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State of the Race

I come from a long line of political junkies. I remember paying attention to the conventions, and the spectacle of the Roll-Call of the states during the convention, when conventions had some drama, rather than ritual coronations. My favorite TV-viewing day is Election Day. My family knows well enough that I’ll be glued to the set, with a computer in front of me as well.

I’ve watched very little of the DNC coverage this week. I can’t punish myself enough to listen to the caterwauling and ridiculous partisanship of the likes of Amy Klobuchar. How did this woman get elected, and elected handily? Completely beside the point, but I’m in a quandary. I’m trying to decide if Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer looks more like Tom Arnold or Randy Quaid. I’m leaning towards Arnold, but Schweitzer has some quality that evokes Quaid’s wacky brother-in-law in National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Nonetheless, I’m to the point where the most favorable reaction to hearing a political speech is ennui. I’m not inspired, just bored. Case in point: Michelle Obama drew high praise for her speech to the DNC on Monday night. Slate swooned over her, calling her “Brave”. Talk about defining bravery down.

I found nothing particularly brave about the speech. Nor did I find anything compelling. She threw out some nonsense about “journeys” and “threads”, nothing to articulate why her husband is equipped to be the next President.

I suppose she didn’t appear to be as angry and aggrieved as she had during some other speeches. That’s setting the bar awfully low, isn’t it? It’s not as if she came out like Patty Hearst in fully Symbionese Liberation Army regalia. All she had to do was look reasonably gracious, say nice things about her husband and the country, and bring out her kids. We learned that Barack’s a Swell Guy. Not all that complicated.

I’m also not particularly enamored over her husband’s rhetorical gifts, and I’m unnerved by those who are enraptured by them. What, exactly does he say that elicits “the tingle” down Chris Matthews’ leg? It certainly isn’t content. Nor does it have much to do with what I’m looking for in a President.

I also missed Joe Biden’s speech. I suspect that Biden is a hale-fellow-well-met, and might be a swell neighbor. My goodness, however, it wouldn’t take but a few moments to go glassy-eyed after hearing him bloviate. I just heard Tom Brokaw state what a formidable debater that Biden is. There’s a difference between a debate and an imperious Committee Chairman cutting off debate with the pounding of a gavel. I suspect that the more people see of Biden, the more quickly they’ll tire of him.

To me, there’s much less to Obama than meets the eye. He’s reasonably slick with a thin resume. The question is is he more Adlai Stevenson or Jimmy Carter?

Let me be clear on one thing: The Republicans deserve to have their heads handed to them in this election. The current Administration has been dreadful. On virtually every aspect of how a Presidency is evaluated, the current one has been a dismal disappointment. The prosecution of the Iraq war (up until the Surge) was ham-handed. The Hurricane Katrina aftermath was a complete fiasco. Of course the Louisiana politicians were culpable. So what? This administration failed in dealing with this in a coherent manner.

The President gets far too much credit when the economy is humming, and too much blame when it’s struggling. However, this administration has clearly made serious blunders. The Fed kept its boot on the neck of the housing market for far too long, then people were surprised when we’re in the midst of a mortgage crisis. Where were they three years ago? How come a knucklehead such as I could see that we were heading for trouble at least two years before they did? What were they doing?

Then there is foreign policy. This is the administration that wasn’t about the business of nation-building. Suddenly we have builders spread out across the globe. Ido understand and support at least the idea of promoting democracy around the world. It resonated in many countries, and the concept of self-determination is powerful.

However, the process of promoting democracies is tough, slow work. At times it seemed that the administration was caught betwixt the nation of spreading democracies, while slipping back to a sloppy realpolitick when they felt the situation warranted. True, there were few options in those thickets of Iran and North Korea. However, in many cases they have made a hash of it. Remember when the President looked into Putin’s eyes and could see his soul? McCain also looked in Putin’s eyes, and “saw three letters: A K, a G, and a B”. Who looks more sagacious now? How confident are the fledging democracies of the former Soviet bloc?

Lest I come across as someone with Bush Derangement Syndrome, I personally have no animus to him. I’m sure he’s a decent fellow, doing the best as he can. It’s just that the GOP picked the wrong guy 8 years ago.

Of course, the Republicans in Congress deserve as much derision as we can muster. Between Scandal, corruption, fecklessness, and blundering, the Republicans deserved to lose the Congress. Of course, the result of that is that we have the incredibly foolish Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.

The Righties in the media (the Hugh Hewitts, the National Review chaps, among others) all are applauding the GOP for their “Drill Drill Drill” stand. We’re a little behind the curve, aren’t we? Where were they two years ago, as gas prices kept on climbing? Why wasn’t the Executive Order lifted years ago? How come only when we’re facing gas prices of more than $4/gallon do we see any movement? Who was asleep?

Going into this year, John McCain was not my first choice for President. I’m not sure that I had a first choice. Fred Thompson, perhaps? I like Fred, and find him to be an excellent communicator. It was clear, however, that he lacked the will or resolve to run an effective campaign.

Mike Huckabee? The Huckster started off as an unknown, and ran an outstanding campaign with no money. He was engaging, and tremendous in the debates. Besides, he should be elected almost solely based upon the Chuck Norris commercial.

Still, it’s a bit disquieting for a pastor to abandon the pulpit in favor of the often grubby work of politics.

Mitt Romney? As I wrote earlier: Plastic Man, Suit. Unelectable. The Democrats would have a field day with his LBO career. All they would need to do was reprise Ted Kennedy’s Senate campaign.

That leaves us with McCain. There are a lot of things that McCain does that are unappealing. His obsession on campaign finance reform brought forward a system that’s awash in more money than ever before. Besides, why are we trying to limit speech, particularly political speech. All we’ve done is to add more regulation, with more cumbersome laws and rules (We should also blame Bush for this, as he was the one who signed this bad, bad law). McCain’s too much of a Global Warming Alarmist to suit me.

Nevertheless, McCain is a man of stature, of resolve.

Back during the Primary season, it was amazing to see Limbaugh, Hewitt, and those at the Nartional Review selling out for Romney, and seething about McCain. Some of the Evangelical Conservative leaders are such cheap dates. The idea that McCain isn’t conservative is laughable.. He doesn’t march lockstep, and does delight in poking the GOP establishment in the eye. He’s also the only Republican with a chance this year, and a good chance.

While the Democrats will depart Denver claiming to be excited and unified, there’s a fair chance that McCain can win, and it might not be all that close. Obama will get the true believers.and the hard core. Still, he has a lot of baggage that will cause many people to be reluctant to pull the trigger.for him. The pretentiousness, the callowness, the Ayers/Wright/Rezko connections….the nearly complete lack of wise policy ideas.

I’m certainly not a fan of the Imperial Presidency. I am interested in a President who is tough-minded and capable of showing resolve. I’m less interested in a citizen of the world who wants to “heal the planet” than someone who won’t have the USof A trifled with. I’d just as soon as the President isn’t obsessed with “getting things done”, than he is in defending the country and upholding the Constitution.

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