How is it that Primary Day arrives and finds me still on the fence?
I realized as late as last night that I could see strengths and decent qualities in all three serious candidates. (OK, making it even more complicated, I also like Huckabee’s sense of humor, his bass playing and his endlessly punnable name, but his brand of religio-politics, especially the rejection of modern science, puts him beyond the pale for me. I can’t vote for someone who claims not to understand why flu viruses change so quickly.)
Facing the firing squad of multiple deadlines today, I can’t even list all my perplexities, but here are some factors bouncing in my head:
1. Should I base my vote on the candidates’ fiscal responsibility and their plans to avoid crushing our children and grandchildren with ruinous debt? Too late. Nobody still running has any serious plan to deal with the mostly off-books war debt and the coming Boomer Entitlement Bomb (or if they do, they’re not telling us until after November, especially if it might involve the S-Word which rhymes with “acrifice.”)
The Dems are both spendaholics and McCain is no more than a scintilla better. When I saw him praised for “fiscal restraint” in today’s paper, I read it this way: The Dems want to pay $1,000 each for the toilet seats on the new destroyer, while McCain INSISTS on paying $999.97 and not a blasted penny more.
So. . . I call it a wash for now.
2. Should I base my vote on national security/defense/America’s role in the world? Here I’m constrained by the loss of confidence brought on by the tragically inept handling of the Iraq War, starting with the still-missing WMDs, the understaffing, the idiotic lack of plans, especially of Plan Bs. Don’t need to repeat what we all know: The surge has helped a bit with security, but the Iraqis, I’ve all but concluded, are not interested in anything we’d call a unified government or country. I don’t think we can hold back history there, or if we can, whether the cost is ultimately justifiable.
Could I be wrong? Sure. In some sense, you could say that diplomatic efforts and limited war over the past 50 years have prevented the Israelis and the Arabs from the final conflagration that might otherwise be their fate–a war that kills hundreds of thousands, decimates two or three Arab countries, and leaves the Israelis “victorious” in the rubble thanks to 11th-hour U. S. intervention. It may well be that the “course” McCain wants us to stay in Iraq will look something like that twenty years hence. Or not.
As I’ve discussed elsewhere, sometimes all you have left on certain issues is ICAGWO (ih-kahg-woe)–It Could Always Get Worse. It’s one of those sobering, middle-aged truths that is foreign to the naturally hopeful young, who believe that things can get better now if we’d just wake up. On Iraq, McCain is clearly an ICAGWO man, preaching that if we get out too soon, ICAGWO. Others say, with equal credentials and passion, that staying will produce the ICAGWO result.
So. . should Hillary be my halfway house between Obama and McCain on this issue? She’ll go for a more cautious withdrawal if she wins, and it wouldn’t surprise me that much if she stayed the course for a couple of more years if the Iraqis beg her to stay. Hmm.
3. Should I base my vote on the New Start/Clinton Fatigue Factor? Maybe, but right now, that firing squad awaits. More later. Polls are open until 7PM!