Friday, August 22, 2008

Slam Dunk, Not

“Look at me,” shouted the waza Bombur Yambarzal.
“This thickheaded, comical, bloodthirsty moron
is what you have all decided to become.”
--Salman Rushdie, Shalimar the Clown

The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it,

ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is

--Winston Churchill


The most recent polls released yesterday show candidates McCain and Obama in a statistical dead heat.

The most obvious question: In this of all presidential elections, following a two-term President leaving office with the highest disapproval rating of any modern President (over 70%), with an ongoing, open-ended two-fronted war, an unfathomable budget deficit and dire economic indicators all-round, how is it this nation does not clamor for a change? How is it the Democratic candidate is not a shoo-in, a slam-dunk?

Polling results show 9% of voters said a black candidate is problematic for them. Rather than decrying provincialism, racism, or whatever you feel the problem with your "stupid fellow Americans" to be, my question is: Who were the demographers that placed such a problematic candidate as Obama on the ballot?

Were they enjoying a nice soy latte at a West Coast cafe when the idea for a nuevo-RFK - Malcolm X - iPod listening - terrorist consortin' (Weather Underground) - hoop-shooting - biracial - Harvard-educated candidate came to mind? A candidate who could not even take California, not even with the Kennedy's and Oprah's imprimatur?

You may not like it, but America is not ready for a woman president, a bi-racial president, a Jewish vice president; America is not there yet; not quite. So to force such problematic candidates on the often insular and frightened U.S. public is counterintuitive to success. Winning is the goal in politics, not forcing some kind of societal shift.

It is an uphill battle: Barack Hussein Obama. We in liberal blogland can chuckle about the name shared with that "bad man" that we got hanged. We can be comforted (though I don't know why) in Obama's protestations that he is thoroughly Christian, and has been saved and taken the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal savior. But then. . . there's the matter of his two Muslim daddies. And attending a madrassa. And a mother who was obviously a fellow-traveler.

Hit every Rick Warren enclave you will -- there remains that 9%. That America is racially and religiously, age and gender-biased is a sad fact, for sure. But it remains a fact, nonetheless. One day, as our population shifts and matures, views will naturally realign. But not yet. This is not about what ought to be, or could or might be; it is not p.c., but it is the truth. You can not shame people or force their hands by constricting their choices. Because not voting is also a choice.

43 to 45%, a dead heat with a 3% margin of error. In 2008, when almost everyone is disillusioned and hurting from the battering of the past eight years. McCain, a man who sold his soul in 2000 to the Bush machine and lost all claims to maverick status, McCain is holding his own against the prospect of change. This is akin to a dehydrated man in the desert bypassing a possible oasis.

The Democratic Party may actually achieve the herculean task of losing Election 2008, an election all but handed to them on a silver platter. If so, that will be a feat of note in the record books.

So for now, an incredibly weak Republican candidate holds his own with Obama because time is not yet for Obama. The people should not be faced with such a conflicted candidate. Perhaps, if Obama really were something different and new, instead of just new packaging, perhaps the choice might be clearer.

As it is, he is the same old thing, in an unfamiliar wrapper. Who shocks me? Not my fellow Americans, who are a known quantity. The Democratic party shocks me. If they lose this election, of all elections, they deserve it. Though we do not.

Because this election should be a slam-dunk.

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Blogger FDChief said...

You're very right, Lisa, and yet the real problem is that there really isn't much beyond Obama. The Democratic Party had the same problem in the 1990s that the GOoPers have now: then it was all about the Clintons, now it's the Bushies. But either way, once you get below the bigs, there's no AAA or AA...it's straight down to peewee and T-ball.

I voted for Obama because my guy, Edwards (who, sadly, turned out to be another moron ruled by his little head), was out, and I thought and still think that Clinton mobilizes the Repugs like a PLO ompah band at a B'nai Brith convention. But I knew at the time and I know now that he wasn't the choice I wanted.

But here's the probem: our Founders gave us a system that depended on an active, informed, intelligent electorate, sorting through the lies and bullshit abd spin to vote the best interests of their nation. We have instead a nation, by and large, of thoughtless, short-sighted sheep who want a president that thinks their way on piddling crap like abortion law and prayer rather than economic policy, budgets and geopolitical strategy. I suspect that many of those people who you cte "aren't ready" for Obama wouldn't be ready for ANY adult who forced them to think by not talking to them in jingo slogans and bumper sticker inanities.

Sad. But here we are...

Friday, August 22, 2008 at 8:22:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


First: the PLO oompah band is a splendid image.

