Protracted Distraction: Of Pig-Painting and Race-Baiting

Discussion in 'Congress' started by The BKP, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. The BKP

    The BKP Grand Inquistor

    Jul 15, 2008
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    In an example of the hypersensitivity that often accompanies a heated political campaign; a tempest has brewed up in the proverbial teapot over recent remarks by Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama and New York Governor David Paterson. What appears to be an attempt to engage in the folksy banter of populist politics has turned into a case of political playground finger pointing and name-calling.

    Characterizing Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain’s economic proposals as a continuation of the Bush era at rally in Lebanon, Virginia Tuesday, Senator Obama quipped, “You can put lipstick on a pig ... it's still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It's still going to stink after eight years."

    Following Palin’s remark during her acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention that, “….you know, they say, what is the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick,” Senator Obama’s comment appeared to be neither spontaneous nor completely free of malice.

    Portraying the comment as a mocking, sexist attack of Republican vice presidential nominee and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the McCain campaign accused Obama of “smearing” Palin in what it called “offensive and disgraceful” comments. Ever the honor-bound former Navy Officer, McCain dutifully rose to Palin’s defense and called for Obama to issue an immediate apology.

    Clearly chivalry lives on; if only in the heart of Senator McCain and perhaps for mere partisan gain.

    Despite the Obama campaign’s denial of any connection between the Senator’s remarks and Governor Palin’s speech, the audience clearly saw one as raucous laughter and applause followed in its wake.

    Trying to put the controversy behind him and refocus the media’s attention as coverage of his remarks dominated a second day’s news cycle, Obama dismissed it Wednesday morning as "the latest made-up controversy by the John McCain campaign," and nothing more than "lies and phony outrage and Swift-boat politics."

    Seeking to paint McCain’s outrage as nothing more than cynical campaign bravado, Obama insisted, "I don't care what they say about me. But I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and Swift-boat politics. Enough is enough.”

    Unable to shake the issue and move on, though, Obama resorted to defending his remarks in an appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman” Wednesday night.

    “It’s a common expression -- at least in Illinois,” Obama assured Letterman. “I don’t know about New York City, I don’t know what you guys put lipstick on here.

    Forced to explain the intention behind the remark, the junior Senator from Illinois said, "..had I meant it this way, she would be the lipstick. The policies of John McCain would be the pig."

    This followed on the heels of New York Governor David Paterson’s remarks Tuesday to a business forum that, “I think the Republican Party is too smart to call Barack Obama 'black' in a sense that it would be a negative. But you can take something about his life, which I noticed they did at the Republican Convention – a 'community organizer.' They kept saying it, they kept laughing."

    Paterson referenced Palin’s acceptance speech and her comparison of her experience as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska to Obama's civic work in Chicago.

    "So I suppose a small town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except with real responsibilities," she said at the convention.

    Paterson views the repeated use of the words "community organizer" as Republican code for "black".

    "I think where there are overtones is when there are uses of language that are designed to inhibit other people's progress with a subtle reference to their race," he said. "At this point, Americans wouldn't tolerate a racial appeal.”

    “What I'm saying is that there are sneaky ways to try to hurt someone," Paterson concluded.

    The McCain campaign quickly fired back saying, "It is disappointing that Governor Paterson would launch accusations of racism. … Governor Palin's remarks about Barack Obama's work as a community organizer was in response to the Obama campaign's belittling of her executive experience."

    The irony of the flare up over Senator Obama’s “pig” remark is that many Republicans have used the folksy metaphor, including McCain, who used it to characterize Senator Hillary Clinton’s universal health care plan last year. Referring to similarities between it and the failed plan formulated under her direction as First Lady during her husband’s first presidential term, McCain said, “"I think they put some lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig.”

    Perhaps instead of bickering like fourth graders exchanging “Your Momma” insults on the school playground, the two campaigns should focus on substantive and pressing issues like the solvency of Medicare and Social Security.

    In the end the First Amendment and rational political thought should rule the day.

    If Senator Obama has the temerity and cojones to refer to Governor Palin as a tarted up, lipstick-wearing pig, have at it. Should he feel it is politically expedient, the First Amendment certainly guarantees him the right to say as much and even worse. In the end he will either profit from or pay for his comments at the ballot box.

    Similarly, if Senator McCain is so cynical and dimwitted as to engage in race baiting, so be it. The ultimate judge of its propriety will be the electorate and their decision will be delivered through the ballot box.

    One questions how two such forceful, yet thin-skinned individuals hope to address the challenges posed by apocalypse-threatening Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Russia’s new Iron Czar, Vladimir Putin if they are so easily distracted and offended. Perhaps the two presidential hopefuls and the electorate would be better served were they to display a depth of character at those instances when their opponent betrays its deficiency.

    So the question is, faithful readers, are we well-served by focusing on these slights; however real or imagine they may be? Or do we waste precious time, distracted by the trivial while the critical goes unaddressed? Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant and the sands of the hourglass trickle down to November 4th.

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