Lessons Learned

November 11, 2008

Reporters secretly hate election day. Or, more appropriately, they hate the waiting on Election Day. It may have been somewhat exciting in 2000 or 2004, when the fate of the election dragged endlessly on, and people on both ideological sides waited with eager anticipation as to the outcome. This year, of course, the outcome was pretty much known when Ohio was called for Obama (hell, it was known in October), but since most decision-makers refused to grow a pair after being momentarily embarrassed by the 2000 election, they refused to take any official stance in calling the election until well past the point of obviousness. This had two unfortunate effects. The first was that newscasters had to think of something—anything—to talk about for about four hours, so there were a lot of absurd statements such as “Well, if McCain wins Oregon and Washington and one of the congressional districts in Maine, he’ll have a 50/50 shot of winning the presidency. Assuming that he also wins California. And Mars.” The second effect is that they got to play around with holograms and big floaty maps and fluorescent colors and county-by-county results and inconsequential state senate races and breaking down the voter turnout of Hispanic-Asian vegetarians over the age of 35 and anything besides declaring the quite obvious result of an Obama presidency. This must have been insufferable not only to the 200 million voters getting drunk either out of celebration or dismay, but also to the newscasters wishing they could do the same.

The elected official who calls his constituents racist rednecks can still win as long as he dumps shovelfuls of cold cash in his district. I’m not a bang-the-drum scream-from-the-mountaintops throw-the-bums-out kinda guy. I am of the opinion that the voters get the government they deserve, even if that means sending the same condescending jackass back to Congress even though he called his constituents racists and rednecks. Perhaps people in Western Pennsylvania missed that part. Jack Murtha called his constituents racists and rednecks and still was re-elected with 58% of the vote—most likely because Murtha rivals neighbor Robert Byrd in arranging the logistics of a convoy of trucks to dump dollar bills in giant flaming sinkholes all around the Johnstown area. This would register quite a bit of outrage amongst the people and the pundits if it didn’t happen in approximately 434 other House races every year.

Foreigners know as much about us as we do about them. Americans have long been painted as arrogant self-interested bullies, unconcerned about the cultures of other countries and frightfully unsympathetic to what effects our actions have on others in this world, such as the War in Iraq and the continuing existence of America’s Next Top Model. But while many Americans hold onto vague, largely inaccurate stereotypes of foreigners—such as the French being elitist, non-productive perennial objectors or the Germans being belligerent, sausage-eating awesome car manufacturers—foreigners also have inaccurate caricatures of America; George Bush being a bible-thumping cowboy, for example, or Arnold Schwarzenegger being an Austrian. Any European who visited this country would be shocked at what they find. Sure, Americans may be rich, arrogant, and woefully indifferent to the lives of others, but at least our food doesn’t taste like animal organs and raw vegetables ground together in a paste and served with subpar wine. I’m just sayin’.

The people of Minnesota are borderline insane. Now, far be it for me to be judgmental about the good people of the land of a thousand lakes, but, c’mon. Ten years ago you elect a former pro wrestler to the governor’s mansion, and as of last count you were within a few hundred votes of electing Al Franken, whose only reasonable qualification for belonging to the esteemed Senate chamber is that he is an insufferable prick. An automatic recount is triggered in Minnesota, where incumbent Norm Coleman is slightly ahead; however, as we’ve seen in the past, counting votes is negotiable when the result means sending a vaguely washed-up comedian to go make policy. Also, for the prosecution, in the case of insanity for Minnesotans: the continued popularity of Garrison Keillor.

Saturday Night Live needs to figure out what to do for the other three years every four years. Saturday Night Live has been spot-on in the election, much like they usually are every election. However, they’ve also been largely not funny the remaining three years, and I even include the seasons in which Will Ferrell was not involved as a cast member, leaving it to others to pick up his gaping void of hamming it up, mugging shamelessly on camera, and not even trying anymore. So unless Sarah Palin stars in a reality show of some sort—which, sadly, is not necessarily out of the realm of possibility—it looks like three more years of fake game shows and twelve-minute sketches about some social meme that played itself out eight months ago. This will give them plenty of time to find a cast member able to do a decent Mitt Romney or, possibly, a black cast member to do Obama.

The people want change, whatever that means. Certainly, the citizens wanted change in the sense that they were sick of the spendthrift, clumsy way in which the Bush administration handled the economy, the war, hurricanes, science, international relations, and pretty much everything except for the approximately four months after September 11th. And while this is a wildly legitimate idea, one suspects that pretty much anyone—from Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani to Kim Jong Il and the decomposing remains of Richard Nixon—could have campaigned on change and still came in at least second in New Hampshire. This is not to minimize Obama’s electoral success, but the mere combination of hope, change, non-Bushness, and ethanol subsidies is enough to propel you to the White House with remarkably little effort.

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Decision 2008: The Long, Painful Road To Something That Will Only Slightly Change How Things Will Work In Washington

November 4, 2008

Finally, in an election season that started in what seems to be around 1792, the voters will choose the next President.

Both candidates are making their last minute pitches to the American public. Despite what the polls say, there is a rather significant number of individuals who are still undecided—greater than the margin of error, the pollster’s moral equivalent of pulling out. These equivocating individuals are known in statistical terms as complete morons. That may be a bit harsh, of course, though politics has little patience for the uninitiated. There are a few exceptions as to why anyone would still not have enough information to make a decision—the Amish, for instance, or the clinically insane. The candidates are going to be bringing their message to Monday Night Football, for crying out loud, trying to latch onto the last vestige of normalcy in the public that hasn’t been inundated with small snippets of misinformation served out of context after being market tested.

Of course, given that the end-game speeches of both candidates pretty much boil down to “I mean, c’mon,” it’s easy to see why many people just want the damn thing over with.

Pundits are mixed as to whether this is a massive realignment in the political landscape or just a reaction to the combined train wreck and helium-induced self-combustion that is the last, tragic days of the Bush Administration. Some look at America and see people who yearn for health care reform, protecting the environment, and disgust with the wealthy class. Other, more realistic individuals see a vast collection of individuals who will forget about all of these things once Ashley Simpson “accidentally” flashes her hoo-ha in front of the TMZ crew.

John McCain has a desperate road ahead of him on Election Day. He is quite far behind on the polls, and is losing in nearly every battleground state. His only glint of hope is that a reasonably large number of individuals still haven’t made up their mind, and in a world where Two and a Half Men gets nominated for an Emmy anything is, indeed, possible.

Barack Obama, for his part, is campaigning like he’s already won, which in all likelihood he has. He’s reached out publicly to specific individuals, asking them to be in his administration; he’s even letting Joe Biden speak at rallies without having someone nearby with a blackjack and a tranquilizer gun. Overconfidence is always a bad thing for politicians, however; marginal supporters, assuming it’s in the bag, may be less inclined to hike it to the pools under adverse conditions, such as getting a decent tee time.

It’s also going to be an historic election regardless of the outcome. For the Democrats, nominating the first black candidate is not only symbolic but an important step in recognizing race relations in this country. If the Republicans win, there will be the first woman on a major ticket to win. It’s a far cry from 2000, when it was two white boys from Texas who won.

Of course, in Western Pennsylvania, things have turned slightly uglier than normal. Jack Murtha, a House Democrat, has been on record stating that Western Pennsylvanians are basically racist and may be willing to vote against Obama simply because he is black; after apologizing, he effectively noted that we weren’t racist but merely “redneck.” (In a world where there is an actual flourishing market for fake bull testicles to attack to your vehicle, this is probably more of a feature than a bug.) Western Pennsylvanians aren’t necessarily any more or less racist or redneck than anyone else, at least on paper, but they also tend to not be fans condescending politicians. So much so that Murtha may only win with 55% of the vote instead of 70% this time. (As an aside, Pennsylvania is one of the few states that mandate that all state liquor stores be closed today. I feel this is wrong, since if there’s any day in which you need a stiff drink, November 4th is it.)

