Saturday, October 4, 2008

Small Blessings

Round-up of the good news of the week.

1. Obama's Lead Continues to Widen. In the US, one is hard-pressed to think of a genuine left-wing national politician, with the exception of a non-politician like Ralph Nader. Liberals don't get elected president in America, or haven't for a while. Jimmy Carter may now seem like a flaming liberal, but when he was president he was considered liberal-centrist. As for Bill Clinton…well, no need to go there. Was L.B.J. the last liberal president? Do I hear Vietnam, anyone?

So when the presidential candidate with the most liberal voting record in the Senate finds himself, a month before election-day, with an average 6-7 point lead in the polls, that's got to be sweet, right?

Poor William Kristol, the pointy-headed, effete Jewish neocon who envies "real Americans" like Sarah Six-Pack-Moose-Hunter-Red-Meat-Eater-Hocky-Mom Palin. Kristol has so far written three or four columns fantasizing how McCain and Palin can still win this thing. In his latest effort, he offers up two suggestions – attack Obama-Biden on ideology and go negative on character. As for ideology,

One shouldn't underestimate the ideological issue, and the potency of the fact that Obama and Biden are orthodox liberals. They're for raising taxes, federally funding abortions, naming activist judges, and losing wars. The American people may think--they do think--the country's on the wrong track, that the Bush administration has made too many mistakes and that the Republican party's no great shakes. But they haven't suddenly become liberals. And they probably aren't crazy about the prospect of a liberal administration governing unchecked, hand in hand with a liberal Congress. During the next four weeks, the McCain-Palin campaign should make this risky prospect vivid.

Uh, excuse me, but it seems to me that McCain and Palin have been shouting from the rooftops that Obama and Biden are "orthodox liberals," and that the "tax-and-spend-wave-the-white-flag" charge has failed abysmally in this election. So why does Kristol think that this strategy will suddenly work? Because he simply can't believe that real Americans are liberals. He's right; they aren't. They aren't conservatives, either. Americans didn't elect George W. because they were conservative, and they won't elect Obama because they have turned liberal. The fact is that most people are not Kristol-style ideologues. Sure, there are a bunch of those on both sides, but you can't get elected only with them. Folks believe that the country is in a mess, and that the Republicans are mostly responsible. They are willing to give the other side the chance to do better. That's what this election is about.

As for the attacks on character, that's hilarious, or should I say, Hillary-esque. Kristol writes:

Character is a legitimate issue. Obama hasn't shown much in the way of leadership or political courage, and he's consorted with dubious figures. It's fair to ask whether Barack Obama is personally trustworthy enough to be president, and the McCain campaign shouldn't be intimidated from going there.

Do I hear Mark Penn? Reprising Ayers, Wright and Co. will work for the McCain Republicans even less than it worked for Hillary Democrats. Man, that is totally old news! If the Republicans have a really good new scandal, that may be different. (Have you heard that Obama and Bin Laden have been spotted together on the same planet?)

Look, the campaign is far from over. But neither is the bad news about the economy. Where I think the Obama campaign has to hit back is over the stupid McCain-Palin claim that victory is in sight in Iraq. Sure, the levels of casualties are down; massive troop deployment does that. But as Peter Galbraith writes in the latest issue of the New York Review of Books,

Less violence, however, is not the same thing as success. The United States did not go to war in Iraq for the purpose of ending violence between contending sectarian forces. Success has to be measured against US objectives. John McCain proclaims his goal to be victory and says we are now winning in Iraq (a victory that will, of course, be lost if his allegedly pro-surrender opponent wins). He considers victory to be an Iraq that is "a democratic ally." George W. Bush has defined victory as a unified, democratic, and stable Iraq. Neither man has explained how he will transform Iraq's ruling theocrats into democrats, diminish Iran's vast influence in Baghdad, or reconcile Kurds and Sunnis to Iraq's new order. Remarkably, neither the Democrats nor the press has challenged them to do so.

(Galbraith's piece is a must-read for those who claim that the surge is working.)

2. New York Sun goes belly up. One of the nastier rightwing Jewish news rags, the New York Sun, folded last week. Barukh Dayyan Emes. Just more proof that God's special providence is at work. Read about it here.

3. Eckstein soaks the rightwing goyim for $824,000 a year. Haaretz reported that Rabbi Yehiel Eckstein, President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, received an annual salary of $824,000 last year. Ah, plus ├ža change…another clever Jew knows how to make money off of the goyim. Can't wait till it hits the blogs and general media.


Anonymous said...

A 6-7 point lead at this point in the campaign is not really meaningful, I would rate the race as "too close to call". I recall both Nixon in 68 and Carter in 76 had huge leads (20-30 points) some time before the election and both won by something like 1% in the end. Considering the major economic crisis and the fact that Republicans generally are not considered as favorable to the working man than Democrats, I don't think his lead is impressive. Before the crisis hit, I was sure that Obama would lose, now I am not sure but I think that McCain can still turn it around. I saw the first two debates and I would rate them both as ties, which for Palin is a major triumph, considering the way the media was dumping on her before.

I do agree that Obama as President would be very cautious, they say he has learned from Carter's mistakes. He himself said to the Jerusalem Post he can't impose a peace agreement which is not what a lot of "progressive" Jewish bloggers want to hear. They view him as some sort of miracle worker, for some reason.

Regarding the New York Sun, I have never read it, but if you want to talk about "rags", I think the "Left wing" Yediot Aharonot would classify as one. Yes, even Left wing papers can be garbage.

Jerry Haber said...

Y. Ben David, you may want to look at this post by Brian Schaffner on

He concludes his analysis of data from recent elections with the following remark:

"Despite the fact that McCain is only down by 5-7% nationally, time is running out and a comeback seems like a tall order. In the new era of partisan polarization, major October shifts in the presidential polls are unlikely. There are few undecided voters left to persuade at this point and in recent elections we've seen that few voters change their minds once they have settled on a candidate."

The debates so far haven't done much for either team of candidates.

I think that if Obama wins, the two main factors will be the economy and the choice of Palin. I know a lot of moderate republicans who are not voting for McCain because of Palin. As for Palin's "energizing the base," those folks would have voted for McCain in any event, even it they didn't show up for the rallies. If McCain wins by a squeaker, some people will credit Palin. But I think that, on the whole, a lot of conservative pundits will want to put the blame on Palin. I don't remember a single vice-president choice, including Agnew and Quayle, that has been criticized as much by pundits and columnists of that ideological persuasion. Brooks, Will, and a few others, have spoken out already -- but just see what happens if McCain loses states he was expected to win.

If that's the case, Sarah Palin will be finished on the national scene. She is no Ronnie Reagan.

As for calling her performance a "major triumph" -- well, my expectations were not as low as yours. I figured that if she is governor, she knows how to handle herself in a political debate. To think that she would run crying from the state is an insult to her and to the citizens of the great state of Alaska. Having said that, she consistently shows herself to be way out of her league. She may or may not turn out to be a good is too early to say. But never has there been somebody so little qualified to be a vice-president or president. McCain could have chosen much better men or women.

His choice may come back to haunt him.

Still, who knows...a month is a long time....

Anonymous said...

Jerry, you say that Palin's "energizing the base" was fairly inconsequential, that those folks would have voted for McCain anyway.

I beg to differ.

Sarah Palin's appeal is to the evangelical Christian right. They are only about 15-20% of voters, but many of them were planning to stay home in November.

Bush has not addressed their main concerns in any major way. Abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research are still on the table. A new Democratic president could easily overturn Bush's decision on stem cell research, California is joining several other states in permitting gay marriage, and most abortions, though not federally funded, are still available on demand, although it's getting harder to find a doctor who will provide an abortion.

All these things are eating at the evangelical right wing Christians. John McCain is seen as neutral or flip-floppy on these issues, but Sarah Palin is the answer to their prayers, as it were. That 15-20% of voters who will now come to the polls to vote for McCain - Palin could just be the voters who will put the ticket over the top. Certainly, Senator McCain hopes they are!

Anonymous said...

I think it is fair to suggest that Mccain's campaign is dead in the water at this point. Check out which shows Obama with over 320 Electoral votes. I don't know why so many religious Jews have made his election so prudential. It's not going to happen. For myself I will be making an intelligent choice and voting for Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party for President.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear. As a New Yorker, I'm relieved to see the The Sun sink, even though I have friends who wrote for it.