Monday, June 16, 2008

Pretty Dirty Already

My apologies for not blogging more lately. I have been finishing up another book--one about castaways on deserted islands--which has placed my head in far climes and centuries. What part of me that remained in New Jersey has been dealing with the aftereffects of the severe storms which have devastated much of the county I live in, with trees falling on houses (we lost a phone line to a huge limb), power outages, and my daughter being unexpectedly out of school.
In my mental absence, the general election has been shaping up to be a nicely dirty one. Despite the fact that polls have the two candidates running neck and neck, I agree with the Politico article which quotes historians as saying that Barack Obama should beat McCain overwhelmingly. However, as we know, upsets are part of American political history--see Thomas Dewey, running against the very unpopular president Harry Truman--and anything can happen. Thus far, the dirtiest part of the campaign has focused on Michelle Obama; supposedly a tape will soon surface which will show her using the word "whitey" in an envenomed speech at her and Barack's old Chicago church.
This is most unlikely, but is clever dirty politics--as I always say, dirty tricks only work when one is playing to pre-existing prejudices in the hearts of people, and there is a great deal of pre-existing prejudice against black women who are perceived as powerful. To combat this and other smears (that he is a Muslim, that he refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance, etc) Obama's campaign has started a website which categorically denies them. This isn't likely to have much effect on prejudiced hearts, but it is a sign that those around the Democratic contender know that he must fight back hard and not let the attacks acrue.
Anyway, after only a week of campaigning, a campaign which was supposed to be clean and dignified is pretty dirty already....
A word today about Tim Russert, of NBC's "Meet the Press," who died suddenly on Friday. Russert is someone I always listened to, even when I didn't agree with him, because I felt he had insight into the workings of Washington politics, so his early death comes as a shock. He and I are exact contemporaries and attended the same undergraduate school, John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio, during the tumultuous late '60s. Our politics there differed--I was far more radical in my response to seminal events like the killing of four students at Kent State University (only a few miles away from John Carroll) in 1969--but he was always an intelligent and essentially moderate and good-humored presence. It'll be hard to be commenting on a presidential campaign without hearing Russert commenting on it as well....

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