Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama's challenge and McCain's last, small, chance

David Seaton's News Links
Most probably Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States and if elected his major problem may very well be to control the "left wing infantilism" of some of his supporters who are going to confuse a virtual victory by default with a sea change in American politics, however for the same reason the presence of these supporters means that John McCain still has a real, if at this date almost infinitesimal, chance to pull off an upset.

The present political situation is more than marked, it is deformed by George W. Bush. He has practically amputated one of the legs America's two party system stands on.

Readers of my blog will be aware that rather than stupid or simply incompetent I consider him deeply insane. Within the framework of his insanity I consider him successful. He has achieved all that the darker recesses of his personality could have ever desired.

Psychobabble warning: Although surely he professes love for all of the following, actions speak louder than words, and I believe that Bush's actions prove that he hates his father, hates his talented younger brother, hates his political party and hates his country too... he has nearly destroyed them all.

Bush is said to love Jesus, and knowing that, if I were Jesus, I would watch my back.
If the Democrats win by the margins they are expected to win by it won't be because of any clear and ringing, Reagan-like, "good morning America", message they are sending, or a social-democratic epiphany in Middle America or any clear mandate to do anything but "change", which is something which can mean anything from " to make radically different" to a handful of small coins.

The Democrats will win enormously, simply because their opponents have been destroyed by George W. Bush. They are living the famous quote of Woody Allen's, "eighty percent of success is just showing up".

The Democratic coalition, a
s it stands today, more than a cohesive party of interest groups, presents itself and has for the last 30 years or so as what the British army would call a collection of "odds and sods", a flag of convenience, little more than a grab bag of assorted and heterogeneous entitlements. A disparate troop whose principal agglutinate seems to be a certain vague hostility to white, Protestant men whose last names end in consonants. Ronald Reagan played on this incoherence like a mighty Wagnaerian tenor with his jolly mixture of positive thinking, hand shaking xenophobia, sanctified selfishness and the "racism of low expectations": a mixture that still suits many Americans just fine.

However, Wagner, if played on the kazoo, would morph into a grotesque and comic caricature; and while not for one moment comparing Ronald Reagan's pablum to Wagner, George W. Bush's rendition of the Gipper's cheery arias has similarly deformed it. There is no reason to think that the great mass of Americans, those who have voted that message over and over again since 1981 don't like the message anymore... they just don't like failure and they don't like Bush. It would be dangerous to take winning, because the other team doesn't show up, as a mandate to do anything other then not look or sound like Bush.

If there is a real depression, then and only then will it be possible to talk to members of the American middle class about "income redistribution" or about "spreading the wealth around".

What is a real depression? Here is an example: my mother's father was running a steel mill in 1929... a year later he was selling shirts from door to door... When FDR died my grandfather cried like a baby. That is a depression.

If a Democratic dominated congress begins to move before America's middle class feels the fear my granddad felt in '29, the Republicans will take congress back in 2010 with a vengance.

That in a nutshell is Barack Obama's major problem if, as it looks almost sure at this late date, he wins the election.

And a dawning realization that precisely that might be the dynamic of his administration may give just a glimmer of a hope for John McCain to recover the votes that gave Bush the presidency in 2000 and 2004. DS

PS. Here is a wonky article from Salon, that illustrates obliquely some of the points I've been making:

Bill Greener: Why Obama has to stay above 50 percent - Salon

Abstract: I think John McCain really does have a decent shot at winning, and that's not just because I'm a longtime Republican political operative. Despite what the polls seem to be saying, a closer look at the numbers shows that a Democratic victory is not a foregone conclusion. Why? Because if history is any guide, Barack Obama, as an African-American candidate for political office, needs to be polling consistently above 50 percent to win. And in crucial battleground states, he isn't.(...) There's an old rule in politics that an incumbent candidate is always in danger when he dips under 50 percent, even if he is leading his opponent in the polls. It's all about the undecideds. In a race with an incumbent candidate and a challenger, on Election Day the undecideds tend to break for the challenger, at rates as high as 4 to 1. If an incumbent is polling at, say, 47 to 45 percent with 8 percent undecided, there's a good chance he's going to wind up losing 49 to 51. As it's sometimes expressed, if you're an incumbent, what you see is what you get. The same pattern seems to be true for African-American candidates in much of the country. If you're a black candidate running against a white candidate, what you see is what you get. And it doesn't matter whether you're an incumbent or a challenger. If you're not polling above 50 percent, you should be worried. As of this writing, Barack Obama is not polling consistently above 50 percent in a number of electoral-vote-rich swing states, including Ohio and Florida. He should be worried. Read it all

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