From where I watched the election last night, the Obama victory was met with cheers, tears, and an overwhelming sense that everything was finally going to be alright again. I seriously feel like a character in Harry Potter right now: Voldemort has been defeated, Dumbledore is returned to power, and everyone breathes a collective sigh of relief. Except the party bosses at the GOP.
Now is a pivotal moment for the Republican Party. Read: Don't screw this up and go all Reactionary! Now the GOP can get back to the fundamentals of what it means to be a Republican - not the Bush-era bait-and-switch tactics of call it one thing and do another - but a true realignment back to fiscal conservatism, free trade, capitalism, and limited government. Barack Obama was right - we don't need to go at the government's budget with a hatchet. We need a scalpel, albeit one that moves quickly and ferociously.
I think Obama will be a fine president, but I don't envy him taking the reins at a time when we're facing the worst economic crisis of the last 70 years. And I sincerely wish and pray that Congressional Democrats do not a) squander the opportunity they have to effect vast, positive change, or b) push through a bunch of punitive, harmful measures in some Robin Hood way of attacking Wall Street. It's a blessing that they did not reach a filibuster-proof majority.
I look upon the next four years with hope, both for what the Democrats can do, and what the Republicans must do. And I am so proud, and feel so fortunate to have been a part of such a historic moment. This reminds me of the months right after 9/11 when everyone in America was united under a common purpose - unfortunately for us, our president at the time told us to take that purpose and go shopping. This time, I think we can change the world.
The Republican Party has begun to concede defeat (prematurely, perhaps) and columnists on the Left and Right are already forecasting the next steps for the GOP. Maybe Palin will run in 2012. Maybe Palin will get her own talk show (shudder). Maybe a Democratic victory in the White House will mitigate a Democratic victory in Congress. But regardless, if McCain loses tomorrow, the GOP will undergo a seismic shift not felt in many years. And here's my advice in how to proceed: cut ties with malignant elements like Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh.
I know this would never happen, but I think a lot of the problems both within the Republican Party, and in the public perception of the conservative movement, can be traced back to the bile that spills forth from the terrible trinity of Coulter, O'Reilly, and Limbaugh.
Peggy Noonan, a former Reagan speechwriter and avid conservative, and a writer for whom I have much respect and admiration, has recently written a book called Patriotic Grace, in an attempt to sway our divided house back to some semblance of common purpose. She defines patriotic grace as "...a grace that takes the long view, apprehends the moment that we're in, comes up with ways of dealing with it, and eschews the politically cheap and manipulative."
I couldn't agree with Ms. Noonan more - we need, as a society, to reject the politically cheap and manipulative vitriol of Coulter, O'Reilly, and Limbaugh. They are the journalistic equivalent of wet t-shirt contests and midget tossing. They cater to the basest elements in us all, and reduce political discourse, once the language of such great minds as Thomas Hobbes and Thomas Jefferson (and more recently, William F. Buckley, Jr.), to name-calling, racially-motivated invective, and outright falsehoods. They prey on the fears of the middle-class while treating them like imbeciles, all the while debasing the freedom of the press in the name of celebrity.
The GOP must purge itself of the trash-talkers and get back to the intellectualism of the party's heyday. Only once the party has its platforms reestablished and updated for 2012 (read, NOT 1986) can they stand a chance at regaining the public's trust in the post-Bush era.
Republicans are not lacking for loyalty. Even when Colin Powell and Scott McClellan, and Christopher Buckley and Kathleen Parker are hopping off the McCain train like rats off a sinking ship, the party is still chock-a-block full of followers willing to turn a blind eye to every wrong turn taken by the McCain campaign.
Loyalty is, of course, an admirable quality in any friend or flunkey, but some of the wags at the National Review have just gone plain loco. No surprise, Charles Krauthammer wrote a piece today defending his choice to vote for McCain, but his reasons are mostly full of hot air:
He hammers Obama for a lack of executive experience, even though McCain has none either
He resurrects (for the millionth time) the argument that McCain can't show a lack of judgement because he was a POW (the logic of which I really just can't follow - seriously, somebody please explain it to me)
He finds Obama reprehensible for dirty campaigning - a point I'll concede with the caveat that all parties have been complicit in this
He believes the US is on the brink of war with any number of foreign powers: Iran, Russia, Pakistan.... Now there's no doubt that McCain is a hero and no doubt he knows his way around a war, but the tactics of McCain's time are of no use today. Wars are different, and we need new ideas and new people to figure out how to dominate
And he sums up by blasting Obama again for his "denigration and denial" of the surge - a claim which has been disproven so many times I can't believe anyone is still bringing it up
It's too much to hope that all smart people will look past their biases and rationally evaluate issues based on substantive, REAL criteria. But it's hard to read the same tired-ass party lines being aped from one end of the internet to the other without any new thoughts being added to the mix. (and I have no idea what the Dems do since I don't read any of their publications, but they're probably no different)
And I'm not advocating that anyone vote for Obama per se (don't vote at all, see if I care!), but I can't believe there are still people out there that support the McCain/Palin ticket.
Another chapter in the McCain/Palin sinking ship saga: Apparently Palin's handlers spent some ungodly amount of money on clothes and makeup for the candidate. Perez today wrote that her Emmy-winning makeup artist was the highest paid person on their team for the first 2 weeks of October.
How can I begin to discuss the last week of press surrounding racism in the McCain/Palin ticket's latest tactics?
Should I start with Fox News' Sean Hannity airing an hour-long documentary on the false association between Sen. Obama, radical Islam, and domestic terrorism? This show allowed for the unfiltered rantings of known anti-Semite Andy Martin to be broadcast to 3 million people in the guise of prime time journalism.
Or how about the elderly lady at a McCain rally in Florida who said (ON NATIONAL TV!) that she could not trust Sen. Obama because he "is an Arab"? Sen. McCain, acting with more grace and kindness than that old hag deserved, disabused her of such idiocy, but the fact that people like that are flocking to GOP rallies is disturbing at best and a terrifying reminder of how little time has passed since the 1960s.
The New York Times reports that racial epithets have been hurled at black journalists attending Palin rallies, and that calls to kill Sen. Obama have been shouted by enthusiastic Palin supporters during her speeches. THIS NEEDS TO END NOW, and if Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin do not explicitly bar this kind of behavior by their supporters, it is a tacit admission that they wish for this kind of racially-motivated vitriol to continue.
What is most amazing about the McCain/Palin silence on this issue is that they are both intimately familiar with racial attacks - Palin for her marriage to a native Alaskan, and McCain for his adoption of a Bangladeshi child. Saying nothing further legitimizes the ideas (and, God forbid, the actions) of the racist members of the GOP, and illegitimizes the entire Republican Party which is a diverse group of intelligent, rational people who do not care to be associated with a bunch of angry, ignorant, hate-filled, inbred, dumb-fucks.
Gov. Palin has spent the last couple days on the circuit energizing the base about abortion, in an attempt to reignite the central issue in the culture wars (a term I actually hate, as it has always implied to me some sort of right side or wrong side).
This is a seriously wrong move for the McCain campaign for many reasons, chief among them that it is insulting to the Republican base that Palin's advisors think they will be so easily distracted away from the financial crisis and the lack of leadership shown by the GOP. This kind of diversionary tactic was highly successful when Pres. Bush used it in the 2004 election, swapping the war in Iraq for gay marriage as one of the central issues of the campaign. But four years later, we are all facing a calamity in the world economy, and frankly, abortion is neither here nor there right now.
Americans want someone to step up and offer real solutions, but the McCain/Palin ticket is wasting precious time talking about such trivialities.