by RIP RENSE
(Oct. 30, 2008)
I can’t write the obligatory glib, analytical
“election eve” column. I’m beyond fried on this spectacle. Let Rachel
Maddow and Keith Olbermann have a good time dissecting the minutae of the
What really to say?
Obama has run a shrewd,
calculated, and gentlemanly campaign, with welcome touches of humor. McCain
has lied and sneered like a deranged schoolboy. Obama has been poised.
McCain has been poison.
The pandering to fear,
paranoia, hatred on the part of McCain and Palin has been a monument to
sociopathy. You wonder how anyone who so knowingly dispenses utterly false
information to the public can call himself a public servant. (And herself.)
Their chief gimmick,
which works on the ignorant, stupid, callow, frightened---you know,
Real Americans like
“Joe the Plumber” (now greedily parlaying his carefully staged encounter
with Obama into a showbiz career)---is to say they are
bypassing the “media filter” and speaking “directly to the people.” All the
while announcing that the “media filter” is “biased” toward Obama, of
course. This way, when the “media filter” accurately exposes their lies and
hypocrisy, true believers can ignore it.
It’s a juvenile
manipulation, but as George W. Bush once all-too-accurately remarked, the
voting public is mostly a big ten-year-old.
The “media filter” is the
cynical new tag for the greatest gift a society can own: a free press, or
“fourth estate.” That term, by the way, dates to the early 19th century (at
least), and was part of a societal overview that went like this: the first
estate was the clergy, the second nobility, the third the public, the fourth
the press. In modern parlance, that would be: the televangelists, the corporatocracy, the shoppers, and the media.
The media, of course, are
forever being accused of this or that bias, which is much like accusing Bill
Clinton of enjoying sex. There is no such thing as impartial. There is no
“fair and balanced.” These are subjective concepts. One man’s objectivity is
another man’s rant. What there is, even with all the gum-flapping and
proselytizing on the tube, is an attempt to be fair and balanced (outside,
of course, of “fair and balanced” Fox News.)
A huge part of the reason
that Real Americans have constantly accused the media of slanting
coverage toward Obama (or fill-in-the-blank) is ignorance of how journalism
works. Here's an example: when Newsweek ran a cover headline about Palin,
“She’s one of the folks, and that’s the problem,” Fox newsbimbos were on
their hind-legs, screaming “bias!” They didn’t understand that this was
simply a clever headline, a glib way of conveying that Palin’s vaunted
ordinary persona isn’t all persona; that she really might be too untried in
the ways of the world to be vice-president. This was an existing, major
campaign issue, not something Newsweek made up. Real Americans don’t
So when the New York
Times notes, for instance, that 100,000 people showed up to see Obama
somewhere, Real Americans nod and crow about how the paper’s coverage
is slanted, and so on. And finally, when the NYT runs an editorial endorsing
Obama---a normal, routine function of a newspaper---you get the “I told you
so’s.” Never mind that the reporters covering Obama didn’t write the
editorial, or take orders to slant their coverage. Then there is the fact
that most Real Americans do not know the difference between a news
story and a column.
Americans will never believe or understand this, anymore than they will
appreciate the fact that the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution
restricts Congress from abridging the freedom of the “media filter.” (A
recent poll showed huge numbers of Real Americans favor government
controls on the press!) Why?
Because the free press is
the public’s last defense against tyranny.
Real Americans, of
course, aren’t worried about tyranny anymore. Bin-Laden and Bush scared them
into surrendering most of their civil rights and privacy, anyhow. What’s
more, Real Americans have come to think that government tyranny is
when tax dollars are used for programs to help the poor or middle-class.
Really! McCain and Palin hysterically call this “socialism,” as if trying to
take care of the country is somehow equivalent to communism as carried out
in the former USSR and China (which was actual tyranny.)
Real Americans, by
the way, is another Sarah Palinism---another cynical new tag employed to arouse
jingoism, hatred, prejudice, etc. Implying that those who do not support
childbirth for impregnated teenaged rape victims (a Palin position), or who
do not think that leaving the Iraq debacle is "waving the white flag of
surrender," are not Real Americans.
So Real Americans
will continue to champion the rousing rhetoric of Sarah Smile, and believe
that the “media filter” is preventing her from getting her points across.
Why, just the other day, when she recently noted with sinister pauses that
Obama had an “associate” named Rashid Khalidi---and then milked rabid boos
by announcing that Khalidi had been spokesman for the Palestinian Liberation
Organization---the “media filter” tried to prevent her from getting her
point across. How? By revealing that Khalidi is a scholar, a professor
at Columbia University, and that McCain, while chairman of the International
Republican Institute, gave Khalidi about a half-million dollars to conduct
polls among Palestinians.
But never mind such
facts ("facts are stupid things," said Ronald Reagan)---this is the
fiendish, biased pro-Obama “media filter” trying to undercut that Real
American, Palin. Never mind that politics and international relations
are all part of one web traveled by countless spiders.
Never mind knowledge.
Never mind sense.
Sense. . .
public---well, mostly Republicans and McCain supporters---is very
adept at ignoring sense. Take this “Democrat for Obama” at a Pennsylvania
rally who recently said:
"I don’t want to sound
racist here, but I do not want a black man running my country."
