Wednesday, November 19, 2008

High and low roads to U.S. history

Express Staff Writer

How small, bitter and beleaguered by hate the intractable foes of Barack Obama look and sound.

In his hour-long Sunday interview on "60 Minutes," Obama came through as a man of superior poise, intellect and deep thought, with a firm and unrattled grasp of immense problems requiring Solomonic wisdom and Herculean courage. To those weary of President Bush's stumbling inability to speak intelligibly, and his frequent use of gunslinger imagery, Obama's command of the language ensures that Americans no longer need endure a president mocked for malapropisms and fractured syntax. Instead, eloquence has returned.

The lofty character Obama will use to restore dignity and integrity to the Oval Office also includes generous helpings of magnanimity. He reached out to his defeated rival, John McCain, for help in rebuilding America's shattered economy, despite brutal smears and belittling slurs by McCain and Sarah Palin, and also generously asked Senate Democrats to keep the perfidious turncoat Joe Lieberman in their caucus and not expel him.

If Obama represents the high road in the historic drama of the 44th presidency, extremists on the right show that some Americans don't want amity and conciliation but instead prefer the low road.

The conscience of the Republican Party's far right wing, Rush Limbaugh, is sticking with his election morning-after slam that Obama is an "old-fashioned Chicago thug" and that America's financial catastrophe is an "Obama recession," not George Bush's doing.

Thousands of panicked Americans are rushing to gun stores to stock up on weapons and ammo, thanks to the predictable and reckless scare mongering of the National Rifle Association—that Obama is a "radical" who'll restrict gun ownership and tax ammunition heavily. And what does more guns per home mean to national recovery, pray tell?

Rednecks and racists are busy, too. More than 200 incidents across the country involving threats against Obama are being investigated, including the threat of a "public lynching" in Vay, Idaho.

But nothing has been so unnerving as the report of second- and third-grade students on a school bus in Rexburg, Idaho, chanting "assassinate Obama, assassinate Obama."

What's so frightening is the school district's explanation that the children didn't really know the meaning of "assassinate," and the public must understand the Rexburg district was heavily for John McCain.

Thus, the children presumably learned the chant of a lynch mob in homes that are devout Republicans.

Is this what Idaho wants to perpetuate—"the reddest red state," where children learn the ABC's of racial hate and lynching before their 10th birthday from parents?

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