McCain vs. McCain Supporters

For those injected with the 2008 presidential madness, the pressure is beginning to rise and the End of Days is approaching. With each passing day, you probably look at the polls to see how your candidate is doing. Polls are a crap-shoot, especially a few weeks before the election. It is not difficult to see that, taking into account Reagan’s surge in the few days of 1980, or George W. Bush’s final push in 2004. Nevertheless, when your candidate’s down in the polls, its hard not to chew off your lower lip. For the time being, McCain is down in the polls and his supporters are getting quite upset– while neo-conservatives are getting irate.

On October 7 in New Mexico, a man screamed “Terrorist!” in reference to Barack Obama at a a McCain rally. On October 9 in a Republican rally in Pennsylvania, a woman yelled, “He’s a damn liar! Get him. He’s bad for our country.” On October 9 in Waukesha, Wisconsin, people shouted “Nobama” and “Socialist” at the mention of the Democratic presidential nominee.

McCain has been trailing Obama in the polls since the economic meltdown began (characterized by a cry for a $700 billion dollar rescue mission for Wall Street and one of the largest bank failures since the Great Depression with Washington Mutual). Real Clear Politics has Obama with a 7.2% lead in national polls, a margin that has widened in the last two weeks. Candidates cannot control their surrogates, and they most certainly cannot control their supporters. Unfortunately, McCain’s most recent energies have been spent trying to minimize the blowback of his ill-tempered supporters, many of whom have turned to character attacks and old slogans of defamation in order to express themselves.

If you don’t want to take my word at it, take McCain’s at a town hall in Lakeville, Minnesota. According to Philip Elliott and Beth Fouhy of the Associated Press, October 10, 2008:

The anger is getting raw at Republican rallies and John McCain is acting to tamp it down. McCain was booed by his own supporters Friday when, in an abrupt switch from raising questions about Barack Obama’s character, he described the Democrat as a “decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.”

A sense of grievance spilling into rage has gripped some GOP events this week as McCain supporters see his presidential campaign lag against Obama. Some in the audience are making it personal, against the Democrat. Shouts of “traitor,” “terrorist,” “treason,” “liar,” and even “off with his head” have rung from the crowd at McCain and Sarah Palin rallies, and gone unchallenged by them.

McCain changed his tone Friday when supporters at a town hall pressed him to be rougher on Obama. A voter said, “The people here in Minnesota want to see a real fight.” Another said Obama would lead the U.S. into socialism. Another said he did not want his unborn child raised in a country led by Obama.

“If you want a fight, we will fight,” McCain said. “But we will be respectful. I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments.” When people booed, he cut them off.

“I don’t mean that has to reduce your ferocity,” he said. “I just mean to say you have to be respectful.”

Both McCain and Obama have been judged by politicians across the spectrum as decent, respectful choices for their respective Parties. While Obama and McCain have pledged to keep their contest about policies and issues, McCain supporters are pushing McCain to join them in ad hominen attacks.

“I don’t trust Obama,” a woman said. “I have read about him. He’s an Arab.”

McCain shook his head in disagreement, and said:

“No, ma’am. He’s a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with (him) on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign is all about.”

McCain’s refusal to defame Obama has also put him at odds with his running mate, Sarah Palin. According to the Sunday Times, he has become alarmed at Palin’s furious attacks against Barack Obama, in which cries of “terrorist” and “kill him” have accompanied the tirades by the governor of Alaska against the Democratic nominee at Republican rallies.

Bill Bishop of Slate.com chalks up the anger and mounting irrationalism as typical psychological behavior.

Social psychologists have conducted scores of these “group polarization” experiments since the ’60s, and they all come to the same finding: Like-minded people in a group grow more extreme in the way they are like-minded.

Homogeneity creates extremity—or, in the news of the day, a McCain rally.

Bishop’s answer is to have mixed rallies- a heterogenous crowd of liberals and conservatives. While this might work in a lab, or a line for ice cream, it is a far cry from feasible in the political rally circuit.

According to the Sunday Times, McCain’s long-serving chief of staff Mark Salter has told campaign insiders that he would prefer his boss, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, to suffer an “honourable defeat” rather than conduct a campaign that would be out of character – and likely to lose him the election. This might be the case.

