September Madness

As of this writing, we don’t know if the government is going to bail out Wall St., and we don’t know how it will play politically.

It’s been a good week for Obama, but the Neurotic Democrat in me knows it’s exactly 40 days too soon to celebrate. And forty days is a political eon.

Don’t believe me?

Think back a few weeks ago, when Russia invaded Georgia while Obama was on vacation in Hawaii. The restart of the Cold War is so yesterday’s news.

Poll numbers are trending the right way for Obama — which is important, because whatever it might signal for November, it definitely means the Palin bounce is over. But who knows how McCain is going to be seen, coming out of this government bailout? If he stands with the mavericks in his party against the president, it could re-launch his campaign yet again, firmly establishing his outsider, maverick cred with the whole nation watching.

In the midst of all of this, the NY Times reports this morning that Obama’s ads have gotten as sleazy as McCain’s. I was prepared to respond today with indignation — that Obama has sunk to McCain’s level — until I saw the new ad from the Republican Jewish Coalition, which links Barack Obama to Pat Buchanan. (Seriously. I couldn’t make this stuff up. You can see the ad here.) The ad is as misguided and off-putting as one can imagine, and it’s been thoroughly debunked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (“RJC (mis)plays the Buchanan card”).

Yet it made me so momentarily angry that I went directly to, determined to prove that McCain, overall, has been a far worse offender than Obama. (He has, arguably. You can check out the scorecard for yourself at Politifact.) What caught my attention, though, was Obama’s Spanish language ad, which takes Rush Limbaugh quotes (“stupid and unskilled Mexicans”), twists them out of context, and then, wrongly, seeks to tie McCain to Limbaugh on immigration.

Neither candidate, it seems, is actively pursuing justice justly these days.

Meanwhile, here in Ohio, Joe Biden’s recent gaffe about coal plants is getting significant play. This is from Steve Hoffman’s column in yesterday’s Akron Beacon Journal:

Campaigning this week in Strongsville, McCain sought to carve out an issue by embracing investment in clean-coal technology. This issue resonates with Southeast Ohio’s swing voters and has wide appeal in a state that generates 85 percent of its energy from coal, as opposed to the national average of 55 percent.

The issue was teed up for McCain by recent remarks by Sen. Joe Biden, Obama’s running mate. ”No coal plants here in America,” Biden said on a campaign swing in Maumee last week. ”Build them, if they’re going to build them, over there (in China). Make them clean.”

Since then, Democrats, among them Gov. Ted Strickland, have scrambled to say that the Democratic ticket supports clean-coal technology.

It’s one of several pretty big mistakes Biden has made recently on the campaign trail. We knew he was susceptible to this — and so did Obama. My sense — and this was confirmed seeing Biden speak at the NJDC policy conference this week — is that Biden is simply going too fast. He delivered his stump speech to the Jewish audience at breakneck speed. At times, it was hard to keep up with the points he was trying to make. With just a short time before the vp debate, in the midst of this economic meltdown, Obama needs to find some way, any way, to get Biden to slow down.

All of which leaves me, on the eve of the Jewish High Holidays, feeling somewhat unsettled.

I don’t have a very clear sense of the political moment. The policy path forward seems uncertain. The ethical underpinnings of this campaign, in flux.

I will say this. One of the reasons I truly love the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, is that it forces me to consider my own flaws, and to think about ways that I might improve. One of the things I struggle with — and this is exaggerated in a political season with an outcome I care so passionately about — is the sin of arrogance. Arrogance and self-righteousness.

I’ve put forth many opinions since the week before the Democratic National Convention, when I began blogging. I’ve tried to get the facts to support my stances; find supporting documents from the press; link to them where I can.

Still, I’m sure I’ve rushed to judgment at times. I’m sure I’ve published ill-considered opinions for all the world to see.

So, as I sign off for Shabbat just a few days before the Jewish High Holy Days, let me just say, in the spirit of relaunching my own, personal campaign:

I’m the Neurotic Democrat. I’ve been wrong before. I’ll be wrong again. And I’m not entirely sure.

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9 Responses to “September Madness”

  1. Loyal says:

    As a designated confident, I still believe that even with the mendacity of the campaign, the complicitness of even the supposedly liberal NYT and the fierceness fo the opponents in these undertain times, that this election will go soundly for Obama.

    Good Shabbos and LaShonah Tovah for all of us.


  2. Grosen says:

    Relax and enjoy the holidays.

