Parker on public discourse: Palin deteriorates it (updated)

Kathleen Parker is a reliably conservative water carrier who writes for the National Review and the  Washington Post.  Recently she expresses qualms about Sarah Palin’s lack of vice presidential qualifications.

Today she called out the McCain/Palin campaign for hate-mongering.  First she notes that the Palin audiences are a reflection of Palin:

Time magazine examined voting habits and concluded that most people do not vote for issues, but rather for the candidates. Specifically, they vote for people who are most like themselves. Which is why McCain and Palin have amped up their rhetoric of difference.

Neither McCain nor Palin would dare mention Obama’s middle name, Hussein, but they can play up Obama’s past associations and let others connect the dots. Terrorist. Muslim. Dangerous. Other.

… But words can have more serious consequences than lost votes and we’ve already had a glimpse of the Palin effect.

The Post’s Dana Milbank reported that media representatives in Clearwater were greeted with taunts, thunder sticks and profanity. One Palin supporter shouted an epithet at an African-American soundman and said, “Sit down, boy.”

McCain may want to call off his pit bull before this war escalates.

And in her National Review column she notes that it’s dangerous to question this campaign:

Speak Correctly – Or build a big bunker.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a traitor and an idiot. Also, my mother should have aborted me and left me in a dumpster, but since she didn’t, I should “off” myself.

Those are just a few nuggets randomly selected from thousands of e-mails written in response to my column suggesting that Sarah Palin is out of her league and should step down.
Who says public discourse hasn’t deteriorated?

The fierce reaction to my column has been both bracing and enlightening. After 20 years of column writing, I’m familiar with angry mail. But the past few days have produced responses of a different order. Not just angry, but vicious and threatening. … I am viewed as a traitor to the Republican party — not a “true” conservative.

…Such extreme partisanship has a crippling effect on government, which may be desirable at times, but not now. More important in the long term is the less tangible effect of stifling free speech. My mail paints an ugly picture and a bleak future if we do not soon correct ourselves.

In today’s editorial, the New York Times also was appalled by the frenzy Ms Palin creates:

…in Ms. Palin’s new stump speech she twists Mr. Obama’s ill-advised but fleeting and long-past association with William Ayers, founder of the Weather Underground and confessed bomber. By the time she’s done, she implies that Mr. Obama is right now a close friend of Mr. Ayers — and sympathetic to the violent overthrow of the government. The Democrat, she says, “sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”Her demagoguery has elicited some frightening, intolerable, responses. A recent Washington Post report said at a rally in Florida this week a man yelled “Kill him!” as Ms. Palin delivered that line and others shouted epithets at an African-American member of a TV crew.

Mr. McCain’s aides haven’t even tried to hide their cynical tactics, saying they were “going negative” in hopes of shifting attention away from the financial crisis — and by implication Mr. McCain’s stumbling response.

Will voters come to their senses and reject this frightening duo??  God, I pray so.

Update Friday Oct 10: Kathleen Parker was just on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell and defended Obama against the smears. “Where does Obama come from?” she said. “Well, we can just as easily ask where does Palin come from…Yes, he sat with Ayers on a board, but to be fair so did the president of Northwestern University.”

She put the smears into realistic perspective and said that the McPain campaign is whipping people up into anger that could result in some nut deciding to do the “patriotic thing” in his mind.


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