On The Threshold Of Electoral Fury, Two Scenarios Emerge

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It seems the bards of our media age are all singing in perfect harmony before the eve of the Election of 2008.  And indeed, this is a storied hour.  The longest so-called “cycle” since the horrifically long Senate fiasco of the Late Roman Republic in 72 BC is now drawing to a close.  It was an epic tale, periodically even prompting my own internet-spewed two cents worth, which has paraded and stomped its way across every form of human communication for seemingly countless months.  And the gods alone know what our country will look like in the next 24 hours.

As alluded to, the screaming chorus of our informed media has reached a near-universal common pitch in their election swan song.  And, quite frankly, it sounds like they’re proclaiming the second coming of a completely neutral and non-religious though nevertheless messianic figure guaranteed not to offend anyone (sorry, death threats again).

Here, let me just give you an example:

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REALLY?  I MEAN, REALLY?

In all fairness, that’s from the end of the primaries, but it’s a sentiment that pretty much spread when the journalist set got over their Hillary-despair.  If you don’t pull a check from Rupert Murdoch, you pretty much want this guy to either win the election AND/OR father your love children.  I was going to make an Anderson Cooper joke here, but my blind Tuvan manservant said it might be offensive.

So far as analysis of the situation goes, their celebration seems by every measure to be inevitably appropriate.  Virtually every poll, old and new, shows Obama in a runaway.  Except when they don’t.  It looks like the key result of the economic crisis (and corresponding cooling of charm vis-a-vis folksy frontier governors) has taken it’s toll on the electorate, prompting an unbreachable acceleration of Obama’s movement toward the White House.  The most modest of polling data shows Obama within (if not AT) 270 electoral vote.  That’s like a blackjack score where you win the world.  Just thirty days ago I predicted here that McCain’s long sought-after unification of the GOP “base” under the Palin banner would seal Obama’s fate.  That’s what I get for making predictions more than thirty days out.  Though in my defense… Nationalizing all the banks?  Man, who would have seen THAT coming?

So, that should be it, really.  Since the integrity of the American media is unassailable and beyond reproach, especially on cable, we may as well talk about how blue the map is going to look tomorrow night.  I could make the rest of this article about what I think an “Obama America” will look like.  After all, never once in ALL of history has the vaunted 4th Estate mislead or misrepresented the will of the American people in ANY capacity, has it?

deweypwned

COME ON, YOU HAD TO SEE THAT COMING.

Shit.

Well, okay.  We can explore the other possibility.  I’m almost hesitant to say it honestly, since it runs counter to the truth that everyone’s talking boxes have been going on about.  Nevertheless, I’ll venture toward this possibility:

BARACK OBAMA MIGHT LOSE

I know.  Breathtaking.

But for the purposes at looking to the other side of this apparent electoral blowout, let us explore a contrary possibility.  We’ll play a little game called “if history holds”.

See, because if history holds, McCain will start the evening with a surprise bang as the independents of New Hampshire re-assert their love for the old man.  This will have all the talking heads in a tizzy about the possible implications, thus ASSURING that everyone in the country is aware by lunchtime or just past that the first indicator state went red.  If history further holds, the incoming barrage from the East Coast isn’t going to do Obama any favors, either.  The whole country will learn WHY Virginia has gone red every election since 1964.  And a subtle combination of xenophobic white turn-out in north Florida and a weaker-than-expected showing for Obama among Hispanics is about all it would take at this point to lose everyone’s favorite electoral fuck-up state.  Obama’s likely built up huge margins to win New York and Pennsylvania, but the first signs of real trouble will come when the results start moving westward.

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ABOVE: SOMEONE IN FLORIDA WHO MAY NOT VOTE FOR OBAMA

See if history holds, middle America will still be suffering under a lingering fear of that Hussein in his name and the color of his skin.  It’s not that everyone is racist, but enough are to make a statistical difference.  In unfortunate concentrations, that’s the sort of force that could swing a lynch-pin state.  Michigan is probably going blue, but Ohio might be in trouble.  It’s difficult to gauge how well his primary showing there will translate to a national race.  By the time it gets much further West, it’d be no surprise that he loses Colorado, even if he does manage to flip New Mexico, Iowa, AND Nevada from red to blue.  At this point, even an unqualified showing on the West Coast wouldn’t really help.  If history holds.

What are some signs that this might happen?  Well, as many are fond of pointing out, Obama’s campaign IS history making.  It’s altered the electoral map, it’s altered American’s perception of itself AND the world’s perception of America.  It’s brought out more enthusiasm and is expected to bring out more VOTERS than any election in… well, ever I think.

For all those reasons, I think it would be foolish not to assume this candidacy has altered the nature of our polling practices.  Never more has communication of facts on the ground been joined by the incessant humming of a billion other forms of media communication.  For every story you get in a mass mailer about Obama being a secret Muslim or McCain collaborating with his NVA captors in Nam, you get another 24-hour media blitz about the latest “gaffe” to make all the people who still wear monocles pop them out in shock.

Did anyone ever stop to think that polling data might be gloriously FUCKED because of all this?  There’s already the emerging story about most of these polls not including people who are only using cell phones (which is everyone I know, I think).  Common sense says that might lead to an even GREATER Obama lead, but I’ll be damned if I’m taking that for gospel.  Mix in the unexpected factor of people who’ve said to a pollster YES I’m gonna vote for Obama because it seems like the “in” thing to do, and you have a glorious recipe for misinformation.

There’s also the perpetual Democratic reliance on “the young people coming out in DROVES this time, I SWEAR IT” that perplexes me to no end.  College age kids have two underlying and fundamental traits, folks.  They love to talk shit, and they hate DOING shit.  Obama may have every Facebook page on campus buzzing, but believing that’s going to lead to massive voter turnout from the campuses of the United States is a stretch I’m not willing to make until I see it happen.

joecollege

VOTING TUESDAY, OR PLAYING HALO?  I’LL GIVE YOU THREE-TO-ONE ODDS.

So let me put this in the most succinct way I can manage.  For McCain to come out on top tomorrow, he has to defeat the numbers.  For Obama to do so, he has to defeat HISTORY.

The good news for Obama, in this scenario, is that he already has experience doing that.

So what’s my final call on the election, after all these months and on the eve of the great event?  I honestly see one of two things happening.  Either it’s the Obama blow-out everyone is expecting, or it’s going to be a LONG-assed night tomorrow.  Fortunately, I have a bottle of whiskey and a television in my bedroom.

My only other word on the matter will come afterward, when I break character, get personal, and tell everyone who I voted for.

Out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle

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A Few Victims Of That Bus Everyone’s Being Thrown Under (To Greater Or Lesser Degree)

Politics is a game of bullshit.  A nuanced, complex and sometimes surreal game of bullshit on a mass level that I enjoy thoroughly, but still bullshit.  A politician’s job is to spin whatever is done, said, or randomly occurred by ANY individual or group of individuals into a sound bite that plays well for their side.  When it’s done right, it works beautifully (“I feel your pain”).  And when it’s done poorly, it’s a campaign killer:

GOOD JOB, FRANKENSTEIN.

Occasionally, candidates have to bite the bullet and say something to appease and/or motivate their respective bases.  These are the moments they sound most like raving lunatics, because only the raving lunatics in this country are motivated enough to vote regularly.  For the Right, these are generally megachurch-going, minivan driving, shitty-musical-taste having suburbanites in the South and Midwest coupled with God-fearing but less church-going drunken rednecks found in rural areas the nation over (rebel flags optional).  For the Left, this base consists of every other fringe lunatic known to man, from whaling boat chasing hippies to Robert Mapplethorpe.  Republicans like numbers, Democrats like variety, I suppose.  Anyway these sorts of statements are along the lines of “the Constitution should be re-written to exclude those damn queers” and “maybe we should just try offering the Iranians cupcakes and love”.  I’m paraphrasing those last two, by the way, in case you’re a dipshit.

SEE?  HE JUST NEEDS A HUG.

In the process of this memetic warfare/cosmic douchebaggery, there are inevitably casualties.  Aside from our collective dignity, I mean.  I’m referring to people who get wounded (or taken out entirely) on the gladiatorial floor of American politics for doing nothing more basic, and heretical, as telling the truth AS THEY SAW IT.  So in the interest of illustration, I’m profiling just a few right here that have occurred recently.  In the interest of equity, I’m offering an equal portion from the Left and Right, just to prove that this sort of dickheadedness doesn’t discriminate.

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“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position.”

SAID BY: Geraldine Ferraro

THE FUSS: Sounds racist as fuck.

