It’s long, so they’re all below the cut.
Backwards “B” Lady, Democratic angst, Scary McCain supporters, gosh darn Alaskan values and Chris Rock after the cut. Oh, and a Q*bert reference. Yeah, you heard me.
Thing one: A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar
To say that my friend Mare supports Barack Obama’s candidacy is like saying Shane MacGowan supports the makers of Jameson’s. Our friend Renee had a Halloween party this evening, and Mare showed up dressed as…. take a wild guess who Mare showed up dressed as.
Yep. Ashley Todd, everyone’s favorite McLiar – complete with backwards B and McCain/Palin shirt. I don’t have photos, but seriously, it was awesome. If anything good has come out of this kerfuffle, it’s that fewer people will be dressing up as Gov. Palin this year. Can something that hasn’t happened yet still be a cliche? Yes. Yes it can. Mare was worried that people would get upset about her “non-PC” costume choice, and how she was “mocking the mentally unstable,” but, really, everyone thought it was pretty awesome.
Speaking of awesome, there’s a great article on The Washington Monthly blog about the whole Ashley Todd phenomenon:
Now that she has recanted, I’m torn. On the one hand, I think that anyone who would do something like this must have real psychiatric problems. (I don’t think this about all crimes — I think someone could rob a bank and be perfectly sane.) And I can almost think my way into the mindset of someone who is completely convinced that if Barack Obama is elected, something unspeakably bad will happen to this country, and who is frustrated that she can’t make people see what is so evident to her. You can see this kind of desperate conviction in some of the tapes of McCain supporters outside his rallies, and you can read it on some of the right-wing blogs: the sense that this country is about to make an incalculable mistake, and no one seems to care. It would not take much, I think, for someone who felt this way, and who had serious psychiatric problems, to decide, in a moment of absolute boneheadedness, to show the world what seemed so obvious to her.
This is what I love about us “Liberal Elites.” Mare dressed up as the Psycho du Jour for Halloween, but she worried that her costume was in dubious taste (it was generally agreed, I think, that what Ms. Todd did was in bad taste to begin with, and was representative of a larger problem, so Mare got a free pass. Also, it was f**king funny.) Hilzoy, at The Washington Monthly, took the time to acknowledge this girl’s mental issues, and to empathize with her. We might make fun of Ashley Todd, but on some level at least, we’re thinking “that poor kid.” Show me a “Conservative” who felt bad for Chelsea Clinton when Rush Limbaugh called her a dog (Chelsea was 13 years old at the time), and we’ll talk.
By the way… Chelsea Clinton = totally cute now. Most of us were gawky and weird looking at age 13, and Chelsea wasn’t even that weird and gawky back in the day, at least compared to, well, me. Remind me to show you the dork-tastic picture of me in my Star Trek VI t-shirt some time.
Thing two: The Art Of Losing
If you believe certain polls, we’re looking at a substantial victory for Sen. Obama. Except, of course, there’s still a good chance McCain could pull it off, Dewey Defeats Truman style. Plenty of things could go wrong: there’s voter apathy, there’s the “youth totally meaning to vote, dude” factor, and, more than anything else, McCain’s goin’ after them swing states like the Purple Snake goes after Q*Bert.
Yeah, Q, if McCain actually won this thing, I’d be all “@!#?@!” as well.
Let’s see – how else could we lose this thing? Well, Robert Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast have written another awesome Rolling Stone article about how they’re gonna steal this election, too (they wrote one about the 2004 election being hijacked in Ohio, which is pretty scary.) You’ll be hearing lots of stuff about voter intimidation in the next couple weeks, and don’t be surprised if Election Day is one giant clusterf**k of melodrama.
There’s the infamous “Bradley effect,” where white people tell pollsters they’re voting for the black guy because they don’t want to sound racist, but then don’t actually vote for the black guy. I’m wondering how much this is really going to skew things this time around – the Bradley in question ran back in 1982, for Governor of California, and things have changed (more on that in a sec.)
If anything is skewing the polls in Obama’s favor, it’s what I like to call the “Loonbat Effect.” If you’ll notice, every time Sen. McCain or Gov. Palin hold a rally where people shout stupid stuff about Obama, he goes up in the polls. I’m guessing there’s at least a few McCain supporters who are a little bit embarrassed to associate themselves with these loonbats, and who might say they’re voting for Obama even if they’re not. However, this will probably be balanced out by kids without landlines (like myself), if said kids actually go and vote. For pete’s sake.
What else? Well, there’s always the possibility of…..:
Oh, man. Oh man oh man oh man. Excuse me….
Oh blessed and benevolent Duke, he who gaveth of his political career upon the tank of destiny, I beseech thee to smile favorably upon your child Barack, and maketh sure that, at no point in the next 10 days, will he decideth to go bowling again.
There’s also the possibility of an October Surprise, like in 2004 when Osama bin Laden popped up on Halloween (of all days) to say “nyaah nyaah you haven’t caught me.” In a sane world, this would have benefitted John Kerry, because in a sane world people would have thought to themselves “hey, why haven’t we caught this guy? Who’s in charge here? Oh. Right.” Unfortunately, that ain’t what happened.
Now, Obama’s been pretty good about deflecting attacks from the GOP (something Kerry never figured out, God bless ‘im) so if anything catastrophic happens and the McCain campaign comes out and says “See? The world is big and scary, and you can’t trust That One to tie his damn shoes,” the Obama campaign will probably counter it within hours with a steady voiced and even-handed press conference. In which the junior Senator from Illinois shall, no doubt, present us with a bold policy statement, share some words of healing, and teach us how to double-tie.
So long as they aren’t bowling shoes, we should be okay.
Thing three: Yours Truly, Angry Mob
Oh, right, the Loonbats. I’ve been leery about even bringing this up, but as you might have heard, McCain’s campaign rallys have gotten kinda scary lately. As it turns out, no one actually yelled “Kill him!” about Sen. Obama, but it’s gotten kind of close. Bush and the Republicans are so damn unpopular that the only people really excited about the prospect of a McCain victory are the sorts of people who believe that the Democratic nominee is a secret Muslim, an anti-American socialist, a terrorist, an “A-rab”, etc. Plenty of perfectly sane people are gonna vote for the guy – don’t get me wrong – but a lot of people are voting for him because they fell for some serious bullshit about Obama. Which they believe. Oh, yes. They believe. Just look at his friends, they say. Just look at his middle name.
Sen. McCain, to his credit, has done his best to talk them down when they show up at his rallies, but even he’s reluctant to speak too strongly. He needs all the support he can get at this point, even if that support is entirely based on willful ignorance and blind hatred. It must be tearing him up inside, but if it makes him President, then he’ll do it. I feel a little bit bad for him.
If Obama wins on November 4, there’ll be quite a few people who sincerely believe that the United States of America elected a President who, in some way or another, hates America. And it’ll be highly unlikely that you can convince them otherwise. In 2000, when the Supreme Court essentially appointed Bush to the Presidency, lots of us were pissed off, and we felt helpless, and we felt like the future of our country was entirely out of our control.
So we…. wrote strongly worded blog posts, and complained about it to Terry Gross on NPR, and made documentaries, and wrote songs. None of these things were particularly effective, but we felt better anyway. Ultimately, though, we saw that the problem did not stem from George W. Bush himself, but from the machine that put him in the White House in the first place. We would soon come up with better reasons to hate the guy, but apart from the occasional threat of impeachment, we didn’t do anything about it. We certainly didn’t do anything drastic or illegal, and rightly so.
I’m dancing around something here, because I really don’t want to come out and say it, because it hurts too damn much, and I hate to think that it’s 2008 and it’s America and people still act and think a certain way. But these people – a very small, but very vocal group of people – hate Senator Obama. They hate him for reasons that are mostly imaginary, but they’ve convinced themselves that the imaginary reasons are true.
