Friday, October 03, 2008

The Morning After
During the primaries I wrote some political posts. I took them down because, well, I wasn't impressed by them. Just more spouting off in a world long on opinions but painfully short on wisdom. I'll probably come to see this fresh rant in the same vein, and it may be gone before any of my three or four readers sees it. But ridiculously, right now, it is important to me....

Nothing that happened last night wasn't anticipated. His performance, her performance, the reaction ... it all fell easily under the heading Most Likely Scenario. And the net result is that our hope -- that Obama will win and we'll have a sane Democrat in the White House -- is just as viable now as it was before the debate began. And yet I find myself profoundly depressed. And here is why: Once more, the public and the press are carrying on as though the past seven years didn't happen, as though the election of a "plain-spoken" president who "connected with regular people," talked mostly about the need for lower taxes and "getting government out of the American people's way," all the while demonstrating little curiosity, depth of knowledge about issues or sense of how America's place in the world is changing didn't lead us to disaster.

I see everyone earnestly joining in on the debate after the debate, trying to determine whether Sarah Palin for 90 minutes pulled off looking sort of like someone who could (if we make sure to keep the answer period short, and don't ask follow-up questions) play the part of world leader. I'm aghast that none of the endless number of experts on the post-debate analysis shows -- CNN alone must have had a dozen -- climbed onto the desk in front of him and shouted, "Have we all lost our minds? Does anyone really think this woman truly has the depth of understanding to lead our country in a time of grave crisis? Does anyone really believe that John McCain showed good judgment in selecting her to be his vice president? The winks and nods, the scripted little zingers, the regular-gal shtick -- whether it was appealing to you or not -- how does it have ANYTHING to do with anything? Even now, at this juncture, are we STILL unable to behave seriously? Am I living in an alternate universe? Our country's future is not assured, OK? And we reporters and pundits, by playing the ridiculous games we play, are as responsible as Wall Street, Congress, Bush and the public for the state of the country. Do I have to say it again: We are in financial meltdown. We are fighting two hopeless wars. It's not simply that we're not addressing the social problems that for years have plagued us; no, we have gone so far and so quickly in reverse in the past seven years that simply staving off utter disaster appears to be the best we can hope for. And we all sit here and happily play the role of TV critic? This is reality, people, not a reality show." And with that, our hero falls to his knees and holds his head, his face the very picture of defeat, now dissolving into tears.

Am I done? Not quite.

What infinite power of pretending does it take for David Brooks in the New York Times, to write, "She was surprisingly forceful on the subject of Iran (pronouncing Ahmadinejad better than her running mate)." How is it that I even have to say, the question cannot be can she spout a few talking points and pronounce the name of a practically irrelevant Iranian politician. The question must be -- for our future depends upon it -- "Does this person have an impressive, nuanced read on the world that inspires confidence that the choices she will make will keep us and the world safe?" Right? Isn't that what we desperately need to know? Or are we going to go through the same stupid, devastating, deadly charade we've gone through since 2001? I guess we are. I guess we are.

F--- you, David Brooks. F--- you, all the punditocracy last night and this morning. You pontificate about Congress failing us, the president failing us. F--- you. You have demonstrated again your complete and utter lack of courage and sense of obligation. None of you deserves or has my respect.


Liz said...

Wow! Great blog, Pete. I feel exactly the same way. I pray (using that term loosely) that Obama succeeds in November. The thought of Palin being a hearbeat away from the Presidency is scary. And the thought of McCain being President is just about as scary. I saw 3 McCain/Palin yard signs in my neighborhood on my walk with Jack last weekend. None for Obama. I was so disappointed. How can people be so blind? Thanks for sending the link...keep on writing.

Suzy said...

Ahmadinejad is a "practically irrelevant Iranian politician"?? I find his relevancy particularly scary.

Pete said...

