Saturday, February 16, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
Trying to nail down Obama. . .
The only reservation I have in hoping to face Obama in the fall, rather than Hillary, is the fact that the mainstream media will simply refuse to try to draw him out on any policy specifics, allowing him to cruise through the late months of the campaign on the same cushion of platitudes and generalities he has ridden so effectively to where he is now. I still think that's a real possibility, but the existence of the New Media makes it a bit more difficult, now that its print and broadcast counterparts have essentially embraced it in an effort to show that it can (ostensibly) keep up with the times.
Hanson hits on another difficulty that Obama faces in this passage:
But his success seems to have been achieved with a slightly different calculus — 80-90 percent of the African-American vote, elite yuppie whites, and students and Moveon.org progressives.
Of course, the 80-90 percent of the black vote is going to be there for Obama, just as it would be for Clinton, or nearly any other Democrat in the general. In fact, if John McCain could keep that figure down to a paltry 80%, he would be seen as some kind of miracle worker. The MoveOn.org crowd is going to be there for him, as well -- though, I think that movement has already passed the point of diminishing returns, and proves more a risk than a benefit in the long run. Playing too heavily to that crowd in the primaries carries the peril of drawing a candidate into promises that simply cannot be kept. Obama already recognizes that fact as he demonstrated recently in reserving the right "as Commander in Chief to assess the situation." Some MoveOn.orgies will stay home in protest as he edges away from their agenda in the fall, but the vast majority will be there in the end, simply because they have nowhere else to go, and they see this election as their last chance to hand out their impassioned rebuke to the Bush Era.
I'm not absolutely convinced that the white yuppie elites will be all that solid a base for him, however. While a majority of them will likely stick with him, I believe John McCain can peel off a significant number of them through his emphasis on duty and honor -- his call to serve a cause greater than oneself. I get the sense that this is the group among whom there is the greatest amount of dissatisfaction with President Bush over his failure to call upon Americans to sacrifice more in the aftermath of 9/11. I think there's a sense of guilt within that demographic that was only heightened when the president told America to go on living life as we had in the past -- to go shopping, as it were.
John McCain is the very embodiment of the sacrifice they were never called upon to make. The progeny of our nation's military elite, who could easily have chosen a safer, less demanding path chose to charge head-on into battle. And, when captured by the enemy and given the opportunity to benefit from his privilege, he declined in the name of honor, sacrificing life and, quite literally, limb in the process. You can quibble over whether or not guilt is a sound reason to cast a vote for one person over another, but the truth of the matter is, no matter who the white yuppie elite vote for in this election, there will be some measure of self-consciousness at play. McCain has the far more compelling story, and is much more emblematic of the sense of sacrifice that so many of that particular group long to feel.
Finally, Obama is making a gargantuan mistake if he is banking on the student vote. Recent history has demonstrated repeatedly that this group, while easily excited, is virtually immune to inspiration. McCain had his flirtation with this elusive group back in the 2000 primaries. They showed up at the rallies, they showed up at the victory parties, and they showed up at the airports. They just didn't show up at the polls. Al Gore had the same experience, as did Howard Dean. Michael Moore was the emissary to the youth vote on behalf of John Kerry in 2004. While he was virtually ubiquitous on college campuses, and exhorting audiences into the kind of fervor one would expect to see at an Appalachian chapel full of snake-bite survivors, he couldn't quite rouse them from their dorms on Election Day.
In all, there is very good reason for conservatives to be optimistic about Republican chances in 2008, if they will only chose to do so. While McCain may not be the favorite of some, he is obviously the better choice for all. And, given the fact that a mere month ago, no Republican could look ahead to November without a grimace, it's time for conservatives of every stripe to count their blessings. Even though they may not be giddy at the prospect of McCain as their nominee, they will eventually come to recognize that there is less gloom on the horizon now. And, when McCain's coattails begin to boost the prospects of down-ticket conservative candidates, the current grousing will give way to a more cheerful, optimistic conservative party -- just the way Reagan would have it.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
One thing is clear. . .
Obama's biggest advantage over Hillary in the general election is that, where his history is largely a blank slate to many observers, nearly every conservative has a virtual PhD in Clintonology. One need only make a list of all the prominent figures and events of the Clinton administration to have a huge well of opposition research to exploit. Obama's history is relatively obscure -- filled with people and organizations whose names are largely unknown to all but the most diligent of political junkies.
Thankfully, as the nomination slips from her grasp, Hillary can be counted on to do whatever it is that needs to be done to reassert her claim on it. The entire decade of the '90's is strewn with the careers of would-be obstacles to the Clintons' grip on power. There's no reason to believe that she would hold anything back in her resurgence.
