Posts Tagged ‘mccain’


Support Our Troops


As you start to ponder what you hope the Obama administration is going to do about Iraq, I highly recommend viewing Why We Fight, a documentary that raised serious questions about the war without clinging to partisanship. It includes stories of history, stories of the personal, and a fair bit of research and gentle analysis. The most brilliant aspect is how the film places Iraq squarely in context with the military-industrial complex Eisenhower famously prophesied.

That the film did not receive a lot of attention is, to me, another sign of how unwelcome a spirit of bipartisanship can be. Despite the film’s balanced, almost journalistic presentation of proponents and oppenents of the Iraq war in their own words, the presence of military contractors and a pre-sellout John McCain may have been enough to repel anti-war ideologues. But it’s good viewing for skeptics on either side.




What can I say? I’m better at asking questions than predicting answers. Because I am too tired from celebrating to write a real entry today, allow me to react to and modify my previous entry:

“Barack Obama wins nationally with a popular vote over 55% and approximately 3/4 of the Electoral College. I wouldn’t call it a landslide, but definitely a solid mandate.”

Right call, wrong numbers. Just a matter of scale, really. I think I meant to say 55% and EV of 3/5, or I was just too lazy to look at the margins. The 55% didn’t happen because the difference was more stark in McCain’s victory states than I had expected, but he still won the highest percentage in twenty years. Anyway, his victory passed 3/5.

“Obama loses Texas by 3-5 points, faring much better than expected. If only he’d spent some cash down here.”

Again, right call, but I forgot where I live. Obama was far from striking distance at 11 points back, but it halved the 23 point spread Bush had over Kerry in 2004.

Sarah Palin tries to run for President in 2012, but drops out before January is half-over. Don’t count her out from the national scene, though. The biggest mistake Democrats made all year (even more than dragging out the Michigan/Florida limbo) has been misjudging her role in the campaign and underestimating the contribution she makes.”

Too early to tell, but you’ll notice that her name is still on the lips of many commentators, and not only to receive blame. Am I the only person who thinks she looked embarrassed at McCain’s concession speech?

Rick Noriega loses by 5-7 points.”

By which, of course, I meant 12. :P

“Senate becomes 59-40-1, after upsets in Georgia and Minnesota.”

Depending on which site you consult, there’s still a chance, but it looks like it will be closer to 57 or 58 (including Lieberman and that other independent liberal I forgot to count). Georgia is probably Republican though, and Minnesota is deep into recount territory.

“Dems are icy to Joe Lieberman but allow him to continue caucusing with them to maintain their supermajority. Liberal policy not the death-knell to business that conservatives prophecy, but social policy progresses less than expected. Foreign relations improve quickly in early months, but plateau halfway through the first year thanks to new tensions around economics and Russian chest-beating. Countrywide, Democrats grow increasingly annoyed with Nancy Pelosi, but Hillary Clinton becomes a more balanced and broadly respected figure in the Senate. Old white men become passe and 2010 sees more nonwhites and women running for office than ever before.”

All pure speculation, and will be years before we know for sure.

“Texas House goes to Dems with a slim majority. Speaker Craddick is replaced by someone I’ve never heard of, someone else I don’t know becomes Minority Leader, and the possibility of a non-partisan commission for redrawing district lines is given serious, state-wide consideration but may not pass in time for the next redistricting.”

Well, no fudging numbers here, I was flat out wrong about the majority. But the rest is still possible, and the Legislature will be almost purple next session.


I’m Your Biggest Fan – Don’t Fuck this Up!


One of the themes I hope to develop with this blog is holding one’s own heroes accountable. Most voters will expect immediate and swift change after a new president is inaugurated, and they will expect it to happen with little-to-no attention on their part.

But that’s now how democracy works.

I want Obama to win, and I think he will. But I don’t want the millions of fervent supporters who got him into the White House to beam at him and slap each other on the back for a job well done. Our responsibilities as citizens do not end with the election of our candidate.

Obama won many of us over by saying the right things. Once he’s in office, we must make sure that he follows up by doing the right things.

The third debate would be a good example of a moment when we should expect more.

