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.

1 comment:

Mitchell J. Freedman said...

Andrew, sometimes we who are well versed in public policy and are knowledgeable about the deepest details of politics and history can forget what it's like to not be so interested in those things. There are plenty of low-information voters out there, most of whom did not even watch the first night of the convention.

Obama has, as usual, been defined among too many low-information voters by the Republican ad machines as an elitist and frankly weird guy. That combined with a long corporate media narrative about McCain being a "maverick" and "moderate" required a reintroduction. Obama, thank goodness, remains ahead in most polls despite the corporate media and the McCain campaign attack machine, but Obama is still below 50%, which is not a good sign, either.

Michelle Obama really had to reintroduce herself as she was seen as a rabid, elitist radical by a significant percentage of those who are favoring her husband. And the Lion in Winter speech of Ted Kennedy was designed for older voters, who probably did watch the convention as they have since 1952 on television.

Carville is wrong, which is not news, of course.

There is time starting tonight to now help people understand why McCain is a dangerous, self-absorbed, rich-elitist-kept husband, and a moron even more than the current occupant of the White House.