Friday, September 26, 2008

Before the first debate

I'm profoundly disappointed with John McCain. While I never really bought into his "maverick" status, no matter how eagerly the press thrust that label upon him, I thought him free enough of current Republican orthodoxy to offer something different in this campaign. While I have been frank about my slight preference for Obama in 2008, feeling that he represented the best hope of swinging the pendulum back toward democratic ideals and away from free-market obsession, it has always been a curiously passionless preference. His lack of experience is a concern to me, though what I have seen of his approach to that, so very unBush-like provided some comfort.

My greatest hope was that McCain would force Obama to up his game, that he would run a campaign as free of Republican orthodoxy as he has been touted as being, that we would avoid the Willie Horton-izing and the Swift Boat-ing, at least mostly, and focus on our challenges. [I realize that seems naive, that no campaign in my lifetime has spent enough time on the issues, but I can dream.]

At least as important was my wish that we could spend an election pretty much ignoring "the base," that collection of theocratic knee-jerk voters who seem to be the ones mostly responsible for the Bush horror show. They don't like McCain, I know because Rush told me, and they sure as heck don't like Obama. So maybe, for once, instead of ignoring my needs as a voter, we could ignore the needs of those who are convinced that we need less gum'mint, so we need to get gum'mint to tell gum'mint to lay off (or whatever their reasoning is).

But then McCain decided to throw in his lot with Bush on the two biggest issues we have; though that didn't seem to appease the base much, it certainly turned off anyone like me. And then came Sarah, one of the most cynical and contemptuous choices I have ever seen from a major candidate. We can find a few motives for McCain's choice, each one more distressing than the last.

And then this week, the week of suspending the campaign, which was foolish, unnecessary, and a total lie, the inability to do anything to assist in the bailout effort, and the unsuspension of the campaign, all done with incompetence and mendacity. And we've seen this all before, for the past eight years, and we see that McCain can do Bush, only, amazingly, less competently.

So here is the first debate, coming up in less than an hour, and, my friends, I expect very little. Given what has happened over the last couple of months, I would be stunned to see anything that will change my view. And that is profoundly disappointing, as I would love to be in a position in which there was something left to decide, in which two honest men were laying out their plans for the future of this nation, and I could look at each plan, and weigh, and decide.

But that isn't going to happen. Only one of the men on the stage tonight has even a chance to be honest. The other, blinded by his ambition for an office that he thought should be his already, stunned that he lost in 2000 to a profoundly unqualified candidate and is likely to lose again, in his last chance, to another man he considers of less merit, has no "straight talk" to offer. I'll watch, but McCain's chance of regaining his credibility with me is vanishingly minute, and that saddens me.

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