23 September 2008

If Obama Loses

With six weeks before the election, and the silliness of the post-convention weeks behind us, it seems a good bet that Obama is going to win this thing. The country's focus is now on the tanking economy, and that's usually good news for the Democrats, particularly when it's increasingly clear that the Republican candidate has no idea what to do about it.

(Of course, now that Bush appears to be going after Osama bin Laden in a big way, there is the possibility of an October Surprise that tips the election towards McCain, though I don't know why it would. It'd be great to eliminate bin Laden, but seriously, seven years after 9/11 and we're supposed to be impressed by this?)

If Obama wins, though, it's not going to be the unqualifiedly good thing his supporters are hoping for. Treasury Secretary Paulson is about to bail out Wall Street using close to a trillion dollars of tax payer money, and it's unclear to everyone whether it will even solve anything. Whoever is president in January 2009 is going to have to deal with the mess for a long time, and it seems fairly certain that very few of the big-ticket items on Obama's to-do list -- health care, energy research, tax cuts -- are going to be easily achievable.

If McCain ekes out a win, though, because of his "experience", because of Palin, because of the Bradley effect, he will be the one who is stuck holding the Bush bag, and there will be little danger of the Democrats getting the lasting blame for it. Of course, that's what we all thought about that other close-to-a-trillion-dollar expenditure Bush foisted on us -- the Iraq War -- but somehow, Bush got a second term, and McCain is still competitive.


10 September 2008

Single Issue

I'm not a single issue voter, and I don't know anyone who is. Except, by proxy, my friend's 70-year-old neighbor who told her that, though she'd been planning to vote for Obama, with the addition of Sarah Palin to the ticket, she's going to vote for McCain. Despite against everything they stand for. She's old, she doesn't think there's enough time left for her to see another woman in the White House. She's been fighting for abortion rights all her life. She's not going to need one anymore; let the young women take over.

If I were a single issue voter, I might, for instance, object to the fact that Obama voted to authorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, with its provisions for warrantless wire taps. In fact, I do object to it, but not enough to keep me from voting for him. I have to hope that as a former constitutional law professor -- one of his former jobs you didn't hear mocked at the RNC, I guess because it's kind of hard to make fun of someone for being an expert in the document that guides, or at least is suppose to guide, the way our country is run -- that he understands that FISA can never be allowed to become part of the landscape.

The only issue that comes close to singularity for me is homeland security. By which I don't mean building more walls to keep out undocumented Mexicans, though I accept the fact that terrorists could be intermingled with those future landscapers and restaurant workers. (Remember, however, the 9/11 hijackers came in not over the fence, but through the front door, step right this way, sirs, and please do attend all the highly unusual, but apparently not at all suspicious flying lessons you like.)

Homeland security means one thing to me: preventing another attack on my and other big cities. America may be voting small-town values this election, but oddly enough, 70% of us live in urban areas. A New York Times op-ed yesterday talked about the high likelihood of a nuclear attack on Manhattan in the next ten years, and how each of the candidates are likely to prevent it. The author was not particularly sanguine about either Obama or McCain, but did say that of the two, Obama understands the threat better.

That's what I want. Someone who understands first, then acts. Not someone who, like John McCain, believes the 9/11 terrorists had ties to Iraq, then gets us into a long war with massive casualties and distracts us from the real tasks at hand: finding Osama bin Laden, dismantling his organization, and preventing a new al Qaeda from forming.

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08 September 2008

I only had 500 characters

So this is what I sent to ABC News, trying not to sound like the crazy person this race is turning me into (and the liberal nutbag they will assume I am given my zip code, which I had to provide before they'd let me submit):

Dear Mr. Gibson:

Now that you've been granted the first interview with Sarah Palin, I want to encourage you to be a tough advocate for the public. You may have heard speculation that you were chosen because you are perceived by some to be a "softball" interviewer. If yours turns out to be the only interview with the Governor, it would be a tragedy if this were the case. Please press for substantive answers on broad range of issues. The American people will respect and thank you for it.


06 September 2008

Let's Get Something Straight About Hillary

There are a lot of people Out There who think Sarah Palin wouldn't be the problem she is if Obama had choosen Hillary as his running mate. True, she wouldn't be. Palin wouldn't be the Republican VP candidate if Clinton were on the Democratic ticket. We'd be looking at Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, or maybe even Joe Lieberman, God help us.

A subset of these people are still fuming that Clinton wasn't even vetted for the VP slot, which they see as an insult to her and proof that Obama is a sexist asshole.

Here's the thing. Hillary Clinton did not want to be the VP candidate. No way, no how, as she herself might say. She wanted to be the presidential candidate, and if she can't be that this time around, she'll hope that Obama loses this year and wait until 2012. Proof of that came in a New York Times article yesterday in which "advisers to Mrs. Clinton" tepidly noted "that she stood ready to help the Obama-Biden ticket, but they urged the campaign not to overestimate the impact Mrs. Clinton could have, noting that she had other commitments this fall, like campaigning and raising money for Senate candidates."

That being the case, why put herself -- and more importantly, her husband -- through the rigorous VP vetting process?

Don't forget, when you run for president, the only official (and it's not even really official, just customary) vetting you get is in the release of your financial and medical records. Clinton waited until fairly late in the primary game to release hers, possibly because she didn't know how well it would resonate with voters that she and Bill had earned $100million since he left the White House. She needn't have worried. People don't hate you for being rich; they think they might be rich some day, too.

But in submitting to a VP vetting process, you open yourself to whatever the presidential candidate's team wants to ask you, and if they don't like your answer, it's over. Financial questions, sure (and do we know everything there is to know about Bill Clinton's business dealings with Ron Burkle and the Dubai Investment Group?), but also questions about what we euphemistically call a person's "personal life," in this case code only for "has Bill Clinton been screwing around outside his marriage in the last eight years and if so, with whom?"

Maybe the answer to that question is no. Maybe Clinton could answer no and the presidential candidate would believe her. But if it's not no, if there's any hint of it not being no, and you're not a lock for the VP slot, and you don't want the VP slot to begin with because you want to be president (for which, by the way, I don't blame her), why would Hillary Clinton put herself through that? Put off the Bill Clinton stuff another four years, by which time things might be different for him.

So stop being all up-in-arms self righteous about why Obama didn't pick Clinton. He may not have wanted to, but for her, the feeling was entirely mutual.


04 September 2008

Just a Couple of Northeastern Elites

Overheard on my walk to work this morning, one truck driver on the sidewalk to another:

"She was not nice. It was just really mean spirited."

Now, I don't know that they were talking about the Sarah Palin speech last night, but I like to think they were. In any event, I'm fired up. I gave more money to the campaign this morning -- the Obama campaign, that is. I'm also contemplating a career change -- to community organizer.