Karl is alive and well


Friday, September 12
Kevin McDonald

They're at it again. The poisonous purveyors of the politics of deceit, derision, and distraction. And the politics of resentment (as the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote). And the politics of lies and slander.

In short, the politics of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove.

The faithful at the recent Republican convention loved the speeches by Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin, particularly the lines where they mocked Barack Obama's onetime job as a community organizer. They asked, in tones dripping with sarcasm and mockery, "what's a community organizer?"

Well, let me give you some examples. Community organizers got lynched in the American South for daring to register black folk to vote. (Do you remember "Mississippi Burning"? It was loosely based on the four young Americans who were kidnapped and murdered in Philadelphia, Miss., in 1964.)

Community organizers established the 40-hour work week and ended child labor abuses. Community organizers got migrant farm workers decent living conditions. Community organizers got women the right to vote (maybe Sarah doesn't realize that).

No wonder Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin don't like community organizers.

They are trying to get you to think poorly of a man who got into and graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law (on his own — not as a "legacy," as with G.W. Bush and Yale and J. McCain and Annapolis), because instead of signing on with a prestigious law firm at a stratospheric salary he decided to apply his talents helping poor folk find jobs and housing.

What are the values inherent in Palin's and Giuliani's mockery?

Giuliani's idea of a public servant was Bernard Kerik. Google him and see what you find.

We really don't know much about Palin's ideas: She hasn't been allowed to have an unscripted event. We do know about at least one lie. She professed to have said no to "the bridge to nowhere," that piece of pork delivered by Alaska's congressional representatives. Truth be told, she was all for it until someone lifted up the covers and exposed it as a symbol of congressional excess. Then she was against it.

We're also hearing some rumblings about her attempts to ban some books from the Wasilla library when she was mayor. Explain that to us, would you Sarah?

The politics of distraction, resentment, deceit, lies and slander — remember George Bush the First and his mocking Michael Dukakis for being "a card-carrying member of the ACLU?" Given his son's trampling of privacy rights, I see in retrospect why the Bush family was not fond of the American Civil Liberties Union. If you'd forgotten that, perhaps you'll recall the infamous Willie Horton commercial? Or the "issue" of protecting the flag from all those dastardly flag-burners.

More recently, how 'bout those Swift Boaters, slandering a Vietnam War Purple Heart-winning vet while they supported a candidate whose daddy's connections got him leapfrogged over other applicants and into the Texas Air National Guard — a commission he then went AWOL from?

Once again, they are leaning on the politics of "God, guns and gays." Stoke the electorate's fear, stir up their resentment, distract them from the economy and education and health care with phony wedge issues. I once had the naive belief that McCain was above these Karl Rove tactics, that this would be a contest of ideas and philosophies. But instead he's hired on a campaign staff full of Rove's acolytes.

What some people won't do to win. Is America really gonna let that happen?

Kevin McDonald lives in Bennington.


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