Quote of the Day

George Packer on the Frothy Mixture Frontrunner:

In the tenth paragraph of a page A15 Times piece, Rick Santorum accuses Barack Obama of engaging in absolutely un-American activities. What are they? The article doesnt say. The quote appears without explanation or comment, in an article entitled Santorums Challenge: Broaden His Appeal Beyond Evangelical Christians. Nor does the line show up anywhere else on the Webapparently no reporter in the mob following the candidates through the last days before the Iowa caucuses thought it worth writing down, and no blogger thought it worth repeating. It was just a throwaway line, a hunk of spoiled red meat tossed at the crowd in a Sioux City coffee shop, no more newsworthy than saying, Its a great day to be an Iowan! And the crowd ate it up, applauding lustily….
Several things are worth noting here. The first is that, in todays Republican politics, one reliable way to reach beyond the Christian base is by whipping up nationalistic hysteria with language lifted straight from the McCarthy era. If criminalizing all abortions and nullifying all gay marriages are a little too sectarian for you, surely youd like to try some old-fashioned traitor-hunting. (Santorum has also accused Obama of sid[ing] with evil in Iran, a country with which he plainly wants to go to war.) The second is that this kind of gutter rhetoric is so routine in the Republican campaign that its not worth a political journalists time to point it out. In 2008, when Michele Bachmann suggested that Barack Obama and an unknown number of her colleagues in Congress were anti-American, there was a flurry of criticism; three years later, when a surging Presidential candidate states it flatly about a sitting President, theres no response at all.


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