FIRST SIGN OF BULLSHIT: Anyone actually BELIEVE Ferraro is a racist?  And if so, why wasn’t that part of the national media debate?

AS SHE SAW IT: More than likely, Geraldine was simply ruminating that if Obama were a young, charismatic junior Democratic Senator with a populist/moderate appeal AND he were white, he’d look just like half a dozen other suit-and-tie Ken Dolls the Democrats have in the stable, one of whom was already in the primaries.

IF OBAMA LOOKED LIKE THIS, HE’D LOSE TWO PRIMARIES TOO.

BUS FACTOR: A total bus throw.  Hillary wasted no time in severing ties with Ferraro, probably in an effort to get this little comment out of the news cycle as fast as possible.

WAY I SEE IT: Ferraro was probably wrong in actuality.  Obama turned out to be able enough a politician by far to carve out his own identity and beat anyone on the field regardless of standing out ethnically.  He hadn’t yet beat Team Clinton when this quote caused all the fuss.  Or maybe her failure to give him the benefit of the doubt in that ability IS some latent racism on her part, who the fuck knows or cares?  The statement itself isn’t one of hate so much as poor politics from someone who was only ever on the shittiest presidential ticket in modern history.  Doddering old people should be ignored in every human endeavour, quite frankly.  Still, in America, it was enough to kill whatever she had left of a career (not much).  Unfair, but no big loss.

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“Certainly [another terrorist attack on US soil] would be a big advantage to [John McCain].”

SAID BY: Charlie Black, McCain’s chief strategist.

THE FUSS: 9-11 The Sequel, and this guy is contemplating a poll bump?

AWKWARD

FIRST SIGN OF BULLSHIT: Does anyone think John McCain ACTUALLY wants to see another 9-11?

AS HE SAW IT: Probably that from a purely rational standpoint, he was totally correct.  The current number one issue in the race is economics, and right now the only thing that’s likely to push that back far enough to seal the deal is a dirty bomb going off in Scranton or the like.

BUS FACTOR: Well you can’t call this a complete bus throw, since the man still has a job.  However, it wasn’t long after that McCain completely restructured his campaign (again) under one of Karl Rove’s former padawan learners.  One would assume part of this restructuring involves limiting Charlie Black’s press exposure, if that hasn’t been done already.  Also, McCain was damn quick to denounce this statement.

WAY I SEE IT: As even the Fortune magazine writer who reported this admits, these comments were made after he did the standard American journalist “press for a take on my wild and completely off-base speculation about something juicy” technique.  On top of that, he did it to a career political man so he knew any answer with candor was going to sound cold-blooded as hell.  At most, this quote illustrates that McCain employees the same sorts of single-minded reptiles in his campaign team that everyone else does; it’s not really news.

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“They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” [AKA: BITTERGATE]

SAID BY: Barack Obama

THE FUSS: Sounds classist as fuck.

FIRST SIGN OF BULLSHIT: First off, that’s the most soft-petaled classism I’ve ever heard in my life.  “Let them eat cake” it ain’t.  But the real bullshit here is that the people slamming him for this feel the same way about the same people, they’re just more adept at mining them for votes.  And THOSE yacht-club dickheads don’t have the street cred of having worked in a Chicago soup kitchen when they could have been making a few million a year suing the shit out doctors like the rest of the Harvard Law grads.

AS HE SAW IT: Obama would never have used those PARTICULAR words in a place he thought he’d be recorded at, because he knows how they’d play.  The room he was in, however, was being sent a clear message, proving the adage that politics isn’t what you say or how you say it, but WHY you’re saying it and to whom.  To translate, it was his way of communicating in intractable dickhead Democrat-speak that “small-town people aren’t stupid, they’re just scared, which is something you might understand if you didn’t have your heads up your asses”.  Maybe not the last part, but still.

BUS FACTOR: Never a true bus-throwing possibility, as the only people who could throw Obama under a bus would be the people voting for him.  Still, this little gaffe barrelled out of control enough to count for perhaps the bus running over the Senator’s foot.  Painful, but nothing a few weeks in crutches can’t fix.

