11 August 2008


A letter dated 7 July 2008 to the Richmond Times-Dispatch Beware Charismatic Men Who Preach 'Change' requires some comment.

It is obvious that the letter compares dictator Fidel Castro to Sen. Obama. Do you think this is valid historical comparison?

The change that Castro unleashed upon Cuba beginning in 1959 came after a violent revolution in which the ancien regime was truly overthrown. How would that situation compare to the election of a democrat such as Sen. Obama within an established democracy? Obviously there is no comparison that could be valid. A newly elected American president could not achieve such radical change as Castro could. Castro was instrumental in the destruction of the ancien regime; not so an American president who must work within the system.

Observe the wording of the letter: "election-year rhetoric," "young leader," "spoke eloquently and passionately," "denounced the old regime," "press fell in love with him," and "who his friends were or what he really believed"--these are code words and phrases making a specious comparison of a known evil (Castro) to a present political personage (Sen. Obama) involved in a political campaign.

The letter reads as if it were composed by the Republican National Committee (it cannot be ruled out that it WAS composed by people associated with the Republican campaign). In fact it has the hallmarks of a (Karl) Rovian strategy: attack the strength of the opposition. If Sen. Obama's strength is his ability to inspire (even if it is with generalities about change), then Rovian strategy attacks his ability to inspire and his message of "change." This strategy has certainly worked in the past; it is obviously working now.

Look again at the "letter" and its wording: "executioner's gun" is associated with Castro, but the appearance of this scare-phrase is no accident in a "letter" actually about Sen. Obama. The strategy by the Republican National Committee and Fox News is
to sow seeds of doubt and discomfort about Sen. Obama's character ("who his friends were"), to plant fear of Obama's very strengths ("spoke eloquently and passionately"), and to frighten Americans about his intentions ("executioner").

One way to plant doubt and fear is to make invalid historical comparisons. Please think twice before you fall for what should be an obvious piece of political propaganda. If you do fall for the tactics of propagandists, you will have been used.

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