I live in the northern suburbs of Baltimore, within a mile or two of the city line. As most of you know, this is Obama country. Indeed, we live in such a bubble here that I can count on one hand the number of people I know who are supporting McCain. All of them are supporting McCain because they don't want to pay more taxes (and actually would).
My knowledge of social conservatives is therefore limited to what I read on the internet, hear on talk radio, or see on television. Still, I never felt I was living in Pollyannish naivety. However, I was shocked and really frightened by what I read in the Baltimore Sun today concerning the national reaction to a short piece (and I mean short) on Gov. Palin written by a local columnist.
Susan Reimer is a columnist for the Sun. She writes light pieces on current events from the perspective of a baby boomer working mom. Earlier this week, she wrote a column http://www.baltimoresun.com/...A Woman, But Why This Woman questioning the wisdom of McCain's pick of Gov. Palin. It's a short piece, the gist of which is
So. This is what being pandered to feels like.
John McCain picked Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska and mother of five, to be his running mate to woo women like me.
He seems to think that my girlfriends and I are so disappointed that an utterly qualified woman is not going to be president that we will jump at the chance to vote for an utterly unqualified woman for vice president.
You gotta love a guy who thinks things are that simple.
With respect to Palin's youngest son Trig, Reimer suggested that McCain was using the child for political purposes:
You want to look good to the evangelicals? Choose a running mate with a Down syndrome child.
(When James Dobson, the conservative Christian radio host who fancies himself a kingmaker, jumped up to say that the selection of Palin means he can now "pull the lever" for John McCain, I almost felt sick. I don't know what I'll do if she trots out the story of her 5-month-old baby to shore up the Republican base.)
Palin's personal story is very compelling, but it reads more like a movie pitch than a resume for national leadership.
Of course, the McCain campaign has since done exactly that. However, the right has directed its considerable venom at Reimer for suggesting this truth. Today, in her column Gloves Came Off When Column Came Out Reimer details the overwrought and downright frightening response to her column:
On Monday, I wrote a column criticizing the McCain campaign for what I saw as a cynical attempt to gather in unhappy women voters by naming Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin his vice presidential candidate and for exploiting the poignant story of her youngest child to appease the Republican Party's pro-life base.
And then the storm began.
More than 8,200 comments were posted to the column on The Baltimore Sun's Web site. I received more than 700 personal e-mails and about 50 phone calls.
The column was mentioned by Rush Limbaugh and Brit Hume. Matt Drudge's hugely popular Web site, Drudge Report, posted a link to it. Fox News and every shock jock from here to San Francisco called and asked me to appear on the air to defend myself.
The bulk of the comments were negative, and in Reimer's words, "vehement or venomous." She concludes her column, after recounting some of the more sane comments with
It would be unfair for me to leave you with the impression that the column I wrote and the reader response were nothing more than spirited conversation in which two sides respectfully disagreed.
The things that were said about me, my personal appearance and my children - as well as Barack Obama - were beyond the bounds of decency, and many were said in language that might only be seen in a bathroom stall.
Generally, the comments were not made behind the veil of anonymity the Internet can provide. The writers signed their names. And they revealed what I think has become the bare-knuckles nature of our national conversation.
So much pent-up anger, so much barely concealed hate was released in those e-mails and those postings. I wonder where next they will find a vent
After watching snippets of the Republican Convention and Governor Palin's speech, among others, we know where some of the hate was vented. This is all really scary stuff, the hatred that is out there for one's neighbors, and fellow citizens. The attempts to intimidate a local columnist. The recently revealed plan to block the press's access to Governor Palin. And now this, McCain Allies Try to Shut Down Troopergate investigation
And the Republicans try to say with a straight face "Country First?"