The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Where’s Willie?

It ain’t quite Willie Horton. We’ll have to wait for the general before we see anything close to that. But this ad is definitely in that ballpark.

Now, I’m still not supporting either Clinton or Obama in the primaries (though I’ll settle for whichever of them the Democrats nominate). But this doesn’t make me feel any better about Clinton.

This makes me feel slightly better about Obama.

But Jasmyne gets to the heart of the matter as far as I’m concerned.

More importantly, I’m interested in being in a position where the phone isn’t ringing at 3 a.m. because some country decided to bomb us because of our foreign policies. Think about that. There’s a reason why our country is so hated and it isn’t because of you or me.

After you’ve been been a grown-up for a while, there are a few things you just know. One of them is that a phone ringing at three o’clock in the morning is almost never good news. Who answers it doesn’t change the fact that it’s ringing because something awful and probably unfixable has happened somewhere, probably to somebody near and dear to you.

However you deal with it after picking up the phone is a matter of doing what you have to do, and making what choices you have to make—getting time off from work, buying an emergency plane ticket, etc. But you’d really rather not have to make those choices in the first place. It would be better if the phone just didn’t ring at three o’clock in the morning.

In most instances, you can’t do anything to prevent that. But if the phone that’s ringing is in the White House, bringing news of a terrorist attack? Well, maybe there’s something we can do to prevent that phone from ringing. (Since we can’t take it off the hook, or change the number. And we’ve seen from this administration what happens when the ringing phone is ignored, over and over again.)

Why isn’t that being considered? Why isn’t that part of the debate. Why do both candidates assume the phone will be ringing? How about being in a position where the phone isn’t ringing as 3 a.m. because somebody decided to bomb us for something 90% of Americans probably wouldn’t know about anyway, but would believe whatever somebody standing behind a presidential seal tells them to?

That might be called the “Don’t start none, won’t be none,” approach to foreign policy.

Now, wouldn’t that be something?

3 Comments

  1. To me, that ad doesn’t really do Clinton any favors, because it immediately raises the internal response, “Yes, a call from a world leader that you know and who has already made up his or her mind about you, for better or for worse. At least with Obama, they haven’t already formed an opinion and we can make a fresher start.”

    I agree that it’s very manipulative and playing to fears about security, although it probably doesn’t affect me in the same way as it would a parent.

  2. After seeing that video….wow, I really mean wow. I have lived in Britain my entire life and i know for a fact, that if anyone tried to even attempt what Hillary did there, they would be shopped before the planning stage. Sorry, I’m still in shock.

    This is the kind of stuff we show in programmes as examples of evil dictatorships or just when a country’s propaganda has taken a definite turn for the worse. I really hope this has a negative backlash for her. Whilst I would not pretend for even a second that our politicians do not attempt to pray on our fears (its the bed stone of the conservative party’s strategy), they would never be this, whats the word, stupid. Its the only word i can think of to sum it up.

    I apologize that this is a very rambling post, but the sheer culture shock is still in place. To think , we are viewed by the world as just another america. wow.

  3. Your blog is the bomb first of all. There’s so much to take in and succinctly conveyed.

    On the ad, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with raising questions that include fear. “Fear mongering” is another one of those cliches we’ve allowed ourselves to get saddled with as something you can whip out like “playing the card” as something that is ipso facto a bad thing, you lose.

    Fear is an appropriate emotion and an appropriate thing to take into account. There are things to be rightfully afraid of, such as a neophyte in the oval office.

    I can’t think of a single world leader that holds a bad opinion of Senator Clinton from having known of her in the past. What does that mean?

    The aspect of using fear, I believe, that is in fact corrosive and inappropriate — and the place from which the banishment of using ‘fear mongering’ evolved I think — is the idea of hysteria. Working to generate hysteria, whether it’s fear-based hysteria or hype-based hysteria, is the aspect of using fear that I think is abused and can be dangerous.

    Towards that end, Obama’s campaign has been almost entirely based on hysteria during its surge, be it racial pride, youthful affiliation, or Jesus Christ has returned to earth overdrive hype all of it’s fueled with an almost hysterical fervor. The fact that it’s not fear-based hysteria makes it no less irrational and dangerous in my view. It’s not fear I’m concerned about, it’s hysteria. In fact, hope-based hysteria of “changing the world” revolving around a suddenly-rising political “nobody” doesn’t have a great track record in history.

    It’s hysteria, not fear, that can be a problem. Obama used “fear” to say we shouldn’t go into Iraq or bad things will happen. Be afraid! Well, he was right. And there’s nothing wrong with him having used the fear of bad results to make his point. To focus on a ‘fear’ element is to miss the entire point and resort to feel-good grandstanding about semantics.

    That ad invites appropriate caution, hesitance to support Obama blindly, wait and reconsider and yes, fear. The generic mindnumbing mantra of ‘hope over fear’ is fine and what Bill Clinton often said himself but it only has meaning when grounded in policy wonked, well thought-through, experienced, tested, intelligent positions and policies that aren’t cribbed from others.

    Ironically, Obama’s campaign used a Bill Clinton ad for their own ad where Bill is talking about voting for the candidate that inspires “hope AND thinking”. Obama’s been excellent at doing the former and Hillary has now reminded voters of the latter. Think carefully.

    Calling it fear mongering doesn’t address the issue raised and is just another rhetorical flourish that invites welling up of tears in looking-to-the-sky faces that aren’t looking at the earth in front of them with mortgage foreclosures, a collapsing economy, healthcare issues, unelectability problems that could arise from a candidate with a glass jaw versus someone who can survive vicious attacks, etc.

    Obama gave a great speech in 2002. That’s about it.

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