A Sign of Desperation
This is exactly the sort of thing the conservative bloggers and pundits want to hear me say. They will see it as a sign of desperation and, in a gleeful feeding frenzy, press on with their lies and deceit. They will see this as a sign that they are winning (which they are). I don't care. I'm pissed off, so I am going to say it Hardly anybody reads this blog anyway.
The other day I was standing on the subway platform and I started to think about the very real possibility that John McCain might be president next year, and made me want to step in front of the next train that went by. The thought of a McCain presidency, and more to the point of an Obama defeat, made me want to kill myself.
I am not stupid enough to believe, as many of my liberal brethren do, that Barack Obama can't lose, that John McCain is a tired old man, or that Sarah Palin is a light weight who can simply be mocked and dismissed. That is stupid thinking. All the momentum is on McCain's side now. 53% of white women are now backing him, most of them due to Sarah Palin (a number I'm surprised at, frankly, but that's the only thing surprising me about this so far). National polls have McCain and Obama tied at 46% This election that was supposed to be firmly in the bag is slipping away.
So let me say what's on my mind: if Barack Obama can't get elected president right now, in this environment, in this country, then there is no hope for the future of humanity. None. I don't know if I can handle John McCain winning. I mean I don't know if I can survive it or if life would be worth living after that, after we push our country so far down into this Orwellian nightmare we are living in that there will be likely no chance we will ever wake up. It's the end of decency and humanity and, let's face it, of the world.
I don't blithely dismiss people who will vote for McCain and Palin as stupid or cynical the way Bill Maher does. The conservatives I know and love are all smart. They know that Palin doesn't know much about foreign policy or the Bush Doctrine. They know she requested millions of dollars in earmarks this year alone. They simply don't care. It's not on their priority list. They want someone who will take on what they see as the big enemies: terrorists and liberals, and the details don't matter. This is not an election, it is the culture war, and what they are aiming at is the extermination of me and the destruction of everything I believe in. This is indeed a fight for the survival of what is good in the world.
They also don't care about the lies, the deception, the double speak, or the pure unmitigated evil coming out of McCain's campaign right now. It doesn't matter a bit. McCain staffers, right up to his campaign manager, have come right out and said that they don't care about issues, that they are waging a war of personality. Truth means nothing. When confronted by reporters with the lies they have been spreading in press releases and in campaign adds recently, the drivers of the Straight Talk Express have replied with a collective "So What." Every time somebody examines the candidates' records, asks about the issues, or simply tells the truth, they are immediately attacked as being part of a liberal media elite. One thing Janine Garafolo is right about is that for the Republicans to be accusing anybody of dirty tricks and slime tactics is the height of hypocrisy, since they have relied on nothing but for the past eight years.
Why, oh why, did it take a session on The View, of all places, for John McCain to get put on the spot, asked real questions about his stand on the issues, and be called to task for his lies? Whoopie Goldberg asked him what he meant when he said he wanted to appoint strict constructionists to the Supreme Court, and he said he wanted judges who would view the constitution the way the founding fathers did, Whoopie said "Should I be worried about being a slave, about being returned to slavery? We had to change the constitution." McCain, as usual, had no response. Barbara Walters (whom people seem to forget was once the top journalist on television) pressed him to admit that he want's Roe v. Wade overturned, and he finally admitted that he thought it was a bad decision (and got booed). Then Joy Behar called him on two of his attack adds against Senator Obama, saying "those ads were untrue. They were lies."
Two points here: none of this matters. It was The View, and McCain's supporters have shown again and again that they don't care much about the truth. But why haven't other reporters had the opportunity to grill McCain on his campaign's lies?
Actually, the reason is simple: They haven't had the opportunity. In order to shield him from reporters' questions, McCain hasn been avoiding press conferences. He hasn't had a meaningful one since before the Democratic National Convention other than the introduction of Sarah Palin (and I am not sure if he took questions then). His campaign has been protecting him from having to answer for himself. They think the media is biased so they are going to take thier (unexamined, untruthful) case directly to the people. He used to sit in the back of his bus with reporters and talk about any issue they wanted to talk about. Not any more. After a reporter asked him in July to comment on the fact that Viagra is covered by Meidcare but birth control is not (he voted against bills in 2003 and 2005 that would have required birth control coverage) reporters were essentially kicked off the bus. There is no more talk at all on the straight talk express. One McCain staffer was very clear on the subject, saying they are now running an aggressive, dirty campaign because they tried running a clean campaign and had to talk about Viagra. The McCain camp saw that as an un fair "gotcha" kind of moment--as if a question about healthcare policy, how the candidate voted on health care policy, and an issue that is extremely important to women all over the country is somehow unfair. THE NERVE OF THESE ASSHOLES!!!!!!!!!!
