Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Maverick Lucks Out (So Far)

The Intelligent Designer appears to have smiled favorably upon his servant John the Maverick, perhaps to thank him for choosing Sarah Barracuda, one of His own. The ID has decided to whack New Orleans again sooner rather than later, allowing the GOP to cancel speeches by Dick Cheney and the Bush boy, the last people Maverick McCain wants to be seen with. Thanks to His timing, the Leaders of the Free World will be “too busy” doing “a heck of a job” to make it to Saint Paul. But this Gustav thing makes for a tricky situation, and it isn’t at all clear that the Republicans will come out of it looking good. They might not be up to the task any more than Sarah Palin is up to the task for which she has been Chosen. God is a Republican but He still only helps those who help themselves – with a little help, of course, from His (and their) friends, the forces of repression and, as the elder Mayor Daley famously put it, (dis)order. On the latter, see Glenn Greenwald's latest in

What Kinds of Idiots Do They Think Democrats Are?

First class, obviously. And why not? Democrats, not just the Clintons, have been known to glorify Ronald Reagan and claim that they hold him in high esteem, and there are Democrats who voted for George Bush – not just in 2000, when he seemed harmless enough, but even in 2004. And, of course, Democrats still support the people whom they voted into office in 2006, and who then betrayed their hopes faster than a speeding bullet. But are there Democrats who will vote for McCain because he picked Sarah Palin? The idea boggles the mind.

It has been reported, since McCain’s announcement, that Papa Doc Bush (of “voodoo economics” fame) picked J. Danforth Quayle to run with him because his advisors thought putting someone dumb and “cute” on the ticket would close the gender gap. [I thought he did it to insure that no one would try to assassinate him.] Quayle of course was many times more suited to the office than Palin is, but he too was a fly weight and a laughing stock. Closing the gender gap by nominating her, an anti-abortion almost beauty queen, is so over the top, even by Republican standards, that it defies credibility. Are there really benighted supporters of Slick Willy’s wife who only want a candidate who has a vagina? Although I cede to no one, except perhaps McCain, in holding Hillary fans in contempt, I don’t think so.

It could be, of course, that the doddering “maverick” and his handlers are just doing what their “guts” tell them to do, following Baby Doc’s precedent. If so, McCain’s gut must have been suffering from a profound case of indigestion the other day. At his age, it is not unlikely. However I don’t think this is what happened. I think McCain’s handlers, if not the candidate himself, have reasons. They are desperate and stupid reasons, but reasons nonetheless.

The prattle about disgruntled Hillary voters is a red herring. Palin was picked to placate the GOP’s useful idiots – the gun totin’, environment spoilin’, Christian Taliban. Palin is, as Pat Buchanan put it, a “new young Republican.” She is what happens when a mediocre and “conservatively” inclined but perky journalism major (with a minor in political science) grows up. Were she a few years older, she might have decided, after reproducing in copious quantities, to home school her brood and do as the Lord requires by minding her husband and staying home to pick up after him. But, as with others who grew up in the Age of High Reaganism, she gave in to the “maverick” in her. With the much more senior “maverick’s” handlers having a hard time making the label stick, and with the useful idiots threatening to stay home in November or even defect, Sarah Palin was, as it were, a godsend.

Don’t get me wrong. I still believe that Maria Shriver (Kennedyesque, media-friendly, “bipartisan” and “experienced” by First Ladyhood) should have been Obama’s VP, and not just because then the Terminator turned Kindergarten Cop would have become the Second Lady, Lynn Cheney’s worthy successor. I’m therefore no enemy of dadaesque politics, and I’m not stuck on distractions, like relevant experience. But the Palin selection leaves a foul taste. From governor of a barely populated and distant state (for less than two years) and nominal leader of the Alaska National Guard to commander in chief is too much even for me. Oh, and did I mention that she played girls’ basketball in High School where she was known as “the Barracuda? How scrappy!

Leave it to John McCain to select someone to be one heartbeat away who knows nothing and cares less about war and peace and geopolitics and economics (except as it affects Big Oil) and on and on. Leave it to the geezer, the cancer survivor.

To be sure, as some Fox News clown reported, she knows enough about Russia, having lived across the Bering Straits from it. And unlike Obama and Biden, she has had “executive experience.” [Of course, McCain has had no more of that than Obama or Biden have, but who’s counting?] Better her perhaps than her co-thinker – or, rather, her would be co-thinker, if she had any thoughts -- Dick Cheney. But still. It’s not a happy or constructive flirtation with the absurd. It’s the kind that makes sensible people feel ill.

There is a silver lining, though; Palin's selection has brought out the best in Maureen Dowd, and it will be good for comedians for weeks to come. No longer will Steven Colbert have to struggle to find ways to make McCain’s boringness funny. Who knows – soon Alaska jokes, or maybe moose jokes, will be all the rage. Too bad for Alaska; too bad for Bullwinkle.

It will boost the ratings of the coming VP debate too. No doubt, McCain’s advisors are savvy enough not to let the former Miss Wasilla go on stage with the immortal words of H. Ross Perot’s pick for VP: “who am I? why am I here?” But when she’s up there with Joe Biden and she starts in again about how her candidacy is like Hillary’s, who will stop Mr. Acela [that’s the name of the AMTRAK train he allegedly rides home every night] from saying “I know Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton is my friend, and you, Missy, are no Hillary Clinton.” For Plagiarism Joe, the temptation will be too much.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Does Pandering Know No Bounds?

Lets not forget, before attention shifts entirely away from the POP, the Party of Pusillanimity (and Pelosiites) to the GOP, the party of hockey moms and doddering dodo war mongers, that the Democrats’ infomercial, like the one in store for the Republicans, was as much a vehicle for corporate influence through corporate sponsorship as it was a way to electioneer for Barack Obama. Lets not forget either how intent Obama and Company are to pander to the interests that govern the Democratic Party and that will constrain his presidency. Case in point: they couldn’t make nice enough to the Clintons. But Jimmy Carter, a better former President and a far better human being, was barely allowed a walk across the stage. Why? Well, remember he wrote a pro-Israel book that dared state the obvious about the occupation of Palestine. It was sub-titled “Peace, Not Apartheid.” If anyone doubts that this is what did him in, check out what The Jewish Daily Forward has to say about it. Carter, by the way, was gracious in explaining the cancellation of his speech. Would that those disgruntled Hillary supporters were equally so. But niceness is never rewarded; only obstreperous. Theirs has been so vocal that it even caught the attention of the otherwise clueless John McCain. The result: a few ridiculous ads, and now the even more ridiculous selection of Sarah Palin.

The Fly Weight Pick, Part 2

On John McCain’s pick of the former Miss Wasilla, Alaska to be his VP, Joe Conason has it about right in this morning’s Note especially his citation of Reagan’s remark on Walter Mondale’s appointment of Geraldine Ferraro. It’s one of the rare instances where the Gipper got it right. We were reminded of this a few months ago when Ferraro declared herself to be one of those disgruntled Hillary supporters. However, compared to this rightwing hockey mom, Ferraro was, and perhaps still is, a woman of substance.

Note: I couldn’t figure out yesterday why right-wing pundits (Pat Buchanan, for example, on MSNBC) and the spinmeisters on “liberal” NPR were praising Palin’s fertility (she has been fruitful and multiplied five times), and especially why they were so intent on pointing out that the last of her brood has Downs Syndrome. I hope those allegedly multitudinous disgruntled Hillary supporters aren’t as slow as I was: it’s anti-abortion, stupid.

The spinmeisters were also gleeful about how the neophyte governor (of a sparsely populated state of which most Americans, but not Big Oil, know little) is just plain folks because she drives a Jetta to work. That should go over big with auto workers in Michigan.

The McCain campaign isn’t just stupid; it’s grotesquely, surrealistically stupid. I can’t see how even born-to-lose Democrats can’t trounce them or how Bush voters or those clueless “independents” we hear so much about could even consider voting for that doddering, blood thirsty fool. As an undecided voter (Nader or McKinney), it gives me hope that I won’t be frightened into having to vote for Barack Obama, a neo-Clintonite until proven otherwise, to keep the menace of McCain at bay.

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain Picks Fly Weight Sarah Palin

In the fly weight department, it takes one to select one. Does that doddering old war monger and superannuated napalm dropper really think that disgruntled Hillary supporters and “independents” will go for an anti-feminist (= anti-abortion) beauty queen, who could be mistaken for a late night cable news anchor, and whose “experience” consists in being the mayor of a town with fewer than 10,000 people, Wasilla, Alaska, and then a governor of that distant state (pop. = approx. 670,000) for less than two years? Evidently, the man is either desperate or nuts or both.

The choice of a right-wing “hockey mom” is surreal, but not nearly as surreal as the prattling of the spinmeisters who claim McCain “hit a home run” with this choice. Please, Biden, when you debate her, nail her good, but don’t come off like you did with Anita Hill! McCain doesn’t need the white bread sympathy vote.

What could geezer McCain have been thinking? Who knows! The only sure thing is that, in less than 24 hours, John McCain succeeded in moving discussions of the impending election from the (meretriciously) sublime in the aftermath of Obama’s acceptance speech, to the outright ridiculous.

Now It's In God's Hands

Most everybody in Denver did their job as well as could be; Barack Obama especially. The Great Inspirer inspired, saying enough about the “change” Obamamaniacs believe in to allay charges of utter vacuity. Notwithstanding the wishful thinking of those Obamamaniacs, what he had in mind was always clear. Obama’s “change” is the same old, same old, delivered, however, with competence, style and pizzazz. In Obama, we have a (chaste and faithful) “post-racial” JFK for the twenty-first century.

Poor old doddering John McCain. He and his handlers have to placate Republicans who still like Dick Cheney and George Bush, without driving everyone else into the Democrats’ waiting (“bipartisan,” “responsible”) arms. Moreover, he can’t openly diss a sitting Republican President – especially one with whom, as everyone now knows, he agrees more than 90% of the time. What to do?

That’s where the Div comes in. That mean spirited, not particularly intelligent Designer is about to hurl some of His hurricanes back onto the Gulf Coast, perhaps even to have another go at New Orleans, the city He and his pal George all but destroyed three years ago. Timing is all. If He holds off a bit, Bush and Cheney will show up in Saint Paul as scheduled, reminding the world of what they hath wrought. But that will only happen if God too is ready for “change.” On the other hand, if the Perfect Being is a loyal Republican, as most Americans used to assume, He’ll lash out before the GOP convention gets going, handing McCain’s handlers a reason to cancel Cheney and Bush without overtly offending the true believers among them. We’ll know soon enough which it is to be. It’s in God’s hands.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Touch of Class

The Clintons are not lacking in political skills. Whether out of self interest or for “higher” motives, Hillary’s motion to nominate Barack Obama by acclamation, though announced beforehand, was dramatic and classy; and Bill’s speech was generous and unequivocal. Obama has exceptional political skills too, as evidenced by his very “cool” appearance on stage after Joe Biden’s acceptance speech. All in all, Day Three was not half bad. But, again, you’d hardly know it if you didn’t watch it uninterrupted by media clowns interviewing each other – the stock and trade of the cable networks, PBS, and, after 10:00 when they have only local news to preempt, the broadcast networks too.

Joe Biden’s speech had its moments as well; at times, in talking about “the middle class” – “working class” seldom crosses the lips of mainstream Democrats -- it rose to the level of a John Edwards stump speech. However, when he turned to his purported area of expertise, foreign policy, Biden revealed his true nature and, not incidentally, the shortcomings of Obama’s policies in relation to the former Soviet Union (Georgia, NATO expansion) and the former Yugoslavia. Fortunately, he spared us his views on Israel and Cuba. For Democrats now, being on the wrong side in parts of the world where influential lobbies are involved is so manifestly “obvious” that it doesn’t even bear mention.

Much was made of Biden’s authorship of the Violence Against Women Act. Was he doing penance for his treatment of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings? Or did he do it just to get back his public relations credibility with women voters? The commentators commenting on whatever they could find to fill the time, couldn’t find time to ponder that. Nor could they find time to discuss Biden’s profoundly shameful support for legislation supporting the credit card industry in 2005 – legislation that makes it harder for the people he claims to advocate for to escape the scourge of the twenty-first century’s version of debt peonage.

There has been some speculation, in marginal media circles, that Biden shilled for MBNA (now part of Bank of America) and other credit card companies because his son Hunter was a lobbyist for the industry; that it was a “family values” thing. I wouldn’t know. Thanks to Delaware’s unusually corporate friendly laws, many of the worst perps, MBNA included, are his constituents. But I must say that the family values theme is getting a little over the top. Praise for Biden, the family man, is too. This isn’t a country where train travel is swift and easy. Having had some experience with AMTRAK, I’m skeptical that he really did commute between DC and Wilmington every day – not if he did a full day’s work at the Senate. In any case, it has been many years since he had children to tuck in each night. Why must the Democrats’ public relations apparatus still make such a big deal of it!

