Sunday, August 3, 2008

Don't Wanna Get Political (Pt. 2): Elections

Hey Mr. President - Will Hoge (mp3)
Uncorrected Proofs - The Weakerthans (mp3)

I don't wanna get political, but... I was a lot more excited about Barack Obama six months ago.

Fret not, you silly liberals, the guy still has my vote, so long as he avoids anything wildly catastrophic, and so long as McCain continues to add to the ways he's courting the Hard Right vote. While Obama reverses earlier claims to look more centrist, McCain reverses earlier claims to look even more conservative. Not only has he reversed course on offshore drilling, but he's pulled a Gore by claiming to have invented The Surge.

But what felt in January like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington now feels more like Tropic Thunder Goes to Washington, and Obama is actually Bill Clinton after he underwent a procedure similar to Robert Downey Jr.'s character in Tropic Thunder.

Don't get me wrong. I'd take 300 Bill Clintons over Dubya. The only part of Dubya's 33-percent approval rating I don't understand is how the hell one-third of our country can continue blindly approving -- or scarier yet, knowledgeably approving -- of the job this guy's done in the last eight years. McCain's not even sure how to deal with this guy at the Republican National Convention, fer Chrissakes. His own fellow politicians are afraid of getting Bush Cooties, yet a third of people out there, stubborn as mules, keep playin' their fiddles even as the water level rises above their noses, insisting that the ship ain't goin' down.

To be fair, I'd also take 250 McCains over Dubya. At the very least, the guy knows what it means to put troops in the line of fire, and he appreciates the risks. That doesn't necessarily make him McArthur or Eisenhower, but it puts him well ahead of every single decision-maker in our current President's neo-con wonk closet.

So Obama will get my vote and, some massive war threat notwithstanding, will probably end up our President. And I'm sure he'll do a fine job, but he'll be dogged by scandals or negative reports, and Democrats will probably lose their majority in Congress in 2010, and all that promise of Change We Can Believe In will amount to... very little, policy-wise.

I'm still voting for him primarily on two grounds: (1) symbolic, and (2) punitive.

(1) Symbolic: Although I doubt he'll do much to transform the nature of D.C. politics, I do believe having a man who wants to move himself and our country beyond two shades of race, who has charisma not unlike Reagan or Kennedy, who exudes optimism in a way not even Clinton did, will create at least a cultural burp. That burp will at minimum get rid of some of the nauseating gas that's been sitting in America's stomach from eating too much Bush Soup for close to a decade.

(2) Punitive: Republicans, with all their talk about how Democrats "tax and spend," and with all their 90s promises of balancing the national budget and limiting terms, and with all their haughty claims of being above corruption and immorality, have merely proven themselves more hypocritical than their opponents. For six long, long years, conservatives controlled both key elective branches of government, executive and legislative. For six long years, they could do practically anything they wanted, pass practically any law (barring a few frowned-upon filibuster attempts by the minority Dems), and what did they do? They cut taxes, blew spending through the roof, and left us in a hole of debt. They also left us mired in a war based on utterly contrived propaganda. And just in case you bought that crap about how announcing an exit date would buoy the terrorists, Bush recently acknowledged that an exit date was in sight. (That is, announcing a pending exit apparently does not buoy the terrorists if done by a Republican President.)

While these two primary reasons live on, my third reason -- He might actually bring integrity to Washington -- is quickly getting weighted down and dirtied with the cowchips both sides have been throwing at one another, and that Hilary and Barack exchanged in the primaries.

At present, at least Obama still has two out of three, which according to Jim Steinman (and Meat Loaf) ain't bad. And it ain't bad. But it ain't world-changing, either. It's only slightly much better than D.C. As Usual, and I'm not even sure he'll be able to stay above that water line once we get closer to Election Day.

But I don't mean to get political.

"Hey, Mr. President" is from Will Hoge's The America EP, and it can't be found at iTunes or "Uncorrected Proofs" is from The Weakerthans' third album, Reconstruction Site, and is available in both places.


Bob said...

That's funny, a few months ago, I thought in a weak moment that I would be able to tolerate McCain as president. That was before he dug up Lee Atwater from his grave to facillitate the mudslinging process.

I don't agree with your assessment that "At the very least, the guy knows what it means to put troops in the line of fire, and he appreciates the risks." What is this based on, his having been a POW? I guess his "I know how to win wars" statement comes from the same experience. Unfortunately, ol' McCain, even if he does have the quality you state, has shown very little sympathy or support for veterans once they are out.

Billy said...

Ugh, you're making me defend McCain.

Yes, IMO, his being a soldier in a time of war carries weight. To know what soldiers go through, what they risk, what they lose, matters. It matters more, to me, from a conservative who might be more willing to put said soldiers in harm's way. I firmly believe George 41 was more of a diplomat precisely because he had experienced war himself and saw nothing particularly glorious about it.

McCain has opposed our wild torture antics from day one, and I'm fairly certain he's been one of the few voices to complain about how we treat our veterans, but it's possible I'm mistaken on that. That he differs from the Dems on the particulars is... well... justified, if you look at the particulars.

As for mud... well, I fear that's not going to be a one-way street. Unless when Obama's camp throws it, we call it something else.