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Category: Campaign 2008.15
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Mark McKinnon wrote a brilliant column earlier this week that everyone should read.

He asserts:

Steve Schmidt and his colleagues took John McCain further than he had any reasonable right to, given the political climate.

McKinnon reminds us of this obvious truism:

One of the physical laws of politics is that if your campaign wins, youíre a genius. If you lose, youíre an idiot.

I agree. Get off McCain.

Considering the daunting political geography, there were only two times over the past three years in which I thought the Republicans had a good shot at winning this election. The first instance was when the Jeremiah Wright revelation finally emerged as a public issue. I was convinced that the American people would never tolerate Wright's brand of incendiary race mongering. Of course, at the time, even then I saw it more as the end of Barack Obama rather than the Democrats. I fully expected Hillary to pick up the pieces and carry her party to victory in November.

In re Wright, my instinct (my absolute certitude) has never been more wrong. Why did the Wright episodes not sink Obama? The media supported their man during his two times of trial concerning his longtime pastor. First, the prObama press rallied around his excellent speech in Philadelphia, which cleverly clouded the issue of Wright by thoughtfully addressing the larger issue of race in America. Then, when Wright reinserted himself into the campaign with his insanely riveting performance at the National Press Club, the candidate reversed himself. After saying he could never disown Wright--Obama vehemently disowned him, and his fans in the mainstream media applauded and accepted the about-face in stride.

Then, in what may be the most amazing display of restraint in the history of American politics, John McCain decided early-on to declare the issue off limits. Why? Without a doubt, Obama's twenty-year relationship with Wright was a legitimate issue. Why? McCain correctly reasoned that the exploitation of Reverend Wright would so divide the American electorate along racial lines that victory would pale in comparison to the cultural damage. Country First. Amazing.

For this unprecedented magnanimity McCain gained what? Ironically, the mainstream media trafficked the ubiquitous notion of McCain as a negative campaigner who had lowered himself to ruthlessly, relentlessly, and unscrupulously attacking his virtuous opponent. Shame, shame, John McCain.

The second moment when I thought victory was attainable came with the advent of Sarah Palin. Her dynamic explosion onto the political scene completely transformed this campaign. For all the pundits who want to point to Palin as McCain's downfall, they should recall how low down the McCain fortunes were when Palin raised him up to parity with the Obama juggernaut.

If I have a complaint against McCain worth pressing at this point, it is my sense that his campaign squandered the potential of Sarah Palin--hiding her under a bushel.

Once the Palin phenomenon emerged, the opposition pushed back with everything they had--correctly comprehending that crushing Palin was "make or break" for Obama 2008. It was not pretty--but the opposition expertly destroyed her public persona. The all-out offensive included blatant lies, distortions, double standards, and a devastating doppelganger--Tina Fey-lin.

Don't blame McCain for selecting the Alaska governor. It was the most brilliant political coup of this new century. However, you can blame McCain for not pushing back hard enough and/or quick enough. You can also blame Team McCain for not giving the young maverick her head. Sarah Palin is incredibly formidable live and on the attack. She should have been running circles around the enemy in a series of guerrilla raids--not laying low or attempting to connect to the electorate through taped and edited interviews with nightly news anchors.

Having said that, McCain has been McCain--and I give him credit for a bully effort. In a year in which the Republican brand is all but discredited, McCain fought valiantly and honorably. In a year in which no straightforward Republican strategy had even a ghost of a chance at success, McCain ran a courageous insurgent campaign. Not perfect--but perfection is a little bit too much to ask in human kind. Well done, Johnny McCain.

25/10: Did You Know?

Has anybody noticed that many of the most reputable public opinion polls indicate that Barack Obama is set to garner the biggest white male vote for any Democratic Party candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964?

According to the Zogby-Reuters-C-SPAN poll, white and male voters are fairly evenly split between John McCain and Obama (both in the forties among "decideds")--with McCain holding a modest edge within both groups.

According to the same poll, 95 percent of African Americans report that they are likely to vote for Barack Obama. A staggering numberóbut not surprising in that this near monolithic statement of support would signal only a slight uptick from the past two elections: African Americans voted 92 percent and 88 percent for Al Gore and John Kerry, respectively, in 2000 and 2004.

More disappointing--but perhaps not surprising--huge numbers of Hispanics seem likely to vote for Obama as well. Many polls predict a twenty-to-thirty point drop off for McCain in 2008 from the Bush heights of 2000 and 2004. Some of that turnaround must be attributed to Obama's charisma and appeal as a minority candidate, but some of it, undoubtedly, is the mendacious Spanish-language ads depicting John McCain in league with the Talk Radio anti-immigration populist revolution of 2007. If voters had any sense of recent history, they would find these blatant lies so preposterous as to be hilarious. But, unfortunately, that particular "if" is a luxury we don't enjoy this election.

As many of you know, I tend to view George W. Bush as much more astute than the hapless buffoon he plays on TV. He certainly understood better than most that chasing off Hispanic voters was a bad idea for the GOP in the long term. It seems that those chickens are coming home to roost this time around.

But, back to the real point of this post, what does it mean for our "racist nation," if Barack Obama wins more white males than any other Democratic candidate of the post-New Deal era?

As I have said before, the liberal establishment in this country has a huge stake in the accepted notion that I am a racist. Why else would a middle-class American continue to vote Republican? Because I am a simpleton who does not understand my own interests. The GOP waves the bloody shirt of race hatred, homophobia, and evangelical sophistry in front of my face, and I revert to conditioned behavior.

Not too long ago America was "too racist" to elect Obama. But as his election grows more probable, we are now forced to endure the new explanation: white America is so desperate for a competent leader that there is no choice but to accept Obama. Economic fear trumps race prejudice. This assumption, by the way, rests on the well-known fact that Barack Obama is an expert on the economy.

All that noise aside, "whitey" turning out in record numbers to vote for the first serious African American candidate for president in our nation's 220 year history will speak loudly and clearly. Of course, the axis of disingenuousness, so invested in the image of virulent racism lurking in heart of Red-State America, will use every weapon in its vast arsenal to combat the notion of the United States as a place that actually hungers for racial justice and fairness.

At this point, who can bet against them?
I voted yesterday in Waco, Texas. In addition to the six or seven generic retired regulars I generally see when I cast my ballot during early voting, I also encountered (literally) scores of citizens seemingly unfamiliar with the venue and/or the system but, nevertheless, gleeful and anxious to participate in the carnival atmosphere. These were young people (likely college students) and many African Americans of all ages.

FYI: I arrived approximately ten minutes after the Elections Office opened for business. There were probably ten Obama supporters outside on the periphery of the parking lot enthusiastically waving signs for their candidate. There were no Republican counterparts.

What lesson do I draw from this scene? This election is over. While I don't think it possible that Barack Obama will take Texas--I look for him to do surprisingly well here. More importantly, look for a lot trouble down-ticket for Republicans (if not in Texas, in a lot of other surprising places).

Why is Obama going to do so well?

1. Give him some credit. He is an amazingly gifted candidate.

2. This is a very bad year for Republicans.

--Why so bad? Because Republicans ran a lousy war. Give Petraeus, Crocker, and Gates credit for saving our asses--but we were in a mess directly connected to Bush administration malfeasance.

--Why so bad? Because Republicans ran a lousy economy. We are ten trillion dollars in debt. We are TEN TRILLION DOLLARS in debt!!! We are $10,000,000,000,000.00 in debt. Forget about all the explanatory noise--Republicans did not lift a finger during their six years in control of Washington to place us on a path to economic sanity.

--Why so bad? Because the Republicans ran a lousy PR campaign. Some of the above could have been justified with the right amount of sincerity and finesse. But it wasn't.

3. Media Manipulation.

As Mark Salter complained the other day, the political reporters in this campaign have covered 2008 with a "thumb on the scale." They are fully invested in an Obama victory, and they are "blunting attacks against Obama even before the candidate can articulate a defense." These guys are in the tank to an extent unprecedented in modern American politics (for comparison sake, see the Washington Globe's coverage of Andrew Jackson circa 1832).

What do I mean? Some examples:

Candidate for president, Barack Obama, the forty-seven year-old, half-term senator from Illinois, is imminently qualified to transform America and the world. On the other hand, candidate for vice president, the forty-four year-old, half-term governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, is an embarrassment to all right-thinking citizens and proof that John McCain cannot be trusted.

Joe Biden (in reality, the most prolific human gaffe machine since Norm Crosby) is an eloquent and wise statesman of renown, who provides additional depth and understanding to the already exceptionally brilliant former editor of the Harvard Law Review--as if he needed such buttressing. On the other hand, Sarah Palin (who, in reality, has had one bad taped interview with an unfriendly edit) is the tongue-tied airhead with a penchant for mentioning beauty pageants and keeps saying, "I can see Russia from my house."

Barack Obama is his own man and a healer, likely to transcend the cruel racial and partisan divides that afflict our nation, distributing (not to be confused with re-distributing) love and friendship to all Americans. This is the dawning of the age of Obama.

John McCain is Bush redux, incapable of bucking his odious party and slavishly loyal to the discredited Republican orthodoxy. He was not always this way--and this is the tragic part of our tale-- but he sold his soul to the Devil (Karl Rove--who is, in fact, acting as the silent mastermind to his current campaign) in order to gain the presidency at any cost and quench his fierce and blinding ambition.

Barack Obama is the tax reformer who wants to ease the burden on 95 percent of Americans. Believe him. He could not say something like that if it were not true. John McCain, on the other hand, is erratic and consumed by his contempt for our young champion. Sadly, the erstwhile Maverick and operator of the once storied straight-talk express will say anything to get elected. This is all very dishonorable.

And so it goes. I could go on--but what's the point?

Okie Gardener: steak dinner in Cowtown? You're on. If you win, bring the kids and new members of the family. I will gladly pony up for a feast if you are right.