Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Final Thoughts on the Final Primaries

Everything starts anew. All the conventional wisdom must be set aside now that the two candidates come from opposite sides of the political and party spectrum. Obama no longer competes against a woman with whom he almost uniformly agrees; Obama no longer has to elide frontal responses to cheap shots from his opponent. And most importantly, we now have an entire population as the electorate, not just the split electorates of Democratic and Republican voters.

One storyline which the GOP is fighting with every tool in its box is the emergence of the "Obamacan"--Republicans who are crossing the line for Obama, many of whom were erstwhile Reagan Dems. Whether these creatures exist in any substantial numbers isn't clear, but the meme is itself deadly for McCain. And last night, a caller to NPR brought the point home in a way that could be devastating for the Republicans this year.

It was during a post-election call-in show, host Neal Conan had a Republican strategist as a guest. The strategist began by spinning the web of McCain's sure victory and then they went to the phones. The caller was a long-time Republican, who first and last voted for a Democrat in 1976, his first election. In 1980, he became a Republican with so many others. He is pro-life, and anti-gay marriage. And he's an Obama supporter. At the end of explaining all this, he said that despite this, he supported Obama because "he makes me proud to be an American." Both Conan and the strategist were a little rocked by it, and there was no comeback. The strategist tried to explain why this guy would ultimately come back to the reservation, but neither he nor anyone listening bought it for a second.

If Obama starts winning people over for this reason, look out. He could win in a landslide.

Apropos of that, a bit of mostly unpolished, uncorrected verse. I don't really have a good title, so we'll just go into it.
In our discriminating minds:
the tendency to sift among details.
Even in the theater, some of us are
balancing mental checkbooks while
Bogart rattles on about gin joints.
But let not the particularity--
(Another Maine super for Obama!)
(But what about working-class Ohio whites?)
(Webb on the ticket?)
--blind us to the grandeur

Looking back through the events of
time, we imagine and say
if only I had been there! What an
amazing time.
But you are. Right now
is the grand moment. Your
great, great, great grandchildren
will look back and wonder--
what was it like in that long year?

In that time when America forgot
her dark history, her strange fruit?
At that moment when everything changed
again. And a woman, edged by just a nose!
What times! What amazing times.
What it must have been like.

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