There are pitched battles of ugliness throughout the national elections as well, particularly for the Senate. The North Carolina Senate race has turned sour, with motherly incumbent Elizabeth Dole dragging out the “all Democrats are atheists” horse and flogging it publicly, something normally discouraged in practice by the Methodist Church. The corruption trial of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who, at 1,500 years old, is the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, concluded that he was guilty and effectively ceded the race to the Democrats, reducing the number of Alaskan Democrats that are not currently serving in Congress to be about 50% or so. In Minnesota, they are seriously considering electing comedian Al Franken to the Senate, an absurdity ranked only above the completely ridiculous notion that any state would elect a former professional wrestler to the governor’s office.

But on Tuesday night—or, more probably, next Friday three weeks from now when all the court challenges have been exhausted and the pundits have worn themselves out with barely-legitimate rationalizations about minutia and both Diebold and ACORN have been drug out into the public and flogged by members of the Methodist Church—we will finally know who our next President will be. In either case—whether it be the messianic Barack Obama or the underdog maverick John McCain—there are going to be lots of people getting piss-ass drunk Tuesday night. And there’s nothing quite as uniquely American as that.


Swing State Confidential

October 21, 2008

It’s late in the campaign season, which means it’s time to start crunching the numbers.

While the election has the potential to be close, it’s important to look at those states that could go either way. These are the states that the candidates are focusing on, campaigning hard for, and, most importantly in the world of politics, spending boatloads of cash in.

Many media outlets foolishly create lists of a dozen or two states, claiming such ridiculous things like Delaware might actually vote Republican or Utah might swing Democratic. And they insist on using the slightly perverse “swing state” instead of the clumsier but more accurate “vacillating morons who can’t make a proper rational decision that aligns with their cultural and economic interests.” (Iowa, I’m looking at you.)

Here is a list of the most likely swing states for this election.

Nevada
Under normal circumstances, Nevada would be a lock for the Republicans. Otherwise, it’s a nice, solid conservative state, if you don’t count all the whores and rampant gamblers. This year, however, may be a realigning year. The unions have made themselves more politically potent, Nevada’s sizable libertarian sympathies are antithesis to many of McCain’s policies, and, more importantly, while a lot of people have lost money in their 401(k), even more lost money on the Giants-Patriots game.
For McCain: The anti-government types in Nevada hate both candidates equally, but the stuff they can get away with will force them to choose and probably be more inclined for McCain. They can get away with everything in the desert from free weed and Russian Roulette, but they can’t get away from the IRS.
For Obama: Whores and rampant gamblers vote.
Wild Card: “So, I hear yous is thinkin’ ‘bout votin’ for sumbuddy. Let’s see what Jimmy the Baseball Bat has to do to get yous to change your mind.”

New Mexico
New Mexico was one of the few states to actually switch sides between 2000 and 2004, voting for Gore in the former and for Bush in the latter. While it could possibly be a result of the growing socially conservative demographics in the state, or perhaps immigration fears, most likely it’s because it looked around, saw all the red states surrounding it, and decides to assimilate, something everyone else has been urging for quite some time.
For McCain: New Mexico is Arizona looking for the cool spot on the bedsheet.
For Obama: It is a legal uncertainty whether livestock can vote.
Wild Card: It’s a question mark how many people are willing to drive about two thousand miles to the nearest voting booth.

New Hampshire
Tiny New Hampshire, nestled snugly in New England, is an outlier in an increasingly liberal part of the country. Fervently anti-tax and mostly anti-government, they have a large libertarian streak which could break for either candidate. Also, there really isn’t anything else to do in New Hampshire besides shovel snow and care about politics.
For McCain: New Hampshire loves McCain. We’re talking open-mouth, call the next day love. They also hate older brother Vermont, so may vote McCain out of spite.
For Obama: Like New Mexico, New Hampshire is looking around a sea of blue and wondering if they’ve misplaced the memo.
Wild Card: It starts snowing in New Hampshire somewhere in July of last year, and while the residents are used to hostile weather, Health Savings Accounts and Campaign Finance Reform aren’t worth getting the snow tires on for.

Virginia
A southern state by trade, this is normally a lock for the GOP. This year, however, enough of northern Virginia has converted to the Democratic Party that it’s likely it will change sides. While it’s uncertain whether the combination of government workers, contractors, and service-related jobs will translate to a permanent change to swing state status, it’s reasonably certain to be close this time. Not like, say, Chancellorsville.
For McCain: Virginia is still, technically, the South.
For Obama: The Klan doesn’t pay above GS-10.
Wild Card: I’m pretty sure they still have literacy tests.

