My friends….


My friends, Help, I have done it again
My friends, I have been here many times before
My friends, Hurt myself again today
And, My friends, the worst part is there’s no-one else to blame

My friends, Be my friend
My friends, Hold me, wrap me up
My friends, Unfold me
I am small,My friends,
and needy
Warm me up, My friends,
And breathe me

Ouch My friends, I have lost myself again
My friends, Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found,
Yeah My friends, I think that I might break
Lost myself again My friends, and I feel unsafe

Be my friend, My friends,
Hold me, My friends, wrap me up
My friends, Unfold me
I am small, My friends,
and, My friends, needy
Warm me up, My friends,
And, My friends, breathe me

My friends, Be my friend
My friends, Hold me, wrap me up
My friends, Unfold me
I am small,My friends,
and needy
Warm me up, My friends,
And breathe me
My friends….

The Sting of the Icepick


So John McCain was trying to stay awake as they steered him down the plane ramp and Hillary Clinton was eating Xanax the way Reagan ate jellybeans, when both felt an icy sting in their spines, and suddenly they were paralyzed and sprawled across, in McCain’s case, a sticky jet tarmac and, in Clinton’s case, a Marriot short-wired carpet.

Then the icepick wielder slipped off his military-issue sniper gloves and replaced them with elegant leather that matched his overcoat and suit, and Colin Powell, desperate to rehabilitate his formerly-stellar reputation after squandering it as Bush’s “good soldier” before the U.N., crisply told reporters that he might actually vote for a Democrat this year, then went on to praise Barack Obama.

Which blew the shit out of McCain’s rep with the military and independents and croaked Clinton’s increasingly weird attempts to explain that she’s an agent of change having been in public life for 35 years, and, in short, gave Obama a huge credibility boost.

The times they are a-changing….

Ah, Baby Boomers. Live by the song, die by the song.

Looking to November

What we know now, after yesterday’s primary swarm, is that McCain will probably be the Republican nominee and that Obama and Clinton are tied. Obama’s better set to win the next handful of primaries–Virginina, D.C., Maryland, and Wisconsin–then Clinton’s well placed to win Texas and Ohio. Which means the nomination might be settled at the convention by superdelegates, which tend to be establishment figures and trend toward Clinton unless something changes between now and then.

In other words, we’re in for a long summer. Conceivably, so’s John McCain because, even though he’s winning primaries, he’s losing conservatives, and, even if he pulls from the center, he needs conservatives to win. He may even face a revolt in his party, though no one’s talking about that yet; so we could see both parties in a donnybrook before this is over. And it’s…just…going…to…get…unrealHere’s what’s interesting to me. McCain’s winning in largely Democratic states, pulling from independents and moderate Republicans, but the advantage in those states still goes to the Democrats. McCain’s going to need to do something to bring conservatives on board, else they stay home on election day and he loses, but to do so risks alienating moderates. If Clinton is nominated, hatred for her is so strong among conservatives that she might rally the base, but Obama, tacking toward center, has been winning traditionally Republican states, which actually puts him in a stronger position to win in November because he’ll get the traditional Democratic vote and pull from the center. I think. Unless I’m wrong. Or something else happens.
Oh hell. We’ll get down to the last week or so of campaigning, when everyone’s so exhausted that they’re stepping all over themselves, and McCain is looking older than God, and he’ll start snapping and snarling at people and having Hanoi Hilton flashbacks, and reporters waving microphones will all start to look like they’re wearing black pajamas and aiming AK-47s, and at some point someone will hand him a baby to kiss, and he’ll bite its head off on camera, and they’ll run pictures over and over of McCain with blood running down his chin, and the Democrat will beat him like a gong because McCain not only hates children but eats them, and, on a dark, moonless night, McCain will take that long walk out into the Arizona desert and chock a round into his good old reliable Vietnam-era service weapon, and a lonely, hollow shot will ring out amid the saguaros, followed by silence.Or something like that.

Barack, JFK, and 911

I think it’s pretty fair, given the pollsters and pundits track record this year, that no one knows how Tuesday’s mega-primary will come out–I’ve lost track of how many states are in play, but it comes out to something like half the parties’ nominating delegates. The general consensus is that McCain’s well positioned among Republicans, though I’m not sure, given the antipathy against McCain by the hardcore right, that a lot of Republicans aren’t going to just stay home.

The latest polls (see previous caveat) have Obama and Clinton running neck and neck, and since the Democratic primaries are proportional, it could be that they split the delegates, and the battle continues right up to the convention. But, after a good bit of introspection, I’ve finally decided that, when it comes down to it, I prefer Obama.

I’m of an odd age, coming in at the tail end of the Baby Boom, where I was too young to really remember JFK (I remember the funeral) or be part of the “youth movement,” and too old to be a member of Generation X (whatever that really is). I guess that means I can dig the Stones, the Clash, and Nirvana. I do remember Bobby Kennedy, however, and I can’t even listen to his voice without feeling a deep wound inside, in that he held the promise of healing a deeply divided country in 1968 and ending a disasterous war. And his death gave us Nixon, who–despite the incumbent’s qualifications–is still probably the worst president in history.

But I watched the Democrats, for years, yearn for a new JFK only to nominate, over and over, competent, non-charismatic policy wonks and be defeated by the Republicans. Bill Clinton, smartly, ran towards the center and tapped into a Kennedylike spirit of hope (in the nihilistic winter of Bush I), and gave one of the most exciting, inspiring inaugural addresses I can remember, only to get smacked down by his hubris and run the country like a moderate Republican.

And here we are in even a darker winter with a worse Bush, the pendulum is distinctly swinging towards the Democrats, and, if there was any time that I’ve truly felt this, it seems the country is hungry for unity. There was, for a brief moment following 911, a sense of the nation as one and of the world in sympathy with its customary punching bag, and I don’t need to explicate how thoroughly Bush squandered that opportunity. I think the hunger’s still there, and I think the right candidate, with charisma, intelligence, and nerve, can tap into that spirit and the hunger for optimism that characterized the early 1960s before it all went thoroughly to hell in Dallas.

McCain, assuming he gets the nomination, may have an appeal to independents, but, brass tacks, if he won, he’d be the oldest sitting president in history. He has a nasty temper, disheartens the Republican rank and file at a time when they’re demoralized to begin with, and his goofy humor and military freakishness about Iraq (read: still fighting Vietnam, that crazy steel glint in his eyes) would be a pretty damn interesting contrast with Obama’s poise and wit. Whereas running against Clinton would essentially be refighting Bill’s impeachment battle, which might invigorate the conservatives and turn off the moderates. I know a lot of hardcore Democrats want a battler in the White House, and that’s what they think they’ll get with Hillary, but you need the center to govern in this country, and I think the Republicans, who are poised to lose more seats in November, might be off their game when faced with a statesman rather than a warrior. When you fight warriors, you look tough. When you belittle statesmen, you look churlish.

An Obama nomination still seems like a long-shot. But it’s an exciting long-shot. And maybe, just maybe, one that genuinely wears the mantle of hope.

Standing on the Eve of New Hampshire

So the first real primary starts today, unlike Iowa (which for Republicans is like tossing names in a hat and which for Democrats is like Roberts Rules on acid), and it’s time to make a total ass of myself and handicap the candidates.

Democrats
Obama: Short on experience, good organizer, smart and sparkling with charisma. Winner.
Clinton: Long on experience and smart, but charisma of a sewer commissioner. Loser.
Edwards: Medium experience, smart, some charisma but ultimately lightweight. Loser.
Richardson: Long on experience, short on name recognition, so little charisma that I can barely remember what he looks like. Loser.
Kucinich: Can’t even spell the crazy bastard’s name. Loser.

Republicans
McCain: Long on experience and older than grandpa. Loser.
Romney: Artificial intelligence. Loser.
Guiliani: The more you know him, the less you like him. Loser.
Huckabee: Medium domestic experience, foreign policy moron, high on charisma, but completely crazy and believes in Adam and Eve. Loser.
Thompson: Needs frequent naps. Loser.
Ron Paul: Utterly bugfuck. Loser.

