Last week was one of the most dispiriting ever in American politics. I cannot keep my tongue, so I will veer off pop music for a moment. And really, my opinions should not be a surprise to anyone who reads this blog. There are three things I want to either comment on or quote...
First is scholar Gary Sick of Columbia University talking about the McCain campaign. He sums up the problem very succinctly:
No one can deny McCain's personal courage during his horrendous experience as a POW in Vietnam. But that does not equal good strategic judgment as commander in chief. His chief characteristic running a national campaign for the first time has been a series of high-stakes gambles -- the Sarah Palin gambit, withdrawing from the campaign to deal with the financial crisis and then un-withdrawing (a Rose Garden Strategy without a Rose Garden), surrendering in Michigan (without, incidentally, even informing, let alone consulting his VP candidate), and resorting to a campaign of smears after he had bitterly denounced similar tactics that the Bush campaign had used (successfully) against him. Maybe these will pay off, but I think they speak volumes about the quality of his decision-making under pressure. It is not reassuring.Next is a piece of a commentary on Sarah Palin by Michelle Goldberg of The Guardian. Here she speaks of Palin's performance in the VP debate:
It was an appalling display. The only reason it was not widely described as such is that too many American pundits don't even try to judge the truth, wisdom or reasonableness of the political rhetoric they are paid to pronounce upon. Instead, they imagine themselves as interpreters of a mythical mass of "average Americans" who they both venerate and despise.Yes. There was shark-jumping moment on CNN's post-debate coverage when a commentator pronounced that Palin had "won by not losing." Really? Is that what we've come to? We've seen American fall for her type before, haven't we? I am so worn out by conservatives decrying intellectual curiosity as shady and un-American. We just had 8 years of glorifying "plain-spoken" (read ill-spoken) blather from Bush II and look where we are now. John McCain could have picked a accomplished female running mate who would have elevated his status. But he didn't and that is that.
Update: Sarah Palin today (10/13) is continuing with her usual claptrap. She lives in the binary world of George W. Bush, where you either with us or against us, good guys or bad guys.
Finally, there is John McCain's Obama-as-terrorist "other" message last week, which was really sad. What has happened to McCain?! He loaded his commentary with coded language about not knowing who Obama is or where he came from. Right. Sarah Palin is responsible for making it far worse by talking about Obama "palling" around with terrorists. This created a very angry mood at the rallies. The old school Republican guard must be wondering how this got away from them... watch this scene from Friday, where McCain finally had to do damage control. Note that the audio drops out, but the woman calls Obama an "Arab" (which itself impugns all Arabs!):
I'd like to think that John McCain is troubled by how he is now perceived. That he wants to salvage his dignity.
In the end, I think Gary Sick's quote on the top of this post is most important in terms of why McCain is the Wrong Man. It is Barack Obama who has the intelligence, heart and vision to pull this country back up where it belongs. He will, I believe, begin to restore the middle class in America (that will take many years) and also bring back to the world a more positive image of America. Read a great piece on Obama from the editorial team of the New Yorker.
Okay, that's enough of that until November, I hope. Back to the music!