Ohio
The heartiest of the heartland, Ohio is usually quite conservative. Like its neighbors Pennsylvania and Michigan, however, they’re slowly rusting away, shedding industrial jobs to foreign lands like Greensboro, North Carolina, where “closed shop” means “this is a private supper club.”
For McCain: They look around at Buffalo, New York and Gary, Indiana and suddenly realize things aren’t that bad.
For Obama: Voters are not only angry about the economy, they also are angry about not having any professional football teams this season.
Wild Card: Never underestimate the power of the Amish or Browns fans.

Missouri
One of the traditional bellwethers of the United States, Missouri is often held up as a microcosm of the nation as a whole. They have a demographic makeup of urbanites, minorities, and religion very close to the nation as a whole. And aside from a brief fling in the 1950’s, when they were irresponsible and young, they’re always voting for the winner.
For McCain: Missouri is the south without being southern, and west without being western. Much like the blander items on the Denny’s dinner menu. In other words, all the items on the Denny’s dinner menu.
For Obama: The one time they voted the wrong way for president was when the candidate was an intelligent, thoughtful policy wonk from Illinois with only four years experience in elective government. Whoops.
Wild Card: St. Louis may be known for original blues music, but they also have a major league hockey team. You figure it out.

Colorado
Colorado used to be a solid, Republican state where residents went to church, build log cabins in their spare time, and regularly shot their breakfast. Unfortunately for the party, much of the growth in the past decade has consisted mostly of displaced hippies looking to smoke dope, start atheist churches, and pretend like they are saving the world but in reality making it harder for people to flush their toilets. As such, it’s become increasingly progressive, and this year may be the year it finally tips and just turns into one big ski commune.
For McCain: All the members of the Colorado Black Caucus were going to attend the convention, but he couldn’t make it.
For Obama: If there is any place in America where you’ll find a hunter crouched in the woods drinking a grande marble macchiato and listening to both Phish and Martina McBride on his iPod, it’s Colorado.
Wild Card: As far as I’m concerned, the ghost of Hunter S. Thompson lives on and is more than willing to beat the crap out of you regardless of your political affiliation.

Florida
After the fiasco that was the 2000 election, all eyes have been on Florida. While 2004 was thankfully and remarkably uneventful, it was also safe for the Republicans that year. Since Florida is equal parts tourist trap and real estate developer’s scam, they’ve been hit particularly hard by the real estate collapse and economic downturn.
For McCain: People tend to vote for candidates that are like themselves. And McCain—white-haired, suspicious of teh internets, and kinda creaky—fits Florida quite well. Also, get off the lawn.
For Obama: People are leery of voting for someone older than themselves. And, seriously, these people are like a thousand years old.
Wild Card: Old people can barely master the Dollar Value Menu, let alone the butterfly ballot. Hopefully everyone cancels themselves out and we can just forget about this state altogether.


Of McCainiacs and Barracudas

September 7, 2008

The confetti has drifted to the floor, the little plastic elephants swept into dustpans, and little cupcakes shaped like Alaska have been digested. The Republicans have descended and departed from Minneapolis, the pristine capital of the north and a rather unlikely place for a conservative to thrive. But as John McCain has shown, he thrives in hostile environments, whether it be Hanoi, Arizona, or the Republican Party.

Coming into this week, John McCain didn’t have a whole lot to lose. The Democrats had put on a solid if not spectacular show on in Colorado, and Barack Obama was basking in a muted post-convention bounce in the polls. The Republicans—a brand name tarnished by the unpopular Bush years and a fanatical devotion to such popular ideals as the war in Iraq, Social Security privatization, and cracking open the Rockies and scooping out any carbon-based form of energy in order to burn any excess food or housing so it wouldn’t make it into the hands of the poor, the poor being defined as those who failed to make their first million before they were born—had a rather tall order convincing the American electorate that they had something better to offer than the Democrats.

