10 November 2008

Winners' blues

The chorus of the internationally interested had a single request last week: don't fuck this up, America. Though initially, I felt that we didn't (and effectively, we didn't) ultimately I think it's Obama's campaign that didn't fuck up. He completely owned the electoral college, getting almost 70% of the votes, but only slightly better than squeaked by with popular vote, getting 52.6% (to McCain's 46.1%). The numbers (minor rounding errors, values taken from Wikipedia):

Candidates (w/l)Electoral Win (%)Popular Vote (%w/l)Undecided (%)

Hearing the post-election revelations of the depth of Palin's ignorance (held back by the press, who, across the board should die the most horrible death any of us could imagine), it's terrifying that a McCain who would risk so much on her could still garner the popular-vote loyalty of so many. I want to think that those who were frightened away by lies of Muslimness or Socialistness were outliers or ignorant. Unfortunately, they were coworkers and college graduates. The willful ignorance of the last eight years won't immediately dissolve into a willingness to reason, but the example set by Obama as a public intellectual will at least hold as a model to define the next eight.

As I read the moderates proclaiming that both Obama and McCain were equally-viable-but-different, I'm reminded of a Tom the Dancing Bug (IIRC) comic. One character is angrily threatening another with a punch in the face. The defender insists that he doesn't want to be punched as Mr. Middle Ground appears declaring: The truth is somewhere in between your two opinions. In order to find a solution that satisfied both individuals, he decided that the first man simply kick the other in the shin (or some other not-as-bad-as-getting-punched-in-the-face attack). Ah, a happy compromise has been reached between the two equally valid opinions!

Sometimes, the supposed middle ground is not closer to truth. McCain's aggressive stance towards and diplomatic exclusion of Iran was in no way a sensible position. Few with the knowledge and authority on the region agreed with him, and yet are we to buy that Obama should approach Iran somewhere between diplomatic talks and aggressive exclusion? Or compare McCain's emphasis on secrecy throughout (his you don’t telegraph your intentions to the enemy during a discussion of the U.S.'s Pakistan policy) with Obama's promise of transparency and openness. That being said, Obama does not have the mandate that the empire-leaning Bush declared he had (and with a much smaller margin of victory). There are middle grounds to be had, and, though I trust that his approach will be fair, we need to watch after him. This is, after all, the guy who cheated us on FISA and the bailout.

[ posted by sstrader on 10 November 2008 at 1:42:06 PM in Politics | tagged election ]