Posted by: mutantpoodle | October 31, 2008


secretariat-the-photo_1212532140Four days.

These days I feel a bit like Mr. Universe in Firefly (save for that whole “love-bot wife” thing), absorbing information from all over the internets and some dead tree sources as well. So that makes it difficult for me to be strictly thematic.

So, for the moment, I won’t try.

The lunacy running around these days would be humorous if it weren’t so pathetic.

First, there’s the McCain campaign’s truly sleazy attack on Barack Obama’s association (and it may, in fact, be a friendship, but so what?) with the New York born Palestinian scholar Rashid Khalidi. That Khalidi is Palestinian means, of course, that he is anti-semitic.

That’s the argument made by the McCain campaign’s loathsome Michael Goldfarb here. Actually, he assumes Khalidi is anti-semitic, and concludes, logically, that Obama must be as well.

Of course, neither is true. With respect to Khalidi, this attack is debunked by those who know him. For example, Barnett Rubin (via Hilzoy):

I actually find it demeaning, insulting, and depressing to have to defend Rashid. I could say, I know him, he has been a guest in my home in New York and in my rented house in Provence, he bears absolutely no resemblance to the image these despicable people are trying to project of him, and lot’s more. I could point out that I am Jewish and have VISIBLE JEWISH ARTIFACTS IN MY HOME, which did not appear to alarm Rashid, if he even noticed them, but it is all just so ridiculous I don’t know what to say.

I don’t want to treat these charges with the respect of a refutation. I just want to express my disgust with those who uttered them and my solidarity with my friend, Rashid Khalidi.

And he’s not the only one.

Credit Khalidi: The Washington Post, in their own blistering editorial condemning this madness, gave him an opportunity to respond, which he did – sort of. “I will stick to my policy,” wrote Khalidi, “of letting this idiot wind blow over.”

Amen to that.

Meanwhile, for those of you getting nervous, I urge you to read all of this Ta-Nehisi Coates post on Obama and the election. I’m plucking out a small part, because it dovetails with what I wrote two weeks ago about Obama’s toughness:

This is a war, and you don’t lose wars because of abstract principles, but because of hard immovable facts. Is your army bigger than theirs? Are you attracting more recruits? Are you deploying in the right places? Who has more resources? Who has the technology edge? These are the reasons I voted Obama in the primary. I didn’t think he was “more principled” than Clinton, nor did I really care. I thought she was tough, but I knew he was tougher. I thought her campaign was smart, but I thought his was smarter. I thought one person was talking about being a fighter, and another was out there actually being a fighter. The general is bearing all of this out, because right now, Barack Hussein Obama is beating John McCain like he stole something–from Toot, no less.

I guarantee you – every little thing you’re worrying about now has been considered and addressed by the Obama campaign. So chill. (Well, chill and make calls and knock on doors.) In a little over 100 hours, we’ll know who our next President will be, and I’m thinking the kid from Illinois might just pull this off.

Finally, I can’t recommend enough Sean Quinn’s series of campaign travelogues over at fivethirtyeight. Quinn goes from state to state and drops in on local campaigns to gauge their energy, their staffing, and their strategy. He’s been trying to get insight on both camps, but the McCain camps tend to be far less open and far less energetic. His posts are a hearty mix of detail with some lovely vignettes, and I’m going to close with one of those.

In a post from Raleigh, Quinn, after describing a local rally and the activity and issues at the local Obama and McCain headquarters, relays this story:

Now I have a confession. Even Brett doesn’t know this. I hope it doesn’t lessen the professional work we’re trying to accomplish in chronicling this historic election on the ground, but if it does, I’ll live with it. There is something stirring in America.

Back at the rally, after the march had left MLK Gardens, I’d gone back for the car while Brett took photos, and I spotted a very old black man in a sharp Sunday suit walking slowly at the very back of the huge march. He hadn’t yet arrived at the voting center, and I decided to find him when I got back.

I wanted to go talk to him, to ask him what this moment meant to him. He was a guy who you take one glance at, and know, that guy’s seen it all. I wanted a quote. I had my journalist hat on. I thought, this will be great.

So when I got back to the voting location with the car, I went to find him in the line. Eventually I spotted him, and was ready to walk up the few feet between us and introduce myself when I stopped in my tracks.

A young black boy, no more than eight years old, walked up to this man, who was at least eighty. The boy offered the man a sticker, probably an “I Voted” sticker, but I couldn’t see. The man took the sticker and paused. Silently, he looked down at the boy, who was looking back up at the man. The man put his hand gently on the boy’s head, and I saw his eyes glisten.

I didn’t ask the man for a quote. I didn’t need to. I walked over by myself, behind the community center, and I sat down on a bench next to the track, and wept.

I wonder if we truly appreciate this time in our history. Years from now, we certainly will.


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