Archive for August, 2008

The View From Golda’s Balcony

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Driving into downtown Denver today, you could sense the excitement building. I drove past a billboard with a drawing of a red, white, and blue donkey on the left, and a Prius on the right. Beneath the donkey it said: “Delegates: 4,439 Strong.” Beneath the Toyota it said: “Prius: 1,000,000 Strong.” Something tells me the message will find a receptive audience this week.

I was in Denver tonight for a private screening of the film Golda’s Balcony, hosted by the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC). The movie was shown at a church, next to the Golda Meir house, on the Auraria Campus downtown. First, some history: Meir was born in Russia and, to avoid pogroms, emigrated to Milwaukee, but after 8th grade, her parents told her should could not go to high school — she would have to work in the family store — so she packed a bag and ran away — to Denver — to live with her sister and brother-in-law. She stayed for two years, attending North High School, meeting Jewish intellectuals, many of whom were in Denver being treated for tuberculosis. It was the start of her Zionist journey. I found two dollars on the sidewalk outside the house, and slipped it in a glass box, near the front, as a donation. The latest CNN poll on Sunday showed the race in a dead heat. Obama-Biden needs all the karma it can get.

There were about 150 people at the screening. I’d seen the play on Broadway, and been extremely moved. The movie, starring Valerie Harper (of “Rhoda” fame), employed some of the same devices: Harper, as Meir, narrating her story directly, speaking to the audience. In the film, still shots flashed behind Meir — images that reinforced the dialouge. (For instance, when Meir spoke about the Holocaust, horrifying images of the camps flashed behind her.) Harper played all parts — including Meir’s husband, and her war cabinet. It was jarring, at first — so different from what we are used to seeing in film. But the story was so compelling, you quickly forgot the devices, and were simply absorbed by the tale.

The most gripping part of the film dramatizes Meir’s handling of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Arab armies launched the surprise attack against Israel. Meir is told by Moshe Dayan and other generals, after the first day of fighting, that the Golan front is collapsing — Israel is down to only a few tanks — and they are dangerously short of supplies on the Egyptian front. At some point, Meir recognizes, it’s no longer a question of maintaining hold of the Sinai: Israel is on the verge of crumbling before the Arab onslaught.

She sits in her office, chain-smoking, unable to eat, unable to sleep. The Zionist vision she has been advancing all of her life — a political response to the Holocaust, addressing the need for a safe refuge that would allow the ingathering of Jews from around the world — is slipping away. And Meir, as prime minister, is overseeing its demise. She picks up the phone again and again, pushing her aid to get Henry Kissinger on the line — to tell President Nixon that Israel needs planes and tanks and supplies to fight back. That its very existence is at stake. Kissinger, it seems, was hard to get on the phone.

At this point, Meir begins another narrative. The story of how Israel found uranium in the Negev, and began working to build a nuclear bomb, miles beneath the desert. How Israel told the world it was building a “desalination plant.” And how she stood, on an underground platform high above it all — monitoring the development of nuclear warheads. She was there so often, the technicians started calling it “Golda’s Balcony.”

Now, with the Arab armies advancing, Meir had a choice: arm the fighter jets with the nuclear-tipped weapons, or do nothing, and see Israel and all its Jews forced into the sea. “To save the world you created,” muses Meir, agonizing over her options, “how many worlds are you entilted to destroy?” She makes the decision to arm the planes, and orders her aid to call Kissinger, to tell him: I have authorized our pilots to hit the “Arab military headquarters” — her euphemism for Cairo and Damascus.

I’m sitting there, in this soaring church, and something inside me is churning. Not just because of what happened to Israel 25-years ago, not just because of Meir’s despair, but, I realize, because of a point my father-in-law has made to me, over the course of this campaign. The one thing, he says, that many pro-Israel, Obama-leaning Jews fear about Barack Obama is this: How will he react, at 3 a.m., if he gets the call that Iran has launched a nuclear (or other) attack on Israel? Would he, in that split second, make the decision to use whatever means necessary — military and otherwise — to defend the Jewish state? Obama is a peacemaker, my father-in-law said, a wonderful trait — a trait he shares — but what would that mean, when push came to shove, for the Jewish state in a desperate moment of survival?

In 1973, with the threat of a Mideast nuclear war looming, Kissinger finally sent help. Israel received word that planes, tanks, and munitions were on the way, and unloaded on the Egyptians with everything it had. Ariel Sharon crossed the Suez, out-flanking the Egyptian army from behind. It’s not a stretch to say the state had been saved by her decision. And yet watching this movie, you can see that making the choice nearly killed her. After it was all over, Kissinger told Meir: “You blackmailed me.” Meir responded: “Only blackmail?”

Meir had something in her, something to do with her dedication to her life’s cause, that most of us don’t have. It cost her her marriage, her husband. At one point, with her daughter and grandkids in a kibbutz near the Egyptian border, Meir talks about how she knew there was a chance that war would break out the next morning, and her daughter’s kibbutz would be overrun. She didn’t tell her daughter what she knew, though. When war did break out, her daughter demanded to know why her mother hadn’t warned her of the danger ahead of time. Meir said: “I couldn’t tell everybody — How could I tell you?”

After the movie, Harper — in attendance for the screening — took the stage and received a powerful, extended standing ovation. “Thank you, Denver, for what you did in shaping this magnificent woman, our Golda Meir,” she said.

Following a q-and-a, in a square outside the Golda Meir House, the NJDC hosted an event, honoring Jewish members of Congress. Among those present were Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (New York), Sen. Carl Levin (Michigan), and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (New Jersey).

“There’s no difference between the candidates on Israel,” Sen. Levin said. “They’re both strong supporters of Israel.” The key to Israel’s security, he said, is to “reach out and pull in allies — and there’s no one better to do that than Barack Obama.”

“Barack Obama is a fine friend of Israel,” said Rep. Nadler. “So is John McCain. So is George Bush, for that matter.” Nadler said, however, that Bush’s policies have made Israel less safe, by empowering Iran. Then, alluding to the movie we had just seen, he said: “The biggest threat to Israel is Iran. And Barack Obama will follow policies that will avoid two years from now having two choices” — as Meir had — “One: Do Nothing; Two: Attack Iran.” The latter choice, he said, would be “catastrophic” for Israel — because Iran would launch 40,000 missiles at Israel from Lebanon. The only way to deal with Iran, he said, is with “very big sticks, and big carrots: If you behave, if you give up your nuclear weapons and … stop funding Hezbollah, we’ll be very nice to you.”

Essentially, the Congressmen were making the case that by restoring America as a respected world leader, building strong coalitions with allies, and confronting Iran with strength — negotiations backed by the threat of military action — it would force Iran to climb down from its nuclear ledge. Obama would succeed where Bush has failed — containing Iran — and thus he would avoid the 3 a.m. pho
ne call that my father-in-law posited.

Standing just a few yards away from the house where Golda Meir’s Zionist path began, I couldn’t help but think that Meir, herself, would put her faith in the peacemaker, ahead of the warrior. Meir, as Golda’s Balcony shows over and over again, had a peacmaker’s mentality. Each and every Jewish soldiers’ death anguished her. But she was equally anguished by the fact that Jewish young men were put in a position where they had to kill.

Inscribed on a plaque, on the wall of the home where Golda once served tea to Jewish intellectuals, is the following quote from Meir: “A leader who doesn’t stutter before he sends his nation into battle, is not fit to be a leader.”

Barack Obama would stutter at 3 a.m. That’s exactly the point.

And that’s why I am voting for him.

The AP Hatchet Job

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Feeling bouyant about Obama’s choice for VP, I log on to my email account this morning, to see a string of Associated Press headlines and articles slamming Obama:

Analysis: Is Obama Ready for the World’s Toughest Job?
Analysis: Biden Pick Shows Lack of Confidence
Biden Pick Draws Democratic Praise, GOP Criticism

Bam! Bam! Bam! As Springsteen sings: shot between the eyes!

And some of you wonder why I post as The NeuroticDemocrat?

(Compare this to how the NY Times objectively portrayed the day’s news in the headline: “Obama Adds Foreign Expertise to the Ticket,” subhead: “Selection of Biden Puts an Emphasis on Experience”)

I know the AP has a long history of abusing Obama in this race, but this trifecta is worth commenting on.

The first article, by Christopher Wills http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080823/ap_on_el_pr/obama_ready_to_lead, begins this way:

“SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Americans picking a president usually turn to people who have run states or armies. The biggest thing Barack Obama has ever run is his own presidential campaign.
The 47-year-old Illinois senator is asking voters to look beyond his thin resume and conclude that he has the wisdom and toughness to be president. The economy, terrorism, health care — he hopes voters will trust him with all that and more.
That’s a lot to ask for someone who just a few years ago was an obscure member of the Illinois Legislature.”

Questions for Chris: What’s the biggest thing John McCain has run? Isn’t it conventional wisdom in this country that the presidential campaign you run actually does say something important about the candidate? (Witness the Atlantic Monthly’s reporting about how the Clinton candidacy imploded in a tsunami of mismanagement — which seems to me like perhaps one of the most compelling arguments against her for president.) When has Obama described his own resume as “thin,” as you suggest here? And what about it, exactly, is “thin”? Does the community organizing not count? Does his experience as a lawyer, and as a teacher of constitutional law, not count? Does his experience as a state legislator not count? Would you have used the same adjective, in a news analysis, to describe George Bush’s military resume vis-a-vis John Kerry’s, four years ago? What is your evidence that Obama was “obscure” in the legislature?

And that headline, “Is Obama Ready for the World’s Toughest Job?” — Couldn’t that have been ripped directly from the McCain attack machine? Isn’t one of their constant refrains: “Is he ready?” The AP’s raising it this way emphatically suggests the answer to anyone who is even moderately paying attention: No. He’s not ready. (A different writer, who is not pro-McCain, might write a story headlined, for example: “Has Obama’s Unique Experience Readied Him for the Presidency?” It could still probe the same themes, but without shredding Obama before the dateline is written.) This was a gift, on what should be one of Obama’s days in the spotlight, to the McCain campaign.

Now to the other headline, over the article by Ron Fournier: “Analysis: Biden Pick Shows Lack of Confidence.” http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080823/ap_on_el_pr/veepstakes_analysis

Here is the key graf: “The picks say something profound about Obama: For all his self-confidence, the 47-year-old Illinois senator worried that he couldn’t beat Republican John McCain without help from a seasoned politician willing to attack. The Biden selection is the next logistical step in an Obama campaign that has become more negative — a strategic decision that may be necessary but threatens to run counter to his image.”

Questions for Ron: Why doesn’t the pick say something about the fact that McCain has unleashed a blisteringly string of negative attacks, which runs counter to McCain’s image, and that Obama showed good judment and political smarts in picking someone (unlike, say, John Edwards four years ago, or Lieberman eight years ago) who is willing, capable, and adept and fighting back? How does an editor possibly conclude for a headline, even from what you write here, that the pick shows a “lack of confidence”? Could you look at this pick of Biden — a strong, seasoned foreign policy veteran with years of experience — and conclude that the pick is illustrative of Obama’s supreme confidence: That he is not afraid to have as his right-hand-man one of the titans of foreign affairs. Doesn’t it require confidence to invite this kind of heft into your administration? Doesn’t it say that Obama is not afraid to be pushed and prodded and challenged? And, taking a step back — isn’t it exactly that kind of challenging that, over time, will lead to better policy-making? Better decisions? Isn’t the lack of this kind of back-and-forth one of the biggest reasons that the Bush administration has been such an abject failure? (Even, it seems, in the eyes of John McCain.) Isn’t it possible, Ron, that choosing a person who has in fact criticized Obama before, as a running mate, is an expression self-confidence, rather than evidence of its absence?

Reasonable people could have different answers to this question. My point is simply that in asserting these headlines, helping to shape how people receive this pick, on this day, is loaded and slanted and inherently biased in favor of McCain. Let’s see what the AP headlines are when McCain makes his pick. Something tells me they won’t be nearly as cutting.

There is so much more to say today, but my family is waiting for me at the Pearl St. Mall in downtown Boulder, so I’ll just touch on the highlights.

I ended my CNN boycott to watch the day’s political news unfold. That didn’ t last long. One thing that struck me about the narrative the press is going to push this week is the “Snubbed Clinton” line. Today she was snubbed because she wasn’t vetted for VP. And she and Bill were snubbed because Obama didn’t call to seek their counsel. I have to say, I have been tremendously impressed with Hillary Clinton, herself, in all of this — her grace in complimenting Obama’s choice, today, and in complimenting Obama. Surely, that was not easy. Indeed, the way she is acquitting herself in all of this makes me feel better and better about her as a presidential candidate in the future, should she ever run again. But the way these nameless supporters of hers are carrying on, behind the scenes — leaking their frustration anonymously to CNN — in a way that only serves to undermine the Obama-Biden ticket: It’s a shanda. A disgrace. I have a three-year-old who behaves better when he doesn’t get what he wants. It’s some of the same reckless, near-sighted, ugly behavior that doomed the Clinton campaign from the start.

Speaking of my three-year-old: I need to go find him on Pearl St.

I feel an uptick, today. I feel something shifting for Obama. Something not even the AP, in its infinite wisdom, can crush.

Rocky Mountain Low

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Not a good two days for the NeuroticDemocrat.

Started yesterday morning reading, in the Times, that Obama voted against a “Born Alive” bill while in the Illinois Legislature. Anti-abortion advocates were demanding he account for this vote. (An almost identical bill in the U.S. Congress drew wide bipartisan support.) Obama said that in Illinois, it had been paired with another bill that would have criminalized certain abortion procedures. Bill sponsors dispute that. I finished reading the story with a kind of a muddled feeling. I would have had a few followup questions for Obama, starting with: Where do you stand on the bill today? The NeuroticDemocrat has no trouble envisioning the ads this October, skewering Obama for wanting to kill live-born aborted fetuses.

It was a travel day yesterday, as my family left Cleveland for Denver. Mostly, on the trip, I played Shark Attack with my three-and-a-half year old, while my one-and-a-half-year-old climbed over chairs and turned the overhead light on and off over and over, refusing to take his nap. We had a fantastic afternoon in Boulder, the boys running up and down Pearl St., finishing the day at the farmer’s market, where the kids found musical heaven in a woman with a bongo drum and an assortment of kid-friendly instruments.

Then came the call from my grandmother, who convinced me, in no time, that Obama has been completely ineffective in his communication strategy, allowing himself to be constantly placed on the defensive by GOP attacks. She noted that Obama was only up one point in the latest poll she had seen.

Today, we spent some time walking around downtown Denver. There are plenty of stores selling Democratic/Obama gear and apparel, though not as many as I would have imagined. One store is selling a shirt with a drawing of Hillary Clinton on it, above the words: “I support Obama.” Later in the day, I received an email from a friend, a McCain supporter in Chicago, who told me McCain was up five points in one poll. This, after spending the afternoon in the car with two Denver locals — both Obama supporters — who implored me to help them make the case for Obama to their Jewish friends, who remain skeptical. Among their chief concerns: Obama’s judgment in staying in Rev. Wright’s church for 20 years, and his “flip-flopping” on the issues.

Just before heading to bed, I read an email from a buddy of mine — a banker from Charlotte, North Carolina — who says he is “looking to vote for Obama but is so unexcited about that prospect.” He made a few criticisms of Obama. He doesn’t think Obama’s spending plan is fiscally responsible, and he didn’t like his answer, at Saddleback Church, when asked to name a “gut-wrenching” decision he’d made in his life (Obama’s answer: His decision to oppose the war in Iraq). My friend concluding with this: “*what won him the democratic nomination when he was on a roll was his voice of change / hope / a ‘reinvented america’ that competes globally and is fair to its citizens — dude, this is absent in his current campaign and why he is slipping… it also nicely countered the first 2 items above which are weak points he won’t overcome…”

I would argue that McCain, with his proposal to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, is the more fiscally irresponsible — but a Republican like McCain isn’t easily tagged that way. I agree with my friend, though, about Obama’s answer to the “gut-wrenching” question. McCain’s answer (his decision to STAY IN the Vietnamese POW camp, when offered the chance to leave, so as not to hand the enemy a propoganda victory) was much better. It’s astounding to me that Obama couldn’t come up with something better, too — he needs to dig deeper, on the personal front, to connect. Think of the people you know and love. Who among them would say that their most gut-wrenching decision was a political stance?

My most gut-wrenching decisions have had to do with the people I love most — decisions revolving around family conflict; decisions that I spent a great deal of time ruminating on, seeking the counsel, sometimes over a number of conversations, of those I know and love. My decision, when I was 22, to leave America for the first time — and to quit a great job I had at a newspaper that I loved — to live in Israel for a year — that was gut-wrenching. My decision to leave another job four years later, as a reporter for a wire-service, to devote my life to writing fiction — that was gut-wrenching. Decisions about who to love and who not to love, and what to tell your three-year-old when he asks you what happened to his great-grandfather, who’d recently passed away: these are gut-wrenching, each in their own way.

I know that Obama has faced these, and tougher. I’ve read his books. Look at the sections in “The Audacity of Hope,” when he talks about what it’s like being away from his daughters on the campaign trail, or how he feels, speaking to them about death. I know he is real and compassionate and filled with the kind of empathy we want and desperately need in a president.

Why he gave the answer he did, at this stage in the presidential campaign — that’s beyond me.

My Education Regarding Mr. Brooks

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

It’s 8:42 a.m, and, already, this neurotic Democrat has heartburn.

The specific source is David Brooks’ column in the NY Times, which confounds me. In the column, Brooks argues that McCain essentially tried to run an upstanding, maverick, different-style campaign — “free of circus antics” — but he was essentially thwarted by the media and events.

McCain started out with a kibbitzing, free-wheeling style with his reporters on his campaign bus, but because “25-year-old reporters” dared to blog about “every odd comment” of a presidential candidate, he had to stop doing that. (How dare they write about the things a candidate for president says, to reporters, on his campaign bus! How dare the people who disagree with those comments voice their opinions in the public sphere!)

McCain started out with the kind of “improvised campaign events he’d used his entire career,” but he was thwarted, essentially because he couldn’t “penetrate through the national clutter.” (IE, he chose a less genuine campaign approach — but it’s not his fault! The media wasn’t writing enough about the genuine McCain! It’s Obama’s fault! Obama is making McCain un-spontaneous!)

McCain tried “going places other Republicans don’t go,” but he wasn’t able to get any traction. (Should he suddenly be hailed for making a pit-stop in New Orleans, when, as Frank Rich reported Sunday, he was not at all quick to take up the cause in the aftermath of the Hurricane? Should we stop everything and laud the man who wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent for visiting impoverished areas of the South?)

McCain “started with grand ideas about breaking the mold of modern politics,” inviting Obama to tour the country with him in join town meetings, but Obama vetoed the idea. (Why should Obama leap to fulfill McCain’s self-serving political vision of how the debates should be run? McCain picked the forum most appealling and beneficial to him. Is Brooks so naive as to assume that McCain proposed this format in the interest of “breaking the mold” rather than, partly or mostly, in the interest of gaining on Obama in the polls?)

Here’s the key graf

McCain and his advisers have been compelled to adjust to the hostile environment around them. They have been compelled, at least in their telling, to abandon the campaign they had hoped to run. Now they are running a much more conventional race, the kind McCain himself used to ridicule.

And whose fault is this? Obama’s, of course! It’s Obama’s fault that McCain “now attacks Obama daily.” He was getting all the press!

I used to admire and respect David Brooks, even though I didn’t always agree with him. I felt he was an honest broker, who would criticize Democrats as well as Republicans who derserved it. He’s lost me in this election, though, and this column is a good example of the reason why. Brooks is all about personal, individual responsibility. Yet in this column, he lets McCain off the hook, emotionally, for every last one of his transgressions — transgressions, by the way, that undermine McCain’s central claim that he is the dignified, high-minded, man of character in the race — because, in the end, as Brooks puts it about McCain’s attacks: “It is working.”

“A long-shot candidacy now seems entirely plausible.”

Can you get more Machiavellian than this? David Brooks — where is your honor?
Brooks, in his closing graf, holds out hope not that McCain’s vicious tone will change during the election, but that, once he’s elected, he will miraculously be able to govern as if he had run the style of campaign he’d pledged to run. But, as the Atlantic Monthly’s election coverage points out this month — exactly the opposite is true. If he spends the next 3 months attacking Obama daily, tearing him apart, he might win, but there’s no way he’ll be able to govern. He’s be scorned by the 49 percent of the electorate that didn’t vote for him, and outright despised by millions — and likely facing a Congress with even stronger Democratic majorities.

But he’ll be in the White House! Oh Happy Day!

The inescapable message of Brooks’ column is that, while it’s sad, so sad, McCain has been forced into the gutter. If David Brooks isn’t going to hold his candidate to a higher standard; if he’s going to be okay with the Paris Hilton celebrity ads, and the Corsi books, and the torrent of self-righteousness that McCain is spewing (Yesterday, McCain told a group of vets at the VFW convention in Orlando: “Both candidates in this election pledge to end this war and bring our troops home. The great difference — the great difference — is that I intend to win it first.”), then we can forget the next four years, too.

The good news is, since I began writing this post, we have moved 39 minutes closer to election day.

The End is Near

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

I have been feeling a certain dread about Barack Obama’s political prospects since David Brook’s column in the New York Times last week, “Where’s the Landslide?”, which sought to explain why Obama is not up 20 or so points in the national polls. The dread was compounded by the recent article in the Times quoting Democrats, including Ohio Gov. Strickland, saying that Obama needed to do much more to put a fine point on his message about change. I have felt queasy as I’ve watched Obama’s lead evaporating. I have sworn to myself that I would only check the poll updates on Realclearpolitics once every two or so weeks, so as not to be swept up in the daily August polling madness, which everyone I trust tells me doesn’t matter one iota anyway.

I was feeling pretty good about Obama yesterday, though, in part because I had just read the Atlantic Monthly’s Election issue coverage — which was so clear-eyed, and so non-hysterical, it made me momentarily believe one could be both passionate about politics and at the same time, clear-eyed and non-hysterical (more on this coverage, later). Also, I had the good fortune of reading Frank Rich’s column in the Sunday Times, on a morning flight from Newark to Cleveland.

Rich seemed to be taking Brooks on directly when he wrote:

It seems almost churlish to look at some actual facts. No presidential candidate was breaking the 50 percent mark in mid-August polls in 2004 or 2000. Obama’s average lead of three to four points is marginally larger than both John Kerry’s and Al Gore’s leads then (each was winning by one point in Gallup surveys). Obama is also ahead of Ronald Reagan in mid-August 1980 (40 percent to Jimmy Carter’s 46). At Pollster.com, which aggregates polls and gauges the electoral count, Obama as of Friday stood at 284 electoral votes, McCain at 169. That means McCain could win all 85 electoral votes in current toss-up states and still lose the election.

For a moment, at 30,000 feet, I felt that I could actually breathe again. All was not quite lost for the Democrats in mid-August. Here was a reputable source, albeit a liberal one, implying that Barack Obama may yet have a chance to win the presidency on August 17!

Rich continued

So why isn’t Obama romping? The obvious answer — and both the excessively genteel Obama campaign and a too-compliant press bear responsibility for it — is that the public doesn’t know who on earth John McCain is. … McCain never called for Donald Rumsfeld to be fired and didn’t start criticizing the war plan until late August 2003, nearly four months after ‘Mission Accomplished.’ By then the growing insurgency was undeniable. On the day Hurricane Katrina hit, McCain laughed it up with the oblivious president at a birthday photo-op in Arizona. McCain didn’t get to New Orleans for another six months and didn’t sharply express public criticism of the Bush response to the calamity until this April, when he traveled to the Gulf Coast in desperate search of election-year pageantry surrounding him with black extras.
McCain long ago embraced the right’s agents of intolerance, even spending months courting the Rev. John Hagee, whose fringe views about Roman Catholics and the Holocaust were known to anyone who can use the Internet.

All was not lost! The press would soon start to cover “The Real McCain.” He would be unmasked.
Things started to turn for me, though, shortly after I got home, when first my mother-in-law, and then my rabbi, started worrying me with reports about how Obama had been received at Saddleback Church. Not well, by the press, they told me. But, as my rabbi put it, he thought Obama was so good — so thoughtful and considerate — and McCain was so snappy and ideological — that my rabbi was, for the first time, going to go downtown and join the Obama campaign, if behind the scenes.

By evening, I was flush with a new corona of worry, as TalkingPointsMemo reported, in a one line post, that McCain had drawn even with Obama in the polls, in Ohio. This sent me reeling. Reeling. Could it really be true? A quick search of Realclearpolitics.com confirmed my worst fears. Obama had fallen behind McCain in all the swing states that matter.

Things only got worse when I awoke this morning and read Paul Krugman’s column, “It’s the Economy Stupor,” arguing that Obama was failing at achieving his landslide because he has failed to get traction on economic issues. Krugman was astonished at Obama’s flatness when he gave his big economic speech in St. Petersburg. Krugman noted that Obama goes out of his way to avoid “scoring political points” on the economy. “Obama surrogates have shown a similar inclination to go for the capillaries rather than the jugular,” he wrote, later adding: “All this makes a stark contrast with the campaign of the last Democrat to make it to the White House.” Which of couse was Clinton, with “It’s the Economy, Stupid.” Krugman got me thinking (which, lately, is saying something in and of itself) — it’s true that Obama hasn’t really grabbed the mantle of economic reform; he’s tried, but he certainly hasn’t succeded. And that should be a no-brainer. How could he even cede one inch of territory on the economy to McCain, who has said he knows little about the subject?

By mid-day today, I’d received an email from a friend that included this line: “As you know, amazingly, incredibly, logic-defyingly, depressingly, the race has tightened to a dead heat. Just typing that makes me want to scream. I have plenty of issues with Obama but I sure as hell don’t want to see a McCain administration, it’s unthinkable, it’s the end.”
I turned on CNN tonight in time to see Larry King interviewing two people I’d never seen before, and couldn’t pick out of a lineup, opining on the Saddleback Church appearances. The pro-Obama person was struggling to put a positive gloss on things, admitting, thoughtfully (like the candidate himself), that it hadn’t been Obama’s best day; the pro-McCain person was relentlessly putting his foe on the defensive. The pro-McCain person derided as siliness the notion that McCain hadn’t been in a cone of silence. (Obama was questioned first; McCain was supposed to be in a soundproof Green room; turns out he was in his limo, on his way over, as Obama was being questioned.) And then Rick Warren, the pastor, came on, and said, essentially, he didn’t know McCain was in the limo, instead of in the “cone of silence,” but that basically, McCain couldn’t have heard the questions Obama was being asked, because the Secret Service would have reported it. (Since when is it likely that the Secret Service would step up and volunteer information to an obsequious press corps that would make the person they are guarding look like a liar and a cheat?) And then Warren argued that McCain himself SAID he didn’t hear anything, and he had to take him at his word. Really? Why?

After saying he could never vote for an atheist (because atheists arrogantly assume we can make it in this world without a little help) for president, Warren then went on to talk about the precious moments during the interview when John McCain actually teared up. Three times! So much for a neutral interviewer. Apparently, he looked into John McCain’s eyes, and saw his soul. I vowed, at that moment, that I would never, ever again watch CNN. Never. I’m over it. I’m done. They can spew their maddening punditry into the electosphere without me.

And I vowed I would do something with my anguish and constantly in-flux election dread.
This blog is, in part, my response.
It’s August 19th. 78 days until the election.
The end is not in fact “near.” It’s not even close. It’s eons away. John McCain is gaining in the polls at warp speed. Election Day is coming in slow motion.
There are 1,872 hours until the election.
I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to make it.