When the circus act of Sarah Palin and Cindy McCain whipped up crowds into a seething frenzy, where was the US Secret Service? That is the group designated to protect all four candidates (and the President and Vice President) from threats. When the McPalin gals incited hatred and anger with their indignation — mock or otherwise — and someone clearly yelled “Kill Him” (about Senator Obama) the other day, the Secret Service needs to investigate.
This is serious. And they now are investigating.
The Service has a lot of powers including the ability to arrest and prosecute those whose actions threaten to harm to a protectee. Mrs. Palin and Mrs. McCain in orange prison jumpsuits would make an important statement that while one does have free speech in the USA, there is a line and these ladies (a term used very loosely) crossed it deliberately.
“Oh come on, Denis!” you say. “That’s just lefty BS. Why such a big fuss?”
Because, not so long ago, Prime Minster Yitzak Rabin of Israel was assassinated by an opposition party-inspired dissident student. His actions to bring peace with the Palestinians included giving away land in Gaza, so the hard rightwingers in the Knesset made highly inflammatory and emotional speeches that inspired a young man to take the Prime Minister’s life.
That’s the big deal.
There are enough whack jobs and wing nuts out there (just view some of the comments from time to time here) to keep the Secret Service busy for years. They don’t need the candidates themselves causing more trouble.
John McCain might want you to focus on fear, Wiliam Ayers, Barack Obama’s middle name, or any one of a dozen thoroughly disproven theories from his Muslim background, to not being born in Hawaii , to his kooky pastor, to any lie they can think of.
However, inciting riotous crowds crosses the line. Having campaign in-state chairs uttering Muslim slurs or uniformed sheriffs introducing the candidates or leafleting black neighbourhoods with scare-tactic notices that those with outstanding warrants had better get them taken care of before election day… all harkens back to Jim Crow law times. (The sheriff of Lee County is now under Federal investigation for violations of the Hatch Act prohibiting public service or military personnel to appear in uniform in a partisan way. He could lose his job or go to prison for his act.)
Vice Presidential candidates are supposed to be pit bulls, there to jab at the opposition candidate. Inciting violence though is a bridge too far. Karl Rove-schooled Republicans laugh and think you are stupid.
The whole world is watching, though, and looking with bated breath to see if we, for once, are going to do the right thing or fall back into another four-year cycle of fear and anger.
I watched Joe Biden’s speech yesterday and there was controlled anger and passion as well as much common sense in what he had to say. He talked about the need for intellectual honesty in McCain’s arguments…
“This election is about dignity and respect. Simply if you have to cut it all aside, cut through everything, it’s about fairness. It’s about how to reclaim the greatness of this country.”
John McCain’s campaign has reached a very difficult place. If they wanted to be intellectually honest, they really only have three choices…
1. They can deny that we’re in trouble and say ‘things are pretty good, we just need a little fine tuning.’ That’s one intellectually honest position they could argue from their perspective.
2. They could explain why the policies of the past 8 years are not a problem, why there is some other reason that has caused us to get in this God-awful deep hole we’ve been dug into both at home and abroad. Or
3. They could be intellectually honest and acknowledge that the economic decision we face today is the final verdict of a failed economic philosophy and we need a wholesale change. Total change!
In my view, those are the only three intellectually honest options that can be chosen.
But there’s one other option… The one they have chosen is to appeal to fear with the veiled question, ‘who is the real Barack Obama.’ Ladies and gentlemen, to have a Vice Presidential candidate raise the most outrageous inferences, the ones that John McCain’s campaign is condoning is simply wrong!”
Aside from writing here, the Huffington Post, and the BBC, I meet a lot of people in the pubs, cafes, and High Street stores of England and Wales. They are genuinely afraid of what a McCain Presidency will mean because they are convinced it means four more years of Bush policies. We need that wholesale change Joe Biden spoke of and we need it now.
My colleagues Sharon Kyle and Dick Price at LA Progressive warned today of complacency and we must fight together for 26 more days for truth and stop the smears before they gain traction. Otherwise, we face 12 years of a grumpy old man and quirky Sarah Palin in charge.
Send her racist lil’ ole self back to Alaska , please.
Denis Campbell is a US journalist based in the United Kingdom. He contributes to newspapers and magazines, is a BBC Radio election commentator and publishes the daily e-magazine The Vadimus Post from the Latin Quo Vadimus – where are we headed and do we know why?
Articles by Denis Campbell