Friday, October 10, 2008

The Better Angels of Our Nature

A quick break from the triviality of sports games for a moment.


'The Better Angels of Our Nature'

Lincoln spoke those words in his first Inaugural address. Here is the quote in context:

I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stre[t]ching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

I have been thinking about this quote a lot of late. It's a terribly important speech from Lincoln, not only in the scope of the country in March of 1861, but also in October of 2008.

If you have been following the election of late you have undoubtedly seen a lot of the videos either on TV or on YouTube -- some of the YouTube videos are truly scary -- and you have certainly noticed the "tone" of the McCain campaign.

They're losing. They know it. Nothing they have done in the realm of issue-politics has worked to take Obama off course. The debates, even though the McCain camp saw them as strong performances, have leaned heavily for Obama. The polls are shockingly clear -- McCain and Palin are the equivalent of Mike Tyson in Japan: off their game, battered and bruised and poised for one last hook to the chin. Obama is Buster Douglas --calm, confident, and waiting to deliver that last devastating hook.

In response to this, McCain and Palin are playing from a playbook that, to me at least, is circa 1860. McCain was once an honorable man. As I said a few weeks ago -- I would have (possibly) voted for him in 2000. Today, it makes me throw up in my mouth a little to consider that possibility.

A basketball buddy of mine from the Cleveland area was at this rally in Strongsville. He's a lifelong Republican and he wanted to see first hand the Palin Frenzy, as he calls it. I berate him every time he calls for voting for this anti-intellectual novice, but he wanted to see the Frenzy.

Well, he saw it, all right.

He called me that same night after he and his wife got back.

"How'd it go? Were you given free Mooseburgers and a wolf pelt? "

"They're going to kill him."


"I'm telling you Bill. That was the most fu***** terrifying thing I have ever seen. These people are fu***** insane and if Obama does win they're going to take him out. If he would have shown up at that rally they would have ripped him to shreds. I can officially say now that I have witnessed first hand the intensity of an angry mob."

I dismissed my friend's fear as being a tad dramatic and we moved onto topics like Ohio State and the fact that my ankle has been hurting for three weeks and I can't play ball.

But I started thinking about it. What made me reconsider this was what my friend told me -- because these rallies usually attract the extremes of the party. I was at a Kerry rally and felt like a dumb ass because some of these people were so over the top that I felt like an alien -- and I was voting for Kerry. I felt like telling them, "Stop being on my side."

So I imagine that the Repub rallies are similar regardless of the year. Here's where this is very different -- and very ugly.

When an audience member screams to McCain, "Kill him! He's a terrorist!" He (McCain) doesn't do anything. He doesn't tell him to appeal to 'The Better Angels of Our Nature' he nods that CHUD flesh eating grin of his and nods in approval. Palin may as well be standing on stage with a torch and pitchfork telling these troglodytes to charge Dr. Frakensteins' castle.

They're encouraging this -- openly -- they are doing nothing to stop it. This is politics at its very worst and the fact that it is John McCain that is doing it blows me away. It's one thing for Obama to call McCain "old" "erratic" "Out of touch" and "angry" but to indirectly call a presidential candidate a terrorist is so far out of bounds that it's in C Deck of The Shoe.

My buddy is still voting for McCain, which saddens me, but it's because he doesn't like Obama's politics, which I can accept. What we are seeing at these rallies is very different -- my buddy felt it...saw it. And it not only makes me sad (and a bit scared) for the country but also for people like my friend in Cleveland who is unfairly being lumped into the low hanging fruit of the extreme right.