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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 10-24-2008, 09:01 AM Thread Starter
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43% Ain't Nothing!

Obama looks like a winner, but it's not over yet.

It's all going fast, the whirl of images on the screen, words on the page, data flashing by. Barack Obama's up here, his lead now in the double digits there. In green rooms on book interviews, I see quietly angry former Reagan staffers, defensive former Bush aides, harried McCain spokesmen, and almost-jaunty Democrats. A network correspondent with a reputation for fairness—no one knows how this reporter votes—came by one day and shrugged with frustration. Everyone asks me about media bias. Of course the media loves Obama, but I can't say it. I didn't take notes, but I think that's word for word. Soon after, I received an email from a different journalist who referred, in passing, to where many journalists stand.

Neither of these people is conservative. When nonconservatives see the Obama love, and refer to it without prompting, the Obama love is deep. Remember how John McCain used to refer jokingly to the press as "my base"? Now it's part of Mr. Obama's. But if Mr. McCain loses, the reason will not be press bias.

The press knows who the press is for, and it isn't generally the one to the right. This has been true all my life. What has also been true is that the Republican had to get around it with the truth of his stands, the force of his arguments, the un-ignorability of his words, the power of his presence. You have to go over the head of the interpreters and gently seize the country by its lapels. Mr. McCain never got much over their heads. This is not because they're so tall. His campaign was not so much about meaning as it was, in the end, a series of moments—a good interview with Rick Warren, a good convention, Joe the Plumber . . .

And yet: It's not over. For one thing, Mr. McCain has got to be reading Steven Stark's piece in the Boston Phoenix, which imagines the forces that could produce a McCain upset. What if Mr. Obama underperforms on Election Day, just as he did in the final primaries with Hillary Clinton? What if senior citizens turn out in record numbers and vote for the older guy, and the financial crisis seems to fade, and Mr. McCain finds new grounding on the issue of taxes, and the Obama campaign undermines itself with premature triumphalism . . .

Mr. McCain has endless faith in his ability to come back. He's been doing it for 40 years, from Vietnam, where, with the injuries he'd sustained and the torture he experienced, he might have died, was likely to die, and yet survived, to exactly a year ago, when he was out of money and out of luck. And then he won New Hampshire. When he says, "We got 'em where we want 'em" he must mean: They think they are looking at a corpse. No one in politics has so repeatedly relished coming back from the dead.

Not a single poll has Mr. McCain ahead. The RealClearPolitics average of national polls as I write, rounded off, is Obama 50%, McCain 43%. Actually Mr. Obama has 50.1%, and if that is true and holds, it would make him the first Democratic presidential nominee since Jimmy Carter to break 50%. But I find myself thinking of what that 43% means. It's a big number, considering that this is the worst Republican year in generations. Amid two wars, a deep economic crisis, a fractured base, too much cynicism, and a campaign with the wind not at its back but head on in its face—with all of that working against Mr. McCain, 43% of the American people say, right now, in these polls, they are for him. And there are a significant number of undecideds. Four years ago about 122 million people voted. Forty-three percent of 122 million is 52 million people, more or less. A huge group, one too varied to generalize about because it includes flinty elderly Republicans from New England, home-schooling mothers in Ohio, libertarianish Republicans in Colorado, suburban patriots outside the big cities, and many others.

They are the beating heart of conservatism, and to watch most television is to forget they exist, for they are not shown much, except at rallies. But they are there, and this is a center-right nation, and many of them have been pushing hard against the age for 40 years now, and more. For some time they have sensed that something large and stable is being swept away, maybe has been swept away, and yet you still have to fight for it. They will not give up without a fight, and they will make their way to the polls.

And they will be a rock-hard challenge to Mr. Obama if he wins.

