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A Pit Bull Doesn't Lie

Guy Reel

One of the complaints we hear from "ordinary" red-staters is that the Democrats mock them, condescend to them and look down upon them.

Hmm. Have they for even a fleeting instant considered which is really the party of mockery and bitter burlesque?

Consider the atmosphere of the presidential campaign. For months, John McCain and the Republican Party have claimed they would put aside partisanship and change Washington by working across the aisle. Then, during the summer in St. Paul, McCain presided over a wretched parade of GOP goons as they spewed forth an astonishing litany of lies, distortions and exaggerations about Barack Obama and Joe Biden. How could any American think the Republicans might be interested in a new politics when they embrace the last eight years of the despicable win-at-any-cost tactics of Karl Rove and George Bush?

Those days are a distant memory now, almost quaint in their innocence. Now we have the specter of rallies where angry Republicans, drunk on their own lies, demand that John McCain get tougher with Obama. Tougher? What do they want him to do, kill him? Er... well, maybe they do.

I remember that originally, after watching the Democratic National Convention, I had complained about the major national television networks' coverage. The TV news networks limited their televised proceedings to one hour a night, eagerly signing off the air at 11 p.m. Eastern time so they could pitch to local news of weather, sports and car-jackings. During that woeful week in journalism, the last president of the United States, Bill Clinton, delivered a ringing indictment of his successor's eight years in office, carefully explaining the disastrous policies that have brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy and irrelevance. While he was speaking, our major national TV networks were showing "Criminal Minds," "Supernanny," and "America's Got Talent."

But after the Republican National Convention, I realized my outrage was misplaced. It was fortunate for most of the American people that they had other TV fare to numb their minds, so they didn't have to watch the endless sneers, smears and lame humor that the Republicans think passes for political discourse.

Over the last few weeks, I have finally come to understand the fundamental difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. While both parties are self-serving and beholden to corporate interests at the expense of average people, one party simply tells the truth about the ruinous policies of its opponent. The other, faced with a public that recognizes its failures and disagrees with it on every single issue save "national security," must lie about its own policies, its opponents' policies, and now, its opponent's background and character. That's why the Republicans are so much better liars than the Democrats.

It will get worse still. McCain and Sarah Palin, too cowardly to confront Obama and Biden in person at their debates, now aren't happy with merely saying Democrats sympathize with terrorists; they're busily trying to convince their shouting minions that the Democrats actually ARE terrorists. The mockery of Obama as a celebrity and empty-suited community organizer has turned into hatred for all that he stands for, a poisonous, derisive narrative that has led to shouts of "treason," "terrorist," and yes, "kill him" at their virtually all-white rallies. The palpable anger demonstrates the danger of such a destructive politics: These people actually BELIEVE the lies that Palin and McCain are spouting about Obama, lies that McCain, at least, probably knows are just political theater. One wonders if he is surprised that his venomous attacks - the silly accusations about ties to terrorists and a crazy preacher - have been taken so literally that they could actually endanger the life of his opponent. If so, he hasn't shown it; he's still happily babbling the nonsense, whistling away while the nation faces its biggest economic crisis in 80 years.

For years we've heard right-wing commentators complain about how "liberal elites" look down on average people, how the "latte-drinking" and "arugula-eating" effetes are out of touch with the people who go to church, own guns and try to pay their bills and mortgages. But after watching this campaign, it has become obvious that the mockery and impudent sneers have not been aimed by the Democrats at "ordinary" people. Instead, the shameful insults are aimed by Republicans toward a political party and its candidates who actually favor policies that help those same people. And as for paying our bills? Forget that idea, if you're a mainstream Republican. Right-wing anti-taxers, as Sarah Palin pointed out so abusively, think it's un-American to chip in to help the country pay off the trillions in new debt run up under George W. Bush through his optional war and absent-minded stewardship of our economic collapse. Republicans apparently think that this unfathomable debt to China, Saudi Arabia and the like will somehow disappear. They mock Democrats, claiming they are the party of ordinary Americans. Hey, ordinary people work hard and pay their bills. Republicans just want a free ride.

Which brings one to the troubling question: How can Christians cheer - or, to use the word the Republicans use when talking about the admiration for Obama - worship such a consummate liar as Sarah Palin? Not to digress, but if you look at the candidates, who's the real "rock star celebrity" of this race? Who's the great mocker? Who's the impudent farce? Who's the self-indulgent, decadent sham? It has to be the one who has spent the last 18 months of the presidential campaign on the sidelines, never having read a newspaper, plucked from her isolation in political obscurity, and elevated overnight into the savior of what one can only hope is a dying party.

Sarah Palin was brought out as a pit bull, albeit on a grand hair day, and she delivered. But what's the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom? A pit bull doesn't lie.

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Guy Reel is an associate professor of mass communication at Winthrop University. He can be reached at

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