May 3, 2008
Posted by Jay Livingston

Did Hillary really say this?
They came for the steel companies and nobody said anything. They came for the auto companies and nobody said anything. They came for the office companies, people who did white-collar service jobs, and no one said anything. And they came for the professional jobs that could be outsourced, and nobody said anything.
Yes she did. But who is this “they” so sinister as to resemble the Nazis? (I assume everyone recognizes the source of HRC’s allusion – “First they came for the Socialists. . . .”)

It’s the same sort of “they” that the Iraq war supporters use – “If we don’t fight them over there, we’ll have to fight them here” – as though Saddam had been about to launch an invasion of Ohio, or, as we speak, the Mehdi army is massing on the Kansas border.

When the Bushies and others have to specify this enemy, it’s “the terrorists” or “terrorism.” We have a “war on terror,” though it’s very unlikely that terror will ever sue for peace and sign a surrender treaty or that some day we’ll be celebrating VT day. Others name the “they” as Islamists or Islamofascism. This lumps together a variety of people who are often at odds with one another, much like the communism and communists that we feared and fought for three decades in wars hot and cold.

Apparently, you can be successful in US politics if you can get people to be afraid, to be very afraid. You don’t have to identify a real enemy, and your policies to fight this vague enemy don’t even have to make sense or be effective. You just have to declare a war – on terrorism, on communism, on crime, on drugs. I just wonder what or who will be the object of Hillary’s war.

1 comment:

kristina b said...

Wowsa. I didn't hear that one.

What's amusing to me is that, having grown up in a blue collar world, I know that it will really resonate with a lot of blue collar people. And, being a non-blue collar type of person who grew up in a blue collar world, I know that Obama's refusal to to speak that way, and his insistence on rationality (a la the gas tax issue, for example) will be seen as annoying and uppity.