  3. mom rolnick says:

    The Debate and Universal Health Coverage: Obama Contradiction
    A very astute Obama slipped a comment into the debate on Friday which I reference here: He said vis a vis the government saving money, that Medicare was outright giving away money to private insurers who are being paid by Medicare extra money to insure seniors. This is a government give-away and a rip-off of tax dollars as Obama said !!!
    Medicare is the best insurance any senior can have ( yes seniors still unfortunately have to pay for supplemental)! Private Insurance which doles out Medicare funds when the government does that perfectly well on it’s own ( not referring to supplemental)on top of medicare is double-dipping and functionally stealing money from Medicare!
    Now, given what Obama infered which is that Medicare did not need private insurers who get paid for being gatekeepers, how is it that his health care plan would involve private insurers being at the table????
    This it seems is talking out of both sides of his mouth.Yes McCain is worse because McC wants government out of our health care but in reality government is federal welfare for the insurance companies!!! Under President Reagan private deals were made by Republicans including Reagan to creaTE the managed care systems we have today. It was that Republican president who made physicians employees of insurance companies and made patients into caSH Cows for the insurance companies. The insurance companies are the problem.
    We need a payroll tax deduction from everyone’s salary for universal health care! Basically we need Medicare for everyone! We already have the system. It Works! Let private insurance companies find a new sucker from whom to divert our health care dollars to buy them their lavish life styles! Hillary had it right! Universal Health Care.
    In my judgement , if Obama has any private insures at the table, yes , like the ones skimming money from Medicare like the ones he cited in Friday’s debate, then he will be shown to be in bed with those insurers.
    We Americans are not stupid…..let us not be sucker punched again by a plan which diverts our health care dollars to private corporations!!
    No Taxation without representation! I hope Obama will not turn out to be the giant head in the wizard of oz behind the curtain who is no more than frum-puffery!
    Please Senator Obama…Really do right by the people!! I’m counting on you! So are we all!

  4. Neurotic Dem says:

    Mom Rolnick!
    Thanks for posting on ND! Great post!
    All I can say in response is, I just checked out John McCain’s Web site on health care, and his plan for universal health care, frankly, is laughable compared to Obama’s. Here’s the central component:
    “An important part of his plan is to use competition to improve the quality of health insurance with greater variety to match people’s needs, lower prices, and portability. Families should be able to purchase health insurance nationwide, across state lines.”
    Competition is going to get everyone health care? I’m no expert on this, but to me, that’s not even a plan.
    So — let’s elect Obama, and then hold his feet to the fire to enact a policy that matches his rhetoric!
    GR: Thanks for the wishes! Right back atcha!
    Loyal: Same to you!

  5. Loyal says:

    As someone who knows a bit about this, there are huge areas here that would not suport what you have said.

    The insurers are getting extra paymetns that are a simple giveaway, true enough. And Obama has consistently opposed those.

    Private insureers and managed care are not evil. It is the whole notion of making profit from witholding needed or approprate health care that is evil. And that doesn’t have to be on the table even when dealing with private insurers, There are good arguments for including private insurers and good argumetns for excluding them. But given the momentum of Bush’s A76 privatization of government and the tremendous strain on the civil service and career staff in CMS< there may be a need to play ball to some extent with the private firms. ANd even the payment contracts for hte fee for service MEdicare has always been privately managed — these are billion dollar contracts to huge companies.

    FOr these and many other reasons I think you have an emotionally acurate but factaully inaccurate position when you say that if the private insurers are at the table that Obama is in bed with them.

    I think it wa an unalloyed positive that Obama brough tlight to this issue at the debate adn I think it is at best tone deaf and certainlly antithetical to your stated goals to hold him to an unattainable standard by such criticism as I read in your post.


  6. Loyal says:

    A post this evening regarding McCain’s health care proposal from his appearance on Stephanopolous today.

  7. Loyal says:

    A post this evening regarding McCain’s health care proposal from his appearance on Stephanopolous today.

  8. mom rolnick says:

    Dear Loyal,
    There are many models of Universal Health Care. None is perfect but nothing ventured; nothing gained. Sorry if I do not trust corporate insurance companies but I don’t .
    All of our collective money is going to pay for medical insurance and co-pays and huge deductibles, foreign wars;,etc.I sometimes feel we are in a feudal system and the top players are sucking all the money out of the middle class…us.
    If our goal is affordable health care then no private company can be at the table….no compromise. We need every health care dollar going for health care and not corporate junkets and jets etc.
    Most of the people in this country, even those who have some insurance, can not get the care they need because they can’t pay the huge deductibles and when they do get care …even with insurance, they are being bankrupted!
    I shall remain open minded however if you can tell me how corporate insurers can be at the table and not be corrupt by making the highest health care cost their own salaries and perks.

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