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.

No comments: