Tag Archives: primaries

Lunacy

Two political posts in one day…I don’t know, might be a sign of a dangerous addiction. It’s just been, well…there’s a big shadow crossing the moon this evening, and the city has fallen silent except for all these dogs inexplicably howling. Plus Mercury’s in retrograde of some such shit, and Mayans say time ends in four years.

Four years?

So the president, who’s romping around Africa, being entertained by lovely native dancers wearing his face on their asses (not making that up), has hit the all-time lowest approval rating in history. To put 19% in perspective, mental health professionals estimate as much as 17% of the population suffers from psychiatric disorders, so Bush is 2 points ahead of crazy. (Still better than Cheney.)

Meanwhile, Shiite militia leader al-Sadr said he’ll decide Saturday whether the cease fire he instituted will continue. If he say yes, the truce continues. If he doesn’t say anything…game on. And there goes that much vaunted improvement the troop surge was supposedly responsible for, because the next thing you know, the Shiites and Sunnis are going to be drawing down on each other again. Maybe why all that talk about bringing guys home has…just…kind of…tapered away….

Meanwhile, the Clinton camp is walking around like someone’s just struck them all in the head with baseball bats and they’re trying to catch their equilibrium, which they do now and then to wave their arms and yell “He’s not presidential! He just talks good!” Uh huh. Even Mr. Bill and James “Serpenthead” Carville are saying Clinton’s got to win either Ohio, Texas, or maybe both, and number wizards are saying she has to win them decisively. Like by, uh, 20 points. Meanwhile, the newest polls in those states show Obama continuing to close the gap. People were a little worried about Michelle Obama’s remark that for the first time in her adult life, she was proud of America–ruh roh–until Bill O’Reilly, actually trying to defend her from some right-wing caller, said, “Look, I’m not going to round up a lynching party until I learn the facts.”

Oops. Either he knew what he was doing and was stupid, or his unconscious took over and revealed who he really was. Either way, the heat’s off Michelle.

And then…oh God. You really can’t…you just really make this stuff up much less hope it’ll happen, but New Yorkers, when they sip their coffee and blearily snap open the Times tomorrow are going to be confronted with a big headline that John McCain was making nicey-nice back in 2000–when he was 63, kids–with a 40-year-old female lobbyist who just happened to have business with several of McCain’s committees, and whose clients contributed to John “unimpeachable ethics” McCain’s campaign. Which really comes as no surprise for those of us who remember that dingbat when he was one of the Keating Five, but it’s coming as a rude awakening for the GOP establishment to be dealing with their own “bimbo eruption.” Pat Buchanan reportedly had a public meltdown on MSNBC earlier this evening.

Ah irony. Irony is a sweet, sharp liquor that goes down ice cold then kicks your brain right out its skull. Irony’s a keeper.

This one day after David Letterman said of McCain, “Doesn’t he remind you of a greeter at Wal-Mart? He reminds you a mall wanderer. He reminds you of that guy who gets confused by the automatic door at the supermarket.”


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.