Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bye, Bye, Mac

It has been a long goodbye for the Senator from Arizona. Even with tonight's debate, I have not seen anyone this far down win a Presidential campaign with less than three weeks to go. Save for some catastrophic event, or closeted racism of 15-20% of white respondents in the polls, John McCain is going to lose this election. There were many factors. The economy, eight years of one of the most incompetent Presidents of the last century, and a VP pick who at times has difficulty completing a sentence. Oh, and the main candidate has some kind of cancerous growth on the side of his face, looks twice his own age, to which he is already 72. None of these are recipes for success.

Another cultural measure is the lack of support for his campaign from conservatives. True. some, like talk show host Rush Limbaugh, get excited at the sight of a Sarah Palin wink, as well as a verbal reassurance for the fetus worshipers, but there are many, many conservatives who are either sitting out this campaign, openly criticizing it, or even deserting the Republican ticket altogether. You know it is not good when Bill Kristol, one of the neoconservative stalwarts (a natural ally of a man with John McCain's foreign policy worldview) is encouraging you to fire your entire campaign. Or when Christopher Buckley (ex-editor of National Review and son of the publication's founder, William F. Buckley) endorses Obama. Or Ann Coulter, who apparently has not endorsed anyone, except Satan himself (in between calls for domestic terrorists to truck-bomb the headquarters of the New York Times).

On the positive side, for McCain, he will not have to be in a stressful environment in the last years of his life, save for dodging lobbyists and campaign sponsors in the Senate. He may actually be more useful there, as he will not be the Commander-in-chief--meaning he will not be able to cover for his debacles by invading or bombing some hapless country.

Some have viewed this election is a bellwether for future tendencies. Of course, one would be blind not to note the issue of race and Obama's likely election portending this country's demographic change and perceptions on race (something that would have been unimaginable two decades ago, back when it was considered an accomplishment for Jesse Jackson to win a few Southern primaries).



For the religious folk, some, like religious liberal Jim Wallis, this election will spell the end of the Religious Right as a force in American politics.



I am not so certain about Wallis's claims. First, the Religious Right is basically the only part of the Republican Party's base that seems to bother showing up the polls anymore. Two, while our culture is becoming increasingly secular (thanks be to the goddesses), this does not mean that religious people are going to surrender and go away. If anything, they will retrench and do everything possible to maintain political relevance. Lastly, the religious left or any of its variants (including the emerging church phenomenon) is still a minority in this country's religious communities. Go to any church in the US and ask them the most important issues our country faces, and very few will say anything about the environment. You may get a few complaints about social justice, to be sure, but the vast majority of the congregants will want to talk about our "failing moral values," "the attack on.....[fill in religious institutional fetish]," and the absolute "importance of life [except anyone that is already outside of the womb]." This is something even Wallis himself knows and conceded in his book God's Politics. One election is not going to reverse this.

No, the Republican Party is not going away, anymore than the Democrats did after losing in 2004. In fact, they will be back for the midterm elections, as they always are. This is the price of having a two-party state. It is also the price of having two parties who have to feign differences on so many issues where there are none, except one's professed greater love for heterosexual married people and fetuses. What you can be sure of is that what constitutes the conservative wing of the Republican Party will change, particularly those self-described neoconservatives, the wrecking crew of the party whose foreign policy has helped stamp the current President's lasting legacy of failure.

Also, assuming that Governor Palin is reelected, even after revelations about her abuse of power in Alaska, she will be the new rising star in a GOP without any recognizable national figures. Of course, it is based almost entirely on her appearance and appeal to the religious elements of the party. I am still amazed at the kind of free pass she has received for her record as a tax raiser, something which Mike Huckabee was unable to escape when the supply side fundamentalists at The Club for Growth lambasted him for his gubernatorial record of non-compliance to the gods of Adam Smith and Milton Friedman.

Still, here is to hoping for an entertaining debate. Maybe ole John will throw for a bomb on fourth and long and insist on suggesting Senator Obama's record of hanging around Muslims. Surely, that will give the Senator from Illinois a couple of extra points in the polls. Who knows, with a little luck, McCain might just go for the Holy Grail and claim Obama is an periodic associate of FARC, the IRA, and the Tamil Tigers to boot.

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