Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cynicism? Bite Me

I have to say at the outset that I admired John McCain quite a bit before this summer. If he'd stuck to the platform he adopted in the 2000 election, I wouldn't have voted for him, but I would have kept my respect for him. It's sad that he felt he had to sell out, or was told, John, that tactic didn't work for you in 2000, let's do something different. Well, 2000 was a very different year in America, and his conservative but not pedagogical approach to governing would have resonated in this election. I'm a flaming liberal, but the United States is, fundamentally, a conservative country. There's a reason why we are so out of step with other developed nations in terms of our political stripe. The fact that we are THE only developed nation that still has the death penalty on our books is only one example. So like it or not, I have to accept that my political leanings will always be out of step with the mainstream of America.

Abandoning a platform that would have sold him in this political and economic climate, McCain piled upon mistake after mistake. He capitulated to the hard right's demands that he pick an uber conservative running mate whose only claim to fame is that she negotiated an oil pipeline deal. That's it. By doing so, McCain alienated many of the middle of the road Republicans, and as the campaign moved forward, despite all her efforts (and I think she's pretty smart or at least as charismatic as hell), her inexperience trumped her charm.

But his biggest mistake (and the mistake of the ugly, mud-slinging conservatives like Limbaugh and now DeLay--moral arbitrator that HE is) is that the usual tactics that the Republicans have been using to win elections--mud-slinging--are not working. They don't get that. They keep trying to pile on the crap--he's a Marxist, he's a socialist--and it's not sticking because you look at Barack Obama and you see someone completely invested in the system. A subtle undercurrent of his message is that, yes, he wants change, but what he wants is to turn BACK to the way it was. When corporations didn't rack in obscene profits (Exxon's profit reported in today's paper exceeded its previous record profit), when someone didn't have to choose between paying the mortgage and paying the heating bill.

The Republicans don't get this. That people are DESPERATE. They don't want to hear about Obama is pals with terrorists (because, for one thing, it's ludicrous), they want to hear what the Republicans plan on doing about this mess. And they aren't saying squat. Perhaps they don't know. Perhaps Obama doesn't really know, and given this is an untested situation, I'm sure a lot of his plan is theory that sounds good. When you have Alan Greenspan shaking his head and admitting he was wrong, then I'm pretty worried, even while acknowledging that Obama is one smart guy.

But the point I'm making is that mud-slinging tactics can work when the economy is doing okay. It does NOT work when you have cities filled with foreclosed homes (Tracy, an hour's drive from me, is, literally, a city of foreclosed homes). People want to hear solutions. It does nothing for the Republican party (which is why they are failing across the Nation) to trash Obama. McCain's biggest failure is that he didn't come up with a big vision. You might not agree with Obama's vision, but you have to agree that he's THOUGHT about this.

Obama isn't running a completely clean campaign. He takes swipes at McCain. But these are largely offensive maneuvers against the trash talk. What sort of campaign he IS running is one full of ideas and solutions. You get that from him. You don't get that from McCain. I think that if McCain wants to have ANY hope in hell of winning this election (at least not getting slammed) it would be to STOP TALKING ABOUT OBAMA and start talking about what his administration has on tap. I can only think that because he spends so much of his time attacking Obama that he really doesn't have a plan. Which, of course, plays right into Obama's hands because it seems like he will continue with a Bush-oriented fiscal policy. McCain can say, I'm not George Bush, but he has yet to say, I'm not George Bush because I'm going to do this and it's a 180 from what he did. If McCain needs to attack anyone, it's GEORGE BUSH. By attacking Bush he will reinstate his position as a maverick. He will still be stuck with that albatross Palin, but at least he will be running on his own ticket, not on the coattails of Bush's failed presidency.

So the title of this post. For the first time in a long time I am seeing trash politics fail. I am seeing the political machinations of people like Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich fail. The lying, deceit, out and out vicious whatever it takes to win concept is failing. On it's ass. People do not want to hear it. They want a message of hope and a plan to realize that hope. I am hoping that the standard M.O. of evil bastards like Cheney and Rove that has dominated politics for the last twenty years has come to an end.

This has been an especially ugly eight years. And as much as I was a Hillary supporter, Barack Obama has won me over completely. Just like he's done with the rest of the country. Every time I see him on television, I am heartened by his message. Not because he and I are politically aligned, because, um, no, he's too conservative for me, but because he's NOT an ideologue. He will support legislation that I don't agree with. He will veto measures that I support, no doubt. But he will THINK about what he is doing and if he had to make a case for his decision, I believe that I could disagree with him and yet still say, yeah, I see your point.

Yeah, so the cynicism is very much on hold these days.

1 comment:

Camille Minichino said...

I wish I could see the evidence you see, Claire, that Obama THINKS at all, of anything other than getting elected.

Thanks to his rejection of public financing (which he promised he would accept) he is millions of dollars ahead in his bid to have something (the White House) that he hasn't earned (he has written 2 memoirs and no legislation; that's the total of his service to the country).

He certainly did think about running before he had both feet in the Senate. If he waited, he would have had a record. And we know what happens to people like Hillary and McCain who have records to pick away at.

I'm deeply saddened by the American Idol approach to this election. We should have just let them choose our president from the start and avoided the long campaign where we pretended that issues and experience mattered.