Like I said, there are plenty of perfectly sane reasons why someone might not like Barack Obama. Don’t like his economic policy? Fine. Don’t think he’s experienced enough? Fine. Think he’s got a Messiah complex? You’re wrong, but fine. Worried about his ability to keep America safe? Fine. Think he’s going to raise your taxes? He’s probably not, but fine. Think he’s an anti-American socialist Muslim Arab? You’re an idiot. Worse, you’re a dangerous idiot. And, hey, we commie pinko liberals have dangerous idiots on our side, too, but what separates people like you from, say, a “9/11 Truther” is that the 9/11 Truther probably doesn’t have a conceal and carry permit.
The thing I’m not saying isn’t going to happen. It isn’t. But if it does, it ain’t gonna be the Klan, or Neo-Nazis, or some shadowy CIA conspiracy. It’s gonna be your unemployed, Michael Savage-listening, gun-hoarding cousin. And he’ll probably think he’s defending the good old USA. The poor kid.
That’s why I haven’t written about the people shouting “off with his head” and “traitor” and “terrorist” and “arab” and “bomb Obama” until now. Because, frankly, those people scare the shit out of me.
Thing four: Aurora Gory Alice
McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, should know she’s playing with fire with her “pals around with terrorists” comments, referring to Obama’s passing acquaintance Bill Ayres. Ayres was a member of the Weather Underground in the 1960s and once tried to blow up the Capitol building in protest of the Vietnam War. His motives, his politics, and his opinions could not be more different from those of Al-Qaeda, but that doesn’t matter to the Governor of Alaska.
If we’re following her logic, though, wherein any association whatsoever with an anti-American group should disqualify someone from public office… I can’t help but notice that she once delivered a speech to the Alaska Independence Party, and that her husband once belonged to said party. The Weather Underground may have wanted to start a revolution, and they may have wanted to blow things up, and they may even have put American lives in danger, but they never wanted to start a second Civil War. Unlike Sarah Palin’s “pals,” who want Alaska to secede from the hated lower 48. The Alaska Independence Party, however, gets a free pass because they’re gun-totin’ paleo-conservatives. Funny, isn’t it? Especially when you consider that the AIP has more in common with domestic terrorists like Timothy McVeigh than Bill Ayres ever had with someone like bin Laden.
I don’t think her association with this gang disqualifies her from office, nor do I think the AIP are actually terrorists. But if the United States flag is the holy symbol of liberty to the GOP, and anyone caught not wearing a flag pin or saluting a flag is un-American, can we at least point out the base irony of the fact that the Republican VP nominee’s husband once belonged to an organization that sought to remove the Stars and Stripes from the state of Alaska, and whose founder once said that he refused to be buried under the American flag?
Thing five: Appeal To Reason
Breathe. You’re in good hands.
Troy Patterson on Slate wrote a pop-cultural survey of black Presidents in recent movies and TV shows, which includes both Presidents they’ve had on 24, Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact (which is like Armageddon, except not terrible) and Chris Rock in Head of State, which I really like. Rock plays a lowly Alderman who somehow winds up as the nominee of his party (probably the Democrats), and his opponent is the incumbent Vice-President, who’s prone to saying things like “God Bless America… and No One Else” (probably Republican). This clip is of their final debate, near the end of the film. Skip ahead to 4:30 – the closing arguments are the best part.
Movies like Head of State and (especially) TV shows like 24 are part of the reason I don’t necessarily buy the “Bradley Effect.” If Colin Powell ran for President, he’d win in a landslide. White kids of my generation grew up idolizing Michael Jordan and Tupac Shakur and, well, Chris Rock. Barack is a lot more chill than Mays Gilliam (Rock’s character in Head of State), but they both grew up poor, and they share a sense of social justice. You gotta respect that.