Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What I Really Think: Obama, McCain, Palin, Biden, Clinton

Since most people are finding me from my "Sarah Palin scandals" post and think me either a DNC operative, liberal media hack, or some other East-coast elitist, I'd like to just step back from all that for a moment and try to set the record straight a bit. I admit to posting much McCain bashing and Obama rallying rhetoric as of late (guilty) but this is, because, I believe we are at shall we say...absolutely critical juncture for the future and security of our country, and pray our country chooses the sane path.

Be that as it may, I DO want to clarify a few things for new readers who assume I'm some other version of Daily Kos (which I most decidedly am not) or some blind Obama worshiper (God forbid). So let's get some things on the table.

1. I may be tallying up Palin scandals and blasting her readiness to be VP, but I do have to admit I find her likable. I thought she was eminently gracious about the Tina Fey portrayal (which was pretty scathing - but hilarious - if you ask me). For someone new to the national stage it takes a big person to let something like that pass. Her comments on the AIG bailout, "construction bonds they're holding..." may have been practically indecipherable, but they seemed a smidgen more sensible than Biden's incoherence. And she can deliver a line as well as Obama, when given the lines to read. So I don't think she doesn't have any political skill - she obviously does. I just think she's basically a small-town mayor who is more of a brow-beater than a reformer who was suddenly thrust unprepared into the national limelight. It's John McCain's risky gambit, but any reasonable person would have accepted it in her shoes.

2. Biden. Talk about a guy who has absolutely no rhetorical skill. Sheez. I didn't think one guy could be a gaffe a minute. But ya' gotta love 'em. I mean, really, after a while, making an issue about a Biden gaffe is like complaining about the sun rising in the morning. It just ain't news any more. Guess he never really did clear up that stutter. But he's a smart cookie. If he gets into the White House, he'll be one of the best VP's we've ever had.

3. I'm not an Obamabot. My the beginning...was Hillary. I switched and supported Obama in the Primaries because I thought his narrative, of being a unifier and someone who can speak about idealism and the future, was what the country needed right now. But I always saw it for what it was: political skill, nothing more. There have been points in this campaign (most notably his tour through Europe in the summer and the weeks leading up to the first convention) when he lost that skill and for me, started to feel like a typical liberal Democrat riding high on a kind of smugness of being the refreshing un-cola, anti-Republican. Not that there's anything wrong with that...but that wasn't what interested me in him. And if we were going to have smash-'em-up politics, Hillary would have been better at that. This week, however, he's redeeming himself for me...reacting well and smartly in a crisis. I find that relieving, and I suspect it's also refreshing for others who have yet to make up their minds.

4. This business about William Ayers and Obama is just silly. No one wants to cover it because it's just silly. I mean, in your life, you've must have run across someone at a truck stop or on a PTA board or something who'd once embezzled a pension fund or later hatcheted his wife to death or something like that. Six degrees of separation, yo. Who cares? Give it up already.

5. The business about Reverend Wright, however, is significant. It undercuts Obama's notion of himself as having better judgment. Supporting Wright until he blew up in his face wasn't the best display of judgment, in my opinion. But hey - I've never expected any politician to have magical judgment, so I've always thought basing a campaign on having better judgement was foolish. Hope, change, willingness to listen to opponents, and sound policies: that's what Obama can offer. Having great judgment? That's a fool's game.

6. McCain doesn't have all that great judgment either. Example one: The Keating Five. Example two: Phil Graham. I could go on.

7. So, judgment aside, if ever I would have considered voting Republican for President, it would have been for McCain. The straight-talking, war hero McCain who took on Bush and stood up against torture. But not the McCain of 2008. Since the Palin pick - actually, since he decided to kowtow to the religious right to win the nomination - McCain has been taken over by the same people who brought you Bush/Cheney. I can't stomach having those people running the country for four more years. I'm sorry McCain felt he needed to sell his soul to try to win the Presidency. But our country can't afford having the devil in the White House any longer.

8. Does Obama fumble sometimes, parse his words too carefully, have a Kerry-like tendency to professorialize rather than make a pithy point? Sure. That's frustrating in a candidate. But in a President, I think we'll find those qualities quite beneficial. It's sad that in order to win, you have to sacrifice those things that you need in order to govern.

9. McCain has decided to sacrifice everything he might need in order to govern. At this point, I don't even see what kind of Presidency he could have, based on this campaign, other than a Hoover-like disaster. That's not an indictment of McCain, the man, who in spite it all, I still rather like. It's an indictment of his campaign, and what I'm afraid would be his administration.

10. Obama still has quite a needle to thread: he's got to drive up McCain's negatives, but not so much that he doesn't still seem like a unifier. He's got to be able to distill his message into "five soundbites for fifth graders" while being able to address some of the most complex issues Americans have ever faced. He's got to reassure voters he's got what it takes to be President while still appealing to their desire for someone from "outside the beltway" to shake up the entire political system. He's got to get Americans to think past his foreign-sounding name, the color of his skin, his relative youth, and his diverse background, and believe that he can represent our country better than the white, war-hero grandpa. That's quite a monumental task, and I admit, on some days, he doesn't quite seem up to it. On other days - like the last few - he surprises us, or reassures us, or scares us - as the case may be - and does. Those are the days I have hope again, and believe that old saying, that the "darkest days are just before the dawn."

These days are dark, my friend. But the dawn could be coming. And as Obama says, it's not about him. It's about us. If Americans can see past all the hubris, nonsense, spin, and prejudice in this election - and elect the reasonable (not Godlike, but reasonable and responsible) candidate over the unreasonable (not evil, but certainly compromised and probably reckless) one - they just might find themselves capable of making a choice for our better collective future. And that day would, indeed, be very bright, and one worth fighting for.


Anonymous said...

As a member of the armed forces, I just want to know the reason why Sen. Obama would be able to effectively lead the military? I saw what Carter did the military to decimate morale and readiness, I saw how Clinton handled Bosnia and set the stage for 9/11 with a half-hearted responses to terrorist attacks, how do I know if Obama be the same or send me to fight a half-assed war that he'll pull out of as soon as the chips are down?

EMM said...

This is expressed perfectly: "It's sad that in order to win, you have to sacrifice those things that you need in order to govern."

@anonymous: how far down do we have to get before a president can admit his war was "half-assed"? Aren't 4,000 American soldiers' lives and 50,000 more wounded enough? And let's not forget the 100,000 or so injured or killed in Iraq, including women, children and the elderly. When I ask this question it's because I can on your behalf. As a member of the armed forces, you can not question your C in C.

anonymous, I salute your service to our country. I honestly do. But don't blame Bill Clinton for 9/11. George W. had intell on the trouble that might be brewing before that cowardly attack. Unfortunately, he was on vacation and didn't read it.

peace to all.