Wednesday, October 15, 2008

General Thoughts

So something very strange has occurred in America in recent weeks. No, I'm not talking about the slow-moving avalanche that is the economic crisis-- people with brains saw that coming over 3 years ago-- I'm referring to Democrats actually being optimistic going into a presidential election. In 2004, the general attitude among Democrats was that John Kerry was a douchebag, but we'll vote for him anyway. This year, Democrats are actually excited about their candidate (yes we can!), and actually believe... wait for this... that he will win!

Of course, polls/swing voters are fickle beasts, and this cynic right here has no plans on jinxing the election by any premature celebration. It's still a long and unpredictable road to November 4th. The hypothetical 'October Surprise' hangs over our heads, and-- after years of having the football pulled away from us at the last second, like Charlie Brown-- many liberals are staring at Obama's huge poll leads, and thinking "okay, what's the catch?".

But there is room for hope, of course. Sen. Obama is winning by running a solid campaign-- one (gasp!) based on ideas-- and has been looking more and more presidential as our nation's woes grow more apparent. He has also done a great job of explaining to the average American how an Obama presidency will affect them (see his promotion of the tax calculator, his calm way of talking to voters). It certainly doesn't hurt that he-- and Democrats at large-- are on the right side of the issues Americans are concerned about... the economy, energy/climate change, the war(s), healthcare, etc. The Republican party has spent over a year trying to tear him down, get him to blink, or make him lose his cool. It hasn't worked now, and that is why they are going into overdrive in the final lap.

This lead to John McCain and Sarah Palin stating officially that they'd be foregoing discussion of the issues on the campaign trail in lieu of debating/attacking Obama's character. So-- taking their cues from talk radio, Fox News, and conservative blogland-- they took a big whack at the hornet's nest that is their party's basiest base, and were shocked (!) to find a bunch of angry, racist lunatics swarming out. Those remaining sane, decent Republicans (yes, let's be fair, there are many among us) are seeing that years of alienating anyone who refused to fall in line with their great hero George W. Bush has left them with the backwash, as Stephen Colbert put it in his infamous White House Correspondent's Dinner performance two years ago.

Now their poll numbers are both tanking-- not helped by Sarah Barracuda the attack dog turning himself into a national punchline with her idiocy-- and they're attempting to try another in a series of relaunchs. But-- like the fake 'suspension' of his campaign last month-- it's total bullshit. Not only is McCain still recycling his speeches, his party as a whole is still ignoring the issues that Americans are really concerned about. Go watch Fox News, read the National Review blog, or conservative newspapers... all they're still ranting about is Bill Ayers and ACORN conspiracy theories and rants about how an Obama presidency will lead to death and socialism, as if their glorious President hasn't spent the last months of his disastrous eight-year presidency nationalizing every failed economic institution he can get his hands on. It's the sad last gasps of a party that ran out of ideas years ago, and I think this time, people are starting to grasp that.

Again, this doesn't guarantee an Obama victory, but polls are trending one way for a reason.

In the end, though, an Obama victory would be short-lived, as the next President will be inheriting a gigantic mess, and a bitter and defeated Republican minority. Navigating that minefield will not be easy. I have faith in Obama to do it better than others could (I wouldn't have voted for him if I didn't believe that), but there's one helluva thankless job waiting for him in Washington next year.

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