“Screwed the pooch.” It’s a great phrase that uses fornication with a dog as a vivid, absurd metaphor for dorking something up so bad that everyone who sees you doing it can only shake their heads and look away, disgusted but yet a little bit bemused. And my friends, you look up “pooch-screwing” in the dictionary, you’ll find that it says “See John McCain presidential campaign, managers of.”
When it looked like the Republicans were going to throw in the electoral towel by nominating either an empty suit, a crazy Christian, or a generally crazy person and admit that 8 years of Bush/Cheney/Rove ruined their brand, they got it together and nominated John McCain. War hero, experienced and popular Senator, guy with a reputation for not being under the thumb of the GOP leadership. Going up against Barack Obama, quickly becoming the darling of the Daily Show crowd, the Republicans picked the candidate who basically made the Daily Show with his famously well-humored response to Steve Carell’s ultimate gotcha on the Straight Talk Express back in 1999.
And then they told that guy to go screw off, and introduced the country to A-hole John. Out of touch, dishonest, pandering. It’s gone about as well as you would expect.
When John McCain did take the nomination, I was relieved. Republican that I am, I thought “Thank God. The party has been one big embarrassment for the past several years, but now I can vote for one of the few guys that wasn’t.” Not anymore. Given the conduct of the McCain campaign, I must throw my support to Barack Obama, and for the following reasons:
1. Sarah Palin – what a frighteningly stupid move picking this chick was. Thrust from national anonymity into the spotlight of a presidential campaign, she’s initially fawned over by the media and voters as the much-needed “game changer” that McCain was after. “Old guy listened to his gut,” everybody said. “What a maverick,” they said. She makes a carefully scripted but nevertheless punchy, red-meat fortified speech at the Republican National Convention. And then, in a series of embarrassing interviews with the mild-mannered Charlie Gibson and former America’s Sweetheart Katie Couric, reveals herself to be a clueless dolt. And then, in a series of stump speeches that continue to this day, reveals herself to be a strident harpy as well. She displays all the contemptible failures of character that Tricky Dick Cheney does, but none of the effectiveness and villainous intelligence. Cheney may have used the Constitution for fish-wrapping paper, but at least he succeeded in preventing another attack on American shores with those methods. With Palin, we’d have a dirty bomb in Epcot Center inside her ticket’s first 100 days. It’s telling that the McCain campaign had to fall back, predictably, on loud cries of sexism whenever their anointed loon came under attack – unfortunately, it’s not what’s between her legs that bothers me, it’s what isn’t between her ears.
2. The recent tone of the McCain campaign – in a word, unbecoming. Unbecoming the man who denounced the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry and frankly unbecoming our entire country. How embarrassing it has been, in 2008, to watch video in which our oft-lauded “salt of the earth” Americans who I have often stated make up the backbone of the military, economy, and society of this country, sound like benighted dullards at every turn. And how troubling it has been to see the McCain campaign pounce on this sad state of affairs. McCain has been trying to get the bigot toothpaste back in the tube over the past few days, but that shouldn’t obscure the fact that he let his shrill toady turn a tenuous connection of Obama’s to Bill Ayers (who, for the record, is a complete asshole that I wouldn’t piss on if he were on fire to put him out) into some sort of insidious partnership cloaked in secrecy. The McCainanites have stood there as Palin basked in shouts of “kill him” while she let her crowds turn uglier and uglier. Rep. Lewis was exactly right when he compared the tone of the campaign to the “climate and conditions” created by George Wallace in Alabama. The campaign isn’t being overtly racist, but has done shamefully little to contain that element at its events. Fortunately, the McCain attacks aren’t working.
3. Policy – I am going to sum this argument up with two examples. First, the quickie: I was watching TV the other night, and there was an Obama ad and a McCain ad almost back to back, with just another weird Burger King ad between them. The Obama ad was an explication of the candidate’s health care plan and an argument against McCain’s. The McCain ad was about Bill Ayers. The economy is in absolute tatters, there are serious matters at hand, and Obama responds with an issues ad. McCain responds with a character assassination. What seems more useful to you?
Second is offshore drilling. I’ve written about this before, but I’m going to go over this again for any of you who still think that it’s a good idea (this means you, Aaron Tippin). You can skip my argument and just go to this tidy little piece from those crazy redwood humpers and polar bear kissers at the Christian Science Monitor, but here we go:
The Minerals Management Service estimates that there are 86 billion barrels of oil in offshore regions. This estimation keeps going up as the political winds dictate, and just a few years ago the estimate was 45 billion. But, in the areas that McCain would open up, there are estimated to be around 19 billion. Let’s be generous and go with the 45, meeting somewhere in the middle. The United States uses an estimated 20.7 million barrels per day. That means there is just under 6 years’ worth of oil in them thar oceans. Six years’ worth, and that’s after the 10 years it will take to extract the oil have passed.
No wonder the Bush Administration’s own analysts have said that offshore drilling will have no significant effect on oil prices through 2030. It’s just plain stupid, but McCain is all for it. For me, that kind of poor judgement blows all the goodwill he’d built with me on the surge.
