scholars and rogues

Do we really want another president whose main concern is his rest and relaxation?

On August 2, Gallup Polls reported, “Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are once again tied in the latest Gallup Poll Daily. . . . Obama received a brief increase in support near the conclusion of his overseas trip last week, gaining a nine percentage point advantage in July 24-26 polling. But that bounce disappeared almost quickly as it emerged.”

Does this mean that the more foreigners like him, the less we do? Or, as Melissa McEwan writes at the Guardian of McCain’s ad comparing Obama to Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton:

“Famous for no reason, just a pretty face, the ad implies. But loitering below. . . is something more nefarious. . . . Obama, dog whistles the ad, hitting old racists in the sweet spot, could f**k these white girls.”

It’s true that, more than ever, candidates demand less and less of voters and instead treat them as consumers. If a candidate isn’t subjecting us to deceptive advertising, he or she is pandering to us.

In Obama’s case, he recently announced that his opposition to offshore oil drilling is open to negotiation. But he’s not just pandering, he’s also passing conservatives the ball in their own court. It’s up to them to square up and shoot — that is, vote for the candidate more likely than John McCain to benefit them and the nation.

In the May 7 Rolling Stone, Guy Lawson wrote of McCain’s campaign:

“I’ve covered a lot of campaigns, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” says a techie from Fox News. . . . “Presidential-election campaigns, usually you’re working all the time. You get to the hotel at two in the morning, and you’re back on the plane at six. But McCain does one event a day. One event. It’s unbelievable.”

In other words, do we really want another president who’s less concerned with his job than making sure he gets enough rest? Aside from emphasizing his age, it’s yet another area in which McCain resembles George Bush, who’s notorious for his early bed-time and seizing any opportunity he can to retreat to his ranch.

McCain’s casual approach also reassures us our problems might not be that bad after all. Meanwhile, again like Bush, his cavalcade of gaffes on the issues reflects less poorly on our own lack of knowledge, especially when compared with Obama’s expertise, which is either uppity or elitist to many of us.

If this is how many of us think, what recourse is left to Obama? After a certain point, no amount of pandering to voters as if they were children will succeed. We’ve got to make the decision on our own to grow up.

If we don’t, Washington will be only too happy to keep us infantilized. And don’t expect it to pick us up when we’re crying.

Meanwhile, progressives who can’t come to terms with Obama’s rightward lean need to stop acting all jilted at the altar. To cling to the notion that a Democratic candidate for president will refrain from such behavior is the political equivalent of a schoolgirl’s fantasy.

In fact, when it comes to the rock, as they call it in basketball, Obama’s not sharing it with progressives. He expects us to follow him up the court, where he may just hold the ball and dribble out the clock.

It’s up to progressives, once Obama wins the election as if it were a tip-off, to browbeat him into passing the ball. Maybe then we can start calling out plays to him.

For more on the election, see:
Republicans and the oil weapon: what Obama should do by JS OBrien
Oh, sweet Cynthia, silence thy siren song by Russ Wellen
That New Yorker cartoon: an alternate take by Dr. Slammy

4 replies »

  1. eh, i think mccain’s handlers just acknowledge that their frontman is in his 70s. they need to keep him fresh for the stretch run. when i think of obama’s tour through europe, i can’t help but be reminded of nixon’s 50 state pledge. the symbolism is nice and maybe in some antiquated way it proves he’s fit to be president … but this is 21st century america. 8 years of bush proved that we as a nation don’t care what the Frances of the world think of us. we’d drill straight into polar bears’ hearts if we thought it would take a dollar off a gallon of gas.

    the nice thing is that it’s August. it’s a nice trip for obama to have in his back pocket when things get really ugly in October. but i’m sure he figures he’ll have to spend the rest of his time stateside, proving he’s the one to turn to when domestic issues need solving.

    in this regard, i think mccain’s age works against him. obama has the energy and momentum to trot the globe and fill in the cracks of his resume, while mccain seems content to sit back and reheat bush’s recipe from 8 years ago. sometimes, playing not to lose is a good enough strategy to get you the win. sometimes.

    the real question this november is: “did the american people feel like they got enough of their anger out in 2006, or are they twice as mad now?” and if it’s the latter, who do they blame the most?

  2. It’s a shame that it’s McCain’s age that works against him and not his status as an ill-tempered fuckup whose human stepping stones have conveniently tripped and fallen in front of him thanks to an admiral daddy and pals. I’d almost want to vote for him out of pity knowing that he went into politics probably because it’s the only job he’d ever be able to hold, but maybe he’ll just take up space in the Senate and then retire and take on a houseboy role full-time down at the Manse. Then we’ll only have to feed him through his pension payments and not have to also pay to watch him to take up space.