Thursday, April 10, 2008
OBAMA MAY WELL WIN. UNLESS EVENTS INTERVENE.
The following is an expanded versionand a greatly altered one-- of an article for The Wanderer, the nations oldest national weekly Catholic newspaper.
I maintain and will until I am disproved on November 4, 2008 that the next president will be Barack Hussein Obama. He has the purest socialist voting record in the Senate, refuses to wear an American flag lapel pin or place his hand over his heart when the national anthem is played signifying his disdain of patriotic display. So since I know the gentleman (having interviewed him on ABC radio here extensively) I may pack my things and move to the farthest point in Christendom, there to watch what I fear could be the final dissolution of the American republic.
But, politics being politics, there is one factor that may derail the all-but-inevitable. Nowhere in history was it better articulated than by stuffy but erudite Harold MacMillan, Britains prime minister (1957-63)but more of that later.
He Will Have to Overturn Precedents.
There are several precedents in U. S. history that Obama, Destinys Tot, will have to overcome before winning the general election. So let me tick them off.
No candidate, since we have had primaries and caucuses, has ever been elected in November having lost more than one of the nations seven largest states. If Obama loses Pennsylvania later this month he will have rung up an historic first. Nor has a candidate who has lost six out of seven been nominated for presidentso he may chalk up yet another one. In fact, if the Dems ran their caucuses and primaries like the Republicans with winner-take-all, Hillary Clinton, not Obama, would be nominated right now.
Then the fact that no Democrat north of the Mason-Dixon line has been elected president since John F. Kennedy was in 1960. That no candidate has ever been elected to the presidency with such little state or national political experience, except except whom? Abraham Lincoln which fits right into the delirious enthusiasts mold.
Following which you have to consider that no president in modern times has been elected president with an undiluted straight ideologically pure liberal or conservative voting record. Barry Goldwater wasnt. George McGovern wasnt. McGovern outlined wild plans that even shocked Hubert Humphrey including a $1,000 per person grant from the feds which pleased the National Welfare Rights lobby and the mainstream [sic] adulatory news media. A drastic slashing of defense; a drastic expansion of domestic subsidies. McGovern was not for legalized abortion in 1972, a year before Roe v. Wade. Even so, he lost by the heaviest margin in history to Richard Nixon, of all people--carrying only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
And McGovern lost despite the fact that he had been an authentic hero of World War II, his valiant war record couldnt save him. As a B-24 Liberator bomber pilot with the 15th army air force he flew 35 missions over enemy territory from bases in North Africa and Italy, piloting his craft through downpours of enemy artillery fire and is the hero of the late historian Stephen Ambroses book The Wild Blue. When his plane was hit, as his crewmates prayed, he semi-stood up in the cabin to jerk the paralyzed controls to life and secured a successful crash landing on a tiny Mediterranean island, saving all hands on board and winning the Distinguished Flying Cross. His heroism rivals McCains but it didnt do him a bit of good. With a 90% liberal voting record he lost overwhelmingly.
In contrast, compared to Obama, McGovern of 1972 was a liberal mush, a moderate. He was not the most liberal senator in the chamber. In contrast to Obama of today.
The nonpartisan National Journal lists Obama as the most liberal of all senatorsmore than Ted Kennedy, Diane Feinstein or Barbara Boxer not to forget my own lip-synch bobbing head of lefty decadence Dick Durbin. The non-military-serving Obama is for tax hikes, for a drastic slash of the military, for more regulation, huge investments in domestic welfare programs not to forget his opposition to saving the lives of maimed babies born live after botched abortions where he has refused to agree to their being aided by nurses or doctors. Rather than preach abstinence to his young daughters, he has told them he doesnt want to see them punished be having a baby as result of illicit sexual intercourse, which he does not condemn. He has so identified with his racist ex-pastor Jeremiah Wright who has cursed the United States from the altar and who had charged that American doctors inoculated black babies with AIDS. Aided by his wife Michelle who has just now found her first reason to be proud of America, he has seen patriotism fall into question.
Then, with this extremely one-sided liberal record, how can Obama win, you ask?
To which I answer: this country has changed, lamentably. The decadence has affected not just the kids but older generations. In my own, I can identify a seemingly stolid exurban white couple graying, business-oriented, highly secular, highly materialistic-possessed, passionately pursuing fashionable trends, consumed with a wish to be relevant and chic. They worry about appearing old so they identify with youth. They want desperately to be in synch with the kids who turn glassy-eyed like cult worshipers, chant cool mantra-like slogans and seemingly swoon with euphoria. These late 60-somethings want so passionately to belong and want to get back in touch with their inner-child. Of course, they are Obama rooters.
To them you add the current crop of young: Start with the kids in their 20s. Theyre consumed by New Age glossolalia, his having attracted up to 22,000 swaying young enthusiasts at one time-- bereft of history beyond rock music to whom he is a Messiah or God-like figure, who dont care for specifics, in fact dislike issues, carried away with kairos, Greek for a collective sense of what they hope is deeply meaningful change and to metanioa calling forth radical change of mind or consciousness. Go to the mainstream media, to those journalists even in their `50s: Chris Matthews, Brian Williams of NBC, Katie Couric of CBS. Wind up with the elderly couple I cited in the last paragraphand move on to Warren Buffett and Paul Volcker, in their 70s.
