On November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed, these leaflets were being handed out on the streets of Dallas:
Today, in 2008, these mailers are being sent to households across America by John McCain:
Do we even need to discuss the plane imagery– a deliberate and visceral link to 9/11?
I’ve already written in detail about my belief that John McCain’s central campaign strategy– to associate Barack Obama with terrorists as frequently as possible– is putting Obama’s life at risk. I’ve written about the need for us to confront the unspeakable, and to take these attacks and the ensuing shouted threats to their logical conclusion. In light of these new McCain campaign mailers and their similarities in tone and implication to the anti-Kennedy leaflet above, this passage in particular is worth revisiting:
In 2001, shortly after 9/11, President Bush did not declare war on a country or an organization; he declared war on terror. Nevermind that Bill Ayers and Osama bin Laden and Timothy McVeigh and Shia militias have no connection whatsoever, in means or motives. We’re at war with terrorists. You’re with us or you’re with them. So in light of the last seven years of American political rhetoric, accusing Barack Obama of “palling around with terrorists” is a truly dangerous, despicable proposition. At best, McCain is accusing Obama of being sympathetic to those who would do us harm; at worst, a treasonous enemy of America himself.
There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the assassination of JFK, but it was almost certainly the accusations by political rivals that he was a Communist sympathizer– too soft on Castro and Khruschev– that fueled the forces behind his death. It was then, as it is now, only a matter of time before somebody got the message. The fact that John McCain– a man who was serving in our military when JFK was shot– is leveling these same types of accusations at another presidential candidate is unforgivable.
Again, John McCain was 27 years old and serving in the Navy when John F. Kennedy was shot. He has a first-hand knowledge of the ramifications of these attacks; he knows the untold chaos and damage he is risking to the country. He knows exactly what he’s implying, if not outright saying, about Barack Obama. And he needs to be held accountable.
It’s one thing to argue, as the Clintons did relentlessly (and unsuccessfully), that Barack Obama is an outsider; he’s not one of us. It’s another thing to argue, as John McCain and Sarah Palin are doing, that Barack Obama is on the other side; he wants to harm us. (Or as Cindy McCain implied recently, he wants to harm our troops.)
It’s one thing to argue that Barack Obama will be a bad president. It’s another thing to argue that Obama doesn’t see America “like you and I see America,” that he is “palling around with terrorists who would target their own country,” that he “lanuched his political career” in the living room of a “domestic terrorist” who “bombed the Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge’s home,” and that he “tries to hide it,” in a country where certain people and places are apparently not “pro-American.” To borrow a phrase from the link above, that isn’t a call to the ballot box, it’s a call to arms.
There’s a reason why a week ago people were shouting things like “Terrorist!” “Treason!” “Kill him!” and “Off with his head!” at McCain-Palin rallies. And there’s a reason why McCain and Palin recently stopped referencing Bill Ayers in their speeches. Inciting people to violence doesn’t poll well with focus groups. Better to do it through the mail, or in TV commercials, or during one-on-one interviews, where journalists can’t record the reaction of supporters when the lightbulb goes on and they get the message.
But to continue this line of attack in any form, whether over the airwaves or under the radar, is despicable. It should be repulsive to all Americans– Republican, Democrat, and Independent alike. Even the most staunch partisan would agree that there’s a better than 90% chance that Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States. And thanks to John McCain, in three months, we could very well have an American president who millions of Americans will believe is sympathetic to terrorists, if not one himself. At this critical time in history, when we need to be united behind our president more than ever– whoever he or she will be– John McCain is using his campaign to deliberately divide America. He is putting his personal ambition above the greater good of the country.
It’s my belief that John McCain realized weeks ago that with all his disadvantages in the electoral college, fundraising, and base enthusiasm– with the economic crisis dominating the news and the Republican brand wrapped around his neck like a noose, the race was unwinnable. He realized that unless something major happened to fundamentally change the dynamic, he would lose and it wouldn’t be close. After a wildly unsuccessful bid to suspend his campaign, he decided that something even more drastic needed to be done. It was at this point that John McCain loaded his campaign with dynamite and drove it straight into the American psyche:
“Obama Obama Obama!! Terrorist terrorist terrorist!! Obama Ayers terrorist!! Obama troops terrorist!! Obama unrepentant terrorist!! Obama sit down talk terrorist!! Obama terrorist plane bearing down on airport window terrorist!! Who is Obama terrorist?! What more terrorist don’t we know about Obama terrorist?! Obama terrorist not who you think he is terrorist!!!”
For many Americans, the things McCain is saying cannot be unsaid, the damage he is doing cannot be undone. We’ve seen what happens when an American president is accused by his political enemies of being on the other side, and we’ve seen what happens when one unbalanced loner gets the message. God help the United States of America– literally God save us all– if it happens again.
POST SCRIPT: Here is video of John McCain responding to the despicable “terrorist” mailer pictured above. A reporter asks him, “Are you proud of that?” McCain responds, “Absolutely.” I think it’s safe to characterize his attitude as… unrepentant.