(cross posted at MyDD )
Recently Jeffrey Feldman has begun posting a Violent Rhetoric Watch series which is spotlighting the dangerous rhetoric of those who oppose an Obama candidacy and presidency. To quote Jeffrey:
What I've noticed in the past few months--unfortunately--is that violent rhetoric stands to become the 'swiftboating' of the 2008 election. In particular, there is a concerted effort across a range of media outlets to define our candidates as violent threats to the well-being of American citizens. With respect to Obama, this has taken the form of two alarming narratives: (1) Obama the covert terrorist and (2) Obama the angry black man. My gut and my experience tells me that these are frames the right-wing will spend hundreds of millions to plant in the American mind.
It may seem unrealistic to say this, but our task will be to prevent that from happening.
As many of us have seen and noted, there is a dramatic increase in the dangerous and violent rhetoric against Obama. He is questioned because of his race and charged as guilty via his "associations" with the Reverand Wright (the preacher who also served as President Clinton's spiritual advisor in those post Lewinsky days), the New Black Panther Party (they posted on his web), Louis Farrakhan and the NOI (Obama supported the Million Man March), the entire country of Kenya (his cousin is a polical figure there), Spike Lee and Malcolm X (he said "bamboozled and hoodwinked"), and Jay-Z (whose lyrics are apparently Obama secret path to success and, are treasonous if played backwards... okay I made that up).
Moreover there have been hints of his being anti-American because of Michelle's statements, the lack of a flag pin, his madrassa schooling (not!), his oath on the Quran (not!), his friendship with Syrians, the PLO, Hamas (thank McCain for that one!), and the Weather Underground.
Jeffrey Feldman's diary from earlier today takes on Ann Coulter - Violent Rhetoric Watch: "Obama Pals Around With Terrorists" (Coulter)
Now Lou Dobbs is getting into the act. First, I feel a need to say I'm not a Dobbs hater. I think he vacillates between giving rise to a populist, middle-class voice especially when taking on the government for outsourcing jobs. Unfortunately, he far too often goes over the edge. And he has done so again.
Here's an April 17, 2008 exchange between him and Andrew McCarthy who, while not the elite kid in "Pretty in Pink", is the author of Willful Blindness: Memoir of the Jihad.
DOBBS: Bill Ayers, we’re hearing today from Mayor Daley that he also knows Ayres and he’s just a fine fellow and no problem, don’t be — please don’t be discomforted by Senator Obama’s relationship with him.
MCCARTHY: Look, of all the people who’ve ever bombed the Pentagon and the State Department and the New York City police headquarters, I’m sure he’s one of the best. But I — my sense is that regular Americans aren’t going to see it that way.
DOBBS: Senator Obama, you are declaring rather straight forwardly, is denying some relatively close relationships that he is suggesting are not — are distant.
MCCARTHY: Yeah, well he’s denying the relationship, but I think more importantly what he’s trying to obfuscate is that there’s a trajectory to all of this and there’s a theme that runs through it and whether its some of the statements made by his wife or Reverend Wright or Bernadine Dohrn and Ayers, the fact is he’s comfortable...Bernadine Dohrn being Ayers’ wife. The other Weather Underground terrorist who was Ayers’ wife. But, he’s comfortable with people who hate this country. And I think when he talks about and makes the theme of his campaign "Change," and since he hasn’t really explained to us much about the change, we’re entitled to infer, from the people he’s comfortable with, who are social revolutionaries, the kind of change he wants to make in America.
DOBBS: You’re including, obviously, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
MCCARTHY: Of course, right.
DOBBS: And — and Ayers (ph). Others?
MCCARTHY: Well, there’s Rashid Khalidi, who was a recipient of some of the largess that Obama controlled when he was on the Woods Board. He is somebody who was –
DOBBS: He was on the board with Ayers (ph)?
MCCARTHY: Yes, when Obama was on the Woods Board with Ayers, they gave grants to Rashid Khalidi, and his work. Now, he has denied being a member of the PLO. But there’s no question he’s an apologist for Palestinian terrorism, including suicide attacks against Israeli soldiers.
Andrew McCarthy is an author and member of the board of FDD (Foundation for Defense of Democracies) which has been described as a neocon think tank and has a board the supports such a claim:
On FDD's board of advisers are prominent neo-cons and Iraq war boosters, including former Defense Policy Board chairman and Ledeen's sidekick at AEI, Richard Perle; AEI fellow Jeane Kirkpatrick; and former CIA director James Woolsey, who also co-chairs the CPD.
Joining them are Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, whose own Project for the New American Century first named Iran and Syria - as well as Iraq and the Palestinian Authority - as targets of the "war on terrorism", in an open letter published just 10 days after September 11.
It should be no real surprise then that, in their minds, he and Dobbs are uniting to protect America from an outsider. This is the raison d'etre for Dobbs' CNN program. Together Dobbs and McCarthy present an unflattering and wholly inaccurate portrait of Obama and his discussion of "change."
Dobbs and McCarthy want us to believe "change" is equal to "revolution."
Let's look at McCarthy's quote again:
And I think when he talks about and makes the theme of his campaign "Change," and since he hasn’t really explained to us much about the change, we’re entitled to infer, from the people he’s comfortable with, who are social revolutionaries, the kind of change he wants to make in America.
For starters, McCarthy asserts that Obama "hasn't really explained to us much about the change". He hasn't? Where has McCarthy been? Obama has not only discussed "change", he has written about "change". But McCarthy wants to prey on the fears of the Dobbs viewer - a demographic that leans older and whiter than many other news programs. Despite what Obama has explained about the Ayers connection, McCarthy wants the viewer to believe that Obama has not just "a relationship," but "a close relationship" with Ayers - one that "regular Americans" would not like. McCarthy adds that Obama wants to "obfuscate" his relationships with Ayers and others. Add to that, McCarthy wants to hang an anti-Israel, pro-PLO smear around Obama's neck by linking him to Rashid Khalidi whose name is tossed out like he's a known terrorist when he is, in fact, a Yale-educated historian and current professor at Columbia University.
See, because Obama has not "explained" what he means by change, McCarthy (and other "regular Americans") are "entitled to infer" that it must be revolutionary change.
Their message is clear - Obama is trying to create a revolution. And that makes him a danger to "regular Americans."
What can we do about it?
Keep a watchful eye on the pundits who help conflate "change" with "revolution" and remember that the Rovian strategy of winning is to attack a candidate's strengths. Obama's strength is change. In fact, this election, like 2006, is a change election. Don't let the opponent make America think that change is bad, or that change is revolution. Once we lose control of the word "change", the GOP will have turned the country against Obama.