Sunday, August 17, 2008

What's Going On?

The awkward progress of the Campaign Without End knocked the wind out of me this week. I’m dismayed by how feeble Obama has seemed since his triumphant return from overseas and the out-of-the-limelight status produced by his ill-timed vacation, while McCain has started looking and sounding stronger. The usually-eloquent Obama essentially stuttered through the faith-themed town hall shindig, making a wincingly uncomfortable proclamation about Jesus as his personal savior that rang hollow (and obligatory) juxtaposed against McCain’s more straightforward story about his encounter with a Vietnamese prison guard who turned out to be a compassionate fellow Christian. Then Obama equivocated through a clumsy definition of wealth that would justify a tax increase, while McCain’s classic tax-and-spend assault sounded friendlier than Obama’s sensible objection to a $10-billion-a-month bill for the Iraq War. McCain’s objection to a few-million-dollar study of the DNA of bears seemed more on the mark. How is this possible?!

For the first time, I feel like it’s starting to look as if McCain could actually pull this thing off – not because people want more years in the Bush, but because they still don’t understand what Obama actually wants. Is this a déjà vu of Stevenson vs Eisenhower? Obama’s youth in comparison with McCain’s antiquity is starting to appear like the inexperience Obama has consistently been accused of – and little Cindy McCain’s sympathy-inspiring sprained wrist isn’t helping matters. I’d like to believe that the upcoming Democratic Convention will set things back on track, but it’s the Republicans who will have the last prime-time-gala word before the election. I’ve been thinking that ballooning costs and the obvious recession would aid the movement for change, but now I’m wondering if the fear born of hard times will overwhelm people’s anger and make playing it safe and familiar seem like the more appropriate path. Are the Democrats really going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

There’s no doubt in my mind that Hillary, the more traditional of the two Democratic options, would have known how to beat McCain at his own game – which is why she was my candidate of choice in the first place. But I urgently, sincerely, want to see Obama free us from eight years of dangerous, expensive, damaging idiocy. I hope Obama will recognize this odd and unfortunate turn of events and battle it quickly with stronger, more direct language and descriptions of policy. I hope he will not select John Kerry as his veep, which has been rumored of late. I hope he will deign to fight a little dirtier, whatever that means, if that’s what it takes. And I hope John McCain dozes off with his head in his soup at some major public function. Political times call for desperate measures. And crazy dreams.

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