4. The Christian Right – McCain had Arnold Conrad introduce him in Iowa a few days ago. Here is what he said:
I would also pray Lord that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their God — whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah — that his [McCain’s] opponent wins for a variety of reasons. And Lord I pray that you would guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you would step forward and honor your own name in all that happens between now and Election Day. Oh Lord, we just commit this time to you, move among us, make your presence very well felt as we are gathered here today in Jesus’s name I pray.
I can’t stand and cast my vote with these people. Not if I want to ever respect myself again, anyway.
5. Warren Buffet – No president, no matter what he says, can “fix” this or any economy. The market forces involved are by and large beyond the scope of presidential authority or ability. But on the economy, Barack Obama has the endorsement of Warren Buffet. Warren Buffet is a financial genius. John McCain has the endorsement of Phil Gramm. Phil Gramm is not a financial genius.
Lots of reasons that Warren’s endorsement means a lot, but I want all of you who think that because Obama is going to raise taxes on the 5% of Americans earning over $250,000, we’re suddenly socialists and our economy is going to grind to a halt, read this story. The gist? The Oracle of Omaha, the ultimate anti-socialist, says “I see nothing wrong with those who have been blessed by this society to give a larger portion of their income to the society than somebody that’s working very, very hard to make ends meet.” So I guess Warren Buffet’s a pinko now, right, jackasses at Cape Fear BBQ in Fayetteville, North Carolina?
6. Barack Obama – if you’re able to think critically, you’ve hopefully noticed that I’ve decided to vote for Barack Obama for reasons that have a lot more to do with the McCain campaign sucking like a $500 Dyson instead of Obama being a good candidate. And believe me, I’m well aware that the man is flawed. He’s slick, for one. I don’t like slick. You don’t survive Rev. Wright, Bittergate, Bill Ayers, and the middle name “Hussein” in a presidential election without being slick. Obama talked around these issues more often than he tackled them head-on, and I wasn’t a fan of that. And admittedly, he’s very green for the chief executive role, a point that McCain and Co. somehow managed to fumble by talking about the Weather Underground all the time and then nullifying the point by selecting Our Sarah. And his support for ethanol is just…so…stupid.
But here’s the deal: ethanol aside, the dude is smart. B.A. from Columbia, thesis on Soviet nuclear disarmament. Harvard Law School, magna cum laude. Senior Lecturer at Chicago School of Law. A lot of people look at a C.V. like that and say “he thinks he’s better than you.” Good. Good. I freaking hope that the MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD thinks he’s better than me. I hope that he is better than me. I hope the President of the United States is smarter than me, more clever than me, braver than me, more well-read than me, more well-traveled than me…just plain more everything than me. You know that line of conventional wisdom that goes “People want to vote for a guy they can imagine having a beer with”? That’s some of the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard. Let me just say this: if I can imagine kicking back and having a beer with you, then I don’t want you anywhere near the Russians. They will eat you alive like the simple rube that you are. I don’t want you anywhere near the tax code. You won’t think it through. Jeffrey Fastow won’t pay any taxes because his lobbyist buddies duped you, but you’ll somehow be trying to collect $78,000 from a family dog in Bismark, North Dakota. I want somebody who is steeped in brainpower, has a bunch of degrees and a bunch of stamps on his passport, and knows how to think around corners. Barack Obama is that smart.
Also, I think his opposition to Iraq is one of the most overrated aspects of his candidacy, but the guy has it right on Pakistan, which is the real national security threat of the next decade. Iraq and Afghanistan are obviously must-wins, but Pakistan is the constantly evolving, inscrutable ticking time bomb of international terrorism. And Obama knows it, he knows the ISI is keeping the tribal areas safe for al-qaeda and the Taliban, and has the stones to say that if we’ve got a bead on a high-value target, and Pakistan won’t take the bastard out, then our Special Forces will. No kow-towing to our strategic reliance on Pakistan, no letting that country’s intelligence service leverage our relationship to carry out private and nefarious agenda. Just hey, your sovereignty doesn’t supercede our security. Deal. McCain’s big on his surge, and good for him, but he’s given me no indication whatsoever that he has a plan for Pakistan. And that’s a big miss.
The guy just gets it more than McCain does. Obama has proven, throughout the course of the campaign, to be more thoughtful, more intelligent, and more thorough than his opponent. McCain has flirted with self-destruction as Obama continues to draw crowds, donors, and the respect of military leaders, lawmakers, economists, and hell, even aides to John McCain who worked in the Reagan White House. I hope that a McCain loss, borne of a craven appeal to the racist, the frightened, and the under-educated, burns my party to the ground. Because it will be rebuilt again, and I hope the people restoring it pay attention to what happened in 2008. I hope they noticed that a bright, eloquent, educated, intellectual man won the presidency, and that when they’ve got the GOP up and running again, they have the sense to tell the creationists, the pro-lifers who stop caring about the fetus once it’s out of the womb, the protectionists, and the dittoheads to please get off, the country has passed them by. There’s a big difference, after all, between “elitism” and being elite. Get that sorted out, and I’m back on board. Until then, I’m voting Obama/Biden this year.