Literally dozens of people are waiting to see how I’ll settle the long standoff between McCain, my pick in 2000, and Obama, whom I supported in the spring primary. So am I! TK ASAP, as we say in media circles.
One more round of bile, and (hint) I’ll be ready to bid farewell to the past and stride into the Obama Dawn, singing these altered lyrics from Les Miserables:
Seven more days until Oba-ma!
Can you hear the people sing?
On the barricades of freedom,
Every man will be a king!
Meanwhile, here’s a pre-postmortem on some of the people and ideas, besides McCain, rejected this time around:
1. Bipartisanshipwreck. If facts matter, as Perot used to say, no major presidential candidate has ever done more actual bipartisan work than McCain, whose name has been linked in causes with superDems like Ted Kennedy, Russ Feingold, and John Kerry. Result? The Dems tied McCain to Bush like Ahab to the whale; voters preferred Obama’s eloquent promises of bipartisanship to McCain’s actual record. For McCain’s answer to the musical question, “What Do You Get? (When You Work With Dems),” sing along here.
2. Dirt clods are bouncing on the coffin lid of Campaign Finance Reformers. Obama walked away from his commitment to public funding and suffered not one dent in the halo, not even a wrist-slap from the Good-Government Patrol. McCain went the public financing route and got buried in a blizzard of dollars. Old Dem Conventional Wisdom: Massive spending imbalances are bad for our election process. New Dem CW: Not when we’re doing the spending.
(BTW, campaign finance reform is not one of my top issues, and I’ve got some sympathy for those who see campaign spending as a form of free speech. But if a politician commits to something, he should stay with it unless there is some valid reason beyond mere self-interest to make a change. See my Flip-Flop Test for more.)
3. RIP, Mavericks, Outsiders, Hail-Mary-Tossers: McCain’s chutzpah in picking Palin was in line with his gambler history, but it flopped when she proved too shallow even for the American public’s taste. There’s no doubt Palin suffered from regional and class bias, and it’s a hell of a world when a celebrity fluffball like Katie Couric becomes the arbiter of gravitas. But in the end, there just isn’t enough substance in Palin to offset fears about her.
4. Old Soldiers Fade Away. It should be clear by now that while we pay plenty of lip service to military service, it’s not a path to power. The military issue didn’t help Kerry or Dole, didn’t hurt Clinton and didn’t save McCain, the most experienced military candidate since Eisenhower.
5. Dashed hopes for Come Home, America types who would like to see a radically smaller U. S. military with many fewer commitments around the world. Not gonna happen, it appears.
6. Culture Warriors Collapse. Fervent Rightists and Leftists who thought this election would be won or lost on Gawud, Guns, Gays or Guantanamo go into the L Column as we chant “It’s the Economy, Stupid.”
Representative voter: The woman interviewed on NPR the other morning who wanted a candidate who would “bring down gas prices.” (Note to Obama: The Gas Prices Control Dial is near the Oval Office door that leads out to the Rose Garden. Be sure to turn it down as soon as the Inauguration is over. I’d set it at about, oh, $1.75 a gallon.)