Growing weary of the current political mush on offer, I've decided to gin up something vaguely resembling what I'd want to read about the presidential race.
The convention itself is something of a let-down. Previous Republican conventions were once famous for their spectacle: the current affair is a low-key affair. The stage is low, for John McCain is only 5' 7" tall. Obama, by contrast, is 6' 1.5" tall. This comparison is unfair, but McCain is no longer the telegenic naval officer in whites. In a world where appearances do matter, the wistful notes of past glories on the Big Screen contrast with the dowdy décor on the convention floor. To my ear, the convention music has been uniformly horrible. It is a crying shame, for the Republicans could have put on a better show.
On the strength of the Democratic Convention, Obama is presently ahead between 4 and 9 points in most of the polls. We can expect a similar bounce for McCain after his convention, if things go reasonably well. Hurricane Gustav has forced the Good Ship GOP to reef in its sails, but it is an ill wind which blows no good. Bush uses this as an excuse to stay away from the convention, literally mailing in his speech. Bush's address was obviously previously taped, since he never paused for any applause.
Dick Cheney is twelve time zones away in Azerbaijan, doing the nation's business, trying to keep Baku and its natural gas in the pro-Western camp. Never you mind Emin Huseynov, a human rights watchdog, was nearly pistol-whipped to death and charges of abuse denied: Dick Cheney says
"We support the people of Azerbaijan in their efforts, often in the face of great challenges, to strengthen democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, and to build a prosperous, modern, independent country that can serve as a pillar of moderation and stability in this critical part of the world."
Fred Thompson, that old toothless tiger, roared and ranted a bit, first a long encomium on POW McCain, which I will hereafter refer to as the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian. The Aurea Legenda account by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, 1275 I leave as an exercise to the reader.
After this hagiography, the worthy Mr. Thompson delivered himself of a mighty philippic contra Obama, calling him the most liberal and inexperienced presidential candidate e'er to ride a bony nag to the tourney. Law 'n Order Fred Dalton Thompson is a fraud of the old school, but he is a Friend of John, as is Judas Lieberman, who also had a turn at the mike. If ever did a weasel and quisling stand on his hind legs and nervously address a political rally, surely the unmitigated chutzpah of Judas Liebermann stands alone in the annals of American political history.
The Palin business is best left to other diaries, and I will only state the obvious: she's the talk of the town. Chatting with K, I said the Hausa have a proverb for use when someone sucks the air out the room: kwarkwasa, fid da mai-giji, = O you (tiny) army ant, who can drive a (huge) man from his house. But there's a pun in there, for kwarkwasa has several meanings: flirtation between the sexes and a tiny silversmith's hammer. We will soon see how Sarah Palin does on the low stage in Minneapolis.
Much talk of Executive Experience is bandied about. Nobody in this race has any worth mentioning. It is a popularity contest, plain and simple. This is not the time or place for folks with long track records: the Bush43 years featured a cast of characters with plenty: that all came to a bad end. The country is ready for change from both sides of the aisle. This Republican convention had some of the oddest rhetoric in a political convention, talk of corruption and malfeasance. Obama wishes to paint McCain as Four More Years: this is foolish babbling. Nobody could screw it up as badly as Bush43.
While the Republicans strut and fret their hour upon the stage, Obama and Biden have been out preaching in swing states. I wish we could see more from their stumping. We did not see half enough of John McCain in his town hall meetings, either. If MSM can be blamed for anything, it should be for this failure to show us the facts of the matter. If I see ever Wolf Blitzer's grizzled boogamug emitting more of his brainless and gaseous trifles, it will be too soon, yes, and Donna Shalala should be sentenced to chopping sugar cane among the cottonmouths alongside that bald-headed snapping turtle James Carville. Oh ship them all down the river, admit them to Angola Prison and feed them all Confinement Loaf. Please God, give these pundits something to whine about.
It seems to me the Independents grow fewer in number and they are breaking in slightly larger numbers for Obama than McCain. I watch Virginia most closely; it's a useful test case for the nation as a whole. Nobody's got a lock on Virginia. Most if not all of the political constituencies are represented, from the rural voters of western Virginia to the prosperous northeastern part of the state. The Shenandoah seems like it's on hard times again. Joe Biden was just campaigning in Prince William County. Tim Craig at WaPo says it's normally considered a GOP strong point but it's also got a large African-American population, and might go Obama this time, along with several other increasingly-Democratic counties. Will Tim Kaine get aboard the Obama bandwagon? I don't know. Does anyone here have any ideas?
Obama has gone to Indiana. According to electoral-vote.com, it's a Weak GOP state with eleven votes. Evan Bayh and Secretary of State Joe Hogsett campaigned hard for Hillary and seem firmly aboard the Obama bandwagon. Ken Kusmer of AP quotes Hogsett: "Hoosier voters will not select the next president of the United States based on the gender makeup" of the ticket". Indiana was a tough state for Obama: Hillary got 51% of the primary vote. Could Indiana go Democratic this time?
Obama's challenge is clear: he must reach out to Hillary fans. The Dems I know online, far away from this den of iniquity, are deeply worried. Obama has given up on recruiting any erstwhile Republicans: his chances depend entirely upon wooing the Hillary voters. Ominously, I do not see Hillary Clinton out beating the drums for Obama, though many of her staffers are coordinating with the Obama crew. Maybe she's just taking some well-deserved time off, but I suspect the Clintons are withholding their august presences until Obama ponies up the cash to cover their campaign debts.
Republicans have their work cut out for them. The Palin brushfire is a huge distraction, and shows no sign of dying down soon. Meanwhile, the Democrats are shoring up the dikes and levees in crucial states. I am a Democrat, but I entertain no illusions about the Republicans. They are deeply angry and afraid, and fear brings out the strength of adrenaline. But such strength is only momentary: the hubbub around the Republican convention will die down. Palin the Pawn will remain in the crossroads of the chessboard. The stock market moves violently about, the mortgage crisis is still unfolding, the war in Iraq drags on and the money hemorrhages down the drain. As Bill Clinton noted in 1992, it really is the economy, stupid. But who has the best answers? Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have given us straight answers, and both distort the other's positions. I am not encouraged, and see no reason to be so in the near future. We will be faced with hard choices over the next four years. I would not want to be taking the Oath of Office next year.