Wednesday, September 17, 2008

General Thoughts

One of the reasons I stopped blogging-- and why I don't even read as many blogs as I used to-- is that it just becomes a masturbatory echo chamber after a while. Conservative blogs (I am so addicted to the National Review's 'The Corner' site) are hysterical in this regard, as they ignore most substantive issues-- *coughDrudgecough*-- in lieu of chest-pounding anger and rants about socialism and jokes about Al Gore and celebrities (who says they're stuck in the past!). But many liberal blogs are guilty of this as well, having convinced themselves that there's no way, in this year especially, that John McCain could win. And then the GOP snuck in, with their usual distract-and-divide tactics, and are giving Obama and the Democrats a real run for their money. Ask President Kerry what underestimating ones opponent gets you.

And what am I seeing on many liberal communities and blogs (note: I am not counting news sites like Talking Points Memo or Think Progress or others like those)? Genuine pushback on the substance of this election? Yes, occasionally (stuff like this, for instance, needs to posted more). But lately it's been rants and jokes about Sarah Palin. Endlessly. This is counterproductive.

Yes, Sarah Palin is an uninformed, largely corrupt joke of a candidate who was only nominated to a) fire up the base, b) steal Obama's 'change' thunder, and c) act as a human shield for Team McCain. This is all true. But she is not the issue; she's a distraction. Every second spend ranting about her, or posting photoshopped pics of her moose-hunting in a bikini is a second wasted... not to mention it plays right in to the GOP's hand, as they want to convince Americans the only reason anyone could object to this candidacy is sexism and bias. Underestimate this woman-- and her appeal to all the right electoral demographics-- at our own risk. Our opponent here is John McCain. Remind folks about him and then move on.

Speaking of McCain! He's no longer running as the experienced candidate (guess it didn't poll well) and is instead running as the maverick reformer will bring real change to Washington. Pointing out what pure bullshit this is needs to be job #1 for Sen. Obama and Democrats. This is a guy who sold out in every way possible, and now insists he has to tell lie after lie in ads about Obama because, hey, Obama refused to do a dozen choreographed town hall debates with him this summer. Democrats need to openly treat this with derision and ridicule.

The Republicans are, of course, running so against their own record that they're literally pretending that they haven't been in charge of the federal government for the last eight years. Whether it's Mitt Romney and others at the convention ranting about failed liberal leadership or McCain flaks lamenting the lack of financial regulation or McCain himself promising to clean up the mess in Washington just seconds after thanking the President for his leadership, these folks have taken 'create your own reality' political rhetoric to new levels. Of course, this is the party that convinced a shocking % of Americans that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim and that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, so that's no shocker. But that doesn't mean that the Dems should let them get away it. And no, writing retaliatory blog posts doesn't count. We need Democratic leaders-- Howard Dean, did you die?-- holding press conferences to remind voters which is the incumbent party in this election and which is the opposition team.

And when Sen. McCain insists that the 'fundamentals' of our economy remain strong (particularly when the best explanation for that statement he can come up with is a platitude about Americans working hard), fight back. Beyond just the failures in the financial sector, the last eight years (and going back well before that too) have seen rising costs of everything from food to housing to fuel while the value of Americans' wages are continuously declining, jobs are disappearing, and debt piles up everywhere. That the final fallout from a lot of these problems is still years off doesn't mean that the economy is any way sound. Even conservatives know this to be true, and our job should be to get them to acknowledge this in public.

(Bonus advice: Obama and Biden, stop prefacing every single attack on McCain by noting how much you love him and what a nice guy he is. When a man punches you in the face, you don't have to compliment him before hitting back. Also, when the GOP plays that 'elitist' card they love so much, remind them that this is race between a very rich, out-of-touch man and an upper middle-class family man who was raised by a single mom on food stamps and went to college on scholarships. Don't let them turn another rich white guy into John Wayne.)

Moving on to Sen. Obama himself... we need to remind voters that this is a serious candidate with serious issues and proposals for moving this country forward again. Barack Obama is the superior candidate in this race. His only problem right now is lack of message discipline (the GOP has this down pat, not to mention their ability to control the media narratives), and that's certainly fix-able. What does "change" mean? People actually want to know. Explain it to them.

And the issue that Obama is supposedly most vulnerable on-- foreign policy/national security-- should be an issue that he's owning now if he played it right. Here's the bottom line... Barack Obama has been right on all these issues, and the GOP has been wrong, and they are acting accordingly. Obama, and the Democratic party as a whole, has pointed out for some time that the war in Iraq was a mistake because it fueled regional tensions (and, umm, killed a lot of people) and was also a distraction from the real war on terror (of which the Afghanistan situation is key). Now we see the Bush administration winding down their 'surge' in Iraq (leaving the rest of that Iraq can to be kicked down the road to the next President) and renewing efforts to fix Afghanistan, even though it's a few years too late. I guess Obama was right. He was apparently also right about taking the fight to Osama in Pakistan, as we also now learn that the Bush administration is engaging in secret raids in that area. Nice of them to listen to his advice on that too. And as we see less saber-rattling with countries like Iran and more (also secret) diplomatic efforts, we can see another area where the GOP is conceding that Obama was right. It'd be helpful if Obama would take the time to point this out.

But, in the end, the last two elections I voted in were decided based on narratives and nonsense and smears. It's taking all my faith and energy to believe that this election won't end the same way. If I disappear from time to time, it's only because I am trying to stay sane.


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