How Stupid Are We?

Apparently, some of us are very stupid.

I’m shocked and saddened by the spread of evil bullshit by conservative Republicans and the McCain campaign — and the way some of the American public seems to be swallowing it.

It’s all over the Web. I can’t spend an hour reading respectable publications without finding more and more examples.

In a Time Magazine story, “In Battleground Virginia, a Tale of Two Ground Games,” writer Karen Tumulty describes a meeting at a Virginia McCain campaign office:

With so much at stake, and time running short, Frederick did not feel he had the luxury of subtlety. He climbed atop a folding chair to give 30 campaign volunteers who were about to go canvassing door to door their talking points — for instance, the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden: “Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon,” he said. “That is scary.” It is also not exactly true — though that distorted reference to Obama’s controversial association with William Ayers, a former 60s radical, was enough to get the volunteers stoked. “And he won’t salute the flag,” one woman added, repeating another myth about Obama. She was quickly topped by a man who called out, “We don’t even know where Senator Obama was really born.” Actually, we do; it’s Hawaii.

It’s the sheer stupidity of these McCain campaign volunteers that I find most offensive. Rather than learn the truth — for example, where Obama was born — they’d rather spread gossip, rumors, and lies. They don’t care how their candidate wins — as long as he wins.

And frankly, McCain’s not much better than his volunteers.

FactCheck.org, an independent, non-partisan organization with the lofty goal of checking the facts in public statements to expose the falsehoods, has been having a tough time keeping up with the bullshit hitting the airwaves and the Web this election season. While it has exposed some falsehoods and misleading statements made by the Obama campaign, the vast majority of false claims appears to be coming from the McCain side.

In ““He Lied” About Bill Ayers?,” FactCheck.org staff write:

In a TV ad, McCain says Obama “lied” about his association with William Ayers, a former bomb-setting, anti-war radical from the 1960s and ’70s….We find McCain’s accusation that Obama “lied” to be groundless. It is true that recently released records show half a dozen or so more meetings between the two men than were previously known, but Obama never denied working with Ayers.

In “Dishonorable,” FactCheck.org writes:

The McCain-Palin campaign released the ad, titled “Dangerous,” and said it would be televised nationally. It recycles a misleading, 14-month-old charge that Sen. Barack Obama disrespected U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan by accusing them of “just air-raiding villages and killing civilians.” It also misrepresents votes in favor of withdrawing troops from Iraq as being votes “increasing the risk on their lives.”

New York Times Op-Ed columnist Gail Collins wrote a brilliantly sarcastic piece titled “Dear Old Golden Dog Days,” where she laments the passing of the early days of the campaign. Of McCain’s current campaign ads and the current Republican strategy, she states:

Now they’re all about the Evil That Is Obama. The newest one, “Ambition,” has a woman, speaking in one of those sinister semiwhispers, saying: “When convenient, he worked with terrorist Bill Ayers. When discovered, he lied.” Then suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, she starts ranting about Congressional liberals and risky subprime loans. Then John McCain pops up to say he approved it. All in 30 seconds! And, of course, McCain would think it’s great. For the first time, the Republicans appear to have captured his thought process on tape.

The Republican campaign strategy now involves sending their candidates to areas where everybody is a die-hard McCain supporter already. Then they yell about Obama until the crowd is so frenzied people start making threats. The rest of the country is supposed to watch and conclude that this would be an enjoyable way to spend the next four years.

One of the 212 commenters (so far) to the piece, Walt Ingram says, in part:

I don’t know if Sarah Palin is really mean spirited or if she understands what a disservice she is doing to the country. I do know however that she is drunk with the euphoria of cheering crowds and the power she has to excite and fire up the anger and hate within her crowds. She wants to get people to believe that Obama is “un-American.” Unfortunately some people are taken in.

The rest of his comment is certainly worth reading, as are the other “Editor’s Selections” comments for the post.

The McCain campaign is apparently able to whip up crowds to a frenzy of hate. As reported on CBSNews.com in “Kerry Condemns ‘Hate-Filled’ Language at McCain-Palin Rallies:”

“The reports are piling up of ugliness at the campaign rallies of John McCain and Sarah Palin,” Kerry writes. “Audience members hurl insults and racial epithets, call out ‘Kill Him!’ and ‘Off With His Head,’ and yell ‘treason’ when Senator Obama’s name is mentioned. I strongly condemn language like this which can only be described as hate-filled.”

The Kerry making this statement is John Kerry at a fundraising appeal for the Obama campaign.

CNN.com also reported on the change in McCain’s rallies in “Rage Rising on the MCCain Campaign Trails“:

With recent polls showing Sen. Barack Obama’s lead increasing nationwide and in several GOP-leaning states, some Republicans attending John McCain-Sarah Palin campaign rallies are showing a new emotion: rage.

The article goes on to report multiple cases of McCain-Palin rally attendees shouting racial epithets, calling Obama a “terrorist” and yelling “treason” when his name is mentioned, and booing McCain when he assures them that Obama is a “decent person.”

This topic even came up on NPR’s Diane Rehm show on its weekly News Roundup. The 10:00 AM segment for October 10 became heated when Diane and her three guests, Eleanor Clift, Matthew Continetti, and Juan Williams discussed how Republican rallies are generating hate toward Obama. Ms. Clift stated that the McCain camp was “flirting with very dangerous rhetoric” and voiced her concerns about vocalizations of “Kill him!” at rallies. (You can download the segment here; the discussion begins at 27:40 minutes.)

It seems to me that the McCain campaign isn’t doing anything positive to improve its chances of winning the election. Instead, it’s polarizing the public, driving a wide wedge between the believers of this “dangerous rhetoric” and the thinking public who know better. It’s dividing the nation.

What good will that do us, especially in these troubled times?

How can the McCain campaign continue with this policy of personal attacks against Obama, attacks designed to scare voters and fire them up to a hateful frenzy? How can this possibly prove McCain to be “presidential material”?

And can people really be stupid enough to believe the Muslim, terrorist pal claims?

I guess folks like these can — the craziness starts at about 2 minutes in:

What do you think?