This is the thing: If Mr. Obama wins, and governs as a moderate liberal, not veering left, not seeming to be the cap that pops off a kettle that's been boiling for eight years, but governs to a degree, at least in general approach, as Bill Clinton did—as a moderate Democrat well aware of the terrain—he may know some success. And he may be able to tamp down the insistence of the long-simmering left by the force of his own popularity, which will grow once he is president among grateful Democrats, and others. But if he goes left—if it comes to seem as if the attractive, dark-haired man has torn open his shirt to reveal a huge S, not for Superman but for Socialist, if he jumps toward reforms such as a speech-limiting new Fairness Doctrine, that won't yield success. It will yield trouble, and unneeded domestic arguments. We have enough needed ones.

In a way, Mr. Obama can more easily go left in foreign relations for the precise reason no one knows what going left is, because no one knows what going right in foreign relations is, at least if "right" means "conservative." Mr. Obama has a great chance, in this area, to confuse the world. And a confused world is not all a bad thing. His persona, name, color, youth and approach will, at least initially, jumble up long-settled categories. Radicals enjoy hating America, but a particular picture of America. He is not that picture. He will give calculating Western European leaders an opening to be friendly to America again; they will feel that Mr. Obama's victory constitutes the rebuke of the Bushism they desire. They will befriend the rebuker.

People wonder if he is decisive. It is clear he is decisive in terms of his own career: He decides to go for president of the law review, to move to Chicago, to roll the dice for a U.S. Senate seat, to hire David Axelrod, to take on Hillary, to campaign with discipline and even elegance. When it comes to his career, his decisions are thought through and his judgments sound. But when it comes to decisions that have to do with larger issues, with great questions and not with him, things get murkier. There is the long trail of the missed and "present" votes, the hesitance on big questions. One wonders if in the presidency he'll be like the dog that chased the car and caught it: What's he supposed to do now?

It is mean out there, and in the next week it will get darker still, perhaps spectacularly so. To me, the biggest nightmare would be a tie. The worst resolution would be no resolution. And the quarrel would not, for even a moment, abate.

Declarations - WSJ.com

Don't believe everything you think
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 10-24-2008, 09:04 AM
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Jesus, jayhawk, that article, written by Reagan's Press Sec Peggy Noonan, just about endorses Obama. Did you read what she wrote last week? No? Well, here then:

Palin's Failin' What is it she stands for? After seven weeks, we don't know.By PEGGY NOONAN

"Sometimes the leak is so bad that even a plumber can't fix it." This was the concise summation of a cable political strategist the other day, after the third and final presidential debate. That sounds about right, and yet the race in its final days retains a feeling of dynamism. I think it is going to burst open or tighten, not just mosey along. I can well imagine hearing, the day after Election Day, a lot of "You won't believe it but I was literally in line at the polling station when I decided."

John McCain won the debate, and he did it by making the case more effectively than he has in the past that Barack Obama will raise taxes, when "now, of all times in America, we need to cut people's taxes." He also scored Mr. Obama on his eloquence, using it against him more effectively than Hillary Clinton ever did. When she said he was "just words," it sounded like a bitter complaint. Mr. McCain made it a charge: Young man, you attempt to obscure truth with the mellifluous power of your words. From Mrs. Clinton it sounded jealous, but when Mr. McCain said it, you looked at Mr. Obama and wondered if you'd just heard something that was true. For the first time, Mr. Obama's unruffled demeanor didn't really work for him. His cool made him seem hidden.

There is now something infantilizing about this election. Mr. Obama continued to claim he will remove wasteful spending by sitting down with the federal budget and going through it "line by line." This is absurd, and he must know it. Mr. McCain continued to vow he will "balance the budget" in the next four years. Who believes that? Does even he?

More than ever on the campaign trail, the candidates are dropping their G's. Hardworkin' families are strainin' and tryin'a get ahead. It's not only Sarah Palin but Mr. McCain, too, occasionally Mr. Obama, and, of course, George W. Bush when he darts out like the bird in a cuckoo clock to tell us we are in crisis. All of the candidates say "mom and dad": "our moms and dads who are struggling." This is Mr. Bush's former communications adviser Karen Hughes's contribution to our democratic life, that you cannot speak like an adult in politics now, that's too austere and detached, snobby. No one can say mothers and fathers, it's all now the faux down-home, patronizing—and infantilizing—moms and dads. Do politicians ever remember that in a nation obsessed with politics, our children—sorry, our kids—look to political figures for a model as to how adults sound?