[Some twenty years ago, at the University of Pennsylvania, I taught one of Biden’s sons. I’m not sure which one, but I think it was Beau. [Needless to say, “Beau” isn’t how he was listed on the roster.] It was a large class and the only reason I’m aware he was in it is that the TA, half seriously thinking he might be a chip off the old block, made a big deal of watching him for plagiarism. I take no credit for the fact that Beau went on to become the Attorney General of Delaware; I suspect his last name had more to do with it. As everyone knows, he’s a member of a Delaware National Guard unit that is about to ship off to Iraq. Insofar as he chose to be in this position, he made a bad choice. No one should voluntarily fight for Cheney and Bush. But at least he is true to the Obamaite-Bidenite dedication to end the war “responsibly.” That’s a mistaken position, of course; the war should be ended immediately by defunding it. But it’s the position “anti-war” Democrats take – despite what the people who voted for them in 2006 with a view to ending the war, and who will do it again in 2008, want. Democrats are too wedded to the interests that sustain American imperialism to go further than that. Thus they remain lesser evils only, not vehicles for “change.” Could there be any clearer example of this: Biden’s Beau, having made something of his life (with a little help, not from his teachers, but from his father and his father’s friends) shipping out to Iraq, while those terminally silly Bush girls. following in their father’s footsteps, continue doing whatever it is they do.]

Finally, all the talk about what a “good man” John McCain is is getting to be too much. If I may be permitted to plagiarize Biden’s apt comment on Rudy G’s constant harping on 9/11, all that comes out of McCain’s mouth these days is a noun, a verb and his years as a POW. Would that our “national security” Democrats would talk about the “judgment” that got McCain into that situation. It’s not the judgment of a “good man.” McCain volunteered to bomb people fighting for national liberation and against imperialism, and to drop napalm on them. Even Bill Clinton had the good sense to “remain viable within the system” without doing that. McCain was not a good man then, and, as the torchbearer of the Cheney/Bush/Rumsfeld “vision,” he’s even less of a good man now. Even if the Democrats won’t do it, their constituents, the people the Democrats are geared up to betray, should not let McCain off scot free, any more than volunteers to the Waffen SS should get a free pass. McCain’s sorry ass got kicked once for being on the wrong side; we should do it to him again.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day Two

You’d never know it unless you saw the convention streamed live or watched it on C-SPAN, but, on Day Two, some of the speakers had a spark or two – but still not fire – in their bellies. The cable and broadcast networks were too busy “opining” to show much of it. What they showed instead, if only by example, was that being good at getting it wrong – and at dumbing down – is a mainstream media job qualification.

And, of course, they showed Hillary’s much awaited speech. She was on script and her delivery was “sincere.” Compared to yesterday’s blandness, it was a high point. The instant assessment from the pundits, reiterated the morning after, is that the party is now, finally “unified.” That’s a good thing, I suppose – what with John McCain menacing. But if only that speech of Hillary’s were her last hurrah! Instead, the pundits agree: she can now become the next Ted Kennedy. As valley girls used to say in the early days of the (still continuing) Age of Reagan – “gag me with a spoon.”

There is still hope, however, that his speech tonight, on Day Three, will be the last hurrah for Bill. After all, it was he, not his official wife, who was the perpetrator of crimes against humanity (murderous sanctions) and crimes against the peace (wanton, “humanitarian” military adventures). Neither should Bill Clinton – and Hillary too, if she wants to claim her tenure as First Lady as “experience” -- be forgiven for completing Ronald Reagan’s work and preparing the ground for Dick Cheney’s and the Bush boy’s. None of this dawns on Democrats, except the handful of genuine progressives among them, or on the so-called journalists who tell us what the news is. Hillary gave a good speech; perhaps the best so far at the Denver infomercial. She did what she was supposed to do; she came to the aid of the party, the POP, the Party of Pusillanimity (or, what comes to the same thing, Pelosiites). But the fact remains: it’s the politics, stupid.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Day One

I hate to agree with any corporate pundit, especially one who is also a rabid Clinton functionary, but I have to concede that James Carville, commenting (actually emoting) on CNN, got it right: if the Democrats had a “message” to convey last night, they kept it well hidden. Hardly a word about the Bush wars or the economic crisis or much of anything else – including, especially and remarkably, race. Instead, it was all about “character” and feeling good. That might have been OK if the Democrats had it in them to go “negative”: if it was John McCain’s or George Bush’s or Dick Cheney’s characters that were the issue. But instead it was all about what a nice guy Barack Obama is, and how he’s just plain folks. In the usual surfeit of liberal civility, Bush and Company hardly came up.

What redeemed the evening, just a little, was the Ted Kennedy tribute, followed by his appearance on stage and his speech about health care and ending the war in Iraq. He was about the only one even to mention such things. It recalled the slightly less saccharine liberalism of the good old days. Michelle Obama’s speech and the theatrics around it made good entertainment too. The pundits claim she did what she had to do to put the “elitism” charge to rest, and perhaps they’re right again. The Obama children were icing on the cake, especially when one of them pointed out, as no pundit did (so far as I know), that their daddy, when he appeared on a giant TV screen, calling in from Kansas City, didn’t seem to know where he was – he said he was in Saint Louis. No doubt, that was just a McCain moment. Michelle Obama’s speech had its down moments, though. Needless to say, they were amply praised by the conveyors of conventional wisdom. To her credit, she was a little less churchy than her husband has been of late, but the shout out to Hillary was contrived and over the top, and so was the “patriotic” drivel and the praise for “the troops.” In sync with Joe Biden, she added gratuitously that those troops had to be brought home “responsibly.” In a contest between war mongers and war Democrats, obviously the Democrats are less bad. But must they betray their supporters so flagrantly, and must their supporters praise them for doing it!

Last night was just boring; because the Clintons are coming, the next two nights promise to be both boring and nauseating. Worse still, their supporters will be on TV in force. It’s good for the ratings, I suppose. Lately, they’ve been calling themselves PUMAs; the expression stands for Party Unity My Ass. It’s a good name and right on. But leave it to the Democrats for its purveyors to come from the party’s right. Would that the party’s left were enough enlightened and enough organized to demand only as much party unity as is necessary for ridding the country and the world of the menace of a John McCain presidency; and would that that left were prepared to join forces after the election with Nader and McKinney supporters who cannot countenance Obama’s Clintonism. Otherwise, the coming Obama administration will wallow more outside the realm of decency than need be. Decency is the best we can hope for from Obama, given that no one who is not thoroughly marginalized dares question the basic structure of the regime. But decency is not to be despised, especially in comparison with the criminality of the Bush government and its certain continuation should John McCain win. Obama probably can be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the realm of the decent; as I’ve speculated before, he probably knows better than the politics he evinces. But it won’t happen so long as the order of the day is making nice to the Clintons and getting in line with Joe Biden.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Festival of Sleaze

Lenin called revolutions “festivals of the oppressed.” Despite his campaign’s endless prattle about “change,” Barack Obama’s ascendance to the presidency – an outcome all but guaranteed unless he throws the election, as Democrats are wont to do – is no revolution, and the Denver infomercial about to begin is no festival of the oppressed either. It is a festival of the sleaziest of the corporations who rule us. As in Beijing, whoever doesn’t like it can go stew in a free speech zone.

It’s not a revolution, but there are intra-ruling class changes afoot even so. Expect Big Oil to be more out than under Cheney/Bush, and expect key sectors of Wall Street to be more than ever in. The credit card industry has a special reason to rejoice. Their leading patron, Joe Biden, is about to find himself one heartbeat away.

How fitting that the event should be held in a building named for Pepsi Cola. For generations now, the Democrats have played Pepsi to the Republicans’ Coke. How fitting too that the ceremonies will be presided over by Nancy Pelosi – exemplar par excellence of those who talk the talk (within strict limits, of course) while doing their utmost not to walk the walk their constituents elected them to do. If it comes down to choosing between those constituents or being good imperialists, Pelosiite Democrats will go for the Empire every time, even if it means aiding and abetting nincompoops like George Bush. That’s why Speaker Nancy took impeachment “off the table,” and why bringing such manifest criminals as Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rice and the rest to justice is not even part of our political discourse today.

Expect the Democrats, under Obama-Biden, to follow Bill Clinton’s example in the aftermath of Iran/Contra. Expect them, in other words, to just forget about it. Their motto might be – “immunity per tutti.” The telecom companies were only the first beneficiaries. The criminal clique that has occupied the White House for the past eight years is going to get away with murder – countless murders – along with more violations of international law than a Democrat can shake a stick at.

* *

Because we are about to witness a festival of sleaze, the conventional wisdom mongers will be in their element. NPR has become so mind numbing that, unless one pays pecial attention, it’s hard to tell one “senior correspondent” from another. That’s why I didn’t catch who it was who praised Obama’s selection of Biden on the grounds that Obama takes care of the “change” voters, while Biden will provide mainstream credibility.

Credibility indeed! Biden is a corporate flunky and a pushover when it comes to Republicans foisting right wing judges upon us. His record on the Senate Judiciary Committee is borderline shameful. But his foreign policy acumen, his strong suit according to the Cokie Robertses of the world, is a joke. Yes, Biden is credentialed in foreign policy insofar as long incumbency in the Senate confers credentials. But long incumbency hasn’t made him smart, any more than Condoleezza Rice’s incumbency in various academic positions – her “major” was the Soviet Union, no less -- made her anything more than an inept bungler, as we witness yet again in the still smoldering (formerly Soviet) Georgia crisis.

Georgia is one of many areas in which there is hardly any space between our two official parties, thanks in large part to Joe Biden’s support for extending NATO to Russia’s borders. Georgia became an American “project,” as the Russians say, under Bill Clinton, though the situation has only gotten worse under the watch of Condoleezza Rice. In this, she was aided by John McCain, who is so wedded to the neocon idea of sticking it to the Russians that his campaign’s chief foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, is actually a registered lobbyist for the Georgian regime. Yet all Obama can think to do is utter vacuous words about “complexity” and “diplomacy.’ With Biden on the ticket, no one should harbor any illusions that he means anything by them.

Biden buys into the reigning Democratic narrative, which is also essentially the reigning Republican narrative, lock, stock and barrel – on Russia and the former Soviet Union, on the Middle East (for him, Israel can do no wrong), on Africa and Latin America. When he does deviate, it is almost always for the worst – as when he proposed breaking up Iraq into three federated states. In short, he’s a dunce, notwithstanding the conventional wisdom according to which he gives Obama foreign policy “cred.”

I suspect – or is it just a vain hope? – that Obama actually knows better, but that it is easier for him, and more “politic,” to keep his good sense a secret. But I’m not so foolish as to think that he will reveal his better self once he parks himself in the Oval Office. It is better, I suppose, to be a “liberal internationalist,” as the pundits call Biden, out of necessity rather than conviction. But not much; not when the (corporate) party, about to flare up again in Denver, never ends

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Sunny Side

The Big Tease and, for progressives, the death (of hope) watch is over, not that there ever was much hope: Joe Biden, the “Plagiarism Joe” of yesteryear, will be Obama’s VP. The conventional wisdom would have it that Biden is long winded and that he talks first and thinks later. True enough. But his main fault is that, even more than Obama (but not more than the Clintons), he represents everything that is putrid in our political culture’s lesser evil: the moral and intellectual shallowness of the Democratic Party and, more generally, of contemporary American liberalism.

But there is a sunny side: now Joe Biden won’t be Secretary of State.

Biden’s selection also clarifies a point that was never seriously in doubt: Obama is not a candidate of genuine, progressive change – except in the sense that he doesn’t look like the others on the money. That’s not a difference to be despised, and Biden can be useful for promulgating the idea that, as he put it early on, Obama is attractive and “articulate.” Voters with overt or latent racist attitudes need to hear that if the electorate is to hand the doddering former napalmist war-monger John McCain, the neocons’ best hope for continuing the Dick Cheney “vision,” his just deserts. Otherwise, Obama’s choice only confirms, yet again, that the “change” he would promote is of the plus ça change (plus c’est la même chose) variety – that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hillary for VP?

Reportedly, that’s what Ralph Nader thinks will happen. It would be the Kennedyesque thing to do, after all: to join forces with one’s very own LBJ. It wouldn’t be the end of the world either; compared to Biden, Bayh, or Kaine, Hillary almost looks good. [I still think Maria Shriver would be a better choice, if only so that Arnold might become the Second Lady. But don’t count on Obama thinking that far outside the box.]

