Reading Bill Kristol's column today made me wonder, "How does this stuff make it past the common sense police?" Kristol goes into an argument about how a McCain victory would mean good news for liberals, while at the same time painting everyone on the left as anxiety-ridden crybabies when it comes to electing a president. He even cites a young woman from Denver who put her relationship on hold while she awaited the results of the election. Are there people like this in the Democratic Party? Yes. Are there equally nutty people on the right? Given what we've seen at McCain/Palin rallies, you bet there are. Yet Kristol continues to pool all liberals into one group, saying that he's here to help us in the case of a McCain victory (it's just like the Second Coming!).
But maybe Kristol's right. Maybe those conservatives supporting McCain and Palin are actually nice people, voting on the issues and not rumors like Obama is a Muslim or hangs out with terrorists. Maybe, as Kristol says, "conservatives will greet the news [of an Obama victory] with [their] usual resolute soicism or cheerful fatalism." Or, maybe not:
But it's unfair to pool all conservatives into one group like Kristol did with liberals. There are obviously fringe elements on both sides, though it just seems that one side is basing their anger on 8 frustrating years of Bush/Cheney and the other side is basing their anger on rumors of terrorist ties and religious affiliations (did I mention one of the candidates is black?). As one reads more of Kristol's article, however, it becomes apparent that the man has no idea what he's talking about. His first point as to why an McCain victory would help liberals is that it would be a win for an underdog. Yeah, because a 70+ year old white man who's been in Washington for almost three decades beating an under-50 black man in Washington for less than a full Senate term is an underdog victory.
His second point was that a McCain victory over Obama would be a defeat for the establishment. Because cheating on your first wife with a woman whose family is worth over $100 million, and then marrying her and launching your political career with her father's money and connections really says, "Fuck the establishment."
His third point: a McCain victory would be a victory for the future. He says that, "Liberals should therefore welcome a McCain win as a triumph of hope over fear, of the future over the past." Seriously? Voting a well-educated, qualified black man into the White House only 50 years after the Jim Crow era would be a triumph of the past over the future? Are some of Obama's votes from white guilt? Sure, but he's also qualified and I think more votes come from his qualifications than his skin color (I would even argue his skin color does him more harm than good in the eyes of the electorate). But apparently McCain, with the whole Keating Five scandal and decades of Washington experience, is the candidate of hope and the future.
Fourth point: A vote for McCain is a vote for freedom. Beyond the fear-mongering and the not-so-subtle "Obama is un-American" tone this has to it, Kristol's primary citation is McCain's defense of the surge and Obama's continued criticism of it. Do we forget that Obama was against the war before it was cool? That's like someone saying, "Here, play with this snake, it won't bite." And despite your unwillingness to do so, you are forced to play with it and it bites you. Then your friend says, "Well, it's actually a really poisonous snake and now we have to cut your leg off so the poison doesn't spread." Then somehow your friend is baffled when you want nothing to do with him after you lose a leg thanks to his ignorance. But he was right about cutting off your leg!
Fifth (final and most desperate point): Executive and legislative control by one party usually creates a political superstar for the other party (citing Carter and Reagan, Clinton and Gingrich). Then the scare tactics: it might lead to a Palin presidency in 2012! Reagan must be rolling in his grave and Gingrich must be angrily e-mailing Kristol for comparing them to Sarah Palin. Reagan may have been highly misguided, but he was no Sarah Palin. He was smart, and while Gingrich is similarly misguided, the two have done more good for their parties than Palin ever will. If Obama wins this election, you will see public attitude toward Palin change drastically, as she will be cited as one of the main reasons McCain could not pull it off in November. Plus, why is it a bad thing for the other party to have a qualified political star who increases public debate on the issues? If anything, that's what we'll need if the Democrats dominate the executive and the legislative branches (I'm already assuming a strong Republican showing in the 2010 midterm elections in the event of an Obama victory).
In his little wrap-up describing what McCain needs to do to win, Kristol pens an emblematic line about the McCain campaign. He says, "It's an inside straight. But I've seen gamblers draw them." The entirety of the latter-half McCain campaign has been a gamble. Palin to win PUMA voters, going extremely negative (trying to tie Obama to Ayers and Khalidi), and praising Joe "Obama = Death to Israel" the Plumber as McCain's role model. But the thing with gamblers (and this is one area where Kristol is right) is that sometimes they win big. Nothing is written in stone and until all the votes are tallied and all the hanging chads are counted, we do not know who the president-elect will be on November 5. No matter what your political affiliation or who you are voting for, this is America and it requires the people's participation. So please, go out and VOTE!
Photos - Bill Kristol (nytimes.com), Barack Obama (en.wikipedia.org), John McCain (en.wikipedia.org)