WAY I SEE IT: Know the following:  I don’t go to church.  I don’t own a gun.  But I AM a working class small-town kid.  And I support and deeply empathize with the fears and indeed attitudes of people like me.  But the fact is that critical self-examination shows an element of truth to what Obama said.  SURE there are people in our communities who are finding Jesus or hating immigrants just a LITTLE bit more because they have nothing else to turn to (or think they don’t).  Doesn’t make it any less true when it’s observed by an Ivy League lawyer.  The man was in no way suggesting that we, or the fanatics among us, be marginalized in any systematic way.  It doesn’t even show a particular disdain, unless the reader chooses to read it that way, honestly.  And on a side note… Attaching the suffix “-gate” to the end of every minor flap in politics is fucking moronic.  Stop it.

CLINGING TO HIS RELIGION

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“We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline…You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession.”

SAID BY: Phil Gramm, economic adviser to John McCain

THE FUSS: After the tenth time in a month of being sodomized at the filling station and the fourth home foreclosure to hit your block, most people don’t want to be told they’re whiners.

FIRST SIGN OF BULLSHIT: The immediate and rabid activation of the spin machines on both sides, complete with lame humor.  McCain jumped right off the straight-talk express to deliver a “Phil Gramm does not speak for me” speech in the heart of Michigan, conveniently surrounded by people hoping against hope that auto manufacturing jobs are going to return to America.  Obama’s people fared even worse, prepping him with a speech that included the line “America already has one Dr. Phil. We don’t need another one when it comes to the economy.”  At least, I HOPE that line came from one of his team and not Obama himself, because it’s fucking stupid.  In all of this, not one bit of effort was taken on the part of either campaign OR the media to examine the actual FACTS of Gramm’s assertion.  Better by far to dance to the tune of economic fear-mongering, after all.

AS HE SAW IT: Gramm has never been one to mince words when reached for a statement.  Point in fact, he called CNN directly to clarify his position on the matter.  Relevant excerpts include: “The whiners are the leaders. Hell, the American people are victims, but it didn’t quite come out that way in the story… [Congressional leaders] blame speculators and oil companies for our problems…What we need is more leadership and less whining…I said we are in a mental recession. We keep getting the steady drumbeat of bad news … it’s become a mental recession.  We don’t have measured negative growth. That’s a fact, that’s not a commentary.”  He went on to say he understood the outrage over his remarks as part of the “game”, and that the media were a collection of irrelevancy-peddling shit-buzzards.  Okay, I made that last part up, but the subtext was there, I think.

BUS FACTOR: Well, McCain was once again DAMN quick to distance himself from the remarks.  It’s curious, since distancing yourself from economic remarks which were made by YOUR ECONOMIC ADVISER is a move that could only work out in American politics.  Still, when asked directly whether Gramm would be in the running for a job a Treasury Secretary in a McCain administration, the question was deflected with a joke about Belarus.  No, seriously.  So it seems Gramm has been saved from tire marks for now.

[UPDATE 7-18-08:  Looks like I spoke too soon, though to hear Gramm tell it, he threw HIMSELF under the bus.  Draw your own conclusions.]

WAY I SEE IT: Phil Gramm has a PhD in economics from the University of Georgia.  He taught on the subject for twelve years at Texas A&M and is currently a vice-chairman of UBS Investment Bank.  Now MAYBE (just maybe) when he speaks on the subject of America’s financial situation, it might be a good idea for us to listen and evaluate instead of worrying whether or not these statements jibe with the feelings of some impoverished SUV driver who’s having to downsize to (gasp!) a full-sized sedan.

READY FOR THE SOUP LINE

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Out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle

And Then There Were Two

M/O

Well I made a promise, and I kept a promise. I vowed not to speak again on the campaign until we were down to two official candidates. Little did I know.

Honestly, probably best I kept quiet about the internal affairs of any party. I get disgusted enough by the majority of BOTH their antics in pursuit of swing votes like my own, so we’ll leave it at that. I will only say I think ‘superdelegates’ are a colossally asinine idea.

Anyway, without getting too deep into the situation, I’ll just make a list of my most recent observations concerning how Senators Obama and McCain are likely going to throw down before November.

BADAAAAAASSSSSSS!!!!!!!

BAADASSSSS!

So first off, the right honorable Senator Barack Obama, finally wresting victory from the jaws of a deluded loser. It’s not as though this win wasn’t self-evident since at least early March, but the upshot to this, er… unexpected delay is that Obama’s campaign has had extra time to craft their general election strategy. Of course, so has the GOP.

Regardless of all that, the question of the hour seems to be swirling around possible running mates. Some people are under the impression that Obama has utterly no choice but to extend the offer to Hillary. I’m not sure what dimension these observers are living in, but it appears to be one where John Edwards doesn’t exist. Or Ted Strickland. Or Chet Culver. Or any one of a NUMBER of well-thought-of complimentary Democrat governors dotting the landscape. Why, I ask you logically, would Obama pick a running mate fully half his own party just told him they can’t stomach? Guys like Edwards and Strickland are well-known faces in some battleground states, including my own. Or, failing that, someone with military or foreign policy to balance out the fact Obama has about two squirrel shits worth of experience in it.

Have I mentioned that for the first time in my life, I’m in a swing state? Places like North Carolina represent the unpredictable nature of this campaign. Everything that may work for or against Obama in this area (high turn-out among blacks, draw of college kids that normally don’t vote, the defection of white Democrats toward McCain) is purely speculative. This state hasn’t voted Democrat for a president since 1976, but all the rules are changed now.

So in short: Fresh off beating the unbeatable Clintons, clearly invigorated, and clearly coming with a plan, the Obama campaign promises to be one of the most dynamic in modern history. And what’s even better, it looks like he’s got decent competition…

Son, Your Ego\'s Writing Checks Your Body Can\'t Cash.

“SON, YOUR EGO’S WRITING CHECKS YOUR BODY CAN’T CASH.”

Enter Senator John McCain, who is doing his level best to appear unimpressed by this whippersnapper that’s got all the young’ns excited. Which is a tough job, considering that this election came in a package marked “change”, and it’s going to be perpetually difficult to convince younger voters that one of the oldest candidates to ever run is a paragon of radical thinking.

Still, young people don’t do so well deciding Presidential elections in this country, so there’s that.

Either way, McCain’s campaign so far looks a little dualistic in nature, if not schitzophrenic. On the one hand, now that the general election is officially on, McCain can highlight his strongest appeal among swing voters. That is mainly that most Republicans can’t stand him. It looks like the campaign has firmly decided to say “fuck the conservative base”, assuming they’ll opt to vote AGAINST someone named Barack Obama even if they despise McCain. Which they do. Makes sense; it’s presidential politics 101. Court the crazies in your party till it’s down to two, then run back toward the middle as fast as you can. Also, careful not to bang your head on the other guy, cause he’ll be coming the other way, doing the same shit.

On the other hand, John McCain isn’t moving a goddamn inch on the economy. Consider for a moment the STATE of the economy and reflect what a strange tactic that is. His first general election attack on Obama is an engagement in McCain’s weakest field, money matters. His line of attack is to try and define Obama’s most liberal economic tendencies as a BAD thing. There’s even been some recusitating of the old ‘tax and spend’ label that used to scare people away from Democrats. At the beginning of a long hot summer of high gas/food prices, home foreclosures, and a screaming for SOMETHING to be done about it, John McCain’s campaign is attempting to turn Obama’s “change” message into a LIABILITY. All the while his own economic plan looks pretty much exactly like Bush’s did in 2000. They pull this off, and McCain could go down as one of the most brilliant politicians in history.

And then there’s the real (forgive me) elephant in the room, McCain’s own potential VP nominees. As much noise as the media is making about who might ride with Obama on the dusty campaign trail, his decision is far less critical than McCain’s on the matter. If McCain wins, he’ll be 72 when he’s inaugurated. He has lingering health questions by perception if not fact, and Democrats are going to key in on that. The voters will know (or at least suppose) that his vice-presidential candidate is MORE than just an academic feature of the campaign. It ideally needs to be someone who could be President, if need be. An easy guess would be any one of the people who showed up at his cook-out in Sedona in April; Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal, and Charlie Crist, for example.

There For The Taking

So that’s how things are looking now, other than the bump-by-bump potshots starting up over the sordid pasts of lobbyists and buddies-of-3rd-world dictators that everyone seems to have working for them. Apparently now it’s against the rules to have anyone with dirt on the team. I always thought it’s how these people GOT their jobs. Weird.

On a personal note, I will say I’m excited, as a political junkie and as an American. Because it looks like we’ve finally got an election with two real stand-up guys in it. Or as close to stand-up as 20+ years in the American political system and the virtue of having risen to national prominence on two book deals and a speech can possibly be.

Out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle