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.

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