I guess I can understand being fearful of Ahmadinejad. Right-wing U.S. politicians, abetted by our relentlessly lazy mainstream media, have led Americans to believe he's a virtual dictator in Iran, particularly with respect to its development of nuclear technology. In fact, the Iranian constitution gives responsibility for such matters to the Supreme National Security Council, of which Ahmadinejad is but one of more than a dozen members. And here's the key fact: The SNSC doesn't do anything without the stamp of approval from Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. There's your power in Iran.

Ahmadinejad is undoubtedly a bad guy. But by focusing on him and demonizing and ostracizing him, we're only strengthening him internally. What a shame.

One other interesting note about Ahmadinejad: He's found a friend in the post-U.S.-invasion Iraq. The Shiite-led government welcomed him earlier this year -- the first visit ever to Iraq by an Iranian president -- and President Talabani said the trip "opens a new chapter in bilateral ties." Of course, both Prime Minister al-Maliki and Talabani have made official trips to Iran since taking office.

Anonymous said...
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Pete said...
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Anonymous said...

So what you're saying is ONE year or more on the campaign trail vs say actually being the Governor of a state (since December 4, 2006) and head of their national guard is better training and preparation to lead this great country of ours.

One could contrast her experience with that of Bill Clinton.

Pete said...

Anonymous: No, what I'm saying is Sarah Palin has demonstrated that she is a blithering idiot, incurious, uniformed and with a decidely loopy worldview. But I guess it's a good thing that she's been protected from witchcraft. Whereas Barack Obama is uncommonly intelligent, deeply knowledgeable about the great issues of the day, calm under pressure and able to bridge political and cultural boundaries.

I've never spent a lot of energy attacking Palin for her experience or lack thereof. I'm open to the possibility that a wide range of experiences could prepare one for the presidency. But you seem fixated on the idea that experience is all and that Palin's experience is superlative, and since I'm an accomodating blog host, I'll indulge you:

Bill Clinton: Undergrad degree in foreign service from Georgetown; law degree from Yale; Rhodes scholar
Sarah Palin: Undergrad degree in journalism from Idaho (last of her five colleges in six years)
Pre-politics experience
Clinton: Professor, University of Arkansas
Palin: Sportscaster
Politcal experience
Clinton: Arkansas Attorney General, two years; Governor of Arkansas, 12 years; head of the Democratic Leadership Council, two years.
Palin: Mayor of Wasilla (pop. <10,000), six years; Governor of Alaska, 1 year, 10 months.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pete said...

Anonymous: As I said, I'm accomodating, but I won't be the subject of insults on my own blog.

Dan Brekke said...

For what it's worth, I thought your political posts were worth reading. Just like this one.

I think you nailed it on what the glaring question is with Palin: what her nomination says about McCain's judgment. And there is *no* comparison with Obama, despite the ridiculous resume flourishing the right offers on Palin's behalf (commander of the Alaska National Guard? WTF?). He has spent his entire adult life earnestly engaged, both personally and intellectually, with both street-level and high policy-level questions about how to make people's lives better. He has spent his entire adult life learning both how government works and how it fails people, and thinking about how to make it work better. He has spent his entire adult life cultivating a vision that goes beyond the service of self and concerns like whether the local librarian would agree to censorship or how to use her official standing to exact personal vengeance on a former brother-in-law.

It is profoundly discouraging when the most honest and penetrating critique of our plight continues to come from late-night comics.

Liz said...

Great response to Anonymous. Sarah Palin is no Bill Clinton. More like George Bush and who needs that again.

Sorry about your race. Take care of yourself.

rob said...

Hi Pete and other Dankos. Pretty cool that your dad knows Joe Biden. I didn't realize.

You seem to feel exactly as I do about this election thing, tho far more elegantly stated.

I'm wondering, given all of the pork that made into to bailout bill (after the republicans killed the relatively bacon-free version), if McCain has stopped saying he will "make known the names of those responsible" for pork-barrel spending.

This has been a much-hyped talking point of his campaign since inception, but I'm curious to see if he'll stick with it tonight. I think he said it 3 or 4 times in the last debate, the one that was not intended to be about the economy.