Monday, August 18, 2008

The Manchurian Obama, and other paranoid delusions

Look, I liked the Manchurian Candidate [the original; the remake sucked] as well as the next guy.

And I think many of Senator Barack Obama's policies--say it again and put it in bold face--policies are potential disasters.

Especially that one about ignoring Pakistani sovereignty to chase down Osama bin Laden...

What I don't doubt is that Barack Obama is a sincere American citizen who believes his leadership and his policies will benefit this country. Maybe also the world, but not specifically Pakistan, Indonesia, Kenya, or Bumfuck, Egypt.

What I don't doubt is that comments like this, in Libertarian Republican, are not meant to report the news, but to evoke these patently ridiculous concerns:

Americans are tolerant of foreigners and certainly of immigrants to this country. But a major party Presidential candidate with such strong familial and legal ties to questionable countries such as Kenya, Indonesia and now Pakistan, legitimately could raise serious concerns among middle Americans. Obama's ultimate loyalties could be called into question. This is especially troublesome given that Obama announced to a crowd of nearly 200,000 three weeks ago in Berlin that he was a "citizen of the World."

Unfortunately, the same people who would decry this sort of smear, however, are not above playing the exact kind of game about Senator John McCain's Vietnam POW experience, as posted by my friend Pandora at Delawareliberal:

Can McCain answer a question without referencing his time as a prisoner of war? I’m thinkin’… No. And it seems that some of the POW cards he’s playing aren’t even his own.

Other POW cards are just silly, but I’m sensing a pattern…

Did McCain lift passages off Wikipedia? Who knows, but it sure looks that way. And justifying bad taste in music by playing the POW card is just sad. But the “Cross in the Dirt” story is beginning to smell.

This approach to analyzing the campaign and the candidates, is not one whit different from either (a) all the historical/factual problems that Hube pointed out with Obama's memoirs [including which concentration camp his dad liberated as a soldier in World War Two]; or (b) the times that the news media took Ronald Reagan ["an old horse cavalryman" who spent his entire WW2 career with the First Motion Picture Film Unit] or Hillary Clinton [dodging sniper fire in Bosnia].

Nor could John Kerry [go back and look at the speeches] talk for more than two minutes in 2004 without including his veteran status....

Couldn't the old gibe at Rudi Giuliani be paraphrased for Kerry: "(noun) (verb) Vietnam veteran"?

Look, here's the unfortunate reality in a media/information age: politicians constantly re-invent themselves, including burnishing their biographies and re-telling and re-interpreting old stories. It's not new.

In a biography of King Ibn Sa'ud a British reporter once (very diffidently, I suspect) challenged the old king on his rendition of a famous fight at a border fortress in which he had participated as a young man. The reporter noted that this version differed not only from the recorded facts, but also from all other retellings on record by the King himself.

The King sighed, smiled, and nodded, saying, "You're right. I don't think I've ever told it that way before."

By the way, Pandora, the Dancing Queen jibe at McCain in the video you posted is truly lame; it doesn't even catch him in a contradiction. He defends his taste as having solidified pre-POW days, and does not ever claim to have heard ABBA or Dancing Queen either before or during his captivity.

You can do better than this. We can all do better than this. And if we don't all do better than this, we're in deep shit.


a most peculiar nature said...

Agreed. The lucky thing is, most of the public is totally oblivious to this.

I also think these type of stories tend to feed upon themselves. If a supporter of McCain makes an outrageous or totally unimportant statement about Obama, then the Obama camp feels moved to do the same, and vice-versa.

It's that whole culture of titillation without substance, but I guess it is a matter of personal opinion when something is important and when something isn't.

Anonymous said...

I think one of the issues liberals have is a little Rove-envy. After being beat up in the last two general elections, some aren't going to stand for it anymore. Hence, the attacks.

You can even see it within the Democratic Party with the Markell goons attacking the Carney supporters. :-)

Hube said...

Steve: Are you saying my blog posts about Obama's gaffes are DE Liberal-like smears? (BTW, it was Obama's GRANDfather, not father as you wrote in the post.) Hopefully you ARE aware that most of those posts I title "McCain's old; Obama's excuse?" IOW, it's still a dig at McCain TOO, as it clearly reminds all how friggin' old the guy is. If you are, I take a umbrage at that. For one, I clearly blast conservatives for inane statements/policies. Two, I don't dawdle in conspiracy theories.

Waldo Lydecker's Journal said...

From a purely cinematic standpoint McCain's story fits the plot of The Manchurian Candidate way better than Obamas's. And his mother is crazy enough to be played by Angeles Lansbury.

Would that make Joe Lieberman the John McGiver character?

Steven H. Newton said...

No, that's not what I meant; but what I did mean is that the concentration of both sides on what I consider the ephemera of the campaign has taken us completely away from a discussion of issues and policies.

You know my position: I don't want either one of them as President. Unfortunately, I don't have any other realistic choice (maybe by 2016 but not now).

Anonymous said...

Steve, am I playing hardball? You betcha. I still feel guilty for not rising to Kerry's defense... afterall, what idiots would have believed such nonsense? Gee, who knew.

Also, my post is not an attack on McCain's war record. It's an attack on McCain sexing up that record (which didn't need it, btw) with stories that don't ring true. Look, McCain is the one who constantly stresses "character and integrity" and then gets caught in a needless fabrication. Just sayin...

Also... I love it when you write about me! It makes me feel important! :-)

a most peculiar nature said...

With all due respect to Delaware’s Hottest Blogger, I have yet to see any real analysis of Obama’s platform. Or McCain’s for that matter. Most of the writing consists of these very innocuous and in the end meaningless innuendo and silly gossip.

Does no substance to the candidate mean no substance to blogging? Or, are his views changing (ahem, I mean REFINING) themselves so often that it is difficult to make a clear statement on what he really means?

I did a review of the Obama healthcare plan (as it stands now), but other than that I haven’t seen any nitty-gritty work on the issues, only the fluff.

David Gerard said...

John McCain and Wikipedia is more innocent, I think (speaking as a Wikipedia editor) - obviously he said to a speechwriter "I want something on Georgia, say this and this" and the guy went "sure thing" and ahh got a bit lazy. Comedy potential, though.