Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons Crowd

All I can say is that, McCain's campaign is fortunate that the most recent gaffe about his many mansions came up, because otherwise, this latest tempest would be all over the place. As it was, even my Mom heard about it.

Here's the story: A McCain staff blogger named Michael Goldfarb made the following comment about people questioning if the candidate's "Cross in the Dirt" story was legit (seeing how Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn told the same story 35 years ago* in The Gulag Archipelago):
It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman’s memory of war from the comfort of mom’s basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others.
It is the not the first time Mr. Goldfarb described the gaming community in negative terms en route to smearing other people. Earlier he uncorked this gem against the New York Times
But in their new role as bloggers, the paper’s editors seem to have all the intelligence and reason of the average Daily Kos diarist sitting at home in his mother’s basement and ranting into the ether between games of dungeons and dragons.
And this is part of the political campaigns that resemble storytelling and stand-up comedy. You have a line. You tweak it, your massage it, you refine it, and most of all, you repeat it continually until you get the feedback you desire.

I don't think Mr. Goldfarb got the feedback he desired. Instead, he walked into an dire excremental storm elemental as every D&Der with a keyboard (and what are the odds of THAT not being the case?) suddenly unloaded on him. In particular those who were veterans. And there are a LOT of Vets who played D&D in the service - there is a lot of "wait" in the armed forces, and games like D&D fill that hole nicely. TSR back in the day sent care packages to Iraq in Gulf War I, and in Gulf War II as well. So to be used as smear against others raised a lot of hackles. And folk are letting him and his boss know it.

My fellow Alliterate Matt Forbeck thinks all this is a dog whistle - Democrats = D&D = Statanism = Evil among a certain (older by the minute) audience. I think its just the standard issue anti-intellectualism that is rife within an organization that is not horribly techno-savvy. It might even a new flavor of the elitism attack, like arugula or orange juice. You know, "Our guy may have seven or ten houses, a private plane, a second rich wife, but at least we don't have D&D players supporting us, like our elitist, hoity-toidy opponent."

Anyway, back to Goldfarb - In the midst of this, an apology pops up:
If my comments caused any harm or hurt to the hard working Americans who play Dungeons & Dragons, I apologize. This campaign is committed to increasing the strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma scores of every American.
There are three things about this whimsical apology that are troubling. First, the apology lists the D&D starts in the 4E order. Obviously, the McCain campaign his ignoring the critical Grognard Vote! - the states are Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma (though there is a schism that flips the last two).

More telling and less funny is the fact that I can't trace this directly back to Goldfarb at all. All I get is crossposting from other sites, all leading back to Ace of Spades. Nothing from the original site, which is where such an note would normally go. It could have been a personal email, and that would make sense - the rest of the Ace site is pretty dead-nuts right-of-center.

The third thing is that this apology was dated on 1 August, BEFORE the whole storm unleashed about the most recent quote. The first quote showed on on the radar 31 July. The second quote is dated 19 August. So either the apology isn't meant (in that it kept on going, and got worse over time), or that it is entirely fictitious, like a lot of things that are coming out of the McCain camp right now.

I don't think that this is going to convince anyone that supports McCain to suddenly drop support, or even that the campaign is going to offer Mr. Goldfarb the "Phil Gramm Vacation Package" of publicly kicking him out the front door, then letting him back in the back (You did know Gramm's back advising him, right?) But it is one more item in the ever-increasing pile of bad decisions, miscues, and gaffes that seem to attach themselves like barnacles to this ever-listing ship.

I mean, you ignore the Grognard Vote at your own peril. They're the ones keeping your servers up.

More later,

*OK, to the accurate, according to the Wikipedia, The Gulag Archipelago was written between 1958 and 1968, and published in the west in 1973. But yeah, I read it. Parts of it. It was thick book - give me a break.