Sunday, October 19, 2008

Some good news for Obama

I think it's fair to say that Obama won the news cycle quite decisively today, first with the huge endorsement of Colin Powell, and then with the stunning announcement that his campaign raised $150 million in September, busting his old record of $66 million wide open.

Powell is significant for a number of reasons. He is well-respected by both the media and the public, not to mention moderates of all political stripes, and he carries a great deal of authority on issues of national security. He was also a member of the Bush administration, and it's unusual whenever the former Secretary of State of an outgoing President endorses the candidate from the other party. And his endorsement was unequivocal and eloquent, going into detail about how McCain and the Republican party have disappointed him.

And then there was this:

That was Obama speaking in front of 100,000 people in St. Louis yesterday. I don't think I'm going out on a limb here predicting that Missouri is likely to turn blue this year.

Republicans are already emotionally preparing themselves for defeat. But in a bad way. Here's billmon from Daily Kos:

With the prospect of a bone-crushing election defeat staring them full in the face, the diehard rump of the conservative movement is already busy fashioning a narrative to explain the dissolution of its world -- the one that Ronald Reagan built and that George W. Bush (with an assist from Wall Street) has thoroughly trashed.

And the emerging story line appears to be, roughly, that ACORN did it.

Given the underlying proclivities of the modern conservative movement (Sarah Palin division) we should have understood that sooner or later it would come to something as absurd as this. Failed authoritarian movements needs scapegoats the way fecal coliform bacteria need a steady supply of raw sewage, and this one has a lot of failures that need explaining.

The remarkable thing, of course, is the right's effort to make the ACORN boogie man do double duty: responsible not only for the looming "theft" of American democracy (per John McCain) but also for bringing the US and global financial system to its knees (per any number of conservative quacks economists and cranks pundits).

You have to admit: That's a damned impressive revolutionary track record for an obscure group of community organizers operating on a shoestring budget. I mean, who needs the Red Army when you've got ACORN and the Community Reinvestment Act?

It would be easy to dismiss this lunacy as a manifestation of what the social scientist Richard Hofstader called the "paranoid style" in American politics. And some liberals have already made the connection. As far as the grassroots hysterics are concerned(i.e. the sort of people who are obsessed with the kerning and font size on Barack Obama's "alleged" birth certificate) this is no doubt true.

But I think by now it's also very clear that the GOP high commmand -- as far back as the Twin Cities white power rally, if not before -- deliberately adopted the demonization of ACORN/community organizers/the poor as a proxy for the hatred that no longer dares to speak its real name (except at the occasional Sarah Palin rally).

I think this strategy serves two purposes. One is obvious: to play upon traditional racial and class resentments to try to win back middle-class and working-class voters who might otherwise be waivering as they watch their jobs, their homes and their already inadequate retirement savings go spinning around the hole in the bottom of the economic toilet bowl.

Click the link for more.

I think this hits pretty close to the mark. When you even have McCain comparing Obama's tax plan to "welfare", it's pretty hard to deny that Republicans are pinning all their remaining hopes on white middle class racial resentment. The fact that this comes at a time of middle class economic crisis makes it all the more repellent. The Republicans royally fucked things up for the middle class, and yet they're counting on middle class ignorance to carry them to victory this year. My gut tells me they'll be disappointed.

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