As the days inch closer to election time, McCain will either have to step up his rhetoric for defending Obama against character attacks, or step down and join the defamation train. Either way, it spells trouble for his campaign– and unfortunately, he has only his supporters to blame.

  • Babs

    Well, Michael, I guess now I’ll have to do a commentary about the Obama supporters who are having a hay day defacing McCain headquarters across the country, defacing signs, and pushing back against McCain supporters while screaming “McCain is a MURDERER!”

    And what label will you apply to those gentle people?

  • Again, Babs, I fear you are playing protectorate. There are fanatics in every political group under the sun. Your example (while not cited) is not parallel. The issue for McCain is that his supporters are bringing their derision to the rallies themselves and approaching McCain, himself, with it.

    A close parallel would be when Obama supporters were booing Hillary Clinton during one of Senator Biden’s speeches, and Biden had to chastise the crowd for this. But you need only look at the comments here at YouDecide2008.com to see the differences. While people are calling McCain a liar, most attacks have to do with his policies, whereas the attacks on Obama’s character are a lot more prevalent.

    As for defacing signs– all I know is that in my area of California, the Republican party has a lot more money than the Democrats and have secured most of the public areas to put up gigantic signs with slanderous slogans. Through sheer money power, they have monopolized the public space. I do not see any Obama supporters defacing these, but I would suspect that could be a motivation if they did. But this is all tit for tat.

    End of the day, both candidates are respectable, and right now the McCain rallies (and Palin herself) are creating problems for McCain.

  • Babs

    Most attacks on McCain have to do with his policies, Michael? My, my. You need to return to the country immediately, you are grossly behind.

    Palin is creating problems for McCain? No so, Michael. But again, I’ll see what I can do to present to you the other side of this coin, which has nothing to do with protectionism and everything to do with “fair and balanced”.

  • IndiMinded

    Sure, just as McCain’s side has declared that Obama likes to go palin around with terrorists, Obama accuses McCain of pallin around with our president. If you believe some of the stuff liberal extremists have said about George W Bush, that’s practically the same line of attack!

  • Babs

    Let’s see how many of these are about “policy”.

    The most popular t-shirt being sold today on zazzle.com is:

    “PUCK YOU PALIN” And the policy is?

    And there’s more on zazzle.com. Here’s just a few:

    “McBastard” Policy here?
    “John McCain: A Mad Man, No plan, Born in Panama.”
    A really intelligent attack on McCain’s policies here:
    “VOTE FOR MCCAIN, GET A FREE COATHANGER”
    And my personal favorite at zazzle.com, Palin the Terrorist:
    “SARAH PALIN, A POLITICAL TERRORIST, PUTTING ON AIRS OF FAKE INNOCENCE AND FAKE CONPETENCE” (MOOSE PIC WITH PALIN HEAD)

    Of course, the most widely publicized is the latest shirt out about Sarah Palin – the c**t. What policy does that address, Michael? You can see that and worse at http://www.cafepress.com/numptees050505/5083595 that I won’t paste here, but here’s you some really neat bumper stickers from depresident.com. I’m sure there’s some policy disputes in here somewhere:

    McBush, McSame, McWar, McLoser 2008, McFubar, McSnafu, McBonbiran, McHipSurgery, McWhaaa?, McJurassic, McFlintstone, McRetire, McFool, McFlipflop, McDinosaur, McHundred, McLOL 2008, McWTF, McDouche, MaCan’t, McSTFU

    Obama doesn’t see these, you might argue. Perhaps not, the “C” shirts were worn to an Obama rally, though. They were photographed by the press, and Obama hasn’t said a word about it. Take a look at the photo in this article:
    http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/10/13/election-day-nearing-distasteful-rhetoric-party-problem/

    The words on the “ghost” reads “Sarah Palin for V President and that’s scary!!” When a McCain attendee said Obama scared him, McCain corrected him. You’ll notice in the photo here that Obama is not only NOT correcting this woman, he’s grinning with pen in hand about to autograph it for her.