It’s another opportunity missed. Thanks to George Bush and Dick Cheney and their wars, we had a chance this year genuinely to change course -- somewhat. There was even a candidate, John Edwards, who might have led the charge. [Who knew, while the primaries were on, that had he won the primaries, a Clintonesque fling with a New Age floozy would most likely, do him in – notwithstanding the fact that, years ago, John McCain behaved even more unconscionably towards his own distressed wife, when he flung with the beer distributor’s daughter who’s been funding him ever since?] What became clear by Super Tuesday was that that opportunity was missed; that, in 2008, voters will only again have the chance to do what they failed to do in 2004 -- replace a criminal clique of manifest incompetents with competent, mainstream stewards of a declining empire.

Even so, Obama was the better choice over Hillary – not because his politics are better, they’re about the same, but because he was good for edging the Clintons off the political stage and perhaps also for dispatching some of their more dreadful functionaries. [Already, it’s clear that that is not going to happen.] There was even a chance, albeit a slim one, that, if we the people were to rise to our historic responsibilities, Clintonism too might fade away under an Obama administration – to be replaced by something a little less “liberal” Republican. If Nader is right -- if, as a Caroline advisee, Obama waxes Kennedyesque in his VP selection -- then it will increase the likelihood that that opportunity too will be missed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Savor the Moments

When it comes to conveying inside tips, The New York Times is usually reliable. This was the case when it helped prepare the country for the war in Iraq, and it is probably the case now with the Obama campaign. This is why I am now inclined to believe that I was wrong, that contrary to the principle established by Keith Olbermann and his band of pundits, that anyone already slated to speak in Denver is out, Obama is likely to pick one of the three reported “front runners”: Joe Biden, Tim Kaine or, worst of all, Evan Bayh. The choice of any one of them would be of a piece with Obama’s recent (post-primary) turn even farther to the right, his abject pandering to Hillary diehards, and his overt expressions of debased, suburbanite religiosity.

One has to marvel at the genius of our institutions. Not only do they offer little space for candidates to betray their constituencies’ hopes – since those hopes hardly have a chance to be articulated in our duopolistic party system – but they encourage such betrayals as there can be to take place before, not after, victorious candidates take charge. In this respect, the victories “anti-war” Democrats scored in 2006 were an exception, as was LBJ’s 1964 landslide victory over Barry Goldwater.

Where Obama is concerned, the betrayals are already well underway. However, for the next day or two, before the VP choice is announced, we still have a moment to savor because we still have a slender reed to which to cling. After all, maybe The Times is wrong: maybe Obama will fool everyone and look left.

There’s another such moment in the offing too – in the afterglow of the speech Obama will deliver when he accepts the Democratic nomination. It will be a truly “historic” moment, as we’ll be reminded countless times, delivered on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s iconic “I have a dream” speech. Obama will likely be up to the task: if nothing else, his oratorical skills are indeed “inspiring.” It’s just his (Clintonite) politics that leave everything to be desired. Most likely, his VP’s politics will too. But, for the next day or two, the dream goes on – as it will briefly again the weekend after next.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Prelude at Saddleback

The holiday (his and ours) is over. He’s back – not from Heaven, but from Hawaii, its earthly approximation -- to test the faith of those who see Him as more than just the lesser evil. The test starts tonight at an Orange County mega-church, where Obama and the increasingly hapless John McCain will field questions from godly parishioners and from the Reverend Rick Warren, their mountebank. A Google search on Warren reveals that he’s one of the most influential men in Christendom. Before I found that out, I had been blessed – I’d never heard of him. Anyway, it seems that, compared to other snake oil salesmen, he’s not too Republican. He even invited Obama to his mega-church before – to the consternation of many in his flock and over the objections of some of his rivals for the hearts and minds and wallets of the deluded. The problem, that time, was that Obama is pro-choice. No problem for Reverend Rick. Could it be that we are entering a post-Falwell Age? It wouldn’t be a minute too soon. Even Nixon’s buddy, Billy Graham, was starting to look good.

Anyway, between now and the looming infomerical in Denver – and thereafter – the intestinal fortitude even of the Obama faithful will be tested repeatedly by the three (trinitarian?) prongs of Obama’s – and the Democrats’ – electoral posturing: displays of unabashed godliness, obeisance to the Clintons and their most benighted supporters, and support for “national security” (an official theme of the Denver gathering of the faithful). The Democrats probably won’t sink so low as to carry crosses, if only not to offend their most trusty paymasters; and they’ll probably not hand out pictures of Hillary, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see more than a few in the crowd. National security – especially “supporting the troops” by keeping them in harm’s way – is another matter. So is “reasserting” America’s “moral authority” in the world. No doubt the Democrats already have a big order in for Harry Truman icons; maybe they’ll even have pictures of A-bombs on them.

Then, if that isn’t enough, there’s McCain’s coronation in Saint Paul, shortly thereafter, to anticipate. That convention will feature speeches by the Torturer-in-Chief and by Dick Cheney. In this year of Our Lord, one would expect that in a city named for a saint, the Righteous would find it in their hearts to make citizens’ arrests of at least those two: for war crimes, crimes against the peace, and crimes against humanity – and, as Vincent Bugliosi explains in The Prosecution of George W. Bush For Murder (Vanguard Press, 2008) – for plain and simple murder as well. More likely, though, as in New York four years ago, the Forces of Light, largely bereft of any godly contingent, will be herded into far-off cages in this Land of the Free, while Forces of Darkness even more potent than the imaginary ones the Rick Warrens of the world conjure up swirl about them.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dear Caroline,

You’d be a far better VP than those rightwing Democrats the pundits say you and Obama will likely choose, but don’t pick yourself like Cheney did, when there’s an even better choice – one more appealing to those pesky diehard Clinton supporters -- in plain view. Since they think being a First Lady and a wounded woman are qualifications, and since they’re into dynastic politics (along with dysfunctional families), and inasmuch as the idea is to placate them, the choice is clear: your cousin, Maria Shriver is the one. Not only is she a Kennedy by another name; she’s also a Vice Presidential candidate’s daughter. Not only is she a “straight talker” who can charm a gullible press; she is the press. She’s “bipartisan” too, like Obama likes, but not abominable -- like George Bush or John McCain or, for that matter, the Obamanable publisher Mary Matalin. After all, the man she got her “experience” from, though Republican, is still less right-wing (or, as “liberal” NPR would have it, “centrist”) than that red faced, finger wagging, “girlie man” who just won’t go away.