Re. the Founders' expectations of an informed and intelligent electorate, yes. But restrictions on voting ensured an intelligent and involved voting pool. I am not arguing for such restraints, but our current reality is a hoi polloi voting pool driven by passion and petty niche concerns.

I wonder that, like the Iraqis, there is no "we" here. There is an eclectic group of voters with vested interests, weaned largely on media pap, who wouldn't understand the concept of "greater good" if it fell on their head.

I am simply stunned by the occurrence of the Rick Warren event, and the blather that ensued. Speechless.

So you feel there is no viable candidate, and that the people would not brook anything less than jingoism? If correct, I take a deep breath, and morn the loss of Republic, then.

Friday, August 22, 2008 at 8:58:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

Facts, are stubborn things.

john adams in his summation to the jury in the trial of the british lt. from the boston massacre.

Friday, August 22, 2008 at 11:09:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Labrys the Cynic said...

America is not ready to admit she has a comsumption issue. Not tuberculosis, but simply consuming more of EVERYthing than she can afford. Our oil habit got us into this war; the sheeple's continued belief that they, too, can attain the status of their GOP leaders KEEPS us in this war. Nation and individual....all living above our means, acting like privileged brats. Gee, maybe that Paris Hilton video WAS onto something.

Friday, August 22, 2008 at 12:39:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Mad Celt said...

FEAR. And the inability/unwillingness to face it.

Friday, August 22, 2008 at 8:30:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Mad Celt,

Fear is what divides us. Thich Nhat Hanh said our job is to overcome the illusion of our separateness.

But that's not going to be an abracadabra moment. Ostracizing, affiliating, belittling, scapegoating --these things are so seductive to so many people, sadly.

Friday, August 22, 2008 at 9:24:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous CSI said...

The McCain presidency is going to be a repeat of the Bush II one - a smirking, swaggering, blustering doofus more interested in martial glory than domestic policy.

Saturday, August 23, 2008 at 7:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Underground Carpenter said...

Hi Lisa,
Word up! Good writing, as usual. I love all your(and Ranger's) posts.


Saturday, August 23, 2008 at 8:29:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Publius said...

Lisa, I think this may be your best post yet. I think your analysis is right on the money. You sure you're not a political scientist?

Absent a miracle, McCain is going to win this. And it's doubtful Biden will be able to help much.

FDChief makes a good point about just how thin the Dems' lineup really is. Senate Majority Leader: Reid. Real presidential timber, eh? Speaker of the House: 'nuff said. Pelosi and the President pro tem of the Senate, whichever doddering old wreck that may be, are high up on that short list of succession to the presidency. Can anyone seriously see these people as being capable of discharging the duties? Better than Bush, you say? Well, sure. But what's that got to do with anything?

The Republicans aren't any better. They didn't want him, but they ended up with an Bush-lite evangelical war-monger who lies incessantly about being a "maverick" when all he really cares about is money and power - because of the deficiencies of everyone else.

So now we have the thoughtful, dispassionate, contemplative policy wonk versus the emotional, lying, tax-cutting American jingoist. Guess who'll win.

Hillary wouldn't have been any better. She probably would have lost more votes for just being a Clinton than Obama will for being black.

Speaking of Hillary....In addition to Hillary, all Democrats can thank Bill for a lot of their woes these days. Had Bill not given into his urges in the Oval Office, there would have been no impeachment. Had there been no impeachment, the then-VP wouldn't have succumbed to the priggish side of his nature, wouldn't have shunned a popular president, wouldn't have selected a closet Republican war-lover clown as VP nominee, and generally wouldn't have conducted his campaign as if he had a corn cob stuck up his ass.

I despise Bill Clinton for no other reason that I blame him for George Bush. We should now be discussing who might succeed President Gore, and I suspect it wouldn't be either Obama or HRC. George Bush would be out drilling for oil and getting autographs from sports stars.

With the exception of Bill Clinton, find a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson who wasn't some kind of passive, very nice guy who clearly didn't like getting his hands dirty in politics. And before Johnson and Kennedy, there was Adlai Stevenson, another amazing mismatch. Carter doesn't count. Just as Clinton begat Bush, Nixon begat Carter.

I don't want either of these stiffs as president. I'd like to see these political parties outlawed.


Saturday, August 23, 2008 at 9:04:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

One ray of hope for Obama is that Biden is what passes in today's Democratic Party as an attack dog. Hopefully he'll go after McCain on the lies, the subservience to economic royalty, the idiotic foreign policy positions on everything from Russia to Mexico.

