ANN DAVIDOW FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It isn't that people.have lost the ability to reason. It's just that they have allowed themselves to be swayed hither and yon by hucksters selling opinions instead of positing ideas. How else could Republicans think that resuscitating former party heavy-weight John Sununu would help their cause?
It is hard to understand why this old windbag is still huffing and puffing around the edges of polite political discourse. His most recent observation - that General Powell's endorsement of Obama was understandable for reasons other than an assessment of his qualifications" - - "when you take a look at him..." suggests race was the determining factor. As often happens when a firestorm erupts over some obvious racial insult Sununu tried to "walk back" the racist overtone of his words but the walk-back only served to accentuate the original impression.
Sometimes such political missteps are called gaffes. In reality, however, they simply reveal the thinking behind the words. Republican rhetoric is peppered with subtle and not-so subtle racially-charged innuendo - a shameful exercise of free speech in which ugly words fester relentlessly, as a painful manifestation of our unresolved racial animus.
But race is only a symptom of a larger problem that continues to roil the political landscape - - a kind of mindless sense that whatever voters choose to do is an acceptable approach to governing. Somehow who should be allowed to marry has become an issue for voters to decide and odd definitions of such matters as rape have been twisted to conform to right-wing political orthodoxy.
One of the reasons we find ourselves in an electoral funk is that so many voters don't have a clue about what the real issues are - the so-called low- content voters - and willingly allow politicians to define their world. At the moment we have a disturbing array of ideologues who rely on concepts premised in the writings of Ayn Rand as if they hadn't been able to develop any original thoughts since high school. As Hal Crowther put it in The Progressive Populist (October 15) "Ryan's infatuation with Ayn Rand was enough to convince me that he's an arrested adolescent but there in bold letters on Ryan's list of mentors was my old schoolmate Bill Bennet. Sometimes we literally don't know whether to laugh or cry."
But sometimes through our tears we become aware of the absurd pickle we're in. Think of vice presidential candidate Ryan washing imaginary food off dishes at a soup kitchen. Think of a presidential candidate who says "I don't remember what I said but I stand by it, whatever it was." Or who instructs a team to go after the 'good players' and not worry about injuries. It's probably the way he was thinking as he soaked up those millions at the companies he took over - without a great deal of thought about lost jobs, health care and pensions.
President Obama was mocked for saying to a group of successful business men that "they didn't build it" that their success was dependent on many factors. Roads helped move merchandise and customers, and the internet, created by others, opened vast new opportunities, something Bill Gates Sr pointed out in his defense of the estate tax as a way of re-paying a debt to the country for making his success possible.
It was refreshing to hear a millionaire say he owed something to others and his country instead of claiming all the credit for himself. Unfortunately man of our candidates are a different breed, who keep as much of the nation's treasure for themselves and their friends as possible.