July 28, 2008

      "I know how to win a war."

George W. Bush, arguably the worst president in our nation's history, received more than 62 million votes in 2004. It's rumored that Senator John McCain has this disturbing fact announced to him every day during his morning campaign briefing. Said one advisor, "All we need to do is create the sort of political conditions which dominated the 2004 campaign and the White House is ours."

Watch any of the major network's nightly news coverage and see if its focus doesn't closely match the daily talking points issued by the Republican National Committee.

McCain, who has to date been running a campaign nearly as awful as Bush's eight year presidency, has three major advantages that have so far kept him from making the earliest concession speech in history. First, he has most of the corporate media on his side. If you doubt this, watch any of the major network's nightly news coverage and see if its focus doesn't closely match the daily talking points issued by the Republican National Committee.

Second, as already mentioned McCain has a shot at those 62 million plus people who voted for Bush in 2004, although I suspect those numbers will not hold up this time around. Third and perhaps most importantly, McCain benefits from racism and the race factor.

The beauty of the race factor from McCain's perspective is that as a white male Republican and an alleged iconic war hero, he can get away with acting like a jerk, making outrageous statements, repeatedly getting his facts wrong, blowing his top, singing songs and making jokes about bombing countries, and whining like a baby with colic everytime an opponent gets some good press.

"Colorful" versus "Colored"
On the other hand, Barack Obama has been attacked for imaginary mistakes that he hasn't actually made. And faces the distinct possibility that when he actually makes a mistake he will be crucified 24/7 on every major news outlet. Some of this of course relates to the normal media bias that exists against any Democratic presidential candidate. But just under the surface lies 400 years of race prejudice and a double standard whereby white male candidates that screw up can be affectionately labeled "colorful," while black candidates that do so are merely labeled "colored."

Another race-related element that comes into play is the "guilt by association" factor. For example, McCain and his campaign have all sorts of controversial ultra right wing associates and supporters who have made racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-semitic, and in some cases, openly fascistic public statements. Yet this is rarely if ever reported in the main stream media. Compare this to the bad press Obama got regarding Reverend Wright. Now one can argue that the Reverend Wright comments were fair game as far as reporting was concerned or taken out of context, but why are we not hearing more about McCain's hateful mad dog supporters?

I also find it interesting that Obama is constantly asked race related questions, but McCain mostly gets a free pass on such inquiries. Interesting, CNN on line has been running a highly politicized series on black Americans for the last month, with many of the stories relating in one way or another to Obama. The cumulative effect of this series, and its purpose in my view, is to make sure that readers remember that he -- Obama -- is the "black" candidate.

While Obama is always quick to point out that he is culturally both black and white, the main stream media has presented him primarily as a black candidate. This is entirely consistant with historical racial conventions and the precedents set by our system of slavery, which declared that anyone with a smidgen of "black" blood was to be considered a "negro" and a potential slave.

There is no proof that McCain was ever tortured other than his own statements after being released.

"War Hero" versus "War Criminal"
One area where Senator McCain has been virtually untouchable has been the successful myth perpetrated that he is some sort of war hero. His early political career was built upon this clever falsehood. For the record, there are no publicly released records covering John McCain's period of incarceration in an Hanoi POW camp and what actually happened there. There is no proof that he was ever tortured other than his own statements after being released. While he was seriously injured, those injuries could have resulted from the plane crash itself or in the beatings he suffered by local residents at the crash site before the police arrived. While a POW he made statements that he was a "war crimal" who "bombed and killed innocent women and children." While he takes credit for refusing an early POW release, it turns out that his commanding officer at the camp ordered him to refuse.

For the record, hundreds of thousands of civilians (millions by some estimates) were killed or maimed in bombings carried out over North and South Vietnam, making McCain's statement a truthful one regardless of whether or not it was coerced. Also for the record, McCain's target the day he was shot down was Hanoi's main power plant. Just imagine for a second if an Al Qaeda pilot did something similar and knocked out the power for New York City. If caught he'd be sent to GITMO to be tortured and tried by a military tribunal as a terrorist.

Finally, Senator McCain has said on several occasions that "he knows how to win a war," and that Obama "would rather lose a war to win an election." I'm sure this must be interesting news to the Vietnamese.