I admit that I haven’t been following the Democratic National Convention. I know that I’ve missed some truly amazing speeches. Michelle Obama’s speech was, I’m told, nothing short of awe-inspiring, and Hilary Clinton’s motion to nominate Barack for President was apparently on the same level. I also missed Bill Clinton’s speech, which is kind of a bummer, because, well, I like Bill. I did find this quote from his speech, though, and I love it:
“People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example, than by the example of our power.”
That’s just brilliant. And so true.
Now, every Presidential campaign will bring with it some moments of interest, one or two moments of great inspiration (very few, though I will say Obama is the first candidate whose speeches I’ve actually downloaded to my MP3 player to listen to later on), and some moments of profound, truly inspired idiocy. McCain, a man who has never been afraid to stoop to levels of campaigning which really ought to be beneath a man of his stature, provided one already with his earlier speech comparing Obama to Paris Hilton. More recently, though, he’s demonstrated how willing he is to drop to what many of us would consider the bottom of the cesspool, then grab a shovel and start digging.
Consider, for example, this excerpt from a May speech of Obama’s:
Strong countries and strong Presidents talk to their adversaries. That’s what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That’s what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That’s what Nixon did with Mao. I mean, think about it: Iran, Cuba, Venezuela — these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying, ‘We’re going to wipe you off the planet.’ And ultimately, that direct engagement led to a series of measures that helped prevent nuclear war and over time allowed the kind of opening that brought down the Berlin Wall.
I think this is a good speech. He acknowledges the threats that face our nation today, but emphasizes that we must talk to those that oppose us. We never cut off relations with the Soviet Union, even though they were a much bigger threat to us than, say, Iran. McCain’s campaign took this speech, did some quote mining, and pulled up the phrase:
then squatted and squirtted out this ad:
This ad strikes me as so blatantly misleading as to be just plain ludicrous, and it’s downright shameful how willing the McCain campaign is to appeal to the ignorance of the voting public. Of course, it’s also frightening how well this tactic works; Bush Jr. managed to stick around for eight years using pretty much the same strategy.
As always, things are going to simply get more ridiculous, more offensive, and more appalling before they get better.