September 5, 2008

Thank God, the conventions are over and the end of the 2008 election season is in sight. It’s been going on too long, and I’m guessing most people just want to go to the voting booth, close the curtains, make their choice and get on with their lives. Of course, we still have the debates to go through, and those would be be mildly interesting except for the fact that there were already way too many debates in the primary season and most everyone knows where everyone stands; still, both campaigns will be doing their damndest to lower expectations to the point where one might expect only a raving, drooling lunatic to show up. A few non-conventional thoughts:

1. I agree with John Podhoretz and Jim Geraghty: I thought John McCain did what he needed to tonight. Not a great job, but then again the “big speech” is not his forte. I did like way he deftly wrapped his “maverick” image and his pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin into a tidy “fighting for change” agenda. If he had picked anyone else for his VP choice – even Joe Liberman – I don’t think he could have gotten away with it.

2. McCain’s re-telling of his own story in a new and humbling way was fascinating to me. His remark that his Vietnamese captors succeeded in “breaking him” was made all the more poignant because of Palin’s comment last night that only McCain had “actually fought for his country”. I thought it was the highlight of the speech, but it wouldn’t have had the same impact without Palin’s speech the previous night.

3. So, did McCain’s speech succeed in swaying undecideds, “Reagan Democrats”, or independents? I’m not sure – I guess that will reveal itself in the days and weeks ahead.

4. I enjoyed Cindy McCain’s speech and always find it amazing when people old enough to have parents from “The Greatest Generation” tell of their parents’ stories; their exploits fill me with awe, humility and pride. There is likely no greater contrast in this country’s history than the country that lived through The Great Depression and the Second World War, and the narcissistic, self-indulgent, celebrity-consumed one we have become.

5. I think Laurie Byrd is exactly right: the Democrats made a big mistake going after Palin and her family like they did following her announcement. Not only was it offensive to most reasonable thinking people (raise your hands, out there, all of you without skeletons in your closets!), but don’t be surprised if some in the mainstream dino-media (not all, but you can bet some) now start truly vetting Barack Obama for the first time under the supposed guise of “fairness” or just honest competition.

6. A bold prediction: within the next month the Obama campaign will find a reason to replace Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton.

7. The big question now is, how (and does) the Obama campaign get its groove back? I dunno, the campaign and its candidate both seem to be flailing a bit right now. What to focus on? How will they attempt to distinguish themselves from the McCain campaign? You can almost feel them trying out a different message a day to see what might stick and what doesn’t. I’ll tell you this – their attempt to convince voters that McCain is another Bush and Palin another Cheney ain’t gonna work. At somepoint you have to give a reason for people to vote for you.

Which leads me to my next point…

8. In some ways, both campaigns have that requirement – giving people a reason to vote FOR you, as opposed to AGAINST them – already taken care of. In the end, that’s what did John Kerry in back in 2004. He gave people plenty of reasons why they shouldn’t return George W. to the White House, but not enough reasons why voters should vote for him.

9. Which means in hindsight one sees just how few options John McCain truly had available to him if he wanted to give voters a case to vote FOR him. The “experience” argument was going to be a loser for him. Now he can make “the fighting change agent” argument just as much as Barack can, if not better. Understand now?

10. In the end, it will all come down to this: for the first time in American history voters will have the unique choice between putting the first African-American in the White House or the first woman. The question then becomes, which is the greater risk? I’m telling you right now, you can take policies, promises, and personalities out of the equation – no matter what people tell the pollsters and what the polls, pundits, and conventional wisdon all say, in the end, when voters draw the curtain in that voting booth, that’s what the decision will come down to. Simple as that.

And THAT oughta be something fascinating to watch.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:43 | Comments Off on The Mad Dash Begins
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