With only 55 days left until the election, and since the dust from the conventions is starting to settle, it’s time to talk about the election, because I can’t influence it—living in Utah.
Barack Obama chose as his vice presidential running mate Joe Biden, an old hand in the Senate with vast international relations experience and a vast mouth. But I love Joe Biden; he is one of the few people who could say all the dumb things he has said and still be as successful as he is. He brings a blue-collar persona (or at least not “elitist”), a lot of experience, and a rapid fire talking style that balances all the disperceptions of Obama.
The Democratic Convention was just what it was supposed to be—an interminable infomercial about Obama. But for those of us who love Obama, it was great! There were no surprises, just well-scripted and well-delivered speeches and “moments.”
The Republican Convention, on the other hand, shocked everyone—by being exciting! There is a whole bunch of irony in this, to be addressed later.
John McCain selected Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, as his veep. This is where all the excitement came from. She’s an attractive, snarky, alleged right-winger. The irony of the convention was that it was a demonstration of 1) how much the party is running away from itself, and 2) how hollow it is. The GOP is on its last legs as the party of late 20th-century conservatism. It may continue to exist, but not in its current form. How can I say this? Let me explain:
1. John McCain is suddenly the agent of CHANGE. Change from what, you ask? I answer, from the last eight years of a Republican administration, the last six years of a Republican Senate, and the last twelve years of a Republican House. This reminds me of the quote attributed to Einstein: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
2. All the old-guard speakers were ignored.
3. “The president” (that’s how John McCain referred to George W. Bush the only time he referred to him) was ignored.
4. The saving grace, Sarah Palin, has no policy stances that anyone knows about. Her proven abilities include reading a prepared speech very well, and looking good while doing it.
5. A party that would have immediately molted if the Democrats had nominated a working mother of five children—one who is less than a year old and has Down Syndrome, and one who is less than 18 years old and has a bun in the oven—is energized and calling a victory for feminism.
Needless to say the GOP is in the throes of an identity crisis right now. Unfortunately, it’s not taking advantage of this moment to revert to the party of Lincoln. Instead it’s regressing to the party of Limbaugh. How can I say this, you ask? I answer that all that Palin shows is what Limbaugh specializes in: name-calling, anti-the-other-side, avoidance of issues and opposing viewpoints, etc. If Sarah Palin really is the future of the party, I think it’s in trouble.
I have nothing against Palin personally, but I don’t have anything for her personally either. That’s the problem: there’s nothing to judge her by. I think her character will become more apparent as the campaign wears on. I have to admit she was a great choice for the campaign, but not for the presidency.
Now that I have said all this, I think once the debates start, Obama (and Biden) will once again pull ahead, including in the battleground states where people’s votes count. When (and if) McCain and Palin are faced with questions on issues, I think the American public will see a clearer choice and will turn toward Obama in the final election.
When this happens, you won’t want to be anywhere near the RNC, because there will either be a come-to-Jesus metamorphosis into something great, bringing the party from its eastern, neocon, textbook conservatism to a western libertarianism, or there will be a transmogrification into a more hideous monster still, ruled by noise and arrogance. My heart is on the former option, but my money’s on the latter.