Monday, September 8, 2008

Reviewing the Conventions...

By Scott Cavanagh
Summer walkabout has ended and the Bark is back. My thoughts on the political events of the past couple of weeks, starting with the Democratic Convention and ending with the Republicans:

The Democratic Convention:
The Clintons: Of course the media's idiotic first two days worth of ridiculous non-stories about "What will the Clintons do?" irked me to no end. What will the Clintons do? I could have told you that two months ago--they will give tremendous, incredibly articulate speeches that will bring the house down. The Clintons do what they always do--come through under incredible pressure for a party that has been trashing them for 18 months. Of course that is still not good enough for many Obama supporters, who are now complaining that the first woman to come within a whisker of the WH did not sufficiently criticize the second woman in that position enough in the first 48 hours after her announcement. That's ridiculous. Has Colin Powell or any other black Republicans trashed Obama? Of course not. Its about time for the Obama people to start worrying about themselves and statements like "the surge has worked beyond anyone's wildest dreams" and stop concentrating on whether or not the Clintons are going to save them. If they wanted Mommy to fight their battles for them, they should have had her at the top of the ticket to begin with. If so, they would not have to be wasting their time groveling in states like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Be prepared, if Obama loses this election by a hair, they will blame it on the Clintons. If they win, they will say they did it despite them.
Biden:
Biden is the most qualified person in the country to be president. He has more political experience, life experience and ability to work effectively across the aisle than anyone else in the country and I thought his acceptance speech was excellent. Spending five years in a prison camp is hard to comprehend. Losing your young wife and daughter to a car wreck on Christmas Eve and being left to rebuild a shattered life and raise two sons on your own may be just as incomprehensible. I truly think this is a very special guy and always have. This was a great pick by Obama because it helped cover him on the experience question, and Joe is a team player that will never try to steal the spotlight from the candidate. Joe Biden has been in Washington for 30 years and is one of the three poorest Senators--that tells you all you need to know. He's not in it for the cash and never has been. That said, Obama would have been much better off with Hillary as far as winning the election is concerned. No way they lose together. I don't know if the logistics of such an arrangement could ever have been worked out though.
The Stadium Event:
(Prior to reviewing this event, I have a TV caveat I must bring up. One of the moments I've been waiting for since it became obvious that either Hillary or Barack would win the nomination, was the state roll call of delegates. I know I sound like a real political geek, but I freakin' love the conventions and have been watching them faithfully since I was a kid. My favorite time is when each state rep. says some little corny line about his state like "The great state of Ohio, home of Johnny Wad Holmes, Traci Lords, Charles Keating and Maurice Clarett casts its ballots for the next President of the United States... Larry Flynt!" This year, with the first African-American nominee in history having his name announced, it would be incredibly exciting. So what did they do? They moved that part to the mid-afternoon and just told us about it that evening. That was a real bummer, I wanted to hear that actually happen--it's tradition and it's cool and it's better than a civics class.)
I still don't know if I liked the stadium idea or not. The GOP had already been getting some mileage out of portraying Obama as this "celebrity" candidate (something I had been worried about for months because of the press and Hollywood's undying devotion to him) so making this historic event look a little bit like the Super Bowl was a bit risky in my opinion. I think the whole night lacked intimacy, but that lack of intimacy was drowned out by the sheer joy and passion that the crowd produced. The high point of the night (prior to Obama) was the speech (covered mostly on the radio) by Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. Here was a man who was one of the ten speakers that addressed the crowd 45 years before in Washington with MLK. This man had been beaten senseless by southern policemen and attacked by dogs and here he was 45 years to-the-day later, talking to a wild, packed stadium of people from all walks of life, who had come together to give a black dude the nomination to be leader of the free world. Damn, what a freakin' country we live in. You could feel his passion as if it were your own. His pride was your pride. Very cool.
Al Gore is a wooden mannequin. I love the guy, but he has the charisma of a houseplant. Ditto John Kerry.
Then came Obama. Obviously, Obama is a great public speaker (although I still think Bubba is superior) but I thought some of his stump speeches leading up to the convention were starting to get off-message a bit and were lacking focus. I felt the same way at the beginning of his acceptance speech, but as he got to the meat of the matter and started spelling out the choices we have to make in the next few years, he really hit his stride and took off. Like John Kennedy and Bill Clinton before him, Obama is brilliant and that makes me happy. I want my president to be a brilliant student, and a quick thinker/talker, and charming and articulate. I don't care if I have a beer with him--I have my own friends for that. Obama is special and that came through in the speech, as it does every time you listen to him for more than a sound bite. As far as his ability to win is concerned, I still think he has a tough road to travel and is anything but a shoe-in. Charles Barkley really hit it on the head when asked about Obama's chances, responding that no matter how many blacks and minorities vote for Barack, he cannot win without the support of at least a good portion of white America--and that is tricky. How many white people will say they are going to vote for Barack and then not do it when they get into the booth? If white people can trust a black man to be president and get over their fear, he will win. If not, it does not matter what he says or what he stands for.
John McCain is special too, but he has virtually sold his soul to the devil in the past few years. Like many former supporters of McCain, I had been hopeful that a GOP victory this fall would result in a moderate and sensible McCain--one that was free of the chains that made him have to pander to the wingnut section of the party. And lets face it, he had a case to make. Obama's resume is thin, whether those on the Left like to admit it or not. McCain was positioned nicely to say simply: "This guy was nothing more than a community organizer just a few short years ago, and his ENTIRE experience on the national stage consists of one term in the Senate--the majority of which has been spent running for President." That case alone, combined with his compelling life story, good relationship with the media and the bigot factor made McCain's campaign immediately viable--and more importantly acceptable--to a large swath of voters that Obama desperately needs. While scary, I had been feeling better about what America might look like under a President McCain if he were to pull out a victory. Then came Caribou Barbie and the convention and I started to remember who these guys really are.
The Republicans:
There were so many highlights to the GOP convention; I don't know where to start.
-It's good to know that we don't have any real problems in the country that are not caused by the "Elite Media" or the "Eastern Elites." It's particularly great to be told that by the billionaire Governor of Massachusetts. What the hell?
-I don't know about you guys, but I love to be lectured about homeland security by representatives of the administration that allowed 9/11. If I hear one more time that "Bush kept us safe" I will puke. Safe from what? A declining economy, endless war and a world that hates us? How safe did he keep New Orleans or Valerie Plame? Note to George: We've only been hit once--on YOUR watch!!
-While on the topic of W--was his via-satellite eight minutes sheer oratorical magic, or what? The couple of sentences that he got out without stumbling were great. I think there was something in there about the culture of life, or whatever. I think Laura's blank stare intro was even better. To look at those two and think that we were only a few hanging chads from avoiding all of this mess just really makes me think... that we are very stupid people.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN... JOE LIEBERMAN!!! The funniest thing I have ever witnessed at a convention--other than Marilyn Quayle's rousing oratory in '92.
All one has to do is listen to one night of Republican speakers and the hate is just overflowing. They hate the media, and people from the East Coast and people from the West Coast and non-believers and immigrants and teachers and lawyers (unless they are theirs) and liberals and unions and Muslims and environmentalists and Europeans. Their WHOLE game is fear and hatred. That is all it has ever been. And all of their "issues" are non-issues created to simply piss people off.
Think about it:
Guns: A total bullshit wedge issue. Nobody is trying to take away anyone's right to own a gun. Nobody has ever proposed anything that would limit hunting weapons or any legal gun ownership. It's a fake issue.
Gay Marriage: Another totally bogus issue. Not a single gay organization in a single state had any pro-gay marriage initiatives on any state ballots in 2004, yet it was the staple issue for Republicans all over the country. There were 12 states with anti-gay legislation placed on the ballot by religious wing nuts and GOP operatives. Their only purpose was to force the Dems running in those states to have to take a public stand on the issue. When they said they supported some kind of gay unions, they were called out in every church and got pilloried for it. When all 12 measures passed in all 12 states, the right wing groups bragged for months that they defeated the gay movement and such, when in fact, the poor gays had done nothing but watch the right shit on them again for no reason.
