Saturday, September 13, 2008

Key Task: Isolate and Divide the Right

Progressives and
Antiwar Movement
Must Weigh in

By Tom Hayden
Progressives for Obama

September 13, 2008 - A principle reason for Progressives For Obama is so that we can say things that the Obama campaign cannot or will not say.

This is one of those times.

1.Sarah Palin is a mortal threat to the possibility of Obama winning. The reason is simple: if she can add a couple of points to McCain from defecting white women and the newly-energized right wing religious base without losing more independent votes, McCain pulls ahead in some key states.

The dangerous tendency of the Obama campaign and its Democratic surrogates is to not fight back, but treat Palin as a “distraction” from McCain, the economy, the issues they feel familiar with, etc.

If they assume that the Palin bubble will return to earth naturally, or that the mainstream media and Saturday Night Live will do the job for them, the Obama campaign is mistaken.

There needs to be a controlled message that treats Palin as an extension of McCain, not a bobble-head to be laughed at.

The message has to cut off independent and women’s support for McCain-Palin and, if possible, divide some of the right-wingers. Not an easy task.

Perhaps the point is that we’ve already suffered eight years under a president Bush and vice-president Cheney who were, in Palin’s words, so “wired in a way to be committed to the mission” that they could neither blink nor think.

An excellent editorial in Sunday’s NY Times makes the connection from McCain to Palin in terms that will reach independent and moderate voters. It should be quoted and widely circulated. The choice of an unqualified candidate to be a heartbeat from the presidency of a 72 year old man with four melanomas “was shockingly irresponsible”, the Times said.

I think we can see in McCain-Palin a kind of faith-based extremism that reminds us of Bush and, even more, the persona of Gen. Custer.

We have seen where righteous faith-based politics goes in the Supreme Court decisions, corruption scandals, the official lies, and the unnecessary wars of the past eight years, all carried out in the name of what both McCain and Palin now call “God’s plan.”

We should say, In the name of God, stop them!

2. The McCain-Palin foreign policy is a mortal threat from the same neoconservatives who brought us Iraq wrapped in lies. We cannot give the Republicans an advantage with their false clams of “victory in sight.” We have to emphasize the three-trillion dollar cost of the war, and we have to connect the war to the price of oil. Democratic consultants should stop compartmentalizing the economy like it was 1992 all over again.

This is apparently not the advice of the biggest Democratic heavyweights like Bill Clinton and James Carville who tend to revert to “it’s the economy, stupid.” But it’s not 1992. It’s the 9/11 era, the Iraq War era, the War on Terrorism era – and also the middle of the worse economic and energy crisis in memory. The issues are tied together. Not enough people will vote on “lunch bucket” issues if they think McCain-Palin will protect them from terrorists, but they might vote against McCain-Palin if they think they are being lied to again.

The war is not being won. That’s why Petraeus wants to keep 140,000 troops in Iraq. We are paying 100,000 Iraqis not to shoot and bomb us – for now. Iraq is a time bomb with a timer set to go off next year after the November election. It costs $324 million a day, three trillion in the long run, that could be spent on public works, health care and education now. It deepens our dependency on oil when we should be spending the money to weatherize our buildings, conserve our energy and throw ourselves into a new clean energy economy with the same focus it took to get to the moon. That’s the mission we need to be wired into…

Under McCain-Palin, the same neo-conservatives who fabricated the pretext for invading Iraq will only take us into more quagmires – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Georgia, maybe Iran - that will bleed our troops and our economy without an end in sight.

Palin's brazen neocon advisers repeated the original Iraq lie – that Saddam was behind 9/11 - in the scripted speech she gave to her son’s troops as they departed for the war zone: “You’ll be there to defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the deaths of thousands of Americans.” [NYT, Sept. 14]

Bush-Cheney obviously are trying to scare enough voters into supporting McCain-Palin amidst a rising national security crisis. The Democrats and the media are helping them by accepting Georgia’s triggering attack on Russia as legitimate, which surely was orchestrated with the knowledge of McCain’s top foreign policy adviser, the same neo-con who directed the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq from Washington lobby to actual invasion force. They further hope to bring back bin Ladin’s head from Pakistan before November. Bush-McCain may get the scalp of bin Ladin but they are on Custer’s path to Little Big Horn.

So the clear promise of McCain-Palin is there will be blood. The fact that they scoff at Obama at the mere mention of diplomacy [despite their own talking to Russia, Iran, etc] presents an opening to describe them as what they are: extremists in the tradition of Bush-Cheney for whom war seems to be a first option. McCain was there on an aircraft carrier screaming “Next stop, Baghdad!” in 2002 as if it was Vietnam in 1967. Palin says she’s wired to win the war without blinking. That’s also why McCain on two occasions this year has spoken favorably of resuming the compulsory military draft. Independents and young first-time voters should pay attention to these issues.

The peace movement which provided the platform that made Obama’s candidacy possible in 2002 cannot afford to let that advantage be squandered by Democrats this fall. The upcoming September 20 Million Doors for Peace campaign is a good way to begin spreading the word.

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