Friday, September 12, 2008

Everyone Has A Right To be Neurotic...

...Not Just Democrats

God knows Democrats have reason to be neurotic.

After the incompetence of 2004, the theft of 2000, the fecklessness of 1988, the despair of 1984, the mugging of 1980, the near inconceivability of 1972 and the crushing disappointment of 1968, they have acquired a not unreasonable resistance to confidence and aplomb.

Gloominess and foreboding are now part of the Democratic DNA. They smile on occasion, when instructed to smile, but in general they sulk like temperamental, hormonally imbalanced teenagers. Oh Jesus, oh Christ, they brood … we're about to lose another one.

And sure enough, the prevailing environmental winds of 2008 are no damn different.

Yes, of course it's exasperating, even infuriating, that George W. McCain could be running neck and neck in the national polls with any Democratic opponent after eight tormenting years of John S. Bush. After all, in a sane world, even Dennis Kucinich would be running 20 points ahead, and accumulating more every day.

Yet here we are, almost unbelievably, neck and neck indeed. So, predictably, as this two-year presidential campaign stumbles into the final stretches, the Sturm und Drang of Democratic defeatism once again takes center stage.

Look, by nature -- or, as I prefer to believe, by historical training -- I'm a happy cynic and confirmed pessimist. But this time around, anyway, I think that rumors of the Democratic candidate's sure and coming demise are thoughtlessly preceding the reality of the situation.

In the first place, running neck and neck in the national polls barely means a thing. No doubt, the polls are fun and interesting to follow and analyze and either cheer or wring one's hands over, depending on their ascending or descending trend, and in the very broadest sense of analysis they do provide some leading indications. But as the leading indicator of the election's outcome, they suck.

Because, simply, we don't hold a national election for the presidency. That's easy to forget, since people like me tend to belabor the unreal, but at least every now and then, rather than popping another antidepressant we should remind ourselves of the (idiotic) electoral-college basis for electing a president.

And then, having done that, consider this: If Barack Obama were to merely hold on to John Kerry's marvelously blue states of 2004 (and given the almost sclerotic polarization of American politics, there's little reason to doubt he will), but in addition pick up only the state of Ohio -- where he happens to be running somewhat consistently about five points ahead -- then Barack Obama will win.

That, in itself, should facilitate one's easier sleep. But there are other reasons for cautious optimism, as well.

Chief among them is the wretched dyspepsia of Obama's opponents. Hey, they've seen the internal, state-by-state polls, which in turn reflect the handwriting on the walls of at least 20 game-winning states plus the District of Columbia, which in further turn have turned McCain-Palin visibly sour, ill natured and nasty. And the nastier they get, the clearer the evidence of their troubles.

If anything should legitimately worry, it's the presidential debates.

Obama is unsteady, at best, at that particular racket. That's an odd fact of life for such a once-upon-a-time promising law student; he must have been dozing during moot court sessions or worrying about the next edition of the Law Review, but it's a fact nevertheless. Plus, reason, logic and a splendidly argued case in these debates guarantee not a winner, as we know all too depressingly well.

And God forbid he should at any point sigh. Please, please keep that in mind, Sen. Obama -- the future of Christendom and Western Civilization itself hang in your respiratory balance.

But, all that remains to be seen.

What does not remain to be seen any longer, however, is whether Obama intends to do what so many have so adamantly urged him to do: go on the bloody offense.

As the New York Times headlines it today: "Senator Barack Obama will intensify his assault against Senator John McCain … beginning [this] morning…. The new tone is to be presented in a speech by Mr. Obama in New Hampshire and in television interviews with local stations in five swing states, backed up by new advertisements [whose 'themes will be pay equity for women'] and appearances across the country by supporters."

The Obama campaign argues that the fresh offensive was in the works all along -- that in its prescripted playbook was the "strategy that called for a steady escalation of attacks on Mr. McCain as the race heads toward the debates."

Whether it's doing what it's now doing through pressure or premeditation, I frankly couldn't care less. The important thing is, the campaign now clearly plans to finish this contest with guns blazing.

Obama's favorite film is "The Godfather," and in a favorite film is often a key to that person's psyche. Perhaps you recall to what end Michael stealthily lay in wait for his final "counter-argument."

For personal questions or comments you can contact him at


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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

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