Saturday, October 04, 2008

DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR DESPERATE MEASURES. OR DO THEY?

It has been a little while since I attempted to handicap the Presidential race in this blog. Most recently, I had effectively declared the race a toss up, after having predicted an Obama victory for months. The fact is that Barack ran a lackluster campaign during most of this summer, and even though he came up with a pair of Kings when he put on a convention in Denver, McCain answered with a pair of Aces when he introduced Sarah Barracuda in St. Paul. At that point, this game was as close to 50/50 as it gets.

But then … we’ve seen one GOP disaster after another. And Barack? He hasn’t had to do anything but watch and get out of the way.

For a guy like me with savings in the Market, it is sad to think that the only way your candidate can open some ground in the polls is for you (and others like you) to lose lots of money. That may, however, be the reality. When McCain declared the “fundamentals” of the economy sound at the same time that things were clearly beginning to fall apart, he revealed himself as being totally worthless when it comes to economics. Don’t get me wrong – I can sympathize. Econ was my first major in college, and though I finished the coursework and even developed a pretty good grasp of microeconomics, the macroeconomic principles were always lost on me. So I’m not so much putting down McCain, as pointing out that at a time like this, no candidate can afford to be exposed as ignorant about what could be the most critical area of the next Presidency.

The truth is that the fundamentals of the economy are anything but sound. And McCain’s excuse for making the statement – that he was talking about the American workforce – is as lame as it gets, for it suggests that he doesn’t know the first thing about economic terminology. That’s right – it suggests that he knows even less than I do about macroeconomics, which would be pathetic.

Still, when I reflect more deeply on the situation, I wonder if the “fundamentals” comment was really what tipped this election. Even had McCain not decided to channel his inner Bush (“Brownie’s doing a heck of a job”) when it comes to the economy, he would still be in a major mess. He has already admitted that he doesn’t understand economics. He hardly seems like an especially quick study. And his decisions to suspend the campaign one day, and drop out of a crucial swing-state a week later, make him look positively panicked. It’s gotten to the point where even Charles Krauthammer – yes, arguably the most conservative columnist who writes for a mainstream newspaper – has praised Barack Obama as being the steady one of the two. As Krauthammer said in yesterday’s Washington Post, after skewering McCain relentlessly, “Obama has “got both a first-class intellect and a first-class temperament. That will likely be enough to make him president.”

Yes, Virginia – that wasn’t written by E.J. Dionne or Eugene Robinson, that was Charles By God Krauthammer. Now, finally, maybe it really is time for McCain to panic.

OK, fine, his troops might say. But what is there exactly to do? McCain is boring in the debates – steady, to be sure, but boring. It will be difficult to use those appearances as vehicles to change the game. What about the secret weapon – the Barracuda? Maybe she can get the job done, right? Well, maybe not. What Charles Gibson hasn’t done to knock her down a few notches, Katie Couric has. And what Couric couldn’t do to twist the knife, that was left to the brilliant Tina Fey. By the time that troika finished with the Barracuda, she was little more than a minnow. And a minnow isn’t nearly powerful enough to take on the extremely impressive debating skills of Joe Biden.

Believe me, folks, Biden was the best debater of all the Democratic candidates in this election cycle. And perhaps that’s why Barack selected him. He may well have developed quite an admiration for the man as being the kind of debater that Barack only wishes he could be.

Mainstream media pundits desperate for a close election may be grasping at something, anything, to keep this race close for the next month, and thereby boost their ratings. But trying to sell the idea that Palin fought Biden to a draw just won’t cut it. Biden may not have knocked Sarah out (and kudos to her for that), but this was no close decision. Give her the first couple of rounds, and give him the last ten. That’s an eight point victory, fight fans. Not a contest.

So then, what’s an old war horse to do? There’s a month left, and seemingly no hope. All the “fundamentals” of this election cycle seem to be tilting blue. Does this mean it’s all over?

What do you think, sports fans? Do you think McCain and Palin are going to go down quietly? We’re not talking about the party of Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis. We’re talking about the party of Karl Rove and Lee Atwater. And they’ve got the ultimate trump card: Barack’s skin color. Heck, it’s not just his skin color. It’s his name, his quasi-Muslim background, and his associations with radical whites and America-hating blacks. The job during the next month will be to turn Barack H. Obama, constitutional law professor, into B. Hussein Osama, radical of the religious-left.

