The Tone of McCain/Palin

Posted by Katherine | September 17, 2008 – 9:06 am

In the last few days, both Obama and Biden have accused the McCain/Palin campaign of dishonesty and nastiness in its attacks and ads. Many of their fellow Democrats feel similarly about the tone McCain and Palin have adopted.

Jay Smooth is a hip-hop vlogger and ballotvoxregular who “leans left.” You’ll find him at ill Doctrine. This video rewinds a little bit to the GOP’s convention, where the new aggressiveness of the McCain campaign (begun a couple of months earlier) hit its stride. Jay asks whether the snark and condecension that he heard in Palin’s speech will translate to the McCain/Palin approach to Congress and foreign policy. He also doesn’t understand how Republican community organizers aren’t up in arms about their work being lampooned (thanks, Sarolta Cump):

Part of Jay’s vlogging genius is that he manages to punch while maintaining a light tone of his own.

Tami describes herself a progressive black Midwesterner who likes books, gardening, and yoga. She’s baffled by recent polls showing Palin’s strong appeal to white women. Here, like Jay, she reacts to the pitch of Palin’s convention speech (hat tip again to Sarolta Cump):

What I heard from Sarah Palin is a woman asserting the supremacy of white motherhood (Yeah, hockey moms!). I heard a white person using demeaning and sarcastic language to denigrate the accomplishments of a black person (accomplishments, by the way, that far exceed her own). I heard a Republican using coded references to “small towns” and “small town values” to deliver the same exclusionary “people like us” message the party has been selling to stoke fear of brown folk and gays and other outsiders for decades. I heard a politician courting division and us vs. them thinking. I heard a tool of the McCain campaign sneer at community organizers–people who work in the trenches of their neighborhoods, particularly in urban areas, to make life better.

Tami doesn’t understand why women are praising Palin for reasons that have “nothing to do with policies or accomplishments.” She sees this, unhappily, as a return to identity politics: “Just because someone looks like you, talks like your neighbors and says that a thing is true doesn’t mean it is true. […] Aren’t we suffering right now because of that sort of thinking?”

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