Not Joe?

Have we won a reprieve? By the “logic” of Keith Olbermann and his trusty liberal pundits, the answer must be Yes: Joe Biden won’t be Obama’s VP choice and neither will Evan Bayh (whew?) or (alas) Bill Richardson. They all have scheduled speakers’ spots on the Wednesday night when “the next Vice President of the United States” will address the Democratic delegates assembled in Denver. Note that Chris Dodd isn’t on the list. That could be a hopeful sign – especially if he isn’t forced to deep six his opposition to Bush’s War on the Constitution or his proposal for a carbon tax in order to accommodate Obama’s rightward surge.

If only Obama would stay on vacation! It makes it easier to hope he wins when he doesn’t say or do anything. Better to let the doddering John McCain sink himself. That’s what McCain has been doing -- with Georgia on his mind, and with his handlers finding it increasingly difficult to stifle his “straight talking,” “maverick” mouth. On Georgia, see this piece in The San Francisco Chronicle by Robert Scheer and, better yet, this one by Seumus Milne in The Guardian. Bill Clinton’s chickens from Kosovo are coming home to roost! Will the Democrats notice? There is no sign of it.

Neither are these same Democrats able to look beyond their noses at the latest from the “vast right wing conspiracy” – hack writer Jerome Corsi’s attack book, Obama Nation. The swift-boater is back, this time with a synoptic gospel compiled from the dregs of talk radio. Obama et. al. have been quick with rebuttals, so maybe the danger will pass. But will the Democrats be concerned that they too are guilty – by (intimate) association? Not likely. This is all the more ironic at a moment when John Edwards’ inexplicably thoughtless intimacies have helped to accelerate the party’s turn to the right.

The editor-in-chief of Corsi’s publisher, Threshold Editions (an imprint of Simon and Shuster, which is owned, in turn, by “liberal” CBS) is Dick Cheney’s co-thinker and girl Friday, Mary Matalin, loving wife of Bill and Hillary’s celebrated attack dog, James Carville (of “it’s the economy, stupid” fame). It’s not news that that hideously gruesome twosome work both sides of the street. Neither should it be news that the street is so narrow that cohabitation can and does take place across it. But, of course, it is news to most Democrats and especially to those diehard Hillary fans whom the Obamamaniacs will be mightily placating at Denver and in the following weeks.

That’s why we should savor this moment – with Obama away and with a chance (still) of a Vice Presidential choice of someone with comparatively decent politics. Once the nauseatingly over-produced infomercial they call a convention starts, it will become necessary, as Nietzsche might say, resolutely to turn away one’s gaze.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Say It Isn't Joe

The speculation now that John McCain declared that being for “choice” isn’t automatically a disqualification for being his running mate, is that former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge is first in line for the job. It was Ridge who, to secure the Homeland, invented color-coding. Notwithstanding that display of genius, a Ridge candidacy would be good news for Barack Obama. After all, he almost got the nod in 2000; presumably on the grounds that he’d make George Bush look good by comparison. But I’ll bet it’s not going to be him, and it won’t be the repellent Mitt Romney either. No such luck.

It’ll be even better. It’s a long shot, but I still think Joe Lieberman will be John McCain’s running mate. If so, I will personally thank G-d. Lieberman’s position on abortion will tick off the McCain “base” as much as Ridge’s will. And if that isn’t enough, don’t forget that he’s even worse than a Mormon; he is of the race that killed Our Lord. On the other hand, the Christian Right, eager to be raptured away, will not hold it against him that he is a de facto Israeli agent, and they’re sure to like the fact that he is a sanctimonious twit. But, thanks to Cheney and Bush, even the most benighted evangelicals are becoming war weary, and Lieberman’s bellicosity is limitless. “Conservatives” of all stripes will rejoice in the fact that Lieberman is not above using traditional anti-Semitic slurs against Obama; for them, Muslims, especially secret Muslims, are the new Jews. Nevertheless, I think Lieberman will cost McCain votes. His anti-Muslim bigotry and his overt religiosity will not cancel out his position on abortion and his war mongering. In the end, Lieberman will therefore appeal only to hapless “independents,” hankering for “bipartisanship,” and to the ever-diminishing ranks of reckless neo-cons. This prospect makes it a lot easier for those of us who don’t want to vote for the lesser evil and his coterie of Clintonites to cast protest votes.

* *

Then, there’s the other, much less evil, Joe. Inside tipsters – for example, the pundits on “Countdown” last night (August 13) – now think that Barack Obama is going to name Joe Biden to be his running mate. That cloud too has a silver lining: if Obama does this, then Biden won’t be Secretary of State. But it is a dispiriting prospect nevertheless, even for those of us who harbor no illusions about Obama.

The pundits’ speculation is based on the naming of former Virginia governor Mark Warner to give the keynote address at the Denver infomercial later this month. Supposedly, that takes Virginia’s current governor, Tim Kaine, off the list; apparently, on the grounds that you can’t have more than one Virginian speaking in prime time. How far we’ve come since the Constitutional Convention!

In any case, between Biden and Kaine, even I’d have to go for Biden. And I’d certainly go for him over Evan Bayh – an even more ardent Bush aider and abettor than Hillary Clinton. As he pursues the office, Biden’s motto should be: “Better than Bayh.” Bayh was an ardent supporter of the Bush War in Iraq. Then, when he had the wits to see that the war had gone sour, he turned on the way the war was being waged, not the war itself. Shades of John McCain! Bayh is a Democratic Leadership Council, New Democrat Coalition, National Endowment for Democracy type of Democrat. This side of Joe Lieberman, it doesn’t get much worse. Moreover, as Stephen Colbert pointed out, he looks like the guy whose picture comes with the photo frame you buy in the drug store. In other words, vote-grabbing charisma is not his strength.

So if it’s between Kaine, Bayh and Biden, as the media reports, then Biden is surely the best (least bad) of the lot. But why not Bill Richardson? His anti-war position is better than Obama’s, not worse; he has “executive experience”; and his foreign policy credentials rival Biden’s. Or, if Obama feels that it would be too much for two “persons of color” to be on the ticket, why not Chris Dodd? In many respects, his politics are as good or better than Richardson’s. For that matter, why not do as Dick Cheney did in 2000 when he was assigned the task of finding a running mate for the Bush boy; let Caroline Kennedy pick herself. The irony would be lovely, especially for die-hard Hillary supporters. In our dynastic political system, a Kennedy on the ticket could well be a vote getter. Meanwhile, compared to Joe Biden, better the devil we don’t know.