Problems are that:

1. The American sheeple can't think past the end of their noses. I'd be with Lisa in advocating some sort of basic civics test as a requirement for voting except it'd just shove the franchise further into the pockets of the wealthy and the well-connected, and

2. The Democrats are only marinally less corrupted by the massive injection of lucre from political interests than the Rethugs. They won't act against the interests of their political patrons, even if it is IN the interests of the nation as a whole. Obama can't buck that trend.

This election is shaping up as a replay of Stevenson v Eisenhower. The sorrow is that Obama isn't as experience a pol as Stevenson and McCain isn't as decent a man as Eisenhower.

To quote my man Publius: WAS,S,S,S,F

Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 8:39:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Publius and UC,

Thank you for the compliment. It is merely how I see it.

We are in agreement, Publius, with all of your observations. Amazingly feeble lineup at the raceway. The succession analysis is solid and disappointing, also. Surely there was someone better.

I don't want to see either of these candidates elected.

Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 4:30:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


Forget 1956, let's think 1864.

This election should give the American people clear and decisive position choices on the war, and it doesn't. The reelection of Lincloln clearly defined the nations' war goal. The same should be true of this election, but it is not.

Since it is not, we are just pissing up a rope.

Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 4:54:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


Glad you're still above ground.

Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 5:02:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


Assuming McCain is elected, yes.

Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 5:17:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

"The reelection of Lincloln clearly defined the nations' war goal. The same should be true of this election, but it is not."

Which is part of the same problem. The Dems are - not as neck-deep in this mess as the GoOPers - at least ass-deep in the inchoate mess that passes for "foreign policy" in 2008 America. The blue leadership on the Hill probably understands that the public explanations for why we're fighting two land wars in Asia ("War on Terror", fight them there so we don't have to fight them here, peace in our time) are either outright lies or exaggerations anywhere from mild to extreme. But they can't or won't state the real reasons (geopolitical hegemony, control of natural resource allocation, profit, outright error). Thus the problem stemming from making open decisions based on concealed obectives.

1864 was straightforward: continue with a bloody war or not. But even Lincoln couldn't call it "The War On Slavery"; the Union public wouldn't have voted for that. Likewise, we can't honestly call it "The Global War for Strategic Political Advantage in the Middle East and Physical Control of Petroleum Resource Allocation". "Global War on Terror" makes sense to the 80% of the U.S. public that gets their news from Rush, USA Today and their neighbor. Because these people can't see the other "2" to add 2 + 2, they will always miss the Phoney part of the GPWOT. The Dems COULD draw our attention to this, but then they'd get hammered by General Dynamics, Texaco, etc., etc...not to mention their own complicity in the duping of America.

To break this cycle would require a candidate who would force us to look critically not at what we ay we do bu what we actually DO. This will never happen; the American people won't stand for it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 6:59:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, I don't know that any poll taken now means squat. But as far as the broader significance goes, I'd say you should consult the ever-lucid Andrew Bacevich (though local talent like fdchief gives a pretty good rendition, too).

It's hard to say that the blame lies in any one place, whether among the "citizens" or the system. To my mind, the political structures set up by the sainted Founders have **always** been vastly over-rated, and now they're deeply broken -- but that's just me. The plain fact is that our politics is completely incapable of even discussing external reality, let alone coping with it. There's no better example than our neurotic refusal to grapple with our energy habits, which has been going on now for my entire voting life.

So, McCain? Sure, why the hell not? I mean, the dumb bastard may be corrupt and afflicted with serious temperment problems, but he sure has given the History Channel a lot of material to recycle -- with cool airplane footage!
-- sglover

Monday, August 25, 2008 at 12:46:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Bacevich hits the nail on the head, but it is the same thing Ranger and I have said all along. The U.S. is squandering its power, wealth and freedom in a "crisis of profligacy."

Americans will not see the truth; they will not look in the mirror. This is the age of blame. We have Teflon Presidents. Erich Hoffer spoke of Momism 40+ years ago.

I don't know that the systems of our Founders are so flawed, so much as individuals are neurotic and flawed. Not only that, venality and sneakiness are also entrenched human qualities, so the system is gamed by those who can.

The "energy crisis" was a long time in the coming, and certainly not unseen. Still, we do not budge from demanding our oil fix.

As for entertainment value, yeah -- McCain and the bombers give great footage. Obama has pearly whites and projects a nice image, too. What's not to like . . . Americans are a brawny, not a brainy, lot. Even the former quality is dwindling, as we produce less and less.

Monday, August 25, 2008 at 3:57:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


People work hard to put their blinders on; ripping them off is painful.

We are an overmedicated nation, wishing to avoid pain at all costs.

Monday, August 25, 2008 at 7:33:00 PM GMT-5  

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