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Scott Swenson

Scott Swenson

Posted: October 11, 2008 01:05 PM

Abuse of Power, Anger and Abortion Politics: Extremism Exposed


A McCain supporter at a Friday rally said he was "scared of an Obama presidency", linking Obama "hanging around with Ayers" to "who he will choose for the Supreme Court." Two lies, about Ayers and about the Supreme Court, fueled by a Culture of Lies now fomenting rage.

McCain replied to the man saying Obama is "a good and decent person and you do not have to be scared of him being President of the United States."

On Saturday Gov. Sarah Palin was proving that the huge crowds are mostly interested in extreme right-wing abortion politics by tossing the crowds some red meat, and more lies about abortion. Palin said a vote for Obama is "a vote for activist courts that will continue to smother the open and democratic debate that we deserve and that we need on this issue of life." She also misstated Obama's statements and positions on a range of abortion issues.

These are the lies that, because they connect to a core belief for so many, allow all the other lies to to take root and drive the anger and rage we now see on display.

McCain once welcomed the enthusiastic crowds to his lackluster campaign, a result of his selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as running mate. Palin swept the far-right, anti-choice, extremists off their feet, creating a political phenomenon -- the Palinistas. She even seduced a few independents for a week or two, with her coy and carefully crafted banter.

What a difference a month makes. Rabid crowds now demand blood, and a bi-partisan report from Alaska confirms Palin is guilty of an "abuse of power". We should all pray for calm given that angry mobs amped up on lies, in the midst of global economic crisis, led by people comfortable abusing power, make for a volatile mix.

After only a few interviews with journalists Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric, America has learned how woefully uninformed and unqualified Palin is, sending her poll numbers in a decline as steep as Wall Street, and explaining why Palin is a shero to the crowds of rabidly uninformed people "scared" about the Supreme Court. They are scared about the Supreme Court because of lies they have been told by the anti-choice extremists about sexual and reproductive health for a generation. They are scared because of lies about abstinence-only actually working, lies about what comprehensive sex ed is, lies about gay people, lies about condoms and contraception, lies about why women choose abortion, lies about abortion causing breast cancer, lies about "post-abortion syndrome", lies about late-term abortions, and lies about infanticide. All of these and more far-right myths are based on lies that motivate the same extremism and rage we see on display by the Palinistas now.

If you get people to believe lies about the most fundamental aspects of human nature, it is easier to get them to believe lies about political associations.

They have created a Culture of Lies designed to take over the Supreme Court and impose their narrow and extreme ideologies on every American, and their rage is growing as they, for the first time, realize that most Americans do not agree with their narrow values, that the Supreme Court is slipping from their grasp.

They believed the lies, and like an economy built on lies, political ideology built on lies is now tumbling before our eyes.

These lies show up in email forwards, videos, TV ads, and on talk radio and Faux News long before people start parroting them back to candidates at rallies. Seeing the lies come full circle, forcing McCain to address them, is rare indeed.

We now know that this Culture of Lies leads to "abuses of power" by Palin just as it did with ethically challenged, abstinence-only lobbyists and profiteers who now use money they made from the taxpayers to tell more lies about abortion. It's nothing new, this fundamental lack of respect and civility is what too many women face every day, what too many gay people have been beaten and died for, what too many people of color have bled and starved for. This Culture of Lies turned neighbor against neighbor, caused parents to turn their backs on gay children, delayed smart public health strategies based on medical science in the fight against HIV/AIDS -- and continues to do so 27 years into the pandemic -- all these lies in the name of "traditional family values." All these lies in the name of Jesus Christ.

Forgive them.

Conservative, Catholic, Republican, pro-life, legal scholars are distancing themselves from these extremists, calling for a change in the dialogue around sexual and reproductive health, a hopeful sign. Other conservative writers are distancing themselves from Palin herself, while some are trying to say it's not her, it's the economy, that has caused the reversal in the polls, that she would still be a star if it weren't for the economy. More lies. Dangerous lies. Economic crisis is no time to foment anger and resentment based on ideology. Palin should accept personal responsibility for her abuse of power and McCain should accept personal responsibility for his lapse in judgment selecting her -- those bad decisions should not be compounded with myths and lies that their decline in the polls is only about the economy.

It will take a while for people to work their way back from the lies, and important for us all to distinguish between those who are genuinely pro-life, as an article of personal faith, and others who are anti-choice as a means to pursue partisan power and control over the decisions and lives of others.

McCain is being publicly humiliated by these "agents of intolerance", again. The first time was when he was the target of their lies and rage in 2000.

Humiliation is what these people do, it is who they are. They attempt to humiliate women at clinics. They "abuse power" at the Department of Health and Human Services using ideological lies and pseudo-science to justify making contraception inaccessible, if not illegal. These same extremists who have been directly responsible for bombings at clinics and murdering physicians, bashing gays and stoking racism, and are now so out of control that their own presidential candidate has to try to contain their rage; to prevent rallies from becoming riots.

I once wrote that the way McCain could exact his revenge on these "agents of intolerance" was to select a pro-choice running mate, as he wanted to do, with either Sen. Joe Lieberman or Gov. Tom Ridge, appealing to centrists that overwhelmingly support a pro-education, pro-prevention, pro-choice agenda.

Boy was I wrong.

The way McCain appears to be destroying the far-right, extremist, anti-choice movement, is by selecting one of their own, making her famous. We know her name. We see the crowds she hangs out with, and how she governs. Palin is an anti-choice shero, the personification of all their aspirations of power, their political manipulations, their Culture of Lies.

Maybe McCain has found his last ounce of maverick, and perhaps because of his long distinguished service to this country, his last act of patriotism for the country he loves is exposing extremist elements and making Americans more aware of how this Culture of Lies has taken root.

We'll see if that John McCain shows up consistently in the final weeks of the campaign.

This article originally appeared on RH Reality Check.

The "scared" Supreme Court question begins at 5:05.