More Peggy Noonan
Read Peggy Noonan's previous columns.

And click here to order her new book, Patriotic Grace.There has never been a second's debate among liberals, to use an old-fashioned word that may yet return to vogue, over Mrs. Palin: She was a dope and unqualified from the start. Conservatives and Republicans, on the other hand, continue to battle it out: Was her choice a success or a disaster? And if one holds negative views, should one say so? For conservatives in general, but certainly for writers, the answer is a variation on Edmund Burke: You owe your readers not your industry only but your judgment, and you betray instead of serve them if you sacrifice it to what may or may not be their opinion.

Here is a fact of life that is also a fact of politics: You have to hold open the possibility of magic. People can come from nowhere, with modest backgrounds and short résumés, and yet be individuals of real gifts, gifts that had previously been unseen, that had been gleaming quietly under a bushel, and are suddenly revealed. Mrs. Palin came, essentially, from nowhere. But there was a man who came from nowhere, the seeming tool of a political machine, a tidy, narrow, unsophisticated senator appointed to high office and then thrust into power by a careless Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose vanity told him he would live forever. And yet that limited little man was Harry S. Truman. Of the Marshall Plan, of containment. Little Harry was big. He had magic. You have to give people time to show what they have. Because maybe they have magic too.

But we have seen Mrs. Palin on the national stage for seven weeks now, and there is little sign that she has the tools, the equipment, the knowledge or the philosophical grounding one hopes for, and expects, in a holder of high office. She is a person of great ambition, but the question remains: What is the purpose of the ambition? She wants to rise, but what for? For seven weeks I've listened to her, trying to understand if she is Bushian or Reaganite—a spender, to speak briefly, whose political decisions seem untethered to a political philosophy, and whose foreign policy is shaped by a certain emotionalism, or a conservative whose principles are rooted in philosophy, and whose foreign policy leans more toward what might be called romantic realism, and that is speak truth, know America, be America, move diplomatically, respect public opinion, and move within an awareness and appreciation of reality.

But it's unclear whether she is Bushian or Reaganite. She doesn't think aloud. She just . . . says things.

Her supporters accuse her critics of snobbery: Maybe she's not a big "egghead" but she has brilliant instincts and inner toughness. But what instincts? "I'm Joe Six-Pack"? She does not speak seriously but attempts to excite sensation—"palling around with terrorists." If the Ayers case is a serious issue, treat it seriously. She is not as thoughtful or persuasive as Joe the Plumber, who in an extended cable interview Thursday made a better case for the Republican ticket than the Republican ticket has made. In the past two weeks she has spent her time throwing out tinny lines to crowds she doesn't, really, understand. This is not a leader, this is a follower, and she follows what she imagines is the base, which is in fact a vast and broken-hearted thing whose pain she cannot, actually, imagine. She could reinspire and reinspirit; she chooses merely to excite. She doesn't seem to understand the implications of her own thoughts.

No news conferences? Interviews now only with friendly journalists? You can't be president or vice president and govern in that style, as a sequestered figure. This has been Mr. Bush's style the past few years, and see where it got us. You must address America in its entirety, not as a sliver or a series of slivers but as a full and whole entity, a great nation trying to hold together. When you don't, when you play only to your little piece, you contribute to its fracturing.

In the end the Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics. It's no good, not for conservatism and not for the country. And yes, it is a mark against John McCain, against his judgment and idealism.

I gather this week from conservative publications that those whose thoughts lead them to criticism in this area are to be shunned, and accused of the lowest motives. In one now-famous case, Christopher Buckley was shooed from the great magazine his father invented. In all this, the conservative intelligentsia are doing what they have done for five years. They bitterly attacked those who came to stand against the Bush administration. This was destructive. If they had stood for conservative principle and the full expression of views, instead of attempting to silence those who opposed mere party, their movement, and the party, would be in a better, and healthier, position.

At any rate, come and get me, copper.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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