The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

"That One" is doing fine, thank you

"That One." Hmmm. About 47% of Republicans have negative opinions of black people (33% od Democrats and 40% of the general population...do the math), but it's good to know that McCain isn't one of them. I mean, considering he'll barely meet Obama's eyes, wouldn't shake his hand after the debate, represented the last state to ratify MLK day, and presided over a convention whiter than a Wonderbread museum, never addressed the NAACP until he was running for President...if he'd actually had a negative opinion about black people he might have REALLY been unpleasant. I mean, if Wolf Blitzer thinks McCain has "disdain" for Obama NOW, it would have been...uh...

How exactly would it have been different from what we saw?

"That One." The first thing racism does is objectify the "Other." They're not a person, they're a "that," a cog in the social machinery.

So...as he and Palin stoke the very worst in their party, not correcting their audiences as members shriek "terrorist" and "kill him", it is wrong for us to think that any of this, in any way, reveals McCain's personal feelings.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now let's be fair. McCain could just be furious that Obama is beating him. Could be...

Lester Spence said...

Obama's victory won't signal the end of racism. Far from it.

But I do think that his race, combined with mccain and clinton's ineptitude MAY signal the end of the southern strategy.

Anonymous said...

What does "negative opinions of black people" mean? If you think, for instance, that blacks, as a group, have a higher crime rate that whites, as a group, then does that mean you have "negative opinions of black people"?

Observer said...

Racism is always negative; negative opinions are not always racist. Let's stick to the topic, which is the debate, and not let this discussion degenerate into an argument about why white people are not really racist when they criticize blacks. We've heard it all before too many times. I rather doubt you will present anything new or interesting.

McCain has been wanting the townhall setting for quite some time. He thought of it as his specialty, his strong suit. Now we see he has miscalculated somewhat. He favorable opinion of his own performance in such a setting is the result of the one-horse race: when he is surrounded by supporters who respond to every joke, who regard him fondly, and go nuts over the red meat he throws out.

What the hell happened last night? Inject another personality and the dynamic changed immediately. No longer was McCain the only horse in the race. Every moment in that townhall setting, he was being compared to Obama, and the difference was startling -- and very much detrimental to the McCain campaign.

Obama is a bit taller. This may appear unimportant, but a scrutiny into the history of elections will demonstrate a subtle, yet real psychological effect. People definitely respond to height in salesmen AND politicians at a subconscious level.

This effect, however, was by no means as powerful as the difference in age. Obama is just entering into his prime and it shows. He moved easily, comfortably. In contrast, McCain showed every one of his 70+ years. He walked like an old man. This would not be so painfully obvious when he was the only candidate in a townhall meeting, but last night it became an intense contrast.

Lester Spence said...

i found a clip from the first televised debate (nixon v kennedy) on youtube and posted it. Nixon loses the debate on image alone...before words are even attached to meaning in the minds of viewers. McCain is done. All the race-baiting in the world will LIKELY not change a thing.

Brian Dunbar said...

I don't know what to think about that comment. Except that guys who have served seem to be have the racist crap knocked out of them.

But I never hung out with officers, and McCain served a long time before I did. Perhaps things were different in the 60s and 70s in the wardroom.

I ask you Steve, cause you'll give an honest answer: is it possible for Senator McCain to be objectifying Obama because he's winning the race and not because he's black?

Steve Perry said...

Whether the comment was racist per se is maybe less important than how much of McCain's revulsion for Obama shined through. McCain despises his opponent, he never hides it very well, and now and again, he fails utterly to hide it.

This is what the remark represents.

"That one." That ... *thing* over there.

Does McCain resent Obama because he is younger, smarter, more liberal, black, better-looking, faster-on-his feet? All of the above?

McCain comes across as angry, cranky, on the edge of blowing up or spitting bile. Maybe it's because he is behind in the polls. Maybe it's his nature. Whatever it is, that alone makes me think he's not the guy to be sitting next to the red button. Nor is his attack dog Palin the woman to take the seat if he falls over in a heap the day after the election. Aw-shuck-gosh-darn Sarah has as much depth as a postage stamp, and is to the right of Genghis Khan.

Vote Obama. Vote early. Vote often. Give your friends rides to the polls so they can vote for him, too. Four more years of Bush policies will bankrupt us, fiscally and morally.

Brian Dunbar said...

Vote Obama. Vote early. Vote often.

I myself would not advocate breaking the law . . .

Bennett said...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/27/AR2008092701357.html?nav=hcmodule

This is an interesting spin on McCain's demeanor. David Broder posits that the Arkansas Senator's refusal to make eye contact, et al, is not a gesture of disrespect or disgruntlement. Instead, he sees it as "studied indifference" and a sign that John McCain is the 'alpha male' and Obama is, rather than being polite, is showing 'deference'. (Read: submissiveness.)

Reading between the lines, I see some serious signs of Mr. Barnes' observations on the white male psyche. Broder's justifying this behavior as some sort of virtue. The young intelligent black man needs to know his 'place' and that 'place' in his interpretation is subservience to the older white man.

Is he alone on this one? Me, I think McCain's rude and short-tempered and always has been, regardless of his advancing years and the legendary effect of aging on one's crotchiness quotient. But I don't think Broder's the only one clinging to a paradigm that can spin it as putting down an 'uppity' would-be rival.

Dan Moran said...
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Dan Moran said...

McCain's always been a jerk. That's not new and not really age-related, and really, if he were 20 years younger, probably wouldn't come acros s quite so badly. But as is it ties in nicely with the erratic, can't control himself, too old, verge of alzheimer narrative the Obama camp started working a few weeks back -- better late than never.

Right now, toting up safe Democratic and lean Democratic states, Obama's got 320 electoral votes -- he needs 270. If he gets half the tossups, 55 possible votes, he ends up with about 345.

This is shaping up as a second consecutive epic ass kicking -- look here.

~345 electoral votes for Obama.

56 safe or lean Dem Senate seats, 3 tossup, up from the current 51. No chance of a filibuster proof majority, but getting up there. (Lieberman's going to leave the Democratic caucus as soon as the election's over anyway -- or get booted once they don't need him for control of the Senate.)

241 safe or lean Dem House seats, 9 tossup -- figure about a 245-190 seats advantage, up from the current 235-199. (One seat's currently vacant.)

Two years ago today Republicans controlled the House, Senate, and Presidency. In another few weeks they'll control none of them.

Michael Canfield said...
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Michael Canfield said...

There is also McCain's comment "you probably never heard of Fanny and Freddie before this crisis" to an African-American questioner. Again maybe it had nothing to do with the questioner's race, maybe he talks down to a lot of people ...

And maybe when he said "I hate the gooks, I will hate them all my life" he meant just the specific guards who tortured him in Viet Nam as he later clarified.

(This is a spellchecker version of my just self-deleted comment!)

Brother OMi said...

I don't know how to take his attitude last night. I took it as:

"this young upstart is taking my shine...I lost two campaigns in a row. this was my time. and this young punk for chicago is eating me alive...!"

but people continue to surprise me. so he might be as racist as they come

Christian M. Howell said...

Maybe now my previous comments will have a slightly different meaning for you.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

McCain talked a lot about his ability to "reach across the aisle". If he's that obnoxious to the person on the other side, I wonder if ability is still there, or perhaps if it was ever that good.

Josh Jasper said...

In case anyone forgot, McCain is a good friend of Col. Oliver North, who sold weapons to the Iranians (terrorists) while breaking the law, in order to fund the Contra rebels (terrorists)

McCain was also on the board of an organization called the Council For World Freedom, which directly sent money and supplies to known terrorist groups. The Council For World Freedom is also known for having ties to Neo-Nazi groups.

Finally, he's a personal friend of terrorist and Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy.

But the Obama campaign never tried to smear McCain with that. They didn't mention his wife's drug abuse, or her theft form a charitable organization, and her running that organization into the ground. Or McCain's failed attempt to silence the member of the organization who's career Cindy McCain ruined.

And the mainstream media, which Palin is so afraid of, she'll only talk to FOX News, isn't reporting these stories either.

Brian Dunbar said...

Finally, he's a personal friend of terrorist and Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy.

Well that certainly stretches the definition of 'terrorist' all out of shape. So now ... burgles for political gain equals terrorism?

But the Obama campaign never tried to smear McCain with that.

They don't need to - guys like you will do it for them.

And the mainstream media, which Palin is so afraid of, she'll only talk to FOX News,

And ABC and CBS and whomever owns my local paper.

Geez Louise - political sniping is one thing - but distortion and fibs are something else.

Dan Moran said...

Brian,

Is knowingly supporting terrorists the same thing as being a terrorist?

Brian Dunbar said...

Is knowingly supporting terrorists the same thing as being a terrorist?

I'd say 'no' but it depends on how much and what kind of support is provided.

Josh Jasper said...

Brian:
Well that certainly stretches the definition of 'terrorist' all out of shape. So now ... burgles for political gain equals terrorism?


No, plotting to kidnap anti-war activists, firebomb the Brookings Institution counts as planing terrorism.

If Ayers is relevant, which McCain says he is, then North and Liddy are too, and they're just as damning. More so because McCain has a long history with both of them. Much more than one fund raiser and serving on a charitable institution.

But if you want to talk real support for real terrorists, let's talk about McCain's serving on the board of a group that funneled money to the Contras in Nicaragua. They certainly were terrorists. They raped, killed, tortured (with instruction from the US Government through the US Government funded School Of The Americas) and were generally terrorists.

McCain backed them. Sent them money. Isn't that a bit worse than serving on the board of an educational charity with Ayers? Sending money to terrorists? Backing a guy who illegally sold arms to Iran Being friends with someone who gets excited when he hears Hitler's voice?

If we drag Ayers out, we're obligated to drag out all of the rumors around McCain too, and they're not pretty.

Brian Dunbar said...

If we drag Ayers out, we're obligated to drag out all of the rumors around McCain too, and they're not pretty.

I think you - and of course your cause - are better served by dragging out facts and not rumors.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

I think you - and of course your cause - are better served by dragging out facts and not rumors.


I hope you apply the same standard to Ayers, where the facts really are that he lives in Obama's neighborhood and that they were on the same charitable board, not that they were buddies or that Obama's given the least indication of approving of Ayers' Weather Underground activities 40 years ago.

Say what you like about Ayers, but moving into a neighborhood that already contains someone who got out of any penalty for crimes decades ago is slender grounds indeed for guilt by association.

Otherwise, you know, I'd have to consider all OJ's current neighbors (well, the ones that were current till his most recent arrest) accessories to murder, which hardly seems fair.

Josh Jasper said...

Brian -
I think you - and of course your cause - are better served by dragging out facts and not rumors.


Well, that's a fascinating idea. But it's not what McCain is doing. I'm providing a mirror of what it might look like if Obama was as ruthless, mean spirited and slimy as McCain. But he's not, is he?

Reluctant Lawyer said...

- As to the comment that Obama lived in the same neighborhood as Ayers and Farrakhan, give me a break. So did I. The neighborhood in question is Hyde Park and it is home to the University of Chicago.

Steven Barnes said...

"What does "negative opinions of black people" mean? If you think, for instance, that blacks, as a group, have a higher crime rate that whites, as a group, then does that mean you have "negative opinions of black people"?
##
No. Only if you think this higher crime rate is expressive of something innate in black people, expressive of their "essence." One might also take the position that the higher crime rate is the result of external circumstances (poverty, racism, a devastated culture) that would affect whites equally, given the same circumstances.

Steven Barnes said...

"I ask you Steve, cause you'll give an honest answer: is it possible for Senator McCain to be objectifying Obama because he's winning the race and not because he's black?"
##
Absolutely. And I started this campaign cycle respecting McCain, and would like to end it the same way. But if about 47% of Republicans have those negative feelings, it is quite reasonable to ask if McCain might not be one of them. But mightn't he behave that way if Obama was white? I would suspect that much of the body language might be the same, yes.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

If I had to guess, I'd guess that his body language, etc., would be more respectful if it were Joe Biden at the top of the ticket (white, his own age, allegedly he and Biden got on prior to this in the Senate and there's no reason to think he was ever particularly friendly with Obama). But really that's just a guess. It's not as if he was terribly respectful to Romney in the primary (though in the debate where Romney refused to say whether waterboarding was torture, he totally deserved McCain's response).