Watchdog Blog

Dan Froomkin: What Part of Our Nature Are the Candidates Appealing To?

Posted at 2:24 pm, October 22nd, 2008
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Campaign reporters are watching the McCain-Palin campaign implode in an unseemly orgy of fearmongering. But many of these reporters appear to be holding back their honest assessments, restrained by their sense of fairness and objectivity (not to mention their deep-seated need for a close election to make them feel consequential).

What to do? When fact-checking, the reflex is to do tit-for-tat. When writing issues stories, the tendency is to simply regurgitate both sides and let the reader decide. (Wait, what am I saying? There haven’t been any issues stories. Where are all those issues stories we were promised months ago, when we were told it was still too early?)

It seems to me that one essential, deeply telling question reporters should be asking – and answering – is this: What part of our nature are the candidates appealing to in the final stretch?

The obvious — and I would say objective — answer is that McCain and Palin are focusing their campaign on the (presumably focus-group-driven) goal of instilling enough fear and doubt about Obama that voters will flinch in the voting booth. While Obama, whether or not you agree with him, is continuing to deliver a hopeful message and make his appeal to the intellect.

Is there anyone who would disagree with that?

8 Responses to “What Part of Our Nature Are the Candidates Appealing To?”

  1. Thomas says:

    Yes. I think pretty much anyone actually watching the campaigns would disagree with that.

    The Obama campaign is a campaign of fear: McCain/Palin are racists. Their crowds are to be feared. They want to raise taxes (!). They hate hispanics. They’re going to cut Social Security and Medicare. Some of the usual lies mixed in with some new toxic stuff.

    Honestly, this bit about Obama trying to “appeal to the intellect” is just ridiculous self-regard by Obama supporters. Go on, flatter yourself. No one else will. You’re simply a partisan hack.

  2. Sheila says:

    Wow, Thomas, what campaign are you watching? The Obama campaign has never said any of those things. People are getting the impression of McCain/Palin crowds from the the crowds themselves. I saw people interviewed at two different ones where they were asked their opinions of Obama, and they mostly said “a terrorist.” Now where did they get that impression? And if they truly believe that, why aren’t they asking the Bush administration what is wrong with Homeland Security? Also, the Republican candidates themselves are saying “real America” and “the pro-America parts of this country.” People are tired of this divisiveness.

    All the Obama attacks on McCain I’ve heard have been about his stands on issues, anf frankly, I wish there were more on his views on Social Security. He does want to cut Social Security and Medicare.

  3. Arrigo Boyle says:

    May I guess ‘Thomas’ is not a real person, but an invention by a Democratic satirist?

    Even in our permissive culture, any real person so pathologically–and obssessively–antagonistic to Democrats (and particularly Senator Obama), or to anyone who admires Democrats (or Senator Obama), would have been institutionalized long ago.

    So let me congratulate the mystery Democratic satirist–admittedly, you’re over the top at times, but for a crude caricature of a choleric, demented (but literate) bigot, ‘Thomas’ is a nifty portrait. Don’t stop. Given where the Bush Administration has taken the country, we need all the laughs we can get.

  4. Thomas says:

    Sheila, Obama himself raised the bogus issue of McCain/Palin crowds, relying on now-discredited press reports to paint the crowds as hateful and out of control. (I note that you and other Obama supporters don’t think that Obama’s attacks on the supporters of McCain are divisive.) Obama is on the air with an add saying that McCain intends to raise taxes. Obama ran a deceitful ad in Spanish suggesting that McCain and his supposed political allies hated hispanics. And now Obama’s using the same old tired lines about Medicare and Social Security.

  5. Jason Cravat says:

    Thomas is dead-on, folks. Obama is the racist fearmonger. Thomas mentioned the deceitful Spanish ad; there is also one in Inuit targeting Alaskan Palin supporters that falsely suggests she calls them “blubber munchers.” Many Obama supporters have formed an “anti-Bull Moose” party as a way of disparaging Alaskans. Also as Thomas says, the idea that our McCain/Palin crowds have been hateful has been discredited. The liberal media reported a man as yelling, “Kill him!” When the tape was played back he was actually shown to be yelling, “We disagree with him but support his right to say it!” Not quite the same thing, is it?

  6. Thomas says:

    Very clever Jason! Do you mean to defend Obama’s Spanish-language lies? Please do! It’s true that the liberal media twice reported a man as yelling “kill him.” Those reports are disputed by other witnesses, including the Secret Service.

  7. kgeakin says:

    Thomas epitomizes the new republican mantra – We are right and you are wrong……period. We are patriotic Americans and you are a bunch of traitors. God is on our side and you are all godless savages,or worse, Muslims.
    Did I miss anything?
    Thomas……what are you going to do WHEN Obama becomes the President of the United States in January?

  8. Bruce says:

    I’m voting for Obama, because he appeals to that part of my nature that desperately desires to have some grown-ups in charge of our country.

    It’s not that I don’t like Sen. McCain. I wish to G*d that he would have won the nomination in 2000. As a lifelong Democrat, I still might not have voted for him, but if he would have won, I honestly don’t believe that he would have led our country into the nightmare that we are in today.

    But his time has come and gone. We are in that nightmare now, and between the two men, Sen. Obama is the clear choice for the sort of calm and deliberative leadership we need.

    Their respective responses to the current economic catastrophe has been most revealing. Both candidates have had an opportunity to display their grasp of the situation, to interact with their advisors and take appropriate action. McCain has shown only hand-waving, grandstanding, scapegoating and finger-pointing – none of which has been very helpful, except in showing up his ignorance of economic issues. Obama, on the other hand, has distinguished himself by his restraint: by his ability to listen, and to “keep his powder dry.”

    If I were in a tense and dangerous situation, which leader would give me the most comfort?

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