The numbers have tightened a bit, sure, as they always do, but let’s be honest: they don’t look good. Right now, a socialist with less qualification than any major candidate in modern U.S. history is on the cusp of winning the Presidency, and almost no one who isn’t a staunch conservative seems to care. Joe the Plumber seems to have helped some, and it’s too early to tell if the 2001 interview may have helped more, but regardless, the odds right now are in favor of the guy who wants to make Marxism cool. Our “senior” Senator, whose claim to fame is being married to another senior Senator, is primed to lose to one of the three alleged mothers who made up the infamous “Million” Mom March. Even Bev Perdue, whose friggin’ surname is French for “lost,” probably won’t. And don’t get me started on Minnesota’s presumptive Senator, Stuart Smalley. He’s not good enough, he’s sure as hell not smart enough, and doggone it, no one with an IQ above room temperature likes him, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be gracing the U.S. Senate with his presence for the next six years. John Murtha? That dimbulb doesn’t understand that “vote for me, you cousin-humping rednecks” is a crude joke to be employed by Republicans, not a serious campaign slogan for Democrats. Yet even he will likely get another term, as will Nancy Pelosi, who went as far as to insult everyone’s intelligence by arguing that giving the Democrats even more control of Congress than they currently enjoy will make Congress more “bipartisan.”
Yes, some unforeseen event could turn the tide and make it all better. No, it probably won’t, and even in the unlikely event that it does, it’s not too early to ask what brought us to the brink, if only to prepare us for future elections in the unlikely event that The One allows us to hold such things in the future. There are probably too many reasons to count, but the following list is a start.
- Branding problems. Bush may look better in history books 20 years out, but he looks like crap now. That doesn’t make any Republican’s race insurmountable, but it’s a handicap for sure.
- Corruption. OK, just kidding, actually just a branding problem, combined with the reality that the Democrats do not have a complete lock on corruption. In a rational world, Ted Stevens’s corