Wimps Can’t Win


When did the American left become such sissies?  We are shocked, shocked!  We throw up our hands in horror, cowering behind prissy words like “divisive” and “sexist” and “uncivil” when frothing-mad homophobic Republican smut-emailers like the New York governor’s candidate Carl Paladino hurls verbal excrement at gays, or serial philanderer Newt Gingrich insults President Obama as a treasonous Kenyan mole for “the ideology of Luo tribesmen”, or someone in Jerry Brown’s campaign calls Meg Whitman a “whore” or a Colorado billboard accuses Obama of being an Islamist suicide bomber as well as a gay Mexican bandit.

“Sickmaking” and “the worst I’ve ever seen,” my friends call the current wave of corporate-financed attack ads.

A little perspective, please.

We Americans have a wonderfully slimy history of “negative campaigns” that goes back to George Washington in 1789 if not even earlier to Plymouth Rock Puritans who probably accused  each other of unChristian heresies if not downright bestiality. 

To refresh our memories: In 1800 John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, once warm friends, tore each other apart because President Adams found himself running against candidate Jefferson.  Adams’s hacks called Jefferson “a mean-spirited, low-lived…son of a half-breed Indian squaw sired by a Virginia mulatto father.”   (Race mattered even then.)  Jefferson’s PR man, a proto-Karl Rove, slammed Adams as a “repulsive pedant” and “hideous hermaphroditical character.”  That’s before the mud slinging got really ugly, Tom labeling John as a hypocrite, criminal and tyrant anxious to drag us into war with France and John calling Tom a sex-mad atheist and coward. 

Mud stuck, and Tom stole – er, won – the election.   A few years later John Quincy Adams was called a pimp, and Andrew Jackson’s wife a slut and his mother a Negro-loving prostitute.  Davy Crockett accused Martin van Buren of wearing women’s corsets.  Of course Abe Lincoln was for slave-loving Democrats the “gorilla tyrant” – and he had stinky feet too.  In the 1884 elections Republicans accused nominee Grover Cleveland of fathering and abandoning an illegitimate child with the party slogan “Ma, ma, where’s my pa?”.  (And when Cleveland won the presidency the Democrats paid back with, “In the White House, ha ha ha!”)

Closer to modern times, Teddy Roosevelt running against obese William Howard Taft called him “a rat in a corner”, and William McKinley’s supporters tagged candidate William Jennings Bryan a crazy degenerate.  In my time, President Roosevelt was compared unfavorably to Hitler, had committed “the crime of the century” by giving Federal money to the jobless, was a demented paralytic cripple and probably Jewish (“Rosenfelt” was a common slur) and had a lesbian wife.   It follows that Jack Kennedy had to be the Pope’s captive, Barry Goldwater a dangerously psychotic warmonger, thrice-wounded Lt.John Kerry ‘swiftboated’ as a cowardly liar, and in the 2000 presidential primaries John McCain effectively lost the nomination when South Carolinians were leafleted that he had fathered an illegitimate black baby. 

This year, the Supreme Court’s ridiculous Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission ruling that corporations can unload any amount of money on conservative candidates (the real meaning of the court’s decision) has unleashed a tsunami of ugly personal racist ads on the hapless Democrats running for cover.

Dirt is not a GOP monopoly.  Lest it be forgotten, Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, who has led the charge against the Chamber of Commerce’s dirty-secret funding of Republican candidates, himself in 2004 ran a miserably low TV ad attack against the Democratic front runner Howard Dean, merging images of Dean with Osama Bin Laden. 
The fact is, “claims that 2010 is the most negative election to date may be premature”, reports the Wesleyan Media Project.  Compared to 2008 there’s only a “slight” increase in personal attacks.

The point of the Republican ads I’ve seen is to bully voters – to reach deep down into our guts to re-channel our (often justified) rage away from the rich and powerful onto the most vulnerable citizens and their champions.  There’s always a barely disguised code, and the code is pure impotent hatred.

What we know of bullies from schoolyard brawls is that they’re never satisfied until you knock them down and step on them, hard.  That seems to be beyond the imagination and capabilities of sweet-tempered, passive, over-educated, please-play-nice Obama’s men and women whose Democratic-controlled Congress has just stripped $12 billion from a long term food-stamps program precisely at the time when more Americans than ever literally hunger for such assistance.  By the end of next year 10 million homes will be lost to (often fraudulent) foreclosure – ten million!  Yet Obama refuses to honor his campaign pledge to declare a moratorium because he fears the bankers’ fury. 

The Democrats fold to appease their unappeasable Republican enemies.  Across the country, in tight races in Florida, Oregon, Ohio and Colorado, they’re even running  away from their own at-risk Democratic candidates who loyally voted for ObamaCare health insurance.  Moral: You turn tail from bullies and they chase you into a dark alley and kick you to death.  

When did we on the left forget how to fight back in dark alleys and call our enemies what they are, degenerate psychopaths who wear women’s corsets, have smelly feet and hermaphroditic tendencies?

CLANCY SIGAL is a novelist and screenwriter in Los Angeles. He can be reached at clancy@jsasoc.com




Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Ron Jacobs
The Murderer as American Hero
Alex Nunns
“A Movement Looking for a Home”: the Meaning of Jeremy Corbyn
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Xanthe Hall
Nuclear Madness: NATO’s WMD ‘Sharing’ Must End
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Uri Avnery
Abbas: the Leader Without Glory
Halima Hatimy
#BlackLivesMatter: Black Liberation or Black Liberal Distraction?
Michael Brenner
Kissinger Revisited
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Halyna Mokrushyna
On Ukraine’s ‘Incorrect’ Past
Jason Cone
Even Wars Have Rules: a Fact Sheet on the Bombing of Kunduz Hospital
Walter Brasch
Mass Murders are Good for Business
William Hadfield
Sophistry Rising: the Refugee Debate in Germany
Christopher Brauchli
Why the NRA Profits From Mass Shootings
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
Pete Dolack
There is Still Time to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Marc Norton
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
David Rosen
If Donald Dump Was President
Dave Lindorff
America’s Latest War Crime
Ann Garrison
Sankarist Spirit Resurges in Burkina Faso
Franklin Lamb
Official Investigation Needed After Afghan Hospital Bombing
Linn Washington Jr.
Wrongs In Wine-Land
Ronald Bleier
Am I Drinking Enough Water? Sneezing’s A Clue
Charles R. Larson
Prelude to the Spanish Civil War: Eduard Mendoza’s “An Englishman in Madrid”
David Yearsley
Papal Pop and Circumstance
October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?