[Now that John Edwards has permanently disqualified himself, we have no chance of electing a VP significantly to the left of Obama. I condemn him for it. I feel betrayed. But then I don’t understand the appeal of a party girl turned New Age floozy – especially when a woman of worth is waiting at home. On the other hand, I perfectly understand the appeal of all those trashy bimbos and of that zaftig, racé twenty-something. That was Bill Clinton’s finest, most human, moment.]

Would Hillary be worse than “Plagiarism Joe”? I used to think so. But that was mainly because she promised a full-scale Clinton Restoration. My other reason was that I believe that the Clintons deserve to be defeated abjectly -- it is the least we can do since they will never be brought to justice for their actionable crimes (murderous sanctions, encouragement of ethnic cleansing, wanton bombing, etc.), and never called to account for the political harms they’ve done. But this second reason has vanished as Obamamaniacs fall over each other making nice to that gruesome couple; and the first reason has very nearly vanished too as all but the most vicious of the old Clinton hands (Richard Holbrooke, for example) have already been incorporated into the Obama fold. So it’s not at all clear that Biden would be a better VP than Hillary. She’s off the list, however, so the question is moot. Go Joe!

Meanwhile, for the next few days (or hours?), there is still a chance, albeit a vanishingly small one, that Obama will “think outside the box” for once – and select somebody with better politics than his, or at least better politics than he’s willing to own up to. [Unlike the Clintons, who have been running for President for too long, I think Obama still knows better.] I’m not holding my breath, however.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hart Throbs

During the primary season, the reincarnation of Gary Hart, circa 1988, was Barack Obama – the Rorschach Man, the proponent of vague “new ideas.” Now, of course, it’s a lot clearer what those ideas were; as I’ve been writing all along, they’re the old Clintonite ideas of the Democratic center-right. This fact has yet to dawn on most Obamamaniacs, but it is nevertheless beyond dispute. Therefore Obama is no longer the Gary Hart of 2008; he’s a 2008 version of what Gary Hart would have become had he stayed in the 1988 race longer -- a mainstream Democrat.

However Hart’s spirit lingers, finding its way into another flesh and blood Democrat. This time, though, it isn’t Hart’s vacuity that is back but his self-destructive “narcissism” (as the offending party himself calls it). Sadly, for those of us who saw the present conjuncture as an opportunity for real change (not the “plus ça change…” Obama offers), the new Hart avatar is John Edwards.

It was never likely that that Obama would choose Edwards to be his running-mate. If Obama has it in him to look to his left, he has so far shown no sign of it. But John Edwards, and Elizabeth Edwards too, might have played a major role in the Obama campaign and in the coming Obama administration. Perhaps Elizabeth still will. But now, having “confessed” to an extra-marital affair after disparaging both the very idea and the messenger who brought it to public attention, John Edwards is toast.

[What does it say about our political culture that some of our best investigative reporting comes from the tabloids, just as some of our most cogent commentary comes from the celebrities – Paris Hilton, most recently -- they cover. As I wrote when the story “broke,” if The National Enquirer says it, it’s probably true. The contrast with The New York Times could hardly be starker.]

What rankles is not just the infidelity. It’s not even the cover up – the denials since The Enquirer caught Edwards in a Los Angeles hotel with Rielle Hunter and her baby on July 22. “Face it, they’re all crazy; they all do it,” as the Two Thousand Year Old Man (Mel Brooks) put it. “And,” he added, “if they don’t do it to their wives and girl friends, they do it to the country.” That pretty much explains Kennedy, who was President at the time those wise words were uttered – back in the golden days of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Kennedy did it with the discretion of a bunny rabbit. [In Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba….And Then Lost It to the Revolution, T.J. English describes a particularly exotic orgy arranged for Kennedy in Havana by mobsters who watched but, to their everlasting regret, didn’t film. As we know from many sources, Kennedy’s appetites were insatiable and his exploits legion.] It also explains Nixon, who seems to have been utterly sexless in his declining years, and who most certainly did it to the country. These are the extreme cases, but rare is the American President who didn’t have a paramour or several. If we start with the Roosevelt era, the only ones about whom there is any doubt are, by my reckoning, Truman, Ford, Carter and the second Bush. Given that the Two Thousand Year Old Man was very wise, Bush is the only one I’m really confident about -- on the grounds that he surpasses even Nixon in doing it to the country.

Why, then, is Edwards special? It isn’t just that, being more left than any other major national figure, he’s more on the corporate media’s ignore and/or ridicule list. That explains why they did their best to marginalize his campaign while he still had a chance. But the “quality press” remained mute on this one for as long as they could; they behaved like the “gentlemen” of the Kennedy’s era.

The problem, much like with his famous haircut and his oversized house, is hypocrisy. Edwards flaunted his family. Who can blame him? Elizabeth is more estimable than he. Of course, she is also terminally ill. Thus it took not only a level of recklessness of Kennedyesque proportions but also crass thoughtlessness to do it to somebody else while running for office. In a better world, it would only be the betrayal of the wife, not the fact of the affair itself, that mattered. We’re not there yet. Much has changed since “the sexual revolution” Kennedy never lived to see, but American puritanism has not gone away; not, at least, where political figures are concerned. America is not now and probably never will be like Mitterand’s or Sarkozy’s France. Gary Hart found this out, if he didn’t already know, when he and Donna Rice were caught doing it on The Monkey Business. Two decades later, it is the same. But even if it were not, it would still be the case that Edwards acted disgracefully.

Hart all but dared reporters to find him out; it was as if he longed (unconsciously?) to be discovered. Edwards now claims that, though he lied before (or, rather, only told most of the truth), he told the whole truth on ABC last night. If so, Hunter’s baby is not his, and his affair with her ended in 2006. Perhaps, but the story reeks of implausibilities. Now that even The New York Times is on his case, if he is holding something back, it’s sure to be discovered and turned into legitimate news – just as it was with Gary Hart, who was also outed by The National Enquirer. Edwards is toast for now; if he wasn’t completely forthcoming last night, he’ll be toast forever. That bodes ill not just for him, but for us too – that is, for those of us who were counting on more than just restoring the United States to the level of malign neglect and international criminality that characterized the Clinton era.

