Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The New Age - Dawning Still
My sister told me today about encountering last week a woman, a self-proclaimed born-again Lexus-driving rabbi, who said she doesn't want to vote for Obama because he is "Muslim," a fact that she just has to believe.

I replied to my sister in some flippant manner, because that's the kind of person I am.

And a moment later I told her, in seriousness, this is probably a basis for optimism.  Racial bigotry, while still a serious concern, is on its last legs.  Many of the people willing to grasp at the straw of Obama's "Muslim" religion are aware that the anti-black prejudice that ultimately dictates their vote is now something shameful that must be hidden.  They are the children of a population that couldn't feel shame about disliking blacks;  the parents of people who will begrudgingly vote for Obama.  And they are grandparents of people who will not even remember who the first non-white president was.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Winning Lie
Last week the GOP gave us a number of speakers drawing attention to the fact that Sen. McCain supported the Iraq war strategy known as "the surge", and that Sen. Obama did not.  At times their criticism of Obama based on spurning the surge sank to the level of mockery.

Typically the speaker would say something about Obama declaring the war as lost and refusing to support the surge, at which point the crowd would boo loudly.  They would follow this up and receive even louder cheers by saying that McCain supported the surge and now we are winning.  There we find the lie.

The claim that we are winning in Iraq is a wonderful example of political misuse of our language.  Winning, you understand, means being better off in some way, than you were before entering the competition.

About nine months ago, I had a serious car crash.  The Ford Explorer I was driving (not too well, apparently) was totaled when I drove it into a tree.  That impact got its start about one hundred meters away, where I drove over some ice covered by a thin layer of snow at the beginning of a left turn.  At that point I lost control of where the car was going.  My attempts at correction were either futile or over compensating.  The car and I crossed the left lane of the two lane road and nearly hit a fence on that side of the road, but continuing in a nearly straight line we crossed the road and went head on into a tree on the right side.  After the jolt, I was nearly overwhelmed by the sound of the horn blaring and the gunpowdery smell of the airbag propellant.  I was alive and relatively uninjured ~ no hospital visit was required. 

Our nation's experience in Iraq since 2003 has been like my adventure in the Explorer: poorly planned; an ineffective reaction to a precipitating event; involving unexpected results; loud; smoky; and, not fatal (except to the 4100 soldiers who have died in Iraq, and whom we are trained to ignore).

There is no way to win a car wreck.  And there is no way to win a war.  When you drop the first bomb, you are merely admitting that you have lost.

Oh, the one difference between the car crash and the war in Iraq: the tree survived my assault without any apparent harm.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Seen This Movie Before

USAToday has a story in its September 3 online edition about McCain's vice-president pick. In one interesting line, it says, "Palin, 44 and the mother of five, has energy, poise, a down-to-earth manner and a compelling personal story: from the PTA to the statehouse."

Something about that brought to mind another vice-presidential pick who used the PTA as a springboard to political prominence and ultimately disgrace: Spiro Agnew who had run as a reformer in a generally corrupt county prior to being selected by Richard Nixon in 1968.

Of course, Ms. Palin was only four years old at that time and probably does not remember that. And since John McCain was out of the country for all of Agnew's time as vice-president he might not remember it either.

Good luck, Sarah. As you return to private life, I hope you don't carry the stigma of having accepted punishment stemming from bribery allegations as did Spiro.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What?! Eagleton Cost McGovern the Election?

Here I am, watching the Republican Convention in the comfort of my living room, and Jim Lehrer asked Mark Shields to weigh in on the importance of the person selected by a presidential nominee to fill the vice-president slot one the ticket.

Shields blathered on for a while about what a problem Eagleton was for George McGovern.  He mentioned that the number of days that Eagleton stayed on the ticket didn't leave the McGovern campaign enough time to recover from the selection faux pas.  He spoke as though McGovern's choice of Eagleton was the nail in the coffin of his presidential hopes.
David Brooks and Jim Lehrer just nodded along as though nothing Shields said was substantially wrong.

Have they forgotten that Richard Nixon and his staff and supporters, many of them later to serve time in prison, made sure that the fix was in before the primaries were over?  Nixon wasn't going to allow anything to get in the way of a second term.  Eagleton had nothing to do with it.  Had McGovern been able to get Abraham Lincoln to come back from the grave to run with him, John Mitchell and his criminal gang would have prevented even that from having a favorable impact.

Richard Nixon, not Thomas Eagleton, harmed McGovern's campaign.

But even more, and this is what should be mentioned every time anyone speaks of that election, Richard Nixon harmed the people of the United States of America.