Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What's left?

I knew the 1992 election was over when President Bush got up there and said of Clinton and Gore "look at these guys...they're a coupla bozos!" It was an attack so disconnected from any larger narrative, any important issue, anything that the voter remotely cared about, you could tell it was garbage time. There were questions (I suppose) about Clinton's judgment, experience, priorities, dedication, morality, sincerity, perspective -- but nobody could question the man's intelligence. I didn't understand the psychology of it in technical terms, but at 14 years old, I could tell Bush was not just out of ideas, but out of motivation to find them. He was done. When you saw Bush using a taunt a 9-year old would find passé, you saw raw frustration. Desperation is trying to start a conflagration from the dying embers of dark suspicions...frustration is fire-starting with a lighter and cup of water just to have a flame to wave around.

There are many, many reservations about Obama -- not too dissimilar from Clinton back then, I guess. But "bozos" is grandma-talk compared to what we're seeing. A campaign staffer wrote an op-ed, something to be published, that reads as a white guy trying to update Parliament Funkadelic's Chocolate City> Sample line: Obama's administration would divert more foreign aid to Africa so 'the Obama family there can skim enough to allow them to free their goats and live the American Dream.' " Our would-be vice president says that Obama pals around with terrorists! She is suggesting that Obama likes to hang out with somebody at least two people who actively try to change political discourse through violence and spreading fear. Her crowds have picked up the message, too: slandering African-Americans, while McCain smilingly presided over a supporter labeling Obama a terrorist. His brother tagged northern Virginia as "communist".

Hunter Thompson wrote that McGovern's team knew he was going to lose one month out. Hillary Clinton knew she was going to lose a coupla weeks out from the final primary. They finished with style and dignity. Here, it's October 7th, We've four weeks to go. For McCain and Palin, that's four weeks to kill.

But we have seen little to think that McCain will show the dignity and grace of Thompson or Clinton. Even the comparative restraint of Bush. But if you're already calling your opponent a terrorist with 4 weeks to go, doesn't that imply that you're still "saving up" some blockbusters in the final moments? That's the way campaigns usually work, but ya gotta wonder what names are still left after you've spent "communist" or "terrorist", the dirtiest terms in contemporary American discourse. We're past desperation, and into frustration -- can McCain and Palin survive the next 4 weeks without grevously wounding the Republicans?

What angles are available to a once-promising Republican now drowning in the Titanic's backwash, who looms larger in the history of Saturday Night Live than American history?

What rhetorical attacks remain for an angry man who will die without clawing his way into the White House?

What's left?

PS: For my friends in the Republican Party:

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