Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Second Debate

Once again, by all credible accounts, Obama “won,” though you’d have to listen carefully to Mora Liason on NPR to figure that out. [Could Ms. “Fair and Balanced” have a crush on the doddering geezer? Her reporting over the past several months suggests so.] McCain’s “defeat” was not due just to his quasi-racist gaffes or near gaffes – like forgetting the name of an African-American questioner or referring to Obama as “that one.” Joan Walsh on gives a good account of all that. The bigger problem for McCain was that he looked, as Keith Olbermann put it, like “not a well man.” He didn’t exactly pout, but he was borderline cranky. The scariest thing of all, though, is that what he said, though syntactically intelligible, was reminiscent of Sarah Palin’s blatherings. Evidently, the gruesome twosome the Greater Evil Party has inflicted upon us work from the same mindless talking points.

For good or ill, McCain didn’t overtly continue his running mate’s recent (post-debate prep) turn towards unrestrained sleaze. The “maverick” is evidently willing to appeal to the darker (paranoid, racist) side of the American electorate – through surrogates. But he seems to have retained a shred or two of decency – at least enough to keep him from slandering Obama to his face. In the McCain campaign’s division of labor, it evidently falls to Sarah Barracuda to do that.

It was noteworthy that McCain didn’t once mention that dreadful woman. He did mention Joe Lieberman several times, however. Could the old “maverick” be suffering from buyer’s remorse – in addition to everything else?

All this, I suppose, is good news for lesser evilists. As the world economy implodes, the prospect that John McCain will be the one to carry on from George Bush continues to recede.

The bad news – though it’s hardly news – is how close McCain and Obama are on key issues. The most obvious, and dangerous, points of convergence are in foreign policy – especially with regard to the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. No doubt, Obama would do ill more competently, more multi-laterally and perhaps in a kinder, gentler way. But, under the skin, he too is as dedicated as McCain or any other neo-con to making the world safe for the American empire.

I continue to believe that at least Obama knows better. But even if he does, it hardly matters, given the constraints he is under. Would another war, this time targeting Iran, be less likely under Obama than McCain? It’s far from clear, especially with Israel wanting it so much. Maybe Obama doesn’t quite share Joe Lieberman’s (and therefore John McCain’s) affection for that ethnic (and ethnically cleansed) state; maybe, in his heart of hearts, he appreciates the dangers inherent in its bellicosity and the illegitimacy of the Apartheid regime it has imposed upon Palestinians in the West Bank and its brutal sequestration of the Gaza Strip. But don’t count on Obama to be any less disposed to do Israel’s bidding than McCain would be. Similarly, don’t count on Obama to be any less eager to promote the “security” of American vassal states on Russia’s borders or any less determined to exercise control over the oil-producing regions of Eurasia.

It is a proven verity: to vote for the lesser evil four weeks from now or, if you live in a safe enough state that you don’t have to, to hope that the lesser evil wins, two things are necessary: first, to keep constantly in mind the prospect of a John McCain (or, worse still, a Sarah Palin) presidency; and second, to pay no attention to what Obama or Biden say about world affairs (not because they don’t mean it, but because they do).

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