Monday, November 3, 2008

Come On Up For The Rising!

This is driving me nuts! Will the American people do the right thing, the necessary thing, and elect Barack Obama president tomorrow? Or will we shrink from our responsibility and vote in an aging war hero with no real grasp of the problems facing the country, much less what to do about them. All signs point to the former, but as a Red Sox fan and a Democrat, I won't be convinced until Obama takes the oath of office. And even then...

The Monday before the elections of 2000 and 2004 found me pessimistic. In 2000, I figured the election would come down to Florida and Ohio, and didn't like our chances in either. That night, when one of the networks actually called Florida for Al Gore, I began channel surfing to see if any of the others had. One of my kids asked me what I thought; I told him that if Gore had won Florida, I didn't see how he could lose. But I also told him that I didn't believe Florida yet. In the event, of course, Gore did win Florida only to be cheated out of it. A little remembered postscript from the 2000 election is that had Gore won New Hampshire, he would have survived the loss of Florida. I mention the Granite State result in particular because Bill Clinton won it twice and because Nader proved to be the difference there. Gore also lost Arkansas -- and I'll always think Clinton could have made a difference there had Gore asked him to intervene -- and his home state of Tennessee.

I never felt good about 2004, despite Bush's unpopularity and the failures in Iraq. John Kerry ran an uninspired campaign and never offered a viable alternative to Bush's conduct of the war. Kerry would not commit to ending it, instead flourishing a fig leaf about "getting the allies involved." He never explained why the allies would want to get involved in a mess that they had opposed since the beginning. I also wrote off Florida; it was obvious that Jeb Bush wasn't about to let his brother lose there. Kerry never seriously contested the Sunshine State anyway. Instead, he bet his chips on Ohio, which at the time was owned and operated by the Republican party. We know how that went.

But Barack Obama has run a completely different campaign. He's eschewed the 50% + 1 strategy that plays into Republican hands. He's organized a formidable ground game based on the assumption that it can attract enough new and first-time voters to put a number of red states in play. There's a risk inherent in that, but on the other hand the potential reward is a mandate-level win. I've always wondered what would happen if the Democrats gave up their addiction to TV ads and returned to their core strength of getting out the vote. We're about to find out, and as of this moment things look pretty damn good...

In one of the few times he's ever been a warm-up act, Bruce Springsteen opened for Obama before a crowd of 80,000 in Columbus, Ohio. "So I don't know about you, but I want my country back, I want my dream back, I want my America back," said the Boss. He went on to say that
"I have spent my life as a musician measuring the distance between the American dream and reality.

"I look around and I see people who are losing their jobs or their retirement incomes or don't have health care. The distance between that dream and reality has grown greater and more painful than ever.

"I believe Senator Obama has taken a measure of that distance in his own life and in his own work. I believe he understands in his heart the cost of that distance in blood and suffering in the lives of Americans."
Speaking of suffering Americans, don't miss a new blog called Caterpillars And Butterflies, about the daily experiences of a nurse in an inner city health clinic. From her most recent entry:
I talk to a patient on the phone and she yells at me. I tell her if she doesn't stop yelling at me I will need to hang up the phone. She says, "I'm not yelling. Believe me, you'd know if I was yelling". I tell her I think she is yelling at me and she needs to stop. She calms down, and proceeds to tell me she will be at the clinic in a few minutes and has to be seen right away. I tell her there may be a 2 hour wait because she doesn't have an appointment. She hangs the phone up on me and comes to the clinic anyway. I bring her back to a clinic room and do my assessment. Her lip is swollen and she thinks she was bitten by a spider. She spent the last two nights in an abandoned van. She's African American. She has fake two inch purple fingernails. She tells me she must be out of the clinic in 20 minutes because she needs to pick up her 8 year old son who will be waiting for her outside the YMCA. I beg one of our doctors to see her ahead of other patients because her son will think he was abandoned. They are homeless.
If you haven't yet heard Sarah Palin get punked, here's your chance. How anyone could believe that it's the President of France on the line is beyond me. Much of it is excruciating. She actually listens seriously when told that the French equivalent of Joe The Plumber is Marcel With Bread Under His Armpits...

Win or lose tomorrow, Paul Krugman thinks that the Republicans are in for an internal Reign of Terror, led by the anti-intellectual know-nothings...

Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By says that we are at a turning at that we know it: "I sense something new in the zeitgeist, a seriousness and urgency among the people. After eight years of the disastrous administration of George W. Bush that has bankrupted the country, killed thousands of our young people, decimated the military, transferred billions of dollars in wealth to corporations and one percent of the populace while impoverishing the middle class and gutting the Constitution, we are at a turning point."

E. J. Dionne writes that Obama is not just a good politician, he's a great one: "By creating a new social movement, new forms of political organization, and a sense of excitement and possibility not felt in politics for three decades, he bids to become one of the country's most consequential leaders."

Foxessa writes an insightful critique of Air America from the left. Despite misgivings about its current direction, she points out that "...the rank-and-file Air America crew has worked tirelessly and enthusiastically since its inception during the darkest days of the regime that seemed to be permenently installed as the single oligarchical ruling class, as the neoCONs blithely, publicly, declared was the Goal."

Hendrik Hetrtzberg likes W.: "These characters are cartoonish, but in a good way. They're political cartoons, not Disney cartoons (though there's a touch of Chuck Jones in the antics of Cheney and Rice). he movie reminded me that I learned a lot about the politics of the 1940s from David Low and the 1950s from Herblock."

Quote of the Day: "McCain is a gifted comedian, with perfect delivery skills..." From a comment on the blog Draft Sarah Palin For Vice President. I kid you not.


Kathy said...

I tend to side with Krugman that the Republicans will become the party of intolerants. I just wonder what will happen to moderate Republicans then? Will they become independents or align with moderate Democrats?

I read somewhere that voters who appear to be strongly supportive of McCain are the extreme wing of the party, and only account for about 30% of all Republicans. If they become even more extreme, they'll only succeed in driving more voters away, IMHO. That could be a good thing for Democrats as long as they don't mess up the next four years.

K. said...

Krugman makes a key observation when he talks about the R party yahoos blaming defeat on a media conspiracy. Not that this qualifies as an in-depth study, but when I monitor a right-wing blog, I'm struck by the insistence on blaming outside forces for their predicament. That is not a prescription for future success.

I too wonder what direction moderates will take (not that there are many left). Some will no doubt delude themselves into believing that they can change the party from within. Others will probably migrate to independence. There's also the third party option, although we haven't had a meaningful third party in the U.S. since the Dixiecrats. (I look at George Wallace and Ross Perot as charismatic individuals rather than party leaders.)

The Democrats actually don't need 60 senate seats to be filibuster-proof. I don't see either of Maine's senators -- Collins and Snowe, who will be the last two moderate R's left after tomorrow -- blocking major Obama initiatives or nominees. He's too popular in Maine. Nor do I see Holy Joe Leibeman being much of a problem. If there's one principle Joe holds to above all others, it's the importance of being a U.S. Senator. Obama will win the Nutmeg State more easily than Maine.

Scrumpy's Baker said...

I'm going to pass out today from continually holding my breath.

K. said...

Scrump, you're up earlier than I am!