What is comes down to is this: they are no longer even pretending. There is no more straight talk express. They are openly, laughingly, declaring that they are not going to talk about the issues and are simply going to lie and swift-boat their way into the election. They are mean, venal evil people, and 46% of the American public doesn't seem to care!
And it will work. They know another truth they don't really want to talk about. Chuck Todd points out there there is clearly a race element working against Obama in the campaign that will put him at a seven point disadvantage on election day. He illustrates this by looking at Wisconsin and Michigan, two states where Obama should be doing better, states that John Kerry won and where democrats and democratic issues are well received. Among the 12% of undecided voters in these states, there is a large number of them who are looking at Obama and shying away. These are people who support the Democrats, who believe the country is going in the wrong direction, who are opposed to the war, who are voting the democratic ticket right down the line for congress, state elections, and the senate. But when it comes to Obama they can't bring themselves to pull the trigger. They agree with every policy he has outlined but they still can't bring themselves to vote for him. You might say "well, he just hasn't sold himself well enough," but that would be a ridiculous statement. If there is one thing Obama has done better than anyone else in this campaign it is sell himself. You could say that they have been confused by all the negative campaigning and lies about Obama that have come out of the right-wing slime machine (and which Hillary's people contributed to), about him being a black nationalist, about him not being Christian, about him having three Muslim names, and you'd be right: but all of those things have a racist element to them. I've said all along that Obama would have to get an extra ten percent to beat the hidden racism among some white voters, and now it looks like he won't get it. Chuck Todd says that Obama needs to have at least 48% in battle ground states on the Sunday before the election to combat the racism factor.
All of which leads me back to where I started: this is no longer an election about ideas. It has once again been turned into a culture war: small town Christian values against all of us big city elitists (and what is more big city and elite than a black man who was a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago?). They are somehow managing to convince people that a man who grew up with a single mother and lived on food stamps is more of an elitist than the guy with nine (and yes it's nine, not seven) houses. Lies! Lies! Lies! Let's face it, this guy who went to Columbia and Harvard is already at a disadvantage. But in spite of the fact that he was raised in a white family with a white suburban upbringing, he is seen as a mysterious, dangerous, inner-city black dude, a slick and corrupt machine politician right out of some blacksploitation movie in the seventies. Just as the Democratic National Convention represented my America, the real America, not the 1950s Leave It To Beaver all white fantasies of the Republican party, so too Barack Obama represents the real American Dream: a multi-racial man, born in Hawaii to an African dad and an American mom, lived over seas, raised in the heartland, he represents all of America. And could there be anything better for America or the World than an Obama presidency? Nothing else--NOTHING--would do more to raise our status in the world, help to mediate conflicts, or to make us seem less like the great Satan than to have a black man named Obama as our president. And nothing could be better for domestic America than to have someone in office who actually had a plan for health-care and social security and protecting American jobs. NOTHING!!!!!!!!!! But he's got a weird name, he lives in Chicago, and he's never gutted a moose, and, oh yeah, he's black.
Why the Democrats weren't prepared for this I have no idea. The Republicans effectively used gay marriage as a wedge issue last time: why they couldn't see that race, the biggest wedge issue in America, would be the deciding factor in this race is beyond me. If Obama loses it will prove that Dr. King's dream is still a nightmare. It will prove that the best candidate in the race, in the midst of a terrible economic downturn, the one who represents change in a country that hate's the current administration, the one who represents the future instead of the past, the one who is decent and honest and good and true, can't get elected against a war monger who's campaign is packed with lobbyists and who wants to continue the same failed policies of the current moron in chief.
Now imagine if Obama were white.
Let me say this real clearly: it's not that I think people who vote for John McCain are stupid. I don't. I also don't think most of them are racists--just enough to sway the election. I do think--no, I know--that they are wrong, so wrong I have no word to describe it. I thnk their values are warped and perverted. I'm not sure I can accept them any more. This is not a fight about ideas and the future of this country any more. This is about right and wrong, about truth and lies, it is a struggle between good and evil, and anybody who votes for John McCain this year is contributing to evil. Plain and simple. If you vote for John McCain you can no longer be forgiven.
I can't joke or take this lightly any more. It's too serious.