Do you think a white-haired old man of 71 with a bump on his jaw from skin cancer who can hardly raise his arms above his shoulders and who has to pause while climbing stairs due to his broken knees from imprisonment in a long forgotten Vietnam war is going to capture them? Do you think he can compete with the Black Eyed Peas video, Yes, We Can! which is inter-stitched with clips, set to music, by chants from rock celebrities inter-cut with Obamas stump speech? Chris Matthews who worked for Tip ONeill another kid-wanna be admits to turn misty-eyed whenever he sees it and says This is better than Kennedy. Obama comes along and he seems to have the answers. This is New Testament!
These examples, young and old--have a spiritual hunger gone terribly wrong.
To this you can add a cadre of disgruntled conservative radio talk hosts who are not reconciled to McCain. Including Rush Limbaugh whose audience exceeds 20 million self-described ditto-heads and who earns $30 million a year who stands to make even more if Obama wins. A former p.r. man for the Kansas City Royals and Top 40 disc jockey, a drop-out from community college after flunking out following two freshman semesters, he is compulsively driven to announce his greatness something his fans take as self-deprecation but they are wrong: he never, ever self-deprecates; it is a virtual certainty that when he says his talent is on loan from God, he is not kidding since he is wildly, most pathologically, self-adulatory. He talks nonstop of politics though he never worked a precinct or sought to get a piece of legislation passed which entails issue compromises (which he shuns) who substitutes for reasoned discussion catch phrases that signal gotcha.
To him you add the Pat Buchanan paleo-conservatives who wish to return to the libertarian pre-World War II era of the America First committee of happy memory and who feel that we have been betrayed, ill-served with internationalism, a promiscuous free trade that abjures protectionism, an immigration policy that requires a 10-year moratorium for even legal immigration and a domestic government the size of 1800s to which Ron Paul (believing erroneously--contrary to this nations founders did that every dollar spent on government is a dollar spent to deprive us of our liberties) has added privatized highways and abolition of the Food & Drug Administration because consumers served by the free market should discover by trial and error what is poisoned and what is not.
Yes, there are optimists who say the Jeremiah Wright controversy once recycled by Republicans will destroy Obama. And who thrill that John McCain is still ahead of Obama by a point or two. But these are hardly persuasive. I say the Jeremiah Wright matter has done its salutary work to pull down the Messiah image of Obama but has been squeezed dry of any benefit. Besides, the great preponderance of the American people are not politically conscious yet. They follow the canon of the Sleepy Eye.
What Is the Sleepy Eye Theory?
You know what that theory is, dont you? Whatyou dont? Of course not, I havent told it to you yet. I learned it from Gene McCarthy one afternoon in Washington when he was lazily stirring his scotch and soda while in his mid-80s. He was the first one to tell me about the theory of the Sleepy Eye.
As all of us old Minnesotans know, there is a town in southern Minnesota named Sleepy Eye, named for an Indian chief with one permanently half-closed eyelid he suffered from a war wound but its mention started McCarthy explaining the theory which in more presidential elections than we realize has proved out.
He said: You know, all of us who have run for president hope that everything we say in-election year and out is remembered and stored up by the electorate so that were safely returned to power. But thats not so. When youre runningparticularly when youre running for presidentyou find that until late fall the electorate is interested in anything but the election. The World Series, the Sweet 16 high school basketball tourney, the final 4 in college basketballthey all have to happen before the American voter thinks seriously about the presidential. All the issues and charges we toss at each other are largely unnoticed but for the media and political junkies. Thenfinally toward the end of the campaign, the Sleepy Eye of the electorate opens for a bit and sizes up the candidates.
It makes a decision and then the Eye snaps shut and goes back to sleep and a final impression is formed. Once the judgment is made: Pffft! A decision is made. How does the Sleepy Eye work?
1. 1960. For most of the campaign it was thought that John Kennedy was no competition in experience or political savvy to Richard Nixon who was vice president. But the Sleepy Eye was fast asleep. They had a debate here in Chicago at CBS-TV, the studio of which has just been knocked down. The two appeared and the Sleepy Eye opened. It swiveled around, deduced that JFK was younger, more attractive, more confident and poised than the sweating, jerkily nervous Nixon. The eye shut and that was it. Pfffft! It was a close election but the choice was Kennedy. McCarthy opined that once in every presidential electionsometimes twice but most often just oncethe Sleepy Eye of the generally uninformed electorate opens and makes a conclusion on what it sees. After thatKennedy: 49.7%, Nixon: 49.5% Nixon: pfftff!