An Olympic Prelude

Over the next few weeks, TV viewers in the United States will witness three unseemly and over-produced corporate infomercials with nauseatingly nationalist overtones – the Olympics, and then the Democratic and Republican conventions. The Olympics especially, but also the conventions are worthy events in principle. However now, even more than in the past, they have become corrupted in this corporate dominated phase of late capitalism. It is ironic that the theme of all three is “change” – a new role in the world for China, a new direction for the United States. Even the Republicans will be singing that tune, hard as it is to imagine. [That John McCain, the “wrinkly, white haired dude,” could be promoted as a candidate of change is grotesque. It reveals much about the state of our political culture that it was Paris Hilton, not some Democratic bigwig or media pundit, who forced this plain fact into the news.] For the Republicans, talk of change is likely to fool no one. But the facts belie the pretense for the others as well. For the Chinese as much as for the Democratic Party, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same).

At least, in the Chinese case, the unholy alliance -- of international (mainly American) corporate sleaze and “Communist” capitalist-roaders -- has a glorious history to exploit. It hardly makes up for recent Chinese history, however. As everyone knows, there is the problem of state enforced Han Chinese chauvinism towards ethnic minorities within China and in Tibet, exacerbated by an enduring illiberalism that dwarfs even the most criminal excesses of Dick Cheney and George Bush. But, for those of us who still believe that a better world is possible, the Chinese state must also be held accountable for ending the historical project of building (real, small-c) communism – a turn of events made even worse by the fact that China has retained the worst features of (big-C) Communist governance. But, however awful the Chinese state now is, they’ll always have the Ming dynasty. Unfortunately for those of us who feel obliged to watch the Obama and McCain infomercials, our semi-official capitalist-road parties have nothing comparable to China’s ancient glories to conjure up. After all, as George Bernard Shaw once quipped, America [unlike China] passed from barbarism to decadence without any intervening period of civilization.

But there will be “drama,” at least in the Democratic case. We can watch the dynamic between the Obama forces and the Clintons, oblivious to the plain fact that it is of no intrinsic interest whatsoever. Count on the cable networks to make us think otherwise. The stage is set: the Clintons have emerged from the primary season with their sense of entitlement intact, and the Obamaniacs are determined to make nice to them and their supporters. Will they succeed? All that is clear, at this point, is that those of us with the stomach for it, will watch Hillary orate in prime time one day and Bill the next. Unless the convention is profoundly disrupted, as it should be, that’s about as interesting as it will get – until Obama finally gets to orate before tens of thousands of supporters too.

Meanwhile, don’t count on seeing much of Jimmy Carter. When it comes to honoring former Presidents, the Pelosiite (i.e. later day Clintonite = Obamaite) leadership of the POP, the Party of Pusillanimity, prefer those whose crimes are of historical dimensions (the Iraq sanctions, the ethnic-cleansing “humanitarian interventions” in Yugoslavia and elsewhere, the reckless bombing campaigns) to those who, have reached a point where they can safely state the obvious about Israel/Palestine and other “inconvenient” truths. The latter are best neither seen nor heard.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Right and Wrong

According to a report in the August 4 Washington Post, low wage workers prefer Democrats to Republicans by a two to one margin, but are skeptical that either Barack Obama or John McCain will “fix” the economy or the health care system. The full Kaiser-Harvard-Post survey results are here. Thus low wage workers have it about right – they’re on to the Democrats, the “talk left, act right” POP, the Party of Pusillanimity (or, what comes to the same thing, Pelosiism).

On the other hand, this morning (August 4) on National Public Radio, Cokie Roberts, the doyenne of conventional wisdom, reports that while McCain has set out to tear Obama down by any means necessary – because there’s no other way he can win in November – the Obama campaign has decided to speak no ill of McCain himself, but only to focus on his political affinities with George Bush. She’s probably right about the Obama campaign; after all Cokie does have her ear to the ground. But then the Obama campaign is WRONG – dangerously wrong – and it’s part of a larger pattern.

This is not to say that there may not be some electoral advantage to taking the “high road” or at least appearing to be above “negative” campaigning. Obama’s stance, if he can stick to it as the Republicans descend even deeper into despicability, may help him win by an even larger margin than he otherwise would. But the message is wrong.

As I’ve argued many times before, had the United States learned the lessons of Vietnam, it would be unthinkable that the likes of a John McCain would be able to have insinuated himself into the political class at all, much less be the standard bearer of one of our two semi-official parties. It would also be likely that today, the standard bearer for “hope” and “change we can believe in” would be better than Barack Obama (or, alternatively, Barack Obama would be better than he now is; after all, he plainly knows better.)

That’s why it is important that the United States acknowledge that it has lost the Bush Wars, the better to fall into an Iraq Syndrome more profound and more salutary than the Vietnam Syndrome. Standing on the shoulders of all his predecessors since Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton finally succeeded in quashing that impediment to America’s imperial predations. It is sorely missed. It was our best hope for a soft landing as the American empire succumbs to the inevitable realities of economic turbulence and environmental disaster, as the irrationalities of an overripe capitalist system work their effects. But it can be revived. Needless to say, Obama is embarked on the opposite course, and so is the Obama friendly media. [Not incidentally, that media is also, simultaneously, shamefacedly McCain friendly.]

Thus instead of deriding McCain as a former volunteer napalmist, they praise him as a former prisoner of war. Instead of deriding McCain for promoting reaction, they praise him as a “maverick.” They look past as many of his flip-flops and blunders as they can, and ignore the plain fact that the man is a doddering nincompoop whose moral and intellectual capacities rival those of our present Commander-in-Chief and his Regent Dick, the Prince of Darkness. It is all of a piece with keeping combat troops in Iraq for even longer than eighteen months if “need” be, and for keeping non-combat troops and “contractors” (mercenaries) there indefinitely. It is yet another symptom of the fundamental error that leads Obama to want to squander yet more human and material resources in the Afghan theater of the so-called War on Terror. Obama’s objective is to “pay any price, bear any burden,” to defeat the specter of abject defeat. It’s a losing strategy in the long run, even if it does help him defeat the racial innuendoes and made up slurs that McCain, or his (unofficial) functionaries, have already begun to level. True to pattern, though, it will keep the country on a disastrously wrong course – not just morally but from a prudential point of view as well.

Low wage workers understand this. They realize that while Obama is a lesser evil – look at the alternative! –only fools would see him as an “agent of hope.” Those fools would be the people whose views Cokie Roberts articulates – the complacent and (morally and intellectually) corrupt beneficiaries of the system in place.