Okay, here's what I think. You could put all of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's angry sermons on to one loop. You could put that loop up on the big screen at Radio City Music Hall and let it play there 24 hours a day, seven days a week and Barack Obama will still emerge as the next president of the United States.
Rev. Wright's rambling and vitriolic sermons are merely -- words. Hateful words to be sure. Pathetic. Painful. But, constitutionally protected free speech, as much as we may vehemently disagree. And denounce. And reject. As we should. And, we do.
But, if you want to get a look at real hate speech, with really dangerous implications, get a copy of the transcript of Dick Cheney's interview with ABC News. In response to Martha Raddatz' observation that about 2/3 of American citizens thought the war in Iraq was a dreadful mistake and clearly not worth the cost in terms of American treasure and American lives, Cheney replied, "So?"
To me, that is extraordinary and contemptible hate speech. And, much more dangerous to American society than any of the impotent rantings of Rev. Wright. I would take Mr. Cheney's "So." His own abbreviated version of "Goddamn America." His own mini-homage to Marie Antoinette's, "Let them eat cake." And, I would put that arrogant and sneering "So?" up on the big screen. And, play it over and over again. Because, it symbolizes all that Cheney-Bush stands for. And, all that John McCain must inherit. Because the message of Dick Cheney's hatful one-word tirade against this American democracy has finally, finally sunk in to the American public.
Americans by an incredible majority of more than 80% believe that this country is headed in the wrong direction. They understand that the Republican legacy of incompetence, corruption and callousness is summed up in that one word answer, "So?". That this administration and all that it stands for has been a lie. Sold to them by a clever shell game of distraction and distortion. By making you believe that the wearing of a flag lapel pin is an important gauge of patriotism. But, that a president who lies this country into war on a tissue of lies and manipulation is somehow resolute and strong.
Ironically John McCain and Jeremiah Wright do have some things in common, I believe. Perhaps, even more than Obama and Wright do. Because, in many ways McCain's world view is similar to that of Reverend Wright's. It's a view from another time. A view from another world which framed both men. And, one which influences them still.
For Reverend Wright it is a view shaped in a time of real racial bigotry and intolerance. Shaped by wounds from which he cannot heal. A world from which he cannot escape. A world that produced this complex, tortured man. A United States marine, who can somehow spew these hateful words. And, yet, still find within himself, the compassion to feed the hungry, clothe the poor and tend to the sick and dying.
John McCain, a Vietnam War hero of almost incomprehensible bravery and valor, is also trapped by a world view from another time. A time when American military might and power was the obvious answer. Faced now with new threats of stateless terrorism. Faced now with the reality of fighting a new war, no longer one against a standing army, but, against one person standing with a back pack, McCain is trapped by his own experiences. And, shackled by his view of history which leads him to consider the intense and complex and painful diplomacy which is needed now, as a last option, not a first. McCain's distorted claims of "victory" in Iraq seem completely detached from the complex and painful reality of the quagmire we've produced there. Time has passed both these men by. But, only one of them is running for President.
My father worked in the Post Office. A lot of double shifts. All his friends were in the same situation -- truck drivers, taxi cab drivers, grocery clerks. Blue collar guys punching the clock and working long, hard hours. The thought that sustained them was the one at the center of the American dream. The dream that life would be better for their children. The dream being crushed now by the policies of Bush-Cheney-McCain.
Because, the fact is the real war Bush-Cheney and the Republicans have waged, and the one they are in fact, winning -- is the war against working men and women. And, for that "victory" they do deserve credit. And, I believe they'll get it in November.
When you see former Republican, House Speaker Dennis Hastert's seat go Democratic. When Democratic Senators emerge in North Dakota, Missouri, Virginia you begin to get the idea that change is coming. No flag pin idiocy, no Rev. Wright idiocy, can distract America. Not this time. Not now. Not after eight years of Republican madness.
Mr. Vice President, good and decent, loyal, hard-working Americans have to choose between putting gas in their tank or food on their table. They can't afford to buy the prescription medications they need to keep themselves and their loved ones alive. They've seen their retirement nest eggs disappear. Their homes taken away from them. They're confused. They're hurt. They're scared.