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It's All Relateable

Peter Marshall | 01:24 UK time, Thursday, 9 October 2008

Travelling through Ohio you not only get a clear sense of the real issue at stake in this election - the economy stoopid! - but you also get to hear a fair bit of the background noise that some seem to hope will muddy the voters' minds.

The self-professed rich man in a poor man's shirt, The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, in his concert for the Democrats' registration drive in Columbus, spoke of America as "a House of Dreams which a thousand George Bushes and a thousand Dick Cheneys can't tear down but will leave in a terrible state of disrepair."

The audience of course were in full agreement but what's striking is that there would be little dissent from Springsteen's view in the more rural, Republican areas of Ohio, like Muskingham County.

Unemployment here approaches nine per cent and George Bush, for whom Muskinghams voted in numbers, twice, is a pariah in these parts.

What's perhaps more relevant at this stage of the election campaign is that the Republicans rarely mention the name of their current candidate for the White House. John McCain.

For them his candidacy has been utterly overshadowed by Sarah Palin. They tell you she has revivified their hopes and energised their canvassing. She may not talk too polished or fancy but they like that. It makes her, as they put it, more relateable.

They also, apparently, love the footage of Governor Palin dressing moose (which apparently involves killing it and ripping the carcass apart, in style.) It's all relateable.

What may worry the people of Muskingham County is the source of a line Ms Palin used in her nomination acceptance speech. "We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity... I grew up with those people".

That would have gone down well with rural Ohioans. But they'd doubtless be perturbed to know that she was quoting one Westbrook Pegler. As Robert F. Kennedy Junior explained, Pegler was a fascist who "expressed his fervent hope about my father, Robert F. Kennedy, as he contemplated his own run for the presidency in 1965, that 'some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow flies.'

One presumes - hopes - Sarah Palin was unaware of exactly who she was quoting. She is already having to handle claims that there are racist undertones to her attacks on Barack Obama.

Her suggestion that he was "palling around" with a "domestic terrorist" is a considerable exaggeration of Obama's tenuous links to a former member of the Weather Underground. She claims "the heels are on and the gloves are off".

The result is not pretty.

"Who is the real Barack Obama?" asks John McCain. Well he's the guy who is now six points ahead in Ohio and is probably about to win this election unless you and your number two can come up with something better.

It's instructive to note that the leader of the Democrats' best canvassing team in Columbus - he was rewarded with a hug and a backslap from Bruce Springsteen - used to be a Republican.

Pop pickers: Springsteen's set in Columbus (all acoustic):
Mr. Spaceman (Byrds cover - Springsteen was introduced by Senator John Glenn. Get it?) Promised Land/Ghost of Tom Joad/Thunder Road/No Surrender/Youngstown/The Rising/This Land is Your Land. Bruce also riffed on the 'Yes we can' Obama campaign slogan.


  • 1. At 08:07am on 09 Oct 2008, JunkkMale wrote:

    I fly no flag for Mrs. Palin (nor any of the others... who are they again? Thanks to the quality of BBC coverage it's hard to recall, bar the bloke Simon Schama has decided to 'follow') and, as a UK voter, that opinion really matters little.

    But the way the chattering classes here are treating this overseas election, and trying to shape the result in the 'correct' way using unsubtle versions of the last 'correct' way (Operation Clark County anyone?) is starting to reach silly levels..

    From the Guardian to the Telegraph and beyond (you know who you are), there appear to be on-staff individuals whose sole function is to talk about an aspiring foreign VP, and usually in as dismissive terms as possible, even if on occasion journalistic integrity does manage a small bit of objectivity to creep in.

    Now there is another technique: agenda manipulation by quote of proxy celebs.

    Hence yesterday I am treated to what ex 60s heartthrob Brigitte Bardot thinks of Mrs. Palin, and now 'The Boss' (he's not keen).

    I know journalists, especially those working for the BBC, do... well... should not allow their personal agendas to creep in, so using such techniques - 'I'm just reporting a respected political viewpoint, from a rock star, honest' - leaves me deeply concerned for here.

    What next: 'Jim Davidson, when commenting on the new fiscal bail-out some have described as Mr. Brown's latest masterstroke, has with remarkable insight reflected the unquestioned view of the majority of the public that dealing with a massive mess in which he was totally complicit by throwing yet more public money into an abyss is hardly cause for media cheerleading now'?

    Spare the opinion/commentary/aspirations, Aunty. Just the facts. I'll decide the rest.

    But then, when it comes to pols compromising themselves in word and/or deed with unprompted errors, or their telegenic mates endorsing them, one still has to trust that one is served the rough with the smooth, across the board, in equal measure. Can we?

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  • 2. At 12:15pm on 09 Oct 2008, duhbuh wrote:

    Dear Mr Axelrod,

    Did I get enough of your talking points in my first election blog? I do hope so.

    Yours hoping for an Obama win,

    Peter Marshall.

    (Watch out Justin Webb, looks like you've got competition on the anti-Palin blog front)

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  • 3. At 5:58pm on 09 Oct 2008, tone1201 wrote:

    Peter, you'd be entirely entitled to blog your thoroughly one-sided vitriolic views if you were a paid employee of the Democratic party, or if you had your own private blog (not that anyone would read it), but I absolutely resent being forced to pay for this biased guff with my TV tax. Stop the campaigning, and try some reporting instead.

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  • 4. At 9:00pm on 09 Oct 2008, 60022Mallard wrote:

    Another BBC jelly mould reporter on the American election. Isn't the Webb and Frei "Obama for President" one note samba enough without you joining in too.

    The BBC coverage of the U.S. election is a disgrace.

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