I held off commenting about this past Tuesday's results for several reasons of varying significance. Most importantly, I expected Obama to garner 348 electoral votes, and the fact he wound up winning 364 means that this was no shockfest. It was pretty clear which direction this election would go from a few days after Sarah Palin was announced as McCain's choice for VP nominee.
That isn't to say she cost Jonny Mac the election -- in fact, I think she's going to be the scapegoat but hardly the reason why Republican dreams of momentum were flushed down the proverbial toilet. No, I think the reason why McCain lost the election is because his "vision" was as limited as the people who supported him. I truly doubt most people considered Obama's race to be a factor in this election, or at least I hope so. But the truth is, McCain -- and I respect the guy -- just didn't present a case for how he knew he could bring the US out of the massive shits we're in as of this particular moment.
What's interesting is that Obama didn't necessarily present a complete solution to the entire crisis we're experiencing: he did mention that he intended to lower taxes for those making below $42,000, and he did mention he intended to raise taxes for those making above $250k. But he also was fairly straightforward in his approach and didn't bullshit, sideswipe or circle the wagons. He was -- apparently -- honest and direct and trustworthy.
McCain, while not the opposite of the above-listed qualities, didn't really give anything close to a meaningful, genuine road map to guiding us anywhere. Frankly, I think he spent more time calibrating negativity towards Obama than he did in fomenting his own future. People like negative campaign ads on some level; there's nothing like turning on Channel 10 in Oklahoma City at 6:45PM and hearing "And the incumbent Senator has spent $31,000 on hookers during golfing trips over the last 18 months!" It's worth a giggle or two.
But what any negative ads do -- aside from confuse, irritate and/or (sometimes) entertain voters is they guide us into territory that has little to do with anything relevant. I don't mind the fact that McCain told a fellow Senator to go fuck himself. I'm sure I would do the same thing if given the opportunity. The projector screen criticism that McCain used towards Obama -- during two debates, if I recall correctly -- sounded petty and kind of weak.
If you're going to attack Obama, you mention that he's been a member of a Church whose pastor associates with known anti-Israeli speakers, academics and groups and who has decried the US over his tenure at that position. You cite the fact he has a long-time friendship with Ayers, the former domestic terrorist. And you cite the fact that he's not spent any real time at the helm of anything except a seat on the Senate.
Having said all that, it would have been a waste of words -- and, turns out, it was.
People didn't vote en masse for Barack Obama because he seemed to have a better handle on the economy. They grew suspicious and weary of John McCain's call for victory in Iraq -- which echoed George W. Bush; they grew suspicious and weary of John McCain's suggestion that, given time and more offshore drilling, things would work out -- which echoed George W. Bush; and they grew suspicious and weary of John McCain's demeanor as negative to Obama's inspirational, poised, confident optimism.
Put another way, people didn't want answers -- they just wanted to know whoever was at the wheel knows exactly how to get us to where we need to be. Same thing, incidentally, applied to Bill Clinton (and to Ronald Reagan as well). Politics is not facts, politics is perception...and people perceived McCain as old-guard and negative and Obama as the young new politician with optimism and confidence in his pocket.
I do have some questions about Obama's inexorable road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but I'm not worried like some people I know. They suggest Obama is a dangerous choice because he has connections to Islam and to radicals. They worry that his theories and concepts bear extremely close ties to Marxist philosophy -- which in some aspects they do -- and they believe the US will become a welfare state. And I think they are worried about the fact that some of the social plans will become permanent rather than temporary.
All of these concerns may be valid, if not overstated; but the fact is, whether or not they or anyone else likes it, come January 20th, we've got a new Senior Executive, a new Commander in Chief, and a new President.
And I give him ten days before people start bitching.