    Now, would you like to continue this conversation, Michael? I have plenty more.

  • Babs

    Oh, and Michael, in case you missed this in the article posted:

    “The Portland Tribune also reported over the weekend that two men in Oregon were arrested for throwing a Molotov cocktail at a large McCain campaign sign, igniting part of the structure.

    And on Monday at a McCain rally in North Carolina, an Obama supporter stood outside and repeatedly yelled, “McCain is a murderer.”

  • Babs

    One more political policy debate for you, if you can stomach it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMIafelp-ww&feature=user

  • Babs, i was referring to our website, YouDecide2008.com, about policy differences with McCain rather than personal attacks. As I said, there are people of every party in the world involved in this unfortunate practice.

    And I far be it for me to simply state what I hear McCain and his in-group discussing in regards to Palin’s current attack policies (and dispute over Michigan).

  • Babs

    Well, if you were referring to this site, take a look around – especially at nzpuddings comments about Palin. They’ll make you just as sick.

    I’m clueless as to your last paragraph. You’ll have to enlighten me, Professor.

  • don cier

    Mike, I’ll give you a thought that should outrage you.
    Obama supporters see nothing wrong with the tactcs of the taxpayer-supported Acorn group of neighborhood organizers, and vigorously deny all of the facts that are coming out about that group and it’s close alliace with The Messiah.
    Obama’s platform includes a program for America’s youth to either serve in the armed forces, or “domestic service”. Guess what group will undoubtedly be put in charge of these squads of young people?
    You probably don’t remember “Hitler Jugend”.
    Those of us who do have reason to be uneasy about the prospects of millions of America’s youth doing the bidding of Acorn.

  • don cier– this is from the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now’s website (http://www.acorn.org/):

    “October 13, 2008, Miami, FL – U.S. Senator John McCain’s recent attacks on the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) are puzzling given his historic support for the organization and its efforts on behalf of immigrant Americans. As recently as February 20, 2006, Senator McCain was the keynote speaker at an ACORN-sponsored Immigration Rally in Miami, Florida at Miami Dade College – Wolfson Campus.”

    I am not fully informed on their current practices, but I do not believe that a “a community-based organization that advocates for low- and moderate-income families by working on neighborhood safety, health care and other social issue” is all bad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_of_Community_Organizations_for_Reform_Now).

  • Babs, I agree that nzpudding’s comments as of late are in ill-taste and I do not, in any way, support them.

    Palin sharply criticized McCain for letting go of Michigan, and (as I mentioned in the above article), McCain is alarmed at Palin’s rhetoric.

    Neither Biden nor Palin seem to be in sync with their running mates, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s good to have diversity on a ticket– and it is also good to have an attack dog on your side. It’s just not helpful when you feel your running mate is costing you political points. Biden did this a bit with his Hillary Clinton comment and blunder over clean energy comments. I see Palin doing it right now with her character attacks.

  • Babs

    And now my comment that WAS HERE has disappeared. Michael, are you censoring me today? *L*

  • Babs, I swear I had nothing to do with it. I am actually barely connected to the Internet out here, so any move I make takes a bit of time.

  • If it disappeared by itself, it’s a glitch which I apologize for. Perhaps it wasn’t properly posted to the server when you hit submit. Looking into it..

  • Okay let me ask you all THIS!

    What has Obama said that is in relation to these crazy supporters?

    Is there a Parallel?

    Is there evidence that Obama’s Rhetoric is possibly connected to the violence?

    We have seen NOBAMA plenty of times. No one cried foul for that.
    All the rhetoric that Babs outlined in her post we have all seen similar about Obama prior to this new Rhetoric of Palin and McCain.

    Do a search on youtube, Type his name and Muslim in a search engine. You’ll see photos of him with Bin Ladin and all kinds of madness. There have been racial things spray painted on some of Obama’s poster and someone in an Obama shirt just got shot and killed.

    Guess what? No one accused McCain of these things you want to know why? Because you can’t accuse him of what his supporters do.

