Friday, May 09, 2008

Interpretive Absurdity In Today's Campaign News

Too busy to address this issue with the care it deserves, but in brief:

I suppose it's no secret that one of the main weapons campaigns employ against their opponents is the radically uncharitable interpretation. I began writing this because people in the Obamasphere (or should that be Obamosphere?) are accusing HRC of racism over the following:
Citing an Associated Press analysis "that found how Senator Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me," she went on to say: "There's a pattern emerging here."
I suppose people are objecting to this because they are interpreting "hard-working Americans, white Americans" to mean "hard-working Americans, i.e. white Americans" or something like that. This seems extremely unlikely to me. Seems much more likely that it was supposed to mean something more like "hard-working Americans and white Americans." Look, the Clinton campaign is still evil--don't get me wrong--but I doubt that they're racist, and it's clear that the former interpretation above cannot be pinned on them when the latter interpretation is at least as likely to accurately represent what they meant.

It's particularly excusable given that the MSM has been running around all day every day breaking down every vote in terms of race, sex and class and cackling about who's winning which ethnic groups and so forth. (I've been wanting to post about that but can't keep a civil tongue in my head about it...) The damnably ignorant and vapid news channels have basically established race, sex and class as the categories that must be used to discuss this election. It's stupid and harmful, but Hillary can be excused for slipping into talking that way given that background. Sounds to me like she just garbled her usual bullshit. But I very strongly doubt that she intended to say anything racist.

As I was getting ready to write this, though, I noticed that one of Obama's recent remarks about McCain was also being distorted, this time by the McCain camp. McCain said--and this claim is fairly vile, though it's a moderately complicated issue I think--that Hamas supports (or prefers?) Obama. Obama responded far more civilly and charitably than he was obligated to, saying that McCain had "lost his bearings." The McCain camp is apparently responding that Obama's remark was a bigoted slam at McCain's age. Ageism, I guess. That is absolutely absurd. Perhaps they're unclear on the difference between losing one's bearings and losing one's marbles. I dunno. It was about the most polite thing one could say about McCain's comment. To say that he had "lost his bearings" is a way of saying that he'd lost sight of his own principles. He did, after all, agree to run a civil campaign, and the Hamas remark is on the edge at best. Obama's response was, in a way, a backhanded compliment to McCain, urging him to bring out his better self. The McCain campaign response with an intellectually dishonest slam at Obama.

This is the kind of bullshit that pulls our political discourse into the mud, and exactly the kind of thing Obama has tried to draw our attention to and warn us against. This is a shameful, cynical, dishonest ploy by the McCain camp.

I certainly hope McCain regains his bearings pretty soon. Else it's going to be a really vile and painful campaign--from his side, anyway.


Blogger Aa said...

Kudos for giving Hillary the benefit of the doubt on her remark...that's the way I intepreted it also but one never knows for sure (plus, as I've found, talking in front of cameras or to the press...they catch the things you'd rather you phrased more carefully).

I don't think McCain will regain his bearings and we're in for a long, nasty fight...but maybe that's only the cynic in me.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To bolster the "...and..." interpretation:

Two demographics that Obama has had well known difficulties courting are whites AND blue-collar workers. Hilary's reference to "working, hard-working Americans" is surely a reference to the latter.

The charge of racism seems to me to be based on a selective forgetting of voting demographics that we all know by now.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Joshua said...

I think it's pretty clear that Hillary Clinton is not herself a racist.

That said, it's not hard to imagine that, amidst all of her other "say anything to hurt Obama, whether or not it actually helps me win", she's willing to pander to that portion of the white working class that is racist. Which is almost as bad.

8:36 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home