"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance"

--James Madison--

"The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries, but between authoritarians and libertarians"

--George Orwell--

What We're Up Against

First posted at The Smirking Chimp, August 26, 2008.

While the Chimp is the only political blog that I spend much time on anymore, I do participate in a few non-political blogs/discussion groups. A few days ago, the moderator of one of these posted a "What Is Your Vent" thread, which predictably became quite political.
One of the posters there, let's call him "ST", started ranting about Obama. I've known ST online for years, and he has never come off as a wingnut before. Conservative, yes, extreme, no. But there he was, suddenly spouting off right wing talking points about Obama. A few excerpts (emphasis and typos are preserved from the original):
"MY vent is how stupid people can be.
So many back Obama, and ignore his blatant lying , changing of his story (just until he gets elected) and his dislike for America.
All they see is that he is Black,which he isn't. He's half black. "
I'm not sure what being "half black" has to do with anything. But after another poster brought up McCain's dishonesty and his wife's drug use, ST came back with:
"Neither man running is a winner, in my book. But I DIDN'T bring up the upstart's wife. But I sure could have. She has opened her big mouth and said some very nasty things.
NO, I was talking about the Unqualified, dishonest, accomplished nothing, know nothing, shape shifting, gutless, position less, proud, arrogant, and basically WRONG about EVERY thing he said he would do, (which is frightening to think that some people WANT him to do them) wanna be.
If you compare Obama to McCAin, and figure which man loves america more, McCain wins, and I hope he does in November."
My, what vitriol! Note that he also said nothing to bolster his point that somehow, mysteriously, he just knows that McCain loves the USA more than Obama does. To him, it's just a given, apparently. After "K" countered ST's arguments, he continued:
"K, you are smarter than this.
YOU know about political talk, and promises made before they get in office.
The guy has a voting record which says TAX and SPEND.
The guy is the NUMBER 1 liberal in Washington. Enough to make Hillary look good.
The guy has no experience, changes his mind from moment to moment after he makes an ass of himself in the news and lies about what he said the first time.
He can't be trusted.
Always vote for a lying candidate, K. They will promise you the most.
(oh,and I hope this is a friendly discussion and not a personal one)."
How sweet of him to say it's not personal! How misinformed of him to press the right wing meme that Obama is somehow the most liberal member of Congress!
I called him out on that one--(this is me quoting myself here)--"You need to stop getting all of your info from Rush and Bill.
Obama the most liberal member of Congress? More liberal than say, Russ Feingold, Ted Kennedy, Dianne Feinstein, Dianna DeGette (my local congresscritter), Barbara Boxer, or Dennis Kucinich (among others)?
Of course "liberal" and "conservative" are subjective. Check it out for yourself:
You can look at actual voting records and see for yourself what you think."
Without bothering to check facts or think critically, he countered with this:
"It was not my listing obama as #1 liberal. But according to his voting record, he is. Hard to believe more liberal than kennedy, but he is."
He fails to mention where he actually got this information from. But when we got into a side argument about taxation, he provided me with a link to the Heritage Foundation! I countered with a link to the actual statistics that they were twisting from the IRS website.
Then he went off on the "experience and age" meme:
"Even if obama had brilliant ideas, which would work, however unlikely, don't you think he is a bit untried? First term senator. Nothing to his credit yet there. Young.
I would trust a more mature (yes that is the word) man in the office,especially in the very dangerous times.
A man can't lead if he is constantly changing his mind about what he would do."
Of course, I plugged on, as I tend to do, even when I know in advance that everything I say will be refuted by a repetitious, fact-free argument. I made a quick list of all 21 Presidents that had no prior executive office experience, as well as the 4 who were younger at their first inauguration than Obama would be at his. BTW, I just love it when people talk about Obama being "too young". He's 8 months younger than I am, and I am rarely ever accused of being "too young" anymore.
ST's brilliant reply was:
"are you that naive that you think obama is equal to
GHW Bush
Ike Eisenhower
Herbert Hoover
Woodrow Wilson
WH Taft
Benjamin Harrison
James Garfield
Chester Arthur
Rutherford Hayes
US Grant
Abraham Lincoln
James Buchanan
Franklin Pierce
Zachary Taylor
JK Polk
William Henry Harrison
Andrew Jackson
James Monroe
James Madison
George Washington
He regurgitated the list I had given him, and which he probably wouldn't have been able to compile himself. But he went on:
??????? If so, you have no knowledge of history and who these men were and what they went thru to get where they did.
You may bow to the altar of Obama, but for my safety, job, family and over all pride in my country, I would take any of the above before this self absorbed puppet. "
Of course, anyone who reads my comments around here regularly would know that I am obsessed with, and fairly well read on Presidential politics and history. I'm pretty sure that ST hasn't done half of the historical research that I've done. Also, most folks around here would laugh out loud at the idea of ME "bowing to the altar of Obama". Ain't that something?
I never actually said that Obama was equal to any past President. I had simply made a list of those who had similar experience when they first ran for President.
ST showed his spectacular ignorance of American history by defending the reputations (without provocation) of 21 American Presidents, some of which he would no doubt have serious issues with. He was apparently unaware of the immense failures of GHW, Hoover, Buchanan, and others. He had no knowledge that Polk was a despicable liar. He also didn't know that WH Harrison only served 3 months before dying.
Friends, this is who we have to try to educate! ST is not an isolated example. Most of these people are blissfully unaware of politics unless it's a Presidential election year. They get their "news" from FOX news and noise radio. They believe everything they hear if it comes from a pre-approved conservative source.
Maybe we can't do much, but we can engage these folks one at a time. Not on Free Republic, but on non-political forums, on the street, over the phone, over the fence!
Let's get out there and torque some wingnuts!!!
(Thanks and apologies to Kim Il-Bush)