Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is the Electorate Disgusted?

On Super Tuesday it may not come down to Iraq, or terrorism, or the economy, or immigration.

Leave that for the general election. What will matter on Tuesday is whether a big enough chunk of the American electorate decides the most important thing is that those issues be dealt with by a post-partisan president.

Barack Obama has been called the post-partisan candidate, but Republicans have one too in John McCain

It is difficult to picture either of them smearing an opponent, or letting backers do the smear. If supporters outside their campaign tried the kind of swift-boating that blew up John Kerry’s candidacy in 2004, can anybody imagine Obama or McCain failing to react quickly, loudly and insistently to demand the operation stop?

On the other hand, it is easy to imagine Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney disassociate themselves from the attacks — yet quietly not disapprove, either

What else can be expected from Hillary and The Man Who Did Not Have Sex With That Woman. The couple spent the last two weeks making it clear once again that the divisiveness of the 1990s cannot all be blamed on Republican slime merchants.

In a way, one can’t help but admire the subtleness with which they brought up the race issue to hurt Obama, like when Bill Clinton dismissed Obama’s South Carolina landslide by pointing out Jesse Jackson won the state in 1984 and 1988

The triangulation is brilliant: here was the “first black president” stating a straightforward fact of American political history, that a particular Democratic candidate of the 1980s won South Carolina twice, but never got the nomination — and there he was, also, reminding us at the same time that it’s black thang, you see.

Not that Republican slime merchants have gone away, either. Just as brilliant as Clinton’s Jesse-equals-Barack moment was Mike Huckabee’s decision to withhold a particularly slimy television ad — and make the announcement at press conference while releasing the spot to reporters, thereby making sure it aired in news stories (for free!) and made a splash on You Tube

There’s an expression in Spanish for that: “to throw the stone and hide the hand.”

Romney has yet to do anything as hilariously despicable, but no one is going to out-pander the clip art candidate.

The former Massachusetts governor (was the entire state on drugs when it elected him?) doesn’t just look like a model for those generic drawings of an office “boss” that illustrate a thousand cheesy brochures. He sounds like a cartoon, too

Just before his defeat in Florida Romney decided that the best strategy was to drone on about how John McCain was not a true conservative because he works with Democrats too often (even on immigration reform, the traitor!), was endorsed by the liberal New York Times, and considered being John Kerry’s running mate while he, Mitt Romney, is the real heir to the Reagan legacy of family values, low taxes, small government.

Yawn. Everybody knows the rest. It’s what “conservatives” are expected to parrot, even if there is not one item on the list that hasn’t repeated ad nauseum since 1980, when the ideas truly were fresh. Romney’s unwillingness to speak in any language other than quarter-century-old Republican boilerplate leaves him as a candidate without a single interesting thought or original initiative.

That, of course, is good enough for doctrinaire fanatics who listen to Rush Limbaugh, just like the discreet viciousness of Billary goes unnoticed by drinkers of Clintonite Kool-Aid. The question is who else will turn out to vote on Tuesday.

Are there enough Democratic voters who think it good thing that Obama reaches out to Republicans in promising sweeping change? Are there enough Republican voters who admire McCain for risking his conservative credentials by standing up for sensible immigration policy?

Are there enough voters who have had enough?

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