So, the question isn't whether or not the Clintons will attempt to destroy Obama. The only question is whether or not Democrats will allow them to. It could very well be that any attempt to savage the "Walking, Talking Hope Machine" will backfire by reminding Democratic voters of all that Clintonism represents, including all that was required of them in the name of loyalty. After all, it's one thing to invite the drunken brother-in-law to the family reunion. It's entirely another to invite him to the next one after he embarrassed the whole family the first time around -- particularly if he's already exhibiting the kind of behavior that created the initial embarrassment.
Both candidates have extraordinarily glaring weaknesses, and either one is imminently beatable. The biggest difference is that, with one, we know what kind of political knife fighting to expect. With the other, we have to do battle with The Riddler.
UPDATE: The creator of the above image was kind enough to stop by and leave a comment. As a result, I can give full credit to Cibbuano at moviecritic.com.au. Cheers!
And just like that. . .
Here are a couple of photos of some of the damage at my parents' home, just about a half mile from where I live:
As you can see, there's a lot of work to be done. To quote our president in the year 2000, "Anybody need any firewood?"
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
An ice storm. . .
next few days, or so. As a result, I won't be able to do any blogging,
except for very brief posts via Blackberry. Hopefully, it won't be
more than a week.
Sent from Gmail for mobile | mobile.google.com
Monday, February 11, 2008
Let this be a warning. . .
Growing up, if I had eaten that way at the dinner table, I would have been given the treatment normally accorded to wayward mobsters by way of the Louisville Slugger. And with good reason.
So, if you know what's good for you, you will stop this noisome business.
The coming surge. . .
Here's a web site containing the slate of Republican Iraq vets currently running for congressional seats.
UPDATE: H/T Brian Faughnan @ Worldwide Standard
Sunday, February 10, 2008
A culture of individualism. . .
Ross Douthat's piece in today's New York Times, The Republican Reformation, discusses this phenomenon, and covers it about as well as it can be covered in so few words.
However, I think it's premature to label the rise of McCain a reformation or even a rebellion. Rather, I think it's a natural consequence of the proliferation of blogs and other outlets for conservative discussion.
I remember a time not so long ago when, even on sites such as my favorite, Lucianne.com, to disagree with Rush Limbaugh was to run the risk of being cast out of the tribe for heresy. For many years, Limbaugh was seen as The Grand Poobah of conservatism. He's still considered the ultimate standard in the talk radio medium, and rightly so. He owns the market, for all intents and purposes.
But, something happened in 2004 which changed the course of conservatism. We've heard the story countless times, but it's well worth remembering just how much of an impact one man with a computer, sitting at home in his pajamas, can make. The reverberations of that impact are still being felt to this day.
While it would be a mistake to overestimate the influence that blogs per se have had in McCain's ascent, I would submit that the proliferation of blogs has had a cultural effect within the conservative movement that helped to foster McCain's success. While the conservative blogosphere itself is fairly hostile to him, McCain has benefited from its existence.
What the blogosphere has established is that there is room for dissent within the conservative movement, and that everyone isn't simply entitled to merely having an opinion. Conservatives of every stripe are now growing ever more comfortable with developing their own opinions and expressing them. When conservatives see guys like David Frum and Ramesh Ponnuru have vigorous back-and-forths over what direction conservatism should take in order to remain a viable ideology, with neither of them having their credentials called into question, it's only natural to say to ourselves, "OK, well here's what I think about it all, and until you can demonstrate otherwise, it's every bit as valid as what the big guys are saying."
Everyday conservatives now have opportunities to participate in the discussion, rather than simply listen to and read what is being told to them by establishment conservative gatekeepers. Every time they launch their web browsers and set out in search of the latest in conservative thought, they find a broad array of ideas, many of which are in direct conflict with one another. It only makes sense that, over time, people will come to the conclusion that, in spite of what the big-name pundits and media mavens would have them believe, no one has a monopoly on being right.
So, a person might listen to a two or three hours of talk radio and say to themselves, "Well, that was entertaining. But, you know, I read a different opinion the other day that made a lot of sense to me." And, when you have on one hand folks like Ingraham and Hannity fulminating about the dire consequences of having someone like McCain at the top of the ticket, and on the other hand folks like Ramesh Ponnuru and Victor Davis Hanson, whose credentials are every bit as valid, saying something entirely different, a person can hardly be blamed for taking a skeptical view of the armed mob.
The talk show biggies and some conservative activists might want to stand down and consider that the conservative movement they profess to be protecting from the McCains and Huckabees of the world might turn from the Grand Old Party into the Donner Party if they continue to insist on dragging it in a direction in which it's not ready to be led.