Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Five Weeks Left

It's so hard to believe that this, the longest presidential campaign in history, is nearing an end. In five weeks Americans will head to their polling places and decide on local, state, and national races. Despite my original intention to head home for Election Day, I will instead be voting absentee. I don't believe NH absentee ballots will be available until next week, but if you are a college student registered to vote in the Granite State but won't be able to make home November 4, the absentee process is really, really simple.

First, print off and fill out this form. Then, find out where to mail the form by looking at this list of NH town clerks. Next, dole out the 42 cents for a stamp and put the form in the mail. Your town clerk will mail you a ballot. What's cool about voting absentee is that you can take your time before sending it back to your town of residence. Of course, make sure the ballot you send back is postmarked by November 4. Otherwise, you're ballot won't count and you'll have done all that for nothing.

OK, now that my absentee voting tutorial is out of the way I can get back into the current issues of the day. I don't want to sound overly optimistic, but I don't see much of a way that Barack Obama and Joe Biden lose this election after the events of these past few weeks. John McCain, with his schizophrenic and irresponsible attitude towards the financial crisis (i.e., saying the "fundamentals of our economy are strong" and then "suspending" his campaign and describing recent events as a financial Pearl Harbor within about a week), his inability to control surrogates like Carly Fiorina and Douglas Holtz-Eakin (who unbelievably said McCain was partially responsible the creation of the BlackBerry, a device McCain would have no idea how to operate), his lackluster debate performance, and the absolute joke his VP choice has turned into (more on that later).

McCain's completely botched political stunt last week, which included his petty attempt to postpone Friday's debate, may have provided all of us with a look into how a McCain presidency might look. Senator McCain suspended his campaign last Wednesday, even though his ads continued to run throughout the country, his surrogates made every attempt to portray Obama as an America-hating liberal tree-hugging dope fiend, and had enough time to do an interview with Katie Couric before heading back to Washington to New York. Oh, and in case you hadn't heard, that last bit pissed off a certain late night TV host.

So he went to Washington, sat a huge table in the White House where he apparently said nothing, and went back to Capitol Hill to try and save the day. Well, no deal was struck before Friday afternoon, he "un-suspended" his campaign, whimpered to the debate, looked really old, and then headed back to Washington. McCain spent all day Saturday on the phone with people directly involved in the process. Then, on the campaign trail Monday morning, he accused Obama (who has looked every bit the part of presidential throughout this crisis) of "phoning it in" in terms of trying to get the bailout legislation ready for a vote. Umm, yeah. I suppose we should now start being concerned about McCain's short-term memory.

The rest, as they say, is history. The House voted down the bailout plan by a 228-205 vote, leaving everyone scrambling for a new answer. McCain's campaign then had the gall to blame Obama for failure of the bailout plan, even though ANYONE paying attention to this process knows the deal failed because of the intransigence of House Republicans more concerned about losing their own jobs than figuring out a way to stop a 2nd Great Depression. The three-headed monster of House Republican jackasses of Blunt, Boehner and Cantor, for their part, blamed the failure of the bill on a partisan (yet entirely factual) speech given by Speaker Pelosi before the final vote.

(Quick aside: Are you fucking kidding me? The most important economic legislation since the New Deal was voted down because of a SPEECH BY THE HOUSE SPEAKER??!?!?!? That's beyond reprehensible. And these assholes wonder why voters have flocked away from their party in recent years.)

Anyway, I believe we've seen John McCain's true colors throughout this excursion. The old man just doesn't have the faculties, temperment and judgement to be president at this critical point in history. He decided to stop everything in his campaign so he could come back to Washington and deal with this economic issue (which, as I understand, is the first economic issue McCain has attempted to take a lead on during his entire time in Congress), and he couldn't even stick to his word. His campaign was immediately prepared to blame Obama for the failure of the bill, even though Obama's had literally nothing to do with process thus far (at the insistence of those in his party) and it's not entirely clear if either McCain or Obama would have supported the bill had it passed the House. When McCain's campaign issued their proclamation of blame on Obama, I knew for sure what I'd suspected for a long time:

The McCain campaign is so desperate right now that they will literally say ANYTHING, true or false, to disparage Obama.

I know that's not rocket science, but it should tell you something about McCain. The King of Straight Talk has turned into the King of Bullshit. As Ohio, Viriginia, New Hampshire, Florida, and Missouri slip away, McCain will continue to get even more desperate. I'm almost afraid to see where this will take us over the next five weeks.

Speaking of afraid, I present to you, in her unfettered glory, Mrs. Sarah Palin. I need no words to explain this except to say that former McCain adviser Mike Murphy, former Bush speechwriter David Frum, and conservative columnists Kathleen Parker, George Will and David S. Brooks have all called, in some fashion, for Palin to be removed from the ticket. Unbelievable.

I know I said I didn't want to sound too optimistic, especially in these dark times, but can you blame me?

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Electoral Map

Sorry for the infrequent posts, but between four classes and trying to run the sports section of a college newspaper I haven't had much time to indulge in writing about politics. There have been so many things in recent weeks that I wish I had the opportunity to write about, including the incredible Palin bounce, the financial meltdown, and the resurgence of the Obama campaign last week amongst a cavalcade of McCain blunders. I promise more from here until the election, but posts will likely be abbreviated. I will definitely have something this weekend following Friday night's first presidential debate.

Between now and Election Day I'll also try to update my electoral college map. The Fix has been running a contest on this, you can fill out your own too. As I have been predicting for a while, I believe the popular vote will be razor thin (no more than four points) but I see the electoral college will be a blowout for Obama. I'm holding out hope Obama can pull out Ohio, Virginia, the important states out west, and our beautiful Granite State. Take a look, and see if you agree or disagree, and make your own.

Check out my map here. Later.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Stretch Run

The conventions are over. The debates are right around the corner. And that magical day, November 4, the day that our nation will be forever changed, is in sight.

The stretch run of the 2008 presidential campaign is here.

Thursday night John McCain capped a listless GOP Convention with a similarly listless speech and catapulted us into this next, final phase of the election cycle. This came one day after Sarah Palin delivered one of the nastiest, meanest, most divisive political speeches in modern history. I was shocked by the positive public and media reaction to such a horrible speech. Maybe the media was trying to make up for several days of swarming, shark-like coverage of Palin and her family (I'll get to more of this in a bit), but a good speech was not what I saw on Wednesday night.

What I saw was a commitment to the politics that Barack Obama and Joe Biden have essentially sworn off; a politics of personal attacks that accomplish nothing in the long run. Palin's jab that being a mayor is kind of like being a community organizer except that you have "actual responsibilities" was one of the lowest blows of the entire campaign. The junkyard-dog mentality of the McCain campaign is now seemingly centered around the things Palin will say, and it's obvious she'll say anything to make people believe Obama is Satan incarnate.

It's nice to see the Republican Party that we all know and love come through at this convention.

The Republicans, per Mark Halperin, are going to try and paint Obama as an extreme liberal and somehow use his experience as a community organizer to belittle his overall credentials. Somehow I don't see this working. But it was during these two months that Republicans in 1988 turned Michael Dukakis into an aloof elitiest and in 2004 turned John Kerry into a windsurfing, French-looking weakling, while the Democrats made Bush 41 into an out-of-touch old fart in 1992 themselves. Considering the momentum Obama has shown throughout this election season, and his strong swing state numbers (check out Pollster and click on any state to see the most recent polling information), this may be much harder to do this time. Obama has shown extreme willingness to stand up in the face of these attacks, and that certainly separates him from the losers that have come before.

We can look forward to the debates, the warring surrogates, and the kissing of babies in Ohio, Colorado and New Hampshire. We can look forward to the candidates braving the cold in Michigan and avoiding the sun in New Mexico. We can look forward to outrageous political ads and how state and local races might affect the national election. We can look forward to two intense months of campaigning where every word spoken and every move made by John Sidney McCain III and Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. will have an eye towards the magic number (270) and the magic dates (the November 4 election, and the January 20 inauguration).

The greatest election of our lifetimes is headed to the stretch run. Don't blink until Election Day, you might miss something important.