Monday, September 29, 2008


We really have no idea how this looming disaster is going to play out, but we used to say that those who are not angry were not paying attention; nowadays it's those who are not scared who are not paying attention. The hex cast by those voodoo economics of which daddy Bush so presciently spoke is now casting its inevitable pall over the entire nation and the world like a vast volcanic cloud.

In this context, it's hard to imagine that Sarah Palin will be able to recover from her disastrous recent appearances, morphing overnight into an eloquent and knowledgeable spokesperson for the Republican ticket and Republican policies. It's hard to imagine that John McCain himself will be able to redeem his wild gambles on matters of grave importance, and the inanities of his public utterances. It did not help him any yesterday, to intone in a sepulchral voice that this is no time for blame and in the very same breath to blame "Barack Obama and his allies in Congress" for the failure of the economic rescue plan. He just looked old and sadly out of touch with the realities of the situation.

No, short of an "October surprise"--whether real or fabricated--on the part of international terrorists, McCain has done everything he can to ensure his loss to Obama in November. He doesn't need any further help from us.

So it's time to help Obama. How? I think first by each of us putting our narrow interests aside for long enough to propel him into the Oval Office. The likes of Bill Maher and Ralph Nader and Michael Moore need to stop trash-taking him even when they think he deserves it. Bill Clinton needs to step out of his childish pique and speak out whole-heartedly against the policies that have come close to destroying everything he once claimed to stand for. I might agree with some of these people's arguments, but this is no time to spread dissent. The moment is simply too important--and I do believe that there's a difference between the two candidates and their policies. It's not just a matter of character. I hesitate in saying this, but I truly think that now is instead the time to speak with a single voice, even if it means subordinating our own to one with which we don't necessarily quite exactly agree in its every nuance and implication. We can cavil a bit later.

Next, I think we should allow McCain and Palin the privilege of destroying themselves and each other. The best we can do is treat them as irrelevant--as they truly are. They are doing an excellent job of making fools of themselves--better, in fact, than we could do because they can't blame it on our sexism, or elitism, or intellectualism, or anti-Republican bias. Let them continue down their chosen path to political perdition. Obama's right: we CAN take the high road and still win.

There's plenty to talk about. At the moment, what I'd like to talk about is the admirable calm and the carefully-modulated measured approach with which Obama has handled this entire crisis. Others have pointed out--some critically--that he has not injected himself into the process. Rightly so. He did not belong there. John McCain did not belong there, and won no points for pretending to have powers he simply did not have. He came off weaker for the attempt. As my own financial adviser insisted this morning when I called him (yes, I'm scared!) the financial crisis cannot be solved by the president let alone the candidates for the presidency. It's a matter most efficiently handled by those with the most knowledge and the most expertise, and by the action of the United States Congress--if it finally proves capable of action. Obama did well to stand back, with a certain degree of modesty and a good deal of wisdom.

There's plenty else on the positive side of the ledger, and we can help most by noting it, and broadcasting it by whatever means we have available. I shamed myself a couple of nights ago, at dinner time, by turning two young democratic workers away from my door on the pretext that "I'm doing what I can." I thought first and only about my dinner getting cold. As Ellie pointed out, in her particular wisdom, I should have invited them in, given a few more dollars to the campaign, congratulated them on their good work, and sent them on their way encouraged. It could have been my own daughter that I turned away.

I make this latter comment because I hope that my confession will caution others not to be so fast in rejecting the telephone call and turning campaign workers from the door. It can't hurt to dig into the pocket for those few extra dollars, nor to praise the caller for the good work that they're doing. Please learn from my poor example, and do--and write, and say--the positive thing; anything, to get this man elected, despite those human imperfections he does not deny. We can't continue any further now along this path to insanity and self-destruction.


thailandchani said...

That's a very good point.. and is well-taken. I'm often short with people who I perceive as trying to intrude with their ideologies, no matter what they are - especially in my home.

I'll try to be a little more mindful about that. :)


robin andrea said...

It has been quite a lesson, watching Obama stay cool and even while his opponent swings wildly hoping to land any punch at all. I find in myself a rising desire for Obama to do a quick verbal smackdown, but that probably would not do him any good. His steadiness is a fantastic hint at what a thoughtful, high-minded, and smart presidency might actually look like. It fills me with hope.