Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Barack Obama's Uphill Fight

As I have said elsewhere, I think Obama's run for president is premature. He will be a stronger candidate two or three cycles later, with a decade or more of Washington manure experience in his portfolio. In the meantime his learning curve is getting bent by a storm of myths and urban legends deriving from his name, family history and ethnic origins. My lonely little weeklyvote here at the Pajamas Media widget is a symbolic gesture, cast with the hope that if he fails to get the nomination, someone else will who can take the country beyond the two dynasties that have polarized the nation during the last four terms.

It is noteworthy that those who purport to be the most patriotic are the wellspring of some the most scurrilous claims of the lot. Obama's website keeps busy swatting these poisonous little insects, wasting valuable resources that might better be used to address more substantive issues.

I follow his campaign vicariously by default because the post that I put together last year regarding Barack Obama's religion continues to send me visitors. On any given time that post may represent from twenty-five to fifty percent of all hits to this blog, thanks to the search engines, mostly Google, who seem to list that post at or near the top of the first page of returns, depending on how the search terms were entered. In actual numbers that's about fifty to a hundred a day. Not big numbers by internet standards, but still that many individuals seeking information about the topic for one reason or another, including a few hits from sports or sex sites where people also argue politics. The first time I got a hit from a bondage site I was surprised, but later realized it was the same dynamic as people discussing a variety of topics at their neighborhood bar. Sports, fashion, current events, gossip, whatever...Let's face it. Those people also vote.

This morning I drilled back into one referral and noted a paid ad at the top (different ads seem to pop up with each page load, so this particular ad may not appear) from Human Events linking to yet another suggestive and defamatory anti-Obama piece of propaganda. As I looked at the way that even his pictures were clipped and airbrushed to make him appear as sinister as possible (not easy for someone as telegenic as Obama) I could see that the same fungus of John Birch Society "super-patriotism" that I first learned about forty-five years ago is alive and well, still spewing oily, slimy, bigoted hate in the guise of historical analysis or academic scrutiny. The language is rhetorically more polished after nearly half a century of practice dodging legal defenses against libel, but like botulism in delicious foods, their tainted message still gets through.

It is a sad day in American politics when Snopes has to furnish a lengthy article debunking one email-fed urban myth after another, all of them fired into the cesspool eddies of cyberspace with one aim: to defame, discredit and malign the name and reputation of a United States Senator running for president.

No comments: