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What Behavior Reveals in a Political Season

By       Message Elayne Clift       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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         Recently  I wrote "An Open Letter to Sarah Palin" which ran as commentary on OpEdNews and with the India-based syndicate Women's Feature Service to which I regularly contribute.  I sent the piece to my personal listserv because I knew the people on that list would be interested in (and sympathetic to) what I had to say.  The letter ended up traveling around the Internet like an out-of-control spider plant.  Everyone who received it sent it to their lists and it went wild from there, proving the theory that "the strength of weak ties" is powerful.  (In case it hasn't hit your Inbox, you can read the letter on my blog:

I began receiving emails and phone calls from all over the country in response to my letter and they're still coming in.  They come from women and men, Democrats and Republicans, Christians and agnostics.  I stopped counting at one hundred replies, at least 90 percent of which were strongly in support of what I'd written.  The other ten percent were dismaying, not because they disagreed with me, but because they were sadly telling in terms of the kind of folks who support "the Palin-McCain ticket" as Sarah Palin referred to it recent

The people writing to me because they were angry at what I'd said demonstrated a notable lack of education. Every single negative reply I got had major errors in spelling and syntax and not one of them made a logical argument or offered a sound defense for their raging opposition.  Rather, they were so full of mindless vitriol it took my breath away.  I was called ugly, uneducated, and worse, including "a dirty dishrag full of diarrhea."  I was told to get married, get a job, and that "jealousy gets you nowhere."  One writer suggested that "Mr. Obama introduce [me] to a nice Muslim Democrat."  That writer (and others) didn't have the courtesy, or the guts, to sign a name.

The extraordinarily vicious tone of the mail I received says a lot to me about some of the people who will be voting for McCain-Palin next month.  I know it's a small sample, but here's the thing:  We've seen similar tendencies in the Republican leadership too.  Just think about the smear tactics of a Swift Boat campaign. Look at all the ads that by innuendo or factual distortion tell lies about Barack Obama or inflate the experience of Sarah Palin.  Note such things as the despicable denigration of community organizing.

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 I am in receipt of two emails that tell me something about John McCain's ability to be nasty too.  Neither source, both of whom I've been in contact with, has given me permission to use their names so you may well question the authenticity of what they've said.  But I know who they are and how to reach them, so I am going to quote from their messages, one of which has traveled around the 'net just as my letter has.

The first email recounts a vacation encounter with Mr. McCain some years ago.  After talking about his "aggressive flirting" and "rude behavior" toward women, his shocking remarks about his adopted Bangladeshi daughter, and his aggressive stance toward bombing Iraq, the writer describes a final encounter in which McCain reduces a friend to tears by telling her she needs to lose weight.  "I told him to leave her alone.  He became very angry and abusive toward me and said 'don't you know who I am?"

The other email came to me from a woman who met McCain in 1984 while she was serving in the military.  She wrote, "The best way I can describe it was that he was antisocial and bitchy.  Our plane broke down.  Where everyone else was trying to make the best of it, he just sat in his seat sulking.  I took him a drink and he didn't thank me; he seemed to expect to be waited on...and didn't seem to feel a need to attempt pleasantries. My opinion of him is based on what he didn't do...he just believed that he was superior to the 'little' people. I never forgot the feeling I got when I was around him."  She concluded her message with this:  "He scared me then and he scares me now.  I hope these behaviors can be made public."

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I hope so too.  That's why, even without these two people going public, I decided to share their stories.  It's one thing for some small-time jerk to hurl nasty slurs my way.  It's quite another for someone vying for the presidency to be allowed to get away with such behavior.



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Elayne Clift is a writer,lecturer, workshop leader and activist. She is senior correspondent for Women's Feature Service, columnist for the Keene (NH) Sentinel and Brattleboro (VT) Commons and a contributor to various publications internationally. (more...)

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