Archive for the ‘ABRAHAM LINCOLN’ Tag

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: CLIVE CROOK OF FINANCIAL TIMES SAYS IT’S AMERICAN POLITICS AS USUAL AFTER ARIZONA MASSACRE – BUT WHAT ELSE COULD YOU EXPECT?   Leave a comment


JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOK IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

I’m not sure what else anyone could expect, Mr. Crook.

The cast of characters on the national political scene, especially those on the right, makes mighty poor material out of which to shape a civil political life.

Winning is everything, sophomoric arguments are common, and insults are basic building blocks of American politics, not to mention election fraud.

This political phenomenon is not new to America.

Perhaps many abroad have no real feeling for the history of America’s national politics.

Abraham Lincoln, now the nation’s most beloved president, was commonly called an “obscene ape” during his campaigning. Grotesque cartoons and vicious commentary played regularly on the theme.

There was an undercurrent in all that hatred of Lincoln’s having been believed to be an abolitionist. He most decidedly was not, but that mere fact didn’t stop the hate and excess of opponents just as facts do not stop the hate and excess of today.

Hatred was so intense, Lincoln went to Washington for his inauguration hiding his identity.

Andrew Jackson, as near a mad president as ever there was, fought duels, horse-whipped one politician, and threatened anyone who said anything he regarded as an insult.

Thomas Jefferson had a full-time paid hack to dig up dirt on his opponents, including the man he worked for as Secretary of State, George Washington. When the hack didn’t feel fairly treated by Jefferson, he sold his services to others, disseminating such dark facts he had discovered as Jefferson’s liaison with a teen-age slave girl, Sally Hemmings.

Look at the way the opposition treated Senator McGovern’s running mate, Senator Eggleton, a thoroughly decent man who had experienced some depression. Look at the way nasty graffiti artists treated Senator Muskie during his campaign, reducing him to public tears. Look at the words of Tom Delay – now a convicted felon – about Bill Clinton’s big trip to Africa, words dripping with hate and racism.

There are countless examples of this political insanity in America just during my lifetime. There was the idiot Republican Senator who accused the Clinton administration of running a concentration camp after the poor Cuban boy, Elian, was taken from his kidnappers and sent to a quiet place of refuge following months of being held to ransom and hearing his loving father regularly insulted by shouting voices.

And this stuff is not without real consequences, sometimes far greater than the recent shooting in Arizona. Richard Nixon made a career early on of defaming his opponents – his early election to Congress featured insults and lies toward the woman against whom he ran. Nixon accused her of being “pink down to her underwear.” His reputation as a gutter fighter was so established that President Johnson, in sending the beginnings of an army to Vietnam, was known to be motivated by political fear of being castigated for “losing Vietnam” the way “China was lost.”

The late Governor George Wallace and serious presidential candidate had a famous quote justifying his extreme actions towards desegregation: he famously said he would never be “outniggered” again after losing in an early political fight owing to his then moderation.

America is simply too young a society to have developed genuinely civilized political customs, and there is a raw quality to it that almost encourages the kind of behavior of a Sarah Palin having a cross-hair sight over a politician’s face on her web site.

The effects of this rawness are reinforced by America’s wealth because wealth enables people to publish and disseminate filth and stupidity in vast quantities. They are also reinforced by the totally dominant ethos of, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

I see little hope for any change, except after the passage of a century or so.

America’s now-certain relative decline in the world should help a bit along the way: nothing is unhealthier for manic behavior than quasi-religious faith in being number one.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: OBAMA’S FAILURE IN WASHINGTON WITH CONCILIATION AND COOPERATION   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JEFFREY SIMPSON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

 

Obama’s trouble in Washington is pretty much the same thing we are experiencing with Harper.

Harper’s model is the Republican Right: offer no cooperation, take extreme measures, and endlessly insult the opposition.

Actually, “Republican Right” is a misnomer: the entire Republican party behaves this way, and this has been the pattern for our adult lifetimes.

It actually is the domestic political equivalent of Israel’s “iron wall” towards its neighbors.

No talents around conciliation will help in the least when your opponent is dedicated to be stubborn, unreasoning, and ruthless.

I’m glad Obama tried, but his breath is wasted.
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“Hope = Dope”

Surely the writer of that pathetic comment must recognize that Obama is an exceptionally intelligent person.

But in a country where Sarah Palin can command $100,000 for yelping a few times and where a certified moron like Bush can be president for two terms, bullsh-t baffles brains.

American national politics have become debased to an extraordinary extent, and it is solely the work of the Right which has settled into a philosophy of hooting and calling names and quoting God.

Our trouble, of course, is that that pernicious influence is flooding into our politics through Harper’s behaviors, much as BP’s oil is flooding the Gulf of Mexico.
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“Like Abraham Lincoln, right?
“And those heroic Democrats that were the originators of the KKK (look it up)? Defenders of the common man, right?”
 

 

That is a prime example of how a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Neither the Republican party nor the Democratic party are at all the same things they were in the early 1860s.

Only the names remain.

Indeed, in some ways, their roles have reversed.

Lincoln believed in strong central government, which was what the Civil War was truly all about.

Lincoln’s view is anathema to a Republican today.

The Democrats lost the South in the 1960s precisely because of the Civil Rights Voting act.

The Republicans today in many Southern states work hard and subtly to prevent blacks from voting. We saw this clearly in Florida.