2. 1976. Presidential debates were supposedly a thing of the past when President Gerald Ford agreed to debate Jimmy Carter. Carter was a virtual unknown and not widely perceived with great distinction in the U.S. He had been only a one-term Georgia governor. In their second debate, the Sleepy Eye was opened just long enough to catch Ford announce that there is no Soviet domination of eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration! Max Frankel of The New York Times who was on the reporters panel was incredulous and asked Ford to repeat what he had just said. Instead of correcting himself, the president continued down that track: there is no Communist domination of eastern Europe. The Sleepy Eye widened, made its conclusion that Ford was distinctly not on top of events and it shut fast. Carter didnt have to say anything. On election day, the unknown Carter won with 50.1%. Ford pfffft!
3. 1984. On October 11 in Philadelphia a strangely fumbling, stammering Ronald Reagan at age 73 debated a younger, more aggressive 56-year-old Walter Mondale and flunked the test. But the Sleepy Eye had been snoozing. The second debate would be crucial. On October 22 they met in Kansas City and the Sleepy Eye was watching. Just in time to see Reagan say at the outset, I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponents youth and inexperience. His pompadour was neat, his body was trim and his eyes had a twinkling civility. The Eye concluded the age difference between them weighed in Reagans favorMondale pfffft!
4. 1992. Exactly eight years later to the day, October 11, President George H. W. Bush met two opponents, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot, in their first televised debate in St. Louis. At first the Sleepy Eye was snoozing but then it snapped awake. Bush attacked Clinton for his wartime anti-Vietnam protests abroad as a student. When the camera focused on Clinton for his response, he said quietly youre wrong to attack my patriotism. Your own father [Sen. Prescott Bush of Connecticut] had the courage to stand up to Joe McCarthy who was criticizing others patriotism. Bush shrank back. The Eye made a quick judgmentfor Clinton. But it wasnt over yet.
In a second debate on October 15, a clumsily phrased question from an audience member asked how Bush was reacting to the recession personally: was he feeling the pinch? The president shrugged it off with an inept answer and looked pointedly at his watch as if to say: enough with this stuff; I have a nation to govern. The Sleepy Eye made its judgment. Bush pfffft.
Likely Scenario This Year.
This year I think the Sleepy Eye of the electorate will largely pass over bickering TV commercials and the issues until the candidates debates. TV is Obamas medium. On the tube he is nearly unmatchable, poised, sincere-appearing, generalized, wittyeven funnycool and collected, deft in phrasing with a Harvard charm that ingratiated people to JFK. He is swimming with kairos generating that we are at a transformational moment to literally turn things around. He looks like a lighter skinned version of Sidney Poitier who so charmed Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in Guess Whos Coming to Dinner? In contrast, McCain as a short-fused old-timer, a hero all right but a man of the past and seemingly the defender of a 100 year occupation of Iraq. The Sleepy Eye will be watching and in this, their first confrontation, sadly, I would not bet against Obama.
But hold on. What possibly could turn it around for McCain? What was Harold MacMillan talking about?
Events, My Dear Boy, Events.
Asked when he was at the top of his popularity, in 1963, what could cause him to lose since the future was all but mapped out as a success for Conservatives,, he answered sagely: Events, my dear boy, events. Meaning that stuff happens which nobody can anticipate; MacMillan restored prosperity to Britain and a return of international acclaim following Britains debacle over Suez with Anthony Eden. He had returned Britain to top nuclear status. Then unbeknownst to him, up popped up a courtesan named Christine Keeler. She was conducting an affair with the secretary of state for war in his cabinet, John Profumo. Bad enough but then it was found that, at this height of the Cold War, she was also spending much romantic time with a Soviet intelligence officer posed at the USSRs embassy in London.
MacMillans government very nearly toppled being saved by one vote in the House of Commons. He breathed easier but then after a medical exam doctors told him he was near to breathing his lastfor he was dying of terminal prostate cancer. To spare the nation, he resigned. An event between his top national security aide and a woman who was also linked with a Russiansomething MacMillan couldnt have known was happening and pffft! The Conservatives chose Sir Alec Douglas-Home, a crotchety over-the-hill patrician with no sense of politics. He would serve a year until the next election.
But the incalculable round of unexpected events was not finished with MacMillan, 67. After a minor exploratory operation as a private citizen in the U.S., he was told the doctors diagnoses were 100% wrong! The prostate was surgically shaved and in a week he was back to tip-top shape but as a private citizen. The socialist medical scheme that had paralyzed British medicine was faulty. With the next election Laborite Harold Wilson took the helm. MacMillan lived 25 more years, dying at 92, having been bamboozed by rotten medical advice to retire just when he had achieved international success betrayed by wrong medical advice. Pfft! Once again, events.
So all I have to say to brighten your day against a Sleepy Eye judgment in favor of Obama is to hope that MacMillans theory of events, my dear boy, events enters the election. For in my view, only an event unknown and unperceived can derail the Obama juggernaut--future occurrences events we cannot know or predict. Events, my dear boy. It will not displease all conservatives. Limbaugh, whose grasp of history or public policy is on par with the average entertaining comic book, will have more grist for his mill and the paleos will have the chance to commandeer the Republican party and try to repeal the Pure Food and Drug Law.
Only events-my-dear-boy can change the course. Failing that: pffffft! I feel itll be Obama.