Thursday, October 30, 2008

Regardless of whom you are voting for next week, this is a fascinating story, and says a lot about how much a country can change during one individual’s lifetime.
Daughter of Slave Votes for Obama

Amanda Jones, 109, the daughter of a man born into slavery, has lived a life long enough to touch three centuries. And after voting consistently as a Democrat for 70 years, she has voted early for the country's first black presidential nominee.

The middle child of 13, Jones, who is African American, is part of a family that has lived in Bastrop County for five generations. The family has remained a fixture in Cedar Creek and other parts of the county, even when its members had to eat at segregated barbecue dives and walk through the back door while white customers walked through the front, said Amanda Jones' 68-year-old daughter, Joyce Jones.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On Mavericks and Moderates

Is John McCain even running for President at this point? Peeking about recent campaign coverage, it would be easy to forget that he is at the top of his party's ticket, and not his folksy sidekick.

Unfortunately for McCain, his candidacy has failed on two fronts: not only has it furthered a split in the Republican Party between its socially conservative rightwing base and its center, but McCain has also failed to energize the moderates, independents, and ‘mavericks’ he needed to win what everyone predicted to be a close election. This failure is likely to expose a rift in the Republican Party that has been a long time coming.

Tim Shipman writes:
The prospect of an electoral rout has unleashed a bitter bout of recriminations both within the McCain campaign and the wider conservative movement, over who is to blame and what should be done to salvage the party's future.

More profoundly, it sparked the first salvoes in a Republican civil war with echoes of Tory infighting during their years in the political wilderness.

One wing believes the party has to emulate David Cameron, by adapting the issues to fight on and the positions they hold, while the other believes that a back to basics approach will reconnect with heartland voters and ensure success. Modernisers fear that would leave Republicans marginalised, like the Tories were during the Iain Duncan Smith years, condemning them to opposition for a decade

At the end of the day, all roads lead to Palin, as Tim points out.
But the real bile has been saved for those conservatives who have balked at the selection of Sarah Palin.

Rush Limbaugh, the doyen of right wing talk radio hosts, denounced Noonan, Brooks and Frum. Neoconservative writer Charles Krauthammer condemned "the rush of wet-fingered conservatives leaping to Barack Obama", while fellow columnist Tony Blankley said that instead of collaborating in heralding Mr Obama's arrival they should be fighting "in a struggle to the political death for the soul of the country.
It isn’t just pundits and wanna-be pundits like myself that have had problems with the McCain campaign post-Palin; the list of ex-Republican ‘maverick’ congressmen and leaders who have thrown their support behind Obama also happens to be extensive and injurious. Considering that McCain is the kind of candidate these types of Republicans would theoretically salivate at the thought of, it’s astonishing to see how poorly McCain has been in pulling in folks like these.

Contrast this with the recent Zogby poll that has Obama pulling in self described moderates 2 to 1 over McCain. Forget the rest of the electorate; McCain failing to pick up the pool of voters most predisposed to support him is damming to his chances at ever seeing the Oval Office from behind the presidential desk. So what can we take away from this?

First, Palin has been a catastrophe for McCain. Anyone who argues differently at this point is either unwilling or unable to see how little confidence she instills in the electorate that, due to McCain’s age, is forced to consider how capable she would be leading the most powerful nation on earth. She is wrong on the issues as far as I am concerned, and unlike individuals like Ronald Regan, she lacks the charisma and capacity to lead anyone outside of her ever shrinking conservative base.

I think it’s also obvious that the Republican Party is headed for a dark period, regulated to being a weak opposition within government as the various factions within the organization battle for control. In my assessment, its already looking bad for the moderate wing, and the lackluster support individuals like myself have given McCain in recent months is unquestionably going to leave a bad taste in the mouths of the party loyal. The religious base will argue that the Party should have never drifted from a godly focus; the libertarians will say that interventionists and big government supporters are what brought the house down. Buchannan and his ilk will doubtlessly just blame the Jews. Lord knows where the Commentary neoconservative types are going to find themselves in this conflict, as they have surely been apologists for Palin and her many shortcomings as of late.

Sadly, the Democratic Party isn’t looking much cozier. Obama may be able to capture numerous moderates next week, but the segment of the Party that put him in power is not going to be exceedingly conciliatory towards the centrists it believes led the Democrats astray and away from its post 60s agenda. Even if Obama himself wants his Presidency to look more like Clinton’s than Carter’s, he will be faced with resistance within his party; a party looking to avoid embroiling their popular mandate in some military campaign like the Bush administration has. Obama may have to enter Pakistan at this point just to demonstrate that he isn’t all talk on the matter, but you better believe that if a humanitarian crisis develops in Africa that requires military aid, he won’t be sending it. Such an action would be too dangerous for his party’s immediate political interests.

Daniel Stark has a worthy rebuttal of this piece here, in which he writes:
“I still stand by my view that experience at the top of the ticket matters more than the bottom of the ticket and that whoever is elected will reflect that in their presidency. There seems to be a fixation with death nowadays, on both candidates (with McCain as a walking corpse and Obama going out as a political martyr). It’s a reality that you need to look at, yet I don’t buy it. Definitely in the case against the McCain-Palin ticket. There is no heartbeat away with Obama, there is Obama right away.”

Update 2:
Robert Stacey McCain writes for the American Spectator:
John McCain might have made dozens of mistakes in this campaign, but picking Sarah Palin was not one of them. If you don't like it, just go to a Palin rally and tell that to the people -- they'll tell you where to go from there.”

Folks like Robert will hold to the belief that Palin has the ability to lead the Republican Party to some new golden age, but he would be wrong, and a majority of Americans won’t be interested in the direction she wants to take it.

Update 3:
The New Centrist has posted on this subject as well.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Some nice pictures of Iranian female officers up at the Paris Review.