In the latest instance of inflammatory outbursts at McCain-Palin rallies, a crowd member screamed “treason!” during an event on Tuesday after Sarah Palin accused Barack Obama of criticizing U.S. troops.
“[Obama] said, too, that our troops in Afghanistan are ‘air raiding villages and killing civilians,’” Palin said, mischaracterizing a 2007 remark by Obama. “I hope Americans know that is not what our brave men and women in uniform are doing in Afghanistan. The U.S. military is fighting terrorism and protecting us and protecting our freedom.”
Shortly afterward, a male member of the crowd in Jacksonville, Florida, yelled “treason!” loudly enough to be picked up by television microphones.
Now, part of this really is Palin’s fault. She’s blatantly lying to her supporters, leading them to think Obama really is condemning U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The charge was debunked 15 months ago when Republicans first used it, and it hasn’t improved with age. If Palin is capable of shame — an unlikely scenario, to be sure — now would be a good time for it.
That said, McCain/Palin have reached a point where they have to decide whether whipping right-wing activists into a frenzy, based solely on lies, is the responsible way to seek national office. The Republican candidates are not literally calling for violence against their political rivals, but they’re nevertheless standing by, saying nothing, while their supporters are shouting words like “kill,” “terrorist,” and “treason” at their rallies.
And given that this rage-filled hatred is in direct response to the McCain/Palin campaign lying to their supporters, now would be the ideal time for these candidates to take a look in the mirror and consider the consequences of a relentlessly negative, breathtakingly dishonest, anger-driven campaign.
Jason Zengerle reminded us this morning of a speech Rudy Giuliani gave in 2006, when he was interrupted by a supporter who said terrorists reminded him of Democrats. Giuliani stopped and said, “Time out. The other thing we have to learn is that we can’t get into this partisan bickering. The fact is that Republicans and Democrats have the same objectives…. Democrats are loyal Americans. Republicans are loyal Americans. I think we have better answers, but we have to respect each other.”
If McCain and Palin were to offer a similar sentiment now, the rage from their overheated supporters might cool down — and be less nauseating.