Here in the US with only a few weeks remaining to Election Day, Republicans, in danger of losing not only the Presidential election but also a substantial number of seats in both the US Senate and House of Representatives, are really, really desperate. It's becoming obvious that they believe that the only way for the GOP to avoid devastation at the polls is by preventing as many people from voting as possible. In GOP Terrified of American Voters (The Atlanta Journal Constitution October 19,2008), Jay Bookman notes that
On Friday, the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously against Ohio Republicans in their effort to try to challenge 200,000 voters. Two hundred thousand!! Republican officials fear the verdict of the American people. They fear the wrath of those Americans drawn into political participation by anger at the direction that the GOP has tried to take their country. And they are trying desperately, frantically, to try to prevent that verdict from being delivered.
This is probably the most egregious instance of the numerous challenges Republicans are making to the rolls of registered voters, but in many, many states, the Republican Party is doing its damnedest to disenfranchise voters. Presumably they hope that by making their challenges at the last minute, the voters knocked off the rolls won't have a chance to contest their elimination. This was a tactic that worked well for the Republicans in 2004 and even better in 2006. (And we know that similar tactics were successfully deployed in Florida in 2000.) But this year the effort is much wider and more systematic and seems to constitutes one of the party's major strategies. It stinks of desperation and implies a dangerous mindset: that if the only way to stay in office is to prevent the electorate from voting, the strategy's justified. Republicans and Democrats alike proclaim that the US is a democracy; and they make this assertion solely on the basis of the fact that two branches of the government are headed by officials elected by the nation's citizens. (As we know, leaders of both parties were furious when the citizenry opposed the Big Finance "bailout," and they rejected public opinion as ignorant and irrelevant.) But the Republicans' open embrace of cheating is as good as an admission that they don't give a damn about even this most limited, timid form of the democratic process.
Okay, so the fact that the Republicans cheat (or are trying to cheat) is old, old news. But when I start matching it up with some of their recent rhetoric, I find myself wondering whether there's any line they won't cross in serving their desperate addiction to power. This morning on Meet the Press, Republican Colin Powell, when endorsing Obama, said that he has heard "senior members of my own party" insist against that Obama is a Muslim and is (therefore?) connected to terrorists. (The Nation has a video clip of this.) Powell duly criticized robocalls trying to taint Obama, which he says go "too far." He said he's "troubled by these approaches"-- troubled by what "senior members of the party" say-- and asked: is there something wrong with being a Muslim in America? As for Sarah Palin-- Powell cited her choice as McCain's running mate as an indication that the GOP is taking a turn even further right than it already is.
And then there's Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachman's assertion on Chris Matthews' Hardball that Barack Obama and liberals in general are "anti-American." (The Nation has a clip of that, also, here.) This assertion resonates in a very sinister way with Sarah Palin's statement at a North Carolina fundraiser that
We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit. And in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard-working very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation.
Excuse me? What does it mean, talking about certain parts of the country being more "pro-America" than others? Logically speaking, it seems to be a meaningless oxymoron, though various commentators have extrapolated it to mean she considers some areas of the country more "American" than others. But then she reprised this comment last night in her (reality, not parody) "first press conference," held last night on Saturday Night Live--
You recently said you prefer visiting the pro-American parts of the country; are there parts of the country that you find un-American?
“Sure, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, California, *raspberry*
“But then also too you have states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida... who can choose whether they are un-American or not. *wink*
The wink, of course, is supposed to indicate that she doesn't seriously mean this. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink... What can we conclude, given Michelle Bachman's tarring of both Obama and "liberals" as "anti-American"? Ask yourself who might find Palin's "joke" funny... and there's your answer.
ETA: As Eileen Gunn points out in her comment (and as I also realized when I viewed the SNL clip myself), the "press conference" was actually given by Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin. (My source apparently didn't realize that.) So there are two jokes here: Sarah Palin's joke, and SNL's joke about Sarah Palin's joke. See the comments for more on this.