obama as the object of his concern. It makes one wonder if Mr. Hawkes, being a good liberal white man, may not have been exorcising the burden of his racial guilt. By going on about his profound concern for Mr. Obama's well-being, perhaps, he was assuring his minority readers and fellow liberals and perhaps himself, that, unlike so many other whites in Lancaster county, he is no racist.

That explanation may make him sound a bit pathetic, but it's a lot better than concluding that he just doesn't care about the safety of Republicans.



The USA Today/Gallup poll, taken Friday through Sunday, shows McCain leading Obama by 54% to 44% among those seen as most likely to vote. This doesn't mean much at this point, but it is a sweeping turn-around for McCain who was down 7 points going into the convention.

Picking Sarah Palin may well have resuscitated his candidacy, and the selection is rich in irony. The party which has been portrayed by the media for years as a collection of chauvinists, misogynists and miscellaneous neanderthals has a woman on the ticket, only the second time in history a national party has done this, and all those redneck wife-beaters are wild about her. Meanwhile, organizations like the National Organization for Women which demonstrated the depth of its concern for women by remaining almost completely silent during the sexual depredations of Bill Clinton, including allegations of assault, don't even try to conceal their dismay with Sarah Palin. Oprah Winfrey, who has championed the advance of women throughout her career, refuses to allow Palin on her show.

Women who despaired that Hillary's defeat in the primaries robbed them of any hope that a woman would be president in their lifetime, now have a surprising second chance. The question is, how many Hillary supporters are there for whom abortion rights are not dispositive and who would be willing to vote for a strong successful woman who exemplifies what they think a woman should be in most other respects? How many Hillary supporters are there who are so smitten by the idea that they, or their daughters, might well see a woman in the White House after all that they will subordinate their preference on abortion to helping to make history happen?

Personally, I think voting for Palin just because she's a strong and charming woman is as irresponsible as voting for Obama just because he's black or for McCain just because he was a POW. Even so, it'll be interesting to see how many Democrats who wanted to see Mrs. Clinton at the head of their ticket, or at least on it, will pull the lever for Palin just because she's a version, albeit a mirror-image, of Hillary.