That may indeed be John McCain’s best shot. My question is whether he wants to take it. Remember, folks, this is the Politician-Formerly-Known-As-John-McCain. At one point, he was quite literally the “Prince” of politics. Might it be possible that he will be willing to sling only so much mud? Might it be possible that, in the end, while he may not opt for the high road, he at least might avoid the seventh circle of hell?

I don’t know the answer to that question. But after one McCain/Palin screw up after another … after another … in the month of September, that might be the only question left to answer in October. Actually, no. There is one more question – if McCain does go for the gutter and spend the next month there, might he actually win?

I can’t answer that one either. But I haven’t forgotten the trump card. I’m sure Barack hasn’t either.

8 comments:

Betty C. said...

He's already in the gutter, and has been for some time. It's not working. I honestly think it's over.

Daniel Spiro said...

Betty,

Don't get me wrong, I'd bet heavily on Obama. But I'm not ready to say its over until I see what the GOP comes up with and how Barack responds.

Yesterday, Sarah Palin started taking Barack on for cavorting with terrorists. I just have one more thing to say about Ms. Palin. Remember the movie Fargo? At first, Palin reminded me of Marge Gunderson. Now, she reminds me of the car dealer, Mr. Lindergard. Pure slime.

YoungMan said...

It's not about the gutter,

Questions about "God Damn America" and "I'm not prod of my country" are legitimate. Questions about how me don't become so over-regulated that we turn into a just another pusillanimous dirigiste frenchified eurotrash state are justified. Questioning the association with terrorist Weatherman felons like Ayers and Dohrn is justified.

Obama is wisely not saying much because current events are doing his work for him. We are now getting the bill for Greenspan, and both the Clinton and Bush administrations can share the blame
for that.

Anyone who intreprets the recent shift in the polls as a "mandate" for Obama is a fool, but the "cult" is still populated by fools.

And....its far from over, Dan at least you have the sense to no that unlike some of your other posters

T

Daniel Spiro said...

Youngman,

Don't give me too much credit. I am quite optimistic. And here's why.

Thought there doesn't seem to be a mandate for Obama, there is a clear mandate for significant change, and so far, Obama/Biden has done a much better job than McCain/Palin in demonstrating themselves to be the pro-change ticket.

McCain in 2000 could have given Barack a run for his money; in fact, he'd probably be ahead right now. But this is a new McCain, and a much less coherent McCain. I can't tell whether he's a born again right-winger or merely a panderer, but I don't see how any independent or Democrat could have any confidence in him whatsoever. And Palin is friggen scary. In this part of the country -- and I realize you don't think it's really part of America, but that is to your eternal discredit as an American -- people find her God awful as a VP candidate. McCain would have done so much better if Romney were his running mate. That guy actually understands economics.

Seriously, Palin was a "base" nomination in an election where the GOP needed independent and Democratic support.

But no, it's not over. There's still a ton of time left ... just look at the Indy/Houston game yesterday. Outcomes can change when there's time and the losing side hasn't yet quit.

YoungMan said...

Dan

Also think about this. Had we known we'd be facing what we may be facing, do you really think that Obama would have been the nominee?

Not a chance, not in a hundred billion years; and despite the fact that you've always been in the tank for Obama, I do respect your ability to admit reality. Hillary would have smoked him and you know it.

I am forced to agree with you on Romney; my fear is that no one on either ticket is any sort of economic genius. At least McCain has the ability to check the lunacy of Camp Pelosi (she bears most of the blame for the turmoil of the past seven days but as the rich wife of a SF real estate developer who detests bitter people's guns and religion, what does she care about Wal-Mart America?) where as Obama never deviates from the party line.

T

Betty C. said...

Oh, just when I was having fun in prognosis-land....

"know," not "no" by the way.

Daniel Spiro said...

Would Obama had been the nominee had we known there would be this crisis? Interesting question. Fortunately for those of us who love Obama, we don't have to answer it.

Seriously, it took a strange set of circumstances for a relatively young black man to win the nomination (let alone the election), and if you change too many facts, you'd probably change the outcome. But what happened happened, and now Obama is knocking on the door. (Pretty soon, McCain/Palin will offend even Youngman with their collectively idiocy, if they haven't already.)

I actually think Barack will be a great President, though it might take him a year or two to get the hang of it. If Hillary had won the nomination in the middle of a financial crisis, it would have been based on the argument that she is more ready to take over on Day One. I never seriously disputed that point. Then again, Barack is running to be President for a full eight years, not just for the first eight months. And over an eight year period, he can be excellent.

YoungMan said...

your nuanced non answer to my hillary question was very obamaesque dan; as close to an admission/concession as ill ever get from you in this blog :)