“I think the American people are less interested in our hurt feelings during the course of the campaign than addressing the issues that matter to them so deeply.” [except that this was in response to a question about negative campaigning; Obama used the issue itself to avoid the question]

“The notion, though, that because we’re not doing town hall meetings that justifies some of the ads that have been going up, not just from your own campaign directly, John, but 527s and other organizations that make some pretty tough accusations, well, I don’t mind being attacked for the next three weeks.” [The fact is, Obama has renegged on a couple of promises to McCain once they became politically inconvenient, and I haven’t quite forgiven him for one in particular.]

Where was that classic “disagree without being disagreeable” line Obama has been saying for months, maybe years?

“… what is important is making sure that we disagree without being disagreeable. And it means that we can have tough, vigorous debates around issues. What we can’t do, I think, is try to characterize each other as bad people. And that has been a culture in Washington that has been taking place for too long.” [At last! Only 10 minutes into a 15-minute topic…]

That debate was painful for me. If it hadn’t been for further slips by McCain only minutes later, I might have conceded this debate to McCain. I was quite sure that both had lost it, and was surprised to hear the positive reactions Obama received. I guess we should be grateful that Obama’s worst performance was still better than McCain’s best, but that’s the same kind of pervasive us-and-them mentality that gets our politics so messy in the first place. Most of the time, as long as voters feel like their candidate is saying what they want to hear, they think that person is winning. Few allow for the possibility that someone could be lousy at debate, but a good candidate, or vice versa.


Learnin’ Something New…


As an amateur wonk and activist, I’ve heard the basics of the Obama and McCain stories a thousand times, and could probably tell them as well as any journalist on the cable news (though that’s not saying much). Yet, I couldn’t resist the lure of yet another bio as I sat down with leftover saag tonight, despite my intention to seek out some new drama to rot my brain for an hour. PBS’ award-winning Frontline was running a two-hour documentary on both presidential candidates, filling in the gaps for those who haven’t yet memorized Obama’s 2004 speech to the DNC or which years McCain was a P.O.W.

And I managed to learn something.

For instance, I knew that Obama had a relatively short political career, with a coreographed succession of moderate outreach and subtle idealism. What I had not realized, however, was that Obama has yet to win a serious contest in his political career. His greatest struggle up to this point was probably running for President of the Harvard Law Review back in law school. His first office was won after each of his opponents had their candidacies dismissed for invalid petitions (not my favorite way to win an election, and another quiet little hint that Obama might be worse than the Arab-Muslim-Terrorist-Black-Nationalist-Late-Book-Returner his opponent’s supporters believe him to be–he might be one of those god-damned politicians. You know, the kind Barack Obama wants to take Washington away from. Anyway, once he was the incumbent, re-election came easily. In 2000, Obama ran for Congress and lost 2-1 in the primaries against a popular incumbent. Obama’s 2004 election to the U.S. Senate came easily after his original opponent was embarassed out of politics by sex-club allegations from his ex-wife, Seven-of-Nine. Improvised opponent Alan Keyes was flown in from Maryland to establish residency and be black, but was laughed all the way home by 73% of the electorate.

As for McCain, I learned that I’m not the only person who thinks he has changed since his 2000 primary run (I want to call it “maverick”, but no… just… no…). Frontline laid it out there, how McCain stumped for W’s re-election in 2004 and came to support policies he had once opposed. Apparently, every presidential nominee since Reagan (and possibly before) has been an establishment statesmen who stands in party-line and waits his turn for the party’s nod. For McCain to get that nod, he had to get publicly close to W. And even as W’s poll numbers had bottomed out since the 2006 mid-term elections, the president still had the power to make McCain the party’s next statesman or denounce him to eternal maverickdom. Whether because he feels he needs the power to do some good (let’s hope this is Obama’s rationale for playing politics so well), or because he’s grown tired and wants to retire in four years, or because he has a Clinton-esque sense of entitlement, John McCain sucked it up and kissed a lot of ass to get where he is today. It’s too bad, really. I liked that 2000 guy. Moreover, I respected him.

Fortunately, there is still some hope that this election won’t be like the last few… dozen. That two decent, upstanding men will carry on a respectful, meaningful discussion of our country’s direction by focusing on those elusive issues and not on character assassinations, even when their own supporters call for blood. Is it so dumb to think maybe the guy who loses could wake up on November 5th and just say, “Well, we did our best and we did justice to our values, it just wasn’t our time…”?

Of course there’s always 2012…

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