Commentary: Republicans summon ugly old ghosts

McClatchy NewspapersOctober 24, 2008 

This is an autumn of great discontent as not just the United States, but the entire world trembles on the brink of an economic recession that may bring the kind of pain that's known only to the oldest among us.

With days to go before Election Day, the nation watches as a presidential candidate and his political party unravel, frantically dragging every ugly ghost out of the closet in an attempt not only to fool everyone, but also to scare everyone.

They appeal to the worst remnants of racism that cling like kudzu to a dying magnolia. Their robot phone dialers intrude on millions of uneasy citizens with messages of hate and fear and envy and greed.

They try to paper their opponent with guilt by association: He associated with a man who, decades before they ever met, belonged to a group of wild-eyed student revolutionaries.

They and their forces of darkness falsely claim that he's a Muslim at the same time they attack him for belonging to a Christian church whose black minister aimed angry sermons at white America.

They have presided for the last eight years over a stunning redistribution of wealth: They've turned Robin Hood upside down, taking from the poor and the middle class and giving to the very rich.

Yet they tar their opponent for daring to suggest that it's time to turn the tables and redirect some of that wealth to those who are jobless, homeless and hopeless, and to the millions of other hard-working Americans who are likely to join those growing ranks in the months and years to come.

They call him a socialist for embracing a principle that's rooted deeply in the teachings of the Christianity that they wear on their sleeves but cannot find room for in their hearts.

They promise to "correct the mistakes" of their own president, their own members of Congress, their own appointed overseers and regulators, if only we give them another chance.

They promise to punish the Wall Street tycoons and the big bankers who in their greed built this house of cards that's crashing down onto Main Street. Yes they will. Surely they will smite the robber barons who brushed a few crumbs from their groaning tables of riches into the laps of the very people who now vow to punish their benefactors of great wealth.

They say this even as the barons, fat with bonuses and commissions, pick over the carcass of a fallen economy, carving out another tasty morsel or two for themselves.

Is it any wonder that Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin and the Republican Party are sinking like the Titanic? Do they take us all for complete morons?

Granted, they may have reason to think that. After all, not only did we (with some help from the Supreme Court) elect George W. Bush our president, we also re-elected him to a second term. Fooled us twice, they think, so maybe the third time is charmed.

That, however, doesn't seem likely as a cold, hard winter looms this November. Not likely at all.

Here's a prediction for you, for them: McCain and Palin will go down to defeat by 15 to 20 points, and they'll take a heap of Republicans down with them.

The financial collapse and the painful fallout that's stalking the nation won't be righted overnight, however. Putting Barack Obama in the White House and giving the Democrats a veto-proof majority in Congress won't mean that happy days are here again.

Hard work, sacrifice and suffering lie ahead. It could take a decade or more to repair all the damage that Bush, Dick Cheney and all their henchmen in prison, out of prison and on their way to prison have done to our economy, our military, our standing in the world, our Constitution and to civil discourse, common decency and competent governance.

In the meantime, we Americans would do well to try to remember all those things that our grandmothers told us about how to get by in hard times.

How to get by on a lot less.

How to grow a vegetable garden.

How to squeeze a nickel till the buffalo bellows.

How to appreciate the small joys of family and friends.

How to share what you have, no matter how little you have, with those who have nothing.

Someday we may be able to tell our grandchildren about the Election of '08 when we, the people, turned away from anger, hate and greed and once again embraced the better angels of our nature.

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