Monday, November 3, 2008

Making my case, part 3: candidates

The polls are singing a happy tune, but I'm nervous. Between Republican dirty tricks and all this talk of "the Bradley effect," I won't be reassured at least until hard numbers start coming in tomorrow night.

Of course, from my point of view I cannot understand how a rational person could choose John McCain tomorrow. Whether the Arizona senator was a "maverick" back in 2000 is debatable, but he most surely is nothing of the sort now. He's frittered away whatever integrity he had in this campaign by bringing some of George W. Bush's mudslingers on board -- despite the hatchet job they did on him eight years ago. The entire tenor of McCain's campaign -- questioning patriotism, implying guilt by association, misrepresenting facts, and outright lying -- is a disgrace and falls directly on McCain's character.

While some like to talk of the media going easy on Barack Obama, we should be asking this: What if Obama graduated 894 of 899 in his class (as McCain did)? What if Obama has displayed an ugly temper in public toward those around him, including his wife (as McCain has)? What if Obama was materially involved in a scandal like the Keating Five (as McCain was)? The reality is that McCain has been treated with kid gloves.

The word that has been used lately to describe the Republican nominee is "erratic." It's an apt description of the 72-year-old, and nowhere is this more obvious than in his choice of a running mate. Selecting Sarah Palin did fire up the GOP base, but probably isolated a significant number of independent voters. Much more important than the political consequences are the ramifications of placing such an ignorant lunatic in the number-two spot of our government -- and possibly setting her up to be president. As I've written, this was an irresponsible choice and one that clearly put the welfare of the country second, behind political ambition.

Obama is not perfect. He is not some savior, and few of us who support him ever believed that. He is, however, not a socialist and not a Muslim and not the Antichrist. He's an extremely bright guy, a thinking man and an eloquent speaker. He graduated from Columbia and Harvard Law School, served on the boards of several non-profits, wrote two books, and worked with poor and working-class people as an organizer.

Despite GOP tactics, Obama has refused to lie down with dogs. His campaign has been brilliantly conceived and nearly-flawlessly executed, and it has been focused mostly on the issues that are important to America at this moment. He represents a new voice and a different approach to national politics. At this crucial time it is almost insane to again select the party that has governed abysmally for eight years. It is time for a change.

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