And the country is just
chocked full of funny people just like him. These Real Americans make
up a group variously referred to as “the silent majority,” “the heartland,”
or, to use my term of preference, the chumps. Chumps are people who vote for
very wealthy men to represent them in government, men who routinely pass
laws and make deals that disenfranchise, betray, and sell out “the
heartland.” These are people who enthusiastically voted for Reagan and Bush
and watched their jobs disappear while robberbarons turned Wall Street into
Monte Carlo. And who would vote for Reagan and Bush all over again. Both
Bushes. At the same time. For life.
That’s because these
folks---these chumps---are very good at ignoring the “media filter” and
allowing themselves to be rendered glassy-eyed and mush-brained by their
heroes’ appeals to “America First” (the McCain slogan), xenophobia, Old
Glory, racism (implied or otherwise), references to God, and fear.
Thus the chumps
came to put Bush 2 in office. Twice. The chumps are responsible for
the war in Iraq, the bankrupting of the country, the financial ruination of
countless millions (around the world), the massive surrender of privacy and
rights, the further selling out of the American worker, the further selling
out of the American middle class, so-called “free trade,” the transformation
of the American marketplace into one big “Made in China” emporium, and
probably the fact that TV now costs about 70 bucks a month.
The chumps mainline Fox
News, which is staffed almost entirely by chumps, and yet they do not think
that Fox News is part of the “media filter.” This is because Fox News
flagrantly reinforces chump attitudes. Which is to say, if another
channel presents information or a point of view that is at odds with Chump
Think, they reject it as “socialist,” “commie,” “Anti-American.” So when Fox
News presents information that is in sync with Chump Think, they believe it
How and why did the
chumps become chump-like? Probably it has to do with brain chemistry that is
predisposed to authoritarianism, and admiration thereof, compounded by
intelligence lurking somewhere a little bit above “dog.” I don’t know how
else to explain it, and believe me, I’ve thought about it. Why, I used to
believe, in a humanitarian and open-hearted sort of way, that the chumps
could be reasoned with.
Pardon me while I laugh
for a moment. Ha ha ha. Thank you.
Yes, I believed that if
you presented the chumps with facts, statistics, irrefutable persuasive
evidence of a point of view contrary to theirs. . .that they would find it
edifying. They would suddenly take off their Peterbilt caps, scratch their
heads, and say, “Wow. Is that right? I never knew that.” And “I now see what
you mean. It isn’t just black and white, is it?” Or “Gosh, I’ve been wrong
about that!” Or even, “I still feel the same way, but I do see your point.”
Why, there was a time
when my column was deluged with e-mail from The Heartland. (A very
ironic term, considering that most of the mail wished me very ill, including
the occasional death-threat.) I remember one fellow who said that I “would
be cast into the Lake of Fire” for my commie-liberal-socialist beliefs (I’m
actually neither liberal nor conservative, as should be the case with any
thinking person.) That fellow turned out to be a Mormon pastor in Utah. When
I discovered this, and castigated him for his hatred, he sheepishly
apologized. Say hallelujah!
I engaged every single
chump who wrote to me over a two-year period---pretty generous of
me!---and I had the audacity to point out that some of their conclusions
were based on erroneous data. Oh, boy. That was like snarling at a rabid
Rottweiler. It prompted an inevitable torrent of gap-toothed profanity and
And now the chumps have
put us all in danger, once again. They want to put into the White House a
daffy, nasty, filthy-rich, mendacious, bellicose old man who is probably on
the slippery slope to senile dementia. At least he is dealing without a deck
from having been tortured in Vietnam; witness alone his sudden and Freudian
address of a campaign crowd as “My fellow prisoners” instead of “My fellow
Americans.” (Really.) Never mind that McCain wants to reward the rich and
stiff the poor. The chumps don’t mind. The chumps don’t believe it, anyhow.
That’s why they’re called chumps.
We are in even greater
danger, though, from the Frankenstein that McCain has loosed on the American
villagers in the form of Palin. He really is her Ygor, complete with the
stiff neck—the perfect couple for a post-Halloween election. This woman
belongs in the choir of a holy-roller church deep in an Alabama swamp, but
instead can---quite miraculously---see the White House shimmering in the
2012 distance. Obama’s “measuring the drapes,” she says? Well, she has
measured them every night in her dreams for years. She might have a
sub-normal IQ, but the genes for narcissism and megalomania were not spared
in her DNA spiral, and that makes up for smarts. She cares nothing about
anything except acquiring power, and abusing it.
As much as the chumps
deserve Sarah Palin, well, I don’t. And neither does the rather baffled
majority of at least partially educated people in the country who aspire to
think and coexist with cooperation and civility.
So. . .
One can only hope.
Hope all is well. Well, all is hope. In that sense, Obama seems smart
and right. The educated and civil are badly in need of a little optimism.
It’s been a psychologically brutal eight years. At least Obama impresses as
a conscientious, equitable, restrained fellow, and his statements about this
being one nation, neither liberal nor conservative etc., are badly needed.
They are, in fact, the original American Dream.
That’s right, chumps, the
American Dream was never to allow you the “freedom” to drive
environment-gobbling SUVs and own mansions for your wantonly begat children
to grow up in and drive environment-gobbling SUVS and own mansions for their wantonly begat
children to grow up in. The dream was that persons of all backgrounds, intelligences,
ethnicities, politics, religions, etc. could aspire to live together in
relative calm and civility. That they might “pursue happiness.”
If any chumps are still
reading this column while entertaining thoughts of sending me to Guantanamo
without dinner, please bear some of these points in mind when you go to
vote. Just so you can feel extra righteous and angry and venomous when you
mark the space for McCain.
As I said, I can’t write
the obligatory glib analytical election eve column.
So this ramble will have
Obama for prez.