Culture War Time Warp

Culture War Time Warp

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The New York Times Magazine previews a piece from this week’s issue about the strangely careening tactical path of the McCain campaign as it’s bounced incoherently from message to message over the last several months.

One thing occurred to me: The Right’s attacks on Obama over the lastyear have been like a tour of the Greatest Hits of the Culture War inroughly reverse chronological order. First there were the rumors of him being a secret radical Muslim, which is, of course, the most au courant culture-war wedge. Then, when that didn’t work they went with the Hollywood celebrity angle, which has a long pedigree, but also figured prominently in 2004. After that they went with the “sex education”angle, which, in the 1980s and 1990s particularly was a hardy perennial (even in liberal New York where I grew up). Next they turned the clock back even further to the 1960s, in belaboring the Bill Ayers/Weather Underground connection, and now they’re all the way back in the Cold War with accusations of socialism! I’m trying to predict what’s next. Obama supports the free coinage of silver? Obama was soft on Spanish atrocities in Cuba? Obama is a secret Jacobin sympathizer?

If nothing else, I think this election is useful for high school historyteachers who want to give their students a condensed, synthesized lookat the right-wing attack politics.

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