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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Rage Against The Machine

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The well-documented McCain/Palin offensive of the last week has shown me one thing clearly: one candidate in this race is tapping into peoples' hopes and aspirations, and the other is drudging up their fear and anger.

Surely, they're talking to different people. Obama is appealing to liberally inclined Americans, many of them young and many of them ambivalent to electoral politics. In doing so he's utilizing soaring rhetoric about "hope" and "change." There's not much novel about it. It's actually quite conventional for a candidate running from the party that has been on the outside of the executive for the last two terms.

But McCain and Palin are not speaking to the politically ambivalent. They're appealing to men and women who would sooner eat glass than vote for a Democrat. And they're marshaling that body's sense of victim-hood, of anger and indignation, in order to push them to the polls. More than one observer has described the atmosphere at McCain's campaign stops as "angry." It's a phenomenon unique to McCain's supporters, and one that they're happy to indulge (allowing their surrogates to warm up the crowd with multiple mentions of Barack Hussein Obama), even if they deny whipping it up. Would anyone at an Obama rally cry, "Kill him!"?

I decided who I was voting for long ago. But if I hadn't, I think the last seven days would have been more than enough to send me running from the frothy-mouthed mobs backing the other guy.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 10:33 AM

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