You know it’s coming: a barrage of distortions, exaggerations, half-truths and outright lies designed to demonize Barack Obama. John McCain is losing, and he is not a good loser. He is a spoiled brat who, by his own account, used to hold his breath till he passed out when he did not get his own way. The son and grandson of admirals, a lionized “war hero” and a rich woman’s husband, McCain will not go gently into the dark night of political defeat. At 72 years old, this is his last shot at the brass ring, and he will do anything to grab hold of it.
So brace yourself. You will be told that Obama associates with terrorists and hoods, is a black radical Islamist, likes urugula in his salad, thinks working class Americans cling to their religion and guns because of their bitterness, plans to tax Americans into bankruptcy, and is just waiting to pump up the deficit with massive welfare programs.
Even if all that were true, he would still be preferable to McCain, but it is not true. So here are a few facts you may wish to share with your friends.
The “terrorist” that Obama is alleged to have associated with is a man named Bill Ayers (photo at left), who headed a violent protest group back in the Sixties. At that time, Obama was a child in Hawaii. Much, much later, Obama and Ayers met when both were trying to help downtrodden denizens of South Chicago. And Ayers held a fund raiser for Obama. By that time, Ayers had long ago ceased being a “terrorist.” In fact, he was deeply involved in community work, something McCain and his crowd should try sometime – when they get tired of cruising on criminals’ yachts and vacationing at felons’ villas in the Bahamas.
Here’s what The New York Times had to say about Ayers in an article published on Saturday:
Mr Ayers has largely been rehabilitated. Federal riot and bombing conspiracy charges against him were dropped in 1974 because of illegal wiretaps and other prosecutorial misconduct, and he was welcomed back after years in hiding by his large and prominent family. His father, Thomas G. Ayers, had served as chief executive of Commonwealth Edison, the local power company. Since earning a doctorate in education at Columbia in 1987, Mr. Ayers has been a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the author or editor of 15 books, and an advocate of school reform. “He’s done a lot of good in this city and nationally,” Mayor Richard M. Daley said in an interview this week, explaining that he has long consulted Mr. Ayers on school issues.
Now, someone should look into McCain’s associates. They would find that the incidental (and innocent) political support Obama received from a shady character named Tony Rezko is laughable compared to McCain’s record. Cindy McCain’s father and uncle were jailed for falsifying beer distribution records, and both worked for an alleged gangster named Kemper Marley, who was suspected of ordering the assassination of investigative reporter Don Bolles. They would also find that the McCains spent many vacations yachting with Charles Keating – of Savings & Loan scandal fame – and staying at Keating’s villa in the Bahamas. As recently as last month, The Nation published a photo (above, right) of McCain boarding a yacht belonging to Italian Raffaello Follieri, the accused con artist who used to be actress Anne Hathaway’s boyfriend.
But back to the lies you will read and view about Obama. For the millionth time, Obama is not a Muslim! He is a Protestant with deeply held Christian beliefs. In his childhood, his mother married a Muslim and moved the family to Indonesia, where Barack briefly attended a secular school with Muslims among its students. And Obama is a lot less radical than many informed (and intelligent) Americans. Progressive members of the Democratic Party are sometimes impatient with his compromises as he “reaches across the aisle” to make a deal with more conservative politicians. He is a pragmatist who does what he must in order to achieve objectives he deems worthwhile, and he is far more tolerant than I am of the foibles of “conservatives.”
As a pragmatist, Obama is not likely to pursue extremist policies. He has shown so much flexibility that opponents have derided him as a “flip-flopper.” So, while he has proposed a policy that would close corporate tax loopholes and revoke the Bush tax handout to upper-income Americans (couples making more than $250,000 a year), I am confident that he would implement his plans with care to avoid scuttling the economy. And he bases his spending programs – health care for all, improved education, accelerated development of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar – on compensatory reductions in other budget areas. You can be sure he will proceed with caution – not plunge heedlessly forward like some crazed ideologue. (I wish the same could be said for McCain!)
The remark Obama made about clinging to guns and religion was deliberately misconstrued. He has said repeatedly he meant to convey that Americans facing economic hardship often rely on religion and traditional pastimes to sustain them. And who would argue with that? Certainly not Sarah Palin, who belongs to a charismatic church and whose gun collection is worth many thousands of dollars.
As for the urugula, I don’t know what Obama eats in his salad, but from looking at the two candidates, I suspect his diet is a lot more spartan than McCain’s.