Archive for October 8th, 2008

Why I’m Still Worried …

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Because the CNN post-debate crew, lead by James Carville, basically said last night that the race is over. We can stick a fork in the McCain campaign …

Because John McCain has been counted out before …

Because john McCain seems to respond best as an underdog …

Because Barack Obama hasn’t proven to be great as a front-runner …

Because Barack Obama is black …

Because a recent Stanford study indicated that Barack Obama may lose as many as 6 points on election day, because people are not being honest with pollsters about race, which means he could be up by as many as 5 points on Election Day, and still lose …

Because some polls I’ve seen, even now — after the utter debacle of McCain’s last few weeks, politically; after the economy tanked, Obama won two debates, and Biden won one — have Obama tied or with only a two or three point edge …

Because John Kerry had a 4 point lead Thursday before election day, and lost …

Because Al Gore had an 11 point lead going into the last debate, and lost …

Because some pundits are saying, with a straight face, that Palin has been rehabilitated, and will be a trusted weapon for the campaign in the weeks ahead …

Because Palin and McCain have started painting Obama in racially-tinged ways, implying he pals around with terrorists, and they have seemed to revel in rallies where people have chanted things like “kill him” (referring to Obama) …

Because Obama is black …

Because in the state-by-state polling — even though Obama’s ahead — he’s still going to need to flip at least one of Bush’s states to win the election — Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico — while keeping every last blue state blue …

Because Obama has absolutely no margin for error …

Because there are still 27 days to go before election day …

Because — hey, truth in advertising — I’m the Neurotic Democrat.

I’m very much looking forward to this day of fasting, which begins in a few hours, to center on the spiritual, to purge some of the toxicity of this campaign, to focus inward.

And I take strength and direction from the lines in the Torah portion that we read for last week — perhaps my favorite lines in the Torah — from Deuteronomy 31:7-8. Moses dying words to Joshua, in the sight of all Israel, as Moses passes the baton of leadership: “Be strong and of good courage … Fear not and be not dismayed!”

Those of you who are fasting, g’mar tov. May you have an easy fast.

Have a peaceful and meaningful Yom Kippur.

The Debate: Quick Take

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

During a town hall meeting in Denver last week, with the GOP faithful getting restless, a  woman urged John McCain to go for Obama’s jugular.

“When are you going to take the gloves off and just go at him?”  she asked — and nearly 1,000 people leapt to their feet, cheering.

McCain answered: “How ’bout Tuesday night?”

He was referring, of course, to the debate.

Sarah Palin, when asked by New York Times columnist William Kristol this week what advice she’d have for McCain at the debate, said: “Take the gloves off.”

Kristol approved, using it as the kicker for his column, and adding: “Hockey mom knows best.”

It was part of the narrative all week, reinforced by Palin’s frequent mentions of William Ayres. McCain was going to strike back.

And yet at no time during the debate tonight did McCain take the gloves off. Obama hit him first, hit him harder, and hit him more effectively. And he seemed presidential, doing it.

Think, for example, about Obama’s retort, the one time McCain repeated the line about Obama not understanding. You’re right, Obama said. I don’t understand some things — like, for instance, why we went to war in Iraq, when they had nothing to do with 9/11.

Again, he hit McCain for having the bad judgment to lead us into war and predict we’d be hailed as liberators. And, again, McCain had no answer.

In two debates now, McCain hasn’t once defended himself by explaining why he thinks going to war in Iraq was the right thing to do. (He does, by the way. There’s a great article about it in the most recent Atlantic Monthly. McCain believes that pre-emption is the best way to safeguard America against a madman like Hussein, who would use weapons of mass destruction against us and Israel if he was able to obtain them.)

What amazes me is that the McCain campaign would push this line so aggressively in the lead-up to the debate, and that McCain would so thoroughly fail to deliver. It makes him seem, at best, out of touch with his own rhetoric. At worst, it projects weakness instead of strength.

(Much like McCain’s threat not to attend the first debate, which he also eventually backed down on.)

Barack and Michelle stayed for a long time in the debate hall, shaking hands, trying to persaude voters who were still on the fence, smiling, evidently enjoying themselves.

McCain and Cindy left the hall quickly, even with dozens of voters still milling around.

Frankly, I can’t say I’m surprised.