Taxes: This is and has always been bogus. The majority of Americans pay the vast majority of taxes in payroll taxes and fees. When calculating the way the poor, put-upon rich are always getting the shaft, the GOP yammers away about income taxes and cries. Its a total ruse, and idiots and the supposedly "liberal" media allow them to get away with it decade after decade. The rich pay the lowest taxes they have ever paid--much lower than they paid under Eisenhower or Nixon, and they are still crying. They now control so much of the national wealth that the gap between rich and poor is the highest it's been since the Robber Baron days-- but that's not good enough for them.
Abortion: The lowest abortion rates in the country since the procedure became legal were achieved under Bill Clinton's regime, because they provided students with education and condoms. The states with the highest pregnancy rates in the country-- are ALL southern GOP strongholds. By the way, they also get the highest percentage of welfare and federal aid and have the fattest people, buy the most porn and get the most divorces. Who cries the most about these issues? Fat, redneck Republicans. What state has the lowest abortion and divorce rates? Massachusetts.
The Palin pick, in my estimation, may be the most cynical and pathetic maneuver to ever come down the pike. Not only is she COMPLETELY unqualified to be President, she is the most blatant partisan to ever grace a major party ticket. Somehow, in the blink of an eye, the GOP has managed to put an unqualified, religious, wing-nut creationist only a heartbeat away from the presidency--and we are not even allowed to ask her any questions!!
Sarah Palin is a woman that believes another woman that is raped or faces the prospect of dying from delivering a deformed baby should have to have that child--presumably because God says so. At the same time she applauds her pregnant (abstinence-only trained) teenage daughter for "choosing" to have her baby. That's nice that a well-to-do girl with a big stable family can make that "choice" that the Barracuda would take away from her and thousands of other girls through draconian legislation. Any woman that does not support a woman's right to choose not to die from a pregnancy makes me sick. Another president with a lack of empathy scares the crap out of me.
Sarah Palin's total experience prior to 18 months ago, was serving as mayor of a town one-fifth the size of Westerville. She won her two elections to that post in her hometown with vote totals of 984 and 887, respectively. It would be like being mayor of Obetz--but it would be Obetz... in Alaska! During this time the "reformer" (who spent her twenties competing in beauty contests and trying to be on ESPN) requested nearly 28 million dollars in earmarks for that little shithole town. She supported the "Bridge to Nowhere" until it became politically unpopular and now claims to have turned down that money, when in fact, she accepted the money from our pockets and redirected it to her own pet projects. Is Sarah Palin smart, or well educated? We don't know. Why? Because the GOP decided to set her up as this "victim of the media" before she was ever even announced. Now she is not even answering questions from the media. It is sooooo outrageous it makes my head want to explode!!
The GOP has been bitching for years about career women that put their jobs ahead of their family and so forth. Now they have the nerve to say they have no problem with a mother of five with a special needs infant and a pregnant daughter running for President. The hypocrisy is amazing. Speaking of hypocrisy: John McCain supported Roe V. Wade -- not anymore. John McCain was against the Bush tax cuts-- now he wants to make them permanent. John McCain said Pat Robertson was an agent of intolerance -- now he kisses his ass.

For weeks, McCain and virtually every Republican I know have been pounding on Obama's lack of experience and substance--and it was getting some traction. His seemingly sincere concern that the nation might be placing itself in the hands of a man with good intentions but a lack of experience was understandable. The Palin nomination trumps all of that and makes him out to be a hypocrite again. Sure, he's really concerned about the experience and qualification level of a self-made guy who became the top student at Harvard Law School, a successful community organizer, a three-term state representative in the mean streets of Chicago and a United States Senator. However a beauty contest contestant from Obetz Alaska is just fine and dandy -- as long as she likes prayer in school and totes a gun. No matter that McCain is three years OLDER than Ronald Reagan was when he took office -- not to mention six years removed from a serious cancer operation that gives survivors an average life expectancy of eight years--McCain is fine with Sarah. efully, it will prove to be his last political move of any consequence.
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