Things did not start off auspiciously—and given the trajectory of the McCain campaign, when his early operation had so little money Cindy McCain was popping generic Percocet and was polling behind the reanimated corpse of the much younger Warren Harding, this boded well indeed. Hurricane Gustav threatened to rain down torrential winds and destructive precipitation, but more importantly threatened to blow gusts of the memory of Katrina. With this would come memories of FEMA, New Orleans, and a stark, unwelcome reminder that Louisiana is still, alas, part of the United States. Thankfully for everyone involved, the storm, after promising to tear the roof off the metaphorical state, kind of petered out and landed with an unceremonious thud, and it almost, but not quite, got renamed Hurricane Fred Thompson.

In many ways Obama framed the debate to which McCain reacted. By holding his acceptance speech on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, he set expectations rather unceremoniously high. As such, his speech was somewhat of a letdown, being more of the breakfast-cereal platitudes of “hope” and “change” he’s been dragging out about as often as we’re reminded that John McCain was busy shooting down the Viet Cong back when a certain Illinois senator was still learning his multiplication tables than any extraordinary feat of rhetoric.

Entering this was McCain, who upset the political balance of Everybody Being Really Comfortable With Where They Were At by selecting the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, as his running mate. Here are a few notes you may not know about Governor Palin, especially if you are either refusing to listen to anything anyone has said about anything for the past week, or are terminally dumb:

1. She is a woman.
2. Holy crap!
3. Seriously, turns out she is a woman. Just like, oh, I don’t know, say, Hillary Clinton.
4. I think John McCain has a little crush on someone!
5. Don’t tell Cindy.
6. I think it would be even money she would win a fistfight with Joe Biden. I’m just sayin’.
7. She has like a bajillion kids, all of whom are adorable
8. But they all have creepy names, like she lost a bet or something.
9. Like Piper.
10. Really? I mean, c’mon.
11. She’s from Alaska.
12. Yes, THAT Alaska.
13. The one that has more moose than people.
14. No, I don’t get it either.
15. Seriously.

The members of the GOP see all of these important points as absolute positives for the Republican ticket this year. Many of them weren’t quite sold on McCain to begin with. Sure, he was sort of a Republican, but they caught him hanging out with the Sharks a few too many times for everyone’s liking. The Christian Right in particular has not warmed to the Senator from Arizona, mostly because of the fact that while McCain agrees with the religious factions on nearly every issue, he once made the mistake of verbalizing the idea that maybe blaming 9/11 on feminists and homosexuals instead of, you know, actual terrorists, was not the most tactful thing to say. For this, he was anathema to them, something akin to watching Will & Grace reruns by “accident” or Dr. Dobson recommending therapy instead of beating yourself on the head with a 2×4. Choosing Palin, a strong supporter of religious causes, allayed their fears somewhat.

The remainder of the Republican convention was otherwise normal, with safe, unremarkable speeches punctuated by shoving anyone with skin darker than Deepak Chopra or at least one vagina up to the stage to talk about hope, struggle, and repealing the estate tax.

Most pundits classify the convention as a relative success. While the Democrats seemed to focus on making broad swipes at McCain by linking him with Bush, McCain captured the concept of “change” and molded it into his own. This is a somewhat risky behavior, since he’s effectively telling Republicans that Bush screwed the pooch and he’s there to clean up the inevitable mess. Whether this will appeal to the independent voter that has yet to make up their mind has yet to be determined. At least McCain now knows that Alaska is safe—and, as always, thank goodness.


Welcome to Obama Nation!

August 26, 2008

Welcome to Denver, where the elites and working class join hands and celebrate the nomination of Barack Obama for the Democratic National Convention. No flash photos, please, and if you must smoke, please do so at the nearest designated non-smoking area, officially known as Utah.

The theme of this year’s Democratic convention is “One Nation,” a sentiment somewhat contradictory to 2004’s vice presidential candidate, John Edwards. His idea of “Two Americas” presumably includes those in which his wife has terminal cancer and one in which he has a mistress; alas, for Edwards, the times have changed, and those two worlds have now become one.

The selection of Denver as the city for the convention was no accident. Surely, the cold, unforgiving masses of Colorado are rather unwelcome to those Democrats weltering in the south or at least have the benefit of the gentle gusts of wind emanating from Martha’s Vineyard, Puget Sound, or Joe Biden. Colorado is seen as a potential swing state. While Bush and the Republicans have safely won the state over the past few decades, the Democrats have slowly been gaining ground. What used to be the standard-bearer of western rugged individualists has found droves of environmentalists, immigrants, and rich urbanites looking to get away from the exact sort of city they voted to create in the first place settling in and, worse, registering to vote and, even more worse, actually voting.

This year, then, the Democrats are hoping to pick up its nine electoral votes. While small in the grand scheme of the electoral college, it’s a gold mine (quite literally) in the razor-thin election results we’ve seen lately. Someone, somewhere, on hearing about the selection of Biden as the vice presidential candidate, wiped their brow, squeaked a “3” on the dry erase board, and was glad to secure Delaware’s otherwise safe three votes.

This was shaping up to be one of the few political conventions in recent years that might have some legitimate drama. Conventions used to be full of brokered deals: cabinet positions auctions off to the highest bidder, legislation hammered out and agreed to in exchange for favors; party platform statements used to score internal political points but largely ignored by pretty much everyone else in the history of mankind. These slowly drifted away in importance as primaries determined the nominee, and the only thing left to do at conventions was get drunk and accidentally cast vote for Dennis Kucinich.

This year, with the primary contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama so close for so long, it was rumored that there may be a brokered convention once again, just like the olden times of Eugene McCarthy, Adlai Stevenson, and a long, long, depressing list of extremely capable losers. This trend, as it were, was the impetus for the creation of superdelegates, individuals empowered to vote for whoever they pleased. In effect, this was to ensure a voice within the party apparatus, but, in reality, it was to prevent the Democratic faithful from nominating Walter Mondales for the next 2,000 years, which seems quite likely even today. (The Republicans have no such issue, and no superdelegates; they simply run an auction.)

Obama has also made a historic decision: to give his nomination acceptance speech not at the Pepsi Center, but at Invesco Field, where the Denver Broncos play. This echoes john F. Kennedy’s similar decision when he accepted the nomination in 1960, one of the few ways in which Obama has likened himself to Kennedy. And by “few” I mean “about as many times as John McCain has reminded us that he spent five years in a POW camp.”

Whether the convention will be a grand success, playing on Obama’s strengths while downplaying the historically bitter primary or descending into chaos and strife, remains to be seen. Several protest groups with an unfortunate grasp on exactly the sort of political spectrum they are protesting against have already planned on attempting to create the 1968 convention in Chicago, where Hubert Humphrey got into a fistfight with Mo Udall in the men’s room, and Mayor Daley roamed the floor with a steak knife he stole off of Lyndon Johnson personally garroting anyone he found giving him the ole crook eye.

Ultimately, it is going to be up to Obama to determine how this convention is viewed by the unwashed undecideds. Given that Obama’s campaign theme has been largely about the rather blandly generic terms of “change” and “hope,” it seems rather strange to latch on to another quite lukewarm concept as “One Nation.” While political themes have always been broad and undefined—Ronald Reagan’s “Shining City on a Hill” could mean the optimism of a renewed America or another damn Starbucks being built next to the dentist’s office—the Obama campaign seems to be striving for optional definitions with a politically constructed premise to be named later. Obama should do what every Democratic campaign in the past century has done: grasp the universal theme of peace, fairness, and pandering to labor unions, environmentalists, and Hollywood. It works every time.


There Goes Another Candidate: No, Seriously, There Goes Another Candidate Edition

June 11, 2008

Well, the primary season is effectively over, barring Barack Obama getting caught as a member of the National Rifle Association or John McCain getting caught with cholesterol. While this means that the election is headed for a long, hot summer of talking heads, attack ads, and trite, overused phrases referencing scandalous minutia only the practitioners of talk radio or 24-hour news networks could possibly care about, one has to stop and wonder what will happen to those vanquished in this fight. While we know that John Edwards will go back home to practice law, and Mike Huckabee is going back to Arkansas to sell used cars or whatever it was that he used to do, and Dennis Kuchinich is going back home to Mars in his chariot powered by the souls of dead unicorns, the big question mark hovers in the room: What is Hillary Clinton going to do?

Hillary, of course, has plenty of choices in this liberated world! Why, it was only a few generations ago that women had a limited number of choices for their lives: housewife, teacher, nurse, or marrying that guy so no one would know that he’s gay. If only we had had a candidate that could have represented how far women have come. But now, well, the opportunities are endless! Or at least seven bullet points long:
,
Hillary As Attack Dog: Vanquished opponents and former Presidents normally make good attack dogs when they’re not playing golf with oil fascists or diddling the maids at their Presidential libraries. They can lob incendiary bombs at the other nominee without much blowback, since they normally have nothing to lose beyond a sweet gig at MSNBC, something that doesn’t pop up very often on Christmas lists. Hillary can do this with particular adeptness, as she’s displayed to Obama over the past six months or so. For example, she can wail on McCain for his voting of the authorization of force on…well, never mind. She can differentiate how she voted on the Campaign Finance Reform Act…oh, wait. At least she can point out their differences in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill…er, you know what? Never mind.

Hillary As Fundraiser: The Clintons have long, deep roots in the progressive community, and having Hillary on top billing for any fundraiser will make the first-rate Hollywood moguls and second-rate music producers and third-rate Southeast Asian financial conglomerates crack open the vault and pour money into Obama’s campaign. The real treat, though, is that Hillary’s loss makes plenty of supporters feel guilty, and there are no more effective practitioners of liberal guilt than Democratic primary donors. She’ll be laughing all the way to the First Bank of the Fish Who Need Bicycles.

Ed Rendell As Hillary: While Hillary’s ambition is to claim the presidency, in her wake she has created those that supported her, and now are basically clones of her without all the baggage. Ed Rendell, the governor of Pennsylvania, is one of those. While large sections of the American population have an opinion on Hillary, far fewer are aware of Rendell, and Rendell has made fewer enemies on the national stage beyond Kansas City hockey fans and cheese steaks. This could spell trouble for Hillary, since an astute look by Obama at a 1) popular governor in a 2) swing state that is 3) very close to Hillary’s positions without 4) everyone south of the Mason-Dixon line grabbing the pitchfork and foaming sweet tea at the mouth at the mere mention of her name. Granted, selling Rendell means convincing everyone that the nation needs to be a lot more like Philadelphia, so it may be a good idea to stock up on Tovex.

Hillary as Vice President: She’s on a lot of lists to be a potential vice president, a thought that is both natural and unusual at the same time. It’s unusual in that for the last sixteen years Hillary has sacrificed foreign-born children in her back yard as a nightly ritual to become President; settling for vice president seems sort of anti-climactic. However, getting to the Presidency via the #2 slot has worked pretty well in the past. Just ask Al Gore, Walter Mondale, Hubert Humphrey, Nelson Rockefeller, and Dan Quayle.

Hillary As Senator From New York: Most people assumed that Hillary was elected to the Senate from the state of New York to represent her core constituency: carpetbaggers supporting abortion on demand who wanted really, really badly to run for President. All that changed when it turned out that she actually wasn’t a grandstanding hellion but a reasonably well-behaved junior Senator, a lot more responsive to the average New Yorker’s political sensibilities than Al D’Amato and a lot less likely to be wandering in downtown Albany in an unbuttoned dressing down smelling of Ben-Gay and gin than Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Granted, you could saw off everything from Schenectady westward and not have an impact on her support, but the entire world kind of revolves around the Big Apple anyway, so who cares?

Hillary As First Lady: While she won’t be the first lady of an Obama presidency, she can certainly act like one. Touring the country as the almost-winner while still retaining her cordial hostess skills may provide the Democrats with a softer side of politics. Granted, both John McCain and Barack Obama are pretty much pussies anyway, but let’s just say there are significant portions of the electorate thinks Aquafina is too tart and the band Kansas has too hard of an edge to them.

Hillary As Hillary: She won’t be baking cookies at Denver, of course. Although one has to wonder exactly what else she has to do with her time. Besides bitch-slap Gina Gershon, of course.


There Goes Another Candidate: Old Bats and Auto Workers, Unite! Edition

May 31, 2008

In an auspicious meeting of the Democratic Party, the leaders of the Democratic National Committee will meet with representatives from both of the major candidates for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to settle how the delegates from Michigan and Florida will be seated. This is, in the words of the DNC, is important, since “I can’t possibly imagine any other method that we could use so that we could drag this thing out any longer without actually resorting to suicide.”

For those unfamiliar with the situation, the DNC advised the states almost eight months or so ago that anyone who schedules their primaries ahead of an arbitrarily assigned date would not be seated at the convention. This was done, in part, to stem the primary system which was slowly creeping earlier and earlier each year as states tried to increase their influence in the nomination battle to the point where the election for 2008 started sometime around when the first George Bush was elected. It was also done to preserve the influence of New Hampshire and Iowa, the traditional inaugurates of the primaries, and of course both states accurately represent the demographics of current Democratic voters, and by all means we want to preserve that. (Cough, cough.) Effectively, those states that defied the schedule would have no official say in the nomination, thinking rather rationally that the race would be decided early December since the last time there was an actual honest-to-goodness challenge to decide on a leader was when George Washington hightailed it out of Philadelphia.

However, by scheduling their primaries early, they could have an easy symbolic say in who gets the nomination, since the election was going to be about one part votes and nine parts faction pandering and media fellation anyway.

(As an aside, the Republican Party avoided this entire mess by penalizing rogue states only half of their delegate count, exactly the sort of thing the GOP does well: come up with rational, businesslike plans for things that never need it, and ball up the things that do.)

Of course, things have changed slightly since then. With the nomination battle so close, all of a sudden the delegates from Florida and Michigan matter quite a bit. It matters, of course, because Hillary Clinton won them both rather easily—especially Michigan, where Obama wasn’t even on the ballot—and so those delegates would count towards her total to narrow the gap between herself and Obama. While she still would be behind in the delegate count, every step closer towards Barack is one less blind puppy she has to sacrifice to get the nomination.

There are two sets of opinions about the situation. (Okay, there are about two thousand sets of opinions about this, but only one will matter and that depends on the winner in November.) One is that everyone knew the rules going in, and those two states decided to ignore them. This is the political equivalent of the age-old axiom of “nanny nanny boo boo.” It’s not particularly fair to go back and change the rules unless you’re running for the Senate in New Jersey.

The other opinion is that this outcome—where one individual arguably has more support overall but thanks to a creaky, archaic system will be denied the victory—has too many shades of the 2000 election, when about three-quarters of the Democratic Party uses their endless supply of indignant rage to replace their Cialis prescription since they both roughly have the same effect.

So both sides are meeting this weekend to hash out a compromise about the wayward delegates. Some of the plans being floated are:

As proposed by the director of the United Auto Workers, he will go “talk to some guys I know” to “take care of” the problem by “talking” to Howard Dean, assuring that Michigan’s delegate vote gets counted.

Have the Detroit Red Wings fight the Florida Panthers to see who gets the delegates (proposed by Michigan).

Have the Detroit Pistons fight the Orlando Magic…oh, wait.

Have the Detroit Lions fight the Miami Dolphins (no one actually wants to see this).

Hope that one of the nominees gets assassinated by an Arabic national making the entire race a wash; thankfully, this suggestion isn’t in the least bit tasteless unless the brother of the person who actually was assassinated by an Arabic national forty years ago suddenly comes down with an inoperable tumor or something.

Awarding just enough delegates to build Hillary up, bring her right to the point of almost satisfying her, then suddenly stopping just short of doing so, in a show of solidarity for the important struggles facing women today.

Shuffleboard match (proposed by Florida)

Michael Moore will solve the entire issue by powering everything with his own sense of self-importance, the outcome of which will eventually incorporate the firebombing of the General Motors executive building.

Let Hillary’s plan be allowed, since this is the equivalent of patting your four-year-old on the head after she “helps” put up drywall in the basement by handing you the hammer.

Deciding on an effective compromise isn’t going to be the easiest thing for the Democrats to handle. It’s not simply about personalities or politics, and it’s not even about fairness or reality. It’s all about want you want to do more: disenfranchise blacks, or disenfranchise women? Yeah, good luck with that.