    But things have changed. McCain decided to tap into these people.
    By having two different people say Obama’s Full name ( while not saying John McCain’s full name) in conjunction to Obama is pallying around with terrorists, Who is Barack Obama, He is not one of us, He doesn’t see the country the same way as you and I, and there has been more.
    AFTER THIS RHETORIC this legitimized all of those urban legends of Obama. And no one from McCain campaign has apologized for this Rhetoric yet.
    John McCAin was asked to condemn the statments of someone comaparing Obama to Osama bin Laden and HE WOULD NOT DO IT.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7v1i8PbU_9M

    Yet the McCain campaign demanded Obama denounce the statements which compared McCain with the the racist governor who incited racism in his rallies. And Obama did it. That is called the Candidate keeping himself separate from the supporters.
    If Obama was McCain he would not have denounced that statement like McCAin wouldn’t. he would bring up McCain not voting for Martin Luther king birthday, calling people gooks, not voting for civil rights laws , then say Who is John McCain. Then bring up John McCain worked with Strom Thurmond who is a racist for decades. Then say he doesn’t see the country the same way we do being that he has to hang around with a RACIST.

    AFTER OBAMA DOES THAT THEN YOU CAN DRAW A PARALLEL.

    But until then McCain is the one responsible for the recent behavior in his rallies which did not exist prior to their new “legitimize the urban legends of obama is a terrorist” campaign.

  • One more thing.

    When Palin’s family first got attacked Obama held a mini press conference condemning it. He gave it special attention. Saying he condemns it. When someone suggested that it was his supporters he said “but these people are not a part of my campaign and if there was someone who was a part of my campaign involved in this they would be fired immediately.”.

    McCain has not made a public grand stand either or condemn the ridiculous comparison of Obama to Osama bin laden.

    Keith Olberman on McCain not condemning this. And this was a Governor. Not just some civilian supporter.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvJciFtlF7k

    Yet leave it to the radical right to down play anything.

  • Babs

    Nate, I got a message a couple of times yesterday while trying to post that said something like “no nodes available to complete this task”, but on re-submitting, it posted. Then disappeared.

    Actually, Dreadsen, what I saw Obama saying about Palin was she might as well get used to it, and if she couldn’t take it, she shouldn’t be in the race.

    I never thought the right was radical, but I’ll take it. I was in the middle when all this started, now I’ll gladly go as far right and radical as I can get. That will put me the fartherist I can get from the left wing radical NObama.

  • Gary

    Is this a stealth Republican site? My My, how this doesn’t seem to work. Tried two posts, and they don’t get on.

  • Frank

    i have a question for the people that call Obama an extreme liberal or an extreme socialist.
    What makes him a socialist??

    – his tax cuts?
    – his pro war agenda?
    – him being religous as hell?
    – him being pro gun?

    The only difference with McCain is the healthcare issue.
    And are you americans so afraid (and uninformed) of Obama, and him being a possible liberal, that you forget that besides free healthcare, nothing will change for you?

    There is nothing liberal about Obama. I wish he was though. Liberals rule.

  • DJS

    Frank. ..Obama’s idea of spreading the wealth is just what socialists do. Some put it real simple today. If you got dressed up and walked around on Halloween night to get candy how would you feel if when you came home you had to share with kids who couldn’t be bothered getting dressed and going out themselves. He wants the government to control more and more of your life.
    I have done alot to help my family financial when I can, but I don’t see why I should work harder to make more money so that Obama can take it and give it to someone who doesn’t want to work as hard.
    And if Obama is giving us all free healthcare, giving $845B to the UN to support 3rd world countries, and he is going to cut taxes for 95% of the workers who is going to pay for this? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that if Obama raises taxes for the rich that increase will be passed down to us. Tax the oil companies more, gas goes up, truckers delivering food raise their prices because of the higher gas taxes and the grocery stores raise their prices because it is costing them more to get the groceries delivered to their store.

  • jon miles

    Obama’s promise to bankrupt the coal industry…I don’t see how this is going to add jobs. The Obama economic policy is seriously flawed as DJS has pointed out. Looks like another Jimmy Carter administration.

    copy and paste to browser:

    http://www.stoptheaclu.com/archives/2008/11/02/shocking-audio-obama-promises-to-bankrupt-coal-industry/