And there you have it. If I left anyone out, it means I couldn’t remember them. In other words: loser.

Morning Maniac Music

“Okay people, you have heard the heavy groups. Now it’s time for morning maniac music. Believe it. It’s a new dawn.” — Grace Slick introducing the song “Volunteers” at WoodstockGoddamn I love politics. Some people dig sports, know all sorts of obscure stats on who played center for the Cowboys in the Seventies, etc. Other people play the ponies. There’s a vice for everybody, as Shannon Wheeler (who writes and draws the “Too Much Coffee Man” comic) puts it: you can’t escape addiction–choose yours wisely.

Just as every gambler taps out and every sports geek sees their team slaughtered now and again, those of us who love politics get used to being lied to and watching our ship slide toward the rocks. Don’t get me wrong: if there’s anything the last eight years has taught approximately 78% of the U.S. population, it is that it matters who wins. But for the true politics junkie, the journey is literally half the high. Which is why we get all wired on nights like tonight.

Because it wasn’t just that Barack Obama beat the supposedly unbeatable Hillary Clinton (or that other guy) or that Mike Huckabee (who?) beat the hair farmer from Mass. who spent $7 million dollars of his own bucks; it’s that they both won decisively. And there’s nothing more fun than taking the conventional wisdom and tossing it out the 27th-story window to watch it fall and shatter into, uh, 7 million pieces.

This isn’t to say Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States (and certainly doesn’t mean Huckabee will be). But it does intimate that 2008 may be one of those seismic elections where pretty much everything changes, the pros get smashed, and we wake up November 4th a little freaked.

It’s funny, because I’ve been through one of those. It sucked, unfortunately, but there’s no denying that 1980, when Reagan was elected, completely changed the landscape and left us with a legacy that we’re still dealing with. (I know Republicans liked to crown Bush II as the new Reagan, but I said all along that he was the new Nixon, and that’s what he turned out to be. I get one right once in awhile.) I was barely hatched when Kennedy won in ’60, but I watched the Democrats wander in the wilderness for years in search of a new Jack, just the way rock critics wistfully kept trying to find a new Dylan in the Seventies. There was one Jack Kennedy; there’s one Bob Dylan. End of story.

I know Obama reminds some people of Kennedy, and there’s a little bit of that New Frontier gleam in his eyes, but, in truth, Obama reminds me of Reagan. Not in any policy sense imaginable–there he’s, if anything, the anti-Reagan. But he’s got that rock star thing budding, that catch in the throat that he might be real thing, and he can speak. Really speak. Smack you in the head and nail the imagination speak. And even if you hated Reagan as thoroughly as I did, there was something goddamn infuriatingly likable about the guy that would just drive you crazy. That quality wins elections and changes political landscapes.

As for Huckabee, he might get croaked in New Hampshire, probably by McCain and Romney–though Mitt has that past the due date smell beginning to waft from him, but he’s poised to do well in South Carolina with the social conservatives, and if he rebounds out of there, he might have a chance. Which would be beautiful, man, because you will see the bloodiest civil war in a national party since McGovern won the Democratic nomination in 1972. If Huckabee somehow survives that, he’s gonna look like he’s been dragged behind a truck for a year, and the Democratic nominee, whoever that is, will cream him the way Johnson creamed Goldwater.

Clinton’s strong in New Hampshire. She might beat Obama there, which would set up an epic battle in South Carolina, where Edwards will be a factor unless he gets so totally croaked in New Hampshire that he’s no longer viable. (I like John Edwards, but, ironically enough for a famously successful trial lawyer, he just can’t seem to close the sale.) So if this is a three-act, it looks like tonight we’ve seen Act I, New Hampshire could be Act II, and South Carolina could be Act III. No matter what, it was a great night for Obama, an exciting night for Huckabee, a chance at survival for Edwards (though not a strong one), a sobering night for Clinton, and a suck-ass night for Romney, who deserves it ’cause he’s an animatronic construct.

Goddamn, I love politics.