Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I know the four or so of you reading this out there have been just waiting for an official nod from me before deciding who to vote for. Well, wonder no more: EBBP is endorsing Illinois Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States. While other venues for news and other bullshit have been giving their endorsements over the past few weeks, I wanted to wait until the last minute to see if anything truly hilarious happened [i.e. Joe Biden tried to cop a feel on Sarah Palin, etc]. Now, on the eve of what will be an historic election regardless of who wins, the time has come to get off the fence [which is good because it was creasing my ass].

Four years ago when people first saw Obama at the Democratic National Convention and started talking about him as a possible candidate for president, I'd generally slap them on the back of their heads and remind them that America would never elect an African American in my lifetime. Sure, tremendous progress had been made over the previous 40 years on the race issue. But I knew enough good 'ol boys in my own life - a sheltered life, mind you - that would sooner cut their arms off than vote for anyone of color for president - and who had no problem openly telling anyone about how they felt. Extrapolated over the entire country, I figured there was no way in hell, despite all the progress that had been made, that an African American could be elected in my lifetime. The same was true for a Jew, a woman, or anyone else not very white and male.

And even when Obama's campaign took off, I was certain that Hillary Rodham Clinton would get the nomination. Obama was a 'celebrity' in my mind; the American Idol candidate, I called him. The mania his appearances generated made me think of him as Sanjaya in a suit. 'And this too shall pass', I thought. At the same time, I started listening to Obama, reading up on him, etc. I had to say I was duly impressed. He and I had differed on the Iraq war; he'd been right as it turns out. I certainly couldn't discount the cult of personality he generated - no small thing for a leader to possess in this wacky old world we live in. It was not until the very last moment, however, that I finally conceded that the Democrats were going to nominate this man to be their candidate. At that point, I started to pay close attention to the way Obama handled the weight of the nomination. He had run a brilliant campaign against Clinton, and I've always thought that one of the biggest [and, perhaps, only] benefit of a long and drawn out campaign was that it showed us what the candidate's management style, appointments, and crisis-management skills were all about. My feeling generally is that if you can run a successful campaign in this climate, you can run an administration. Now, George W. Bush shot that theory straight to hell, but I'm going to consider him an aberration of the sake of this entry.

Obama's abilities as a manager, as a leader of men and women, as a motivator, as a politician have been been thoroughly demonstrated during his 2-year campaign for the presidency. Besides having to overcome people like me who had too little faith that the American people would look beyond race in this election, there were missteps [remember his comment in Pennsylvania regarding those who hide behind guns and God in fear during poor economic times], there were embarrassing revelations [i.e. that fascist preacher of his]. And through it all, Obama made the necessary corrections, moved forward, and put forward an air of confidence and self-assurance that, dare I say, made him seem 'presidential'.

Now, it is also true that you couldn't have scripted a better time for a Democrat to be running. Some might argue that 'anybody' could beat John McCain in 2008 with the Bush hangover, the economy, the war, etc. Well, ask Michael Dukakis about that theory [if you can find him]. After the '88 Democratic Convention Dukakis held a double-digit lead against an unpopular Vice President George H.W. Bush, saddled with Iran-Contra, his close association with a bumbling administration breathing it's last misguided breaths, and a vice presidential choice in Dan Quayle that still baffles the mind 20 years later. You'll notice, though, with all of that there still was no Dukakis Administration. So, don't for a minute assume that it was slam-dunk that Obama was going to win this election.

It is not, however, impossible for John McCain to emerge victorious. Pre-election polls are fickle, which is a nice way of saying they are horseshit. In 1980, the pre-election polls were so close between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, that Newsweek magazine had three different front covers designed for their post-election issue. On one was a picture of Carter on the campaign trail, jacket hung over his shoulder, smiling with the headline, "Four More Years". The second one was a smiling picture of Reagan looking out on that shining city on a hill [or staring into space, one or the other] with the headline "President Reagan". The third was a simple cover, showing the seal of the United States House of Representatives and the headline, "Now What?" The latter was because some polls indicated that third-party candidate John Anderson might siphon enough votes from both Carter and Reagan to deny either man a majority in the Electoral College, thus throwing the election to the House of Representatives. We all know that Reagan won that election rather comfortably. The point is, the pre-election polls were way, way, off.

Tomorrow we [begin] to find out. Before 2000 I would have said 'tomorrow we find out' but we all know that there's no guarantee we're going to know anything after tomorrow. It could be a long night-into-morning before we know. Or, it could be the slam-dunk for Obama that the polls are calling for. Either way, Obama has earned the right to four years as president. His success or failure will in large part be determined by the size of the majority Democrats will hold in Congress. In an odd way, Obama might benefit from the Democrats not gaining the 60 seats in the Senate they need to break a filibuster. Ask Bill Clinton what it's like to be a new Democratic president with a sizable Democratic majority in the House and Senate. After Clinton's election in 1992, the Democrats were like a crack addict who discovers speed, too. By the time they were done, they got their clocks cleaned in 1994 and - at the time - seemed to have doomed Clinton to a one-term presidency. No, Obama might benefit from a nice, healthy majority in the Senate - say, 55-45. This would require working with Republicans to get certain parts of his agenda passed, while throwing others to the wayside because of impracticability.

We begin the process of finding out tomorrow. EBBP throws it's totally insignificant endorsement to Barack Obama - if for no other reason than I can't wait to spend four years listening to the things Vice President Biden is going to say into an open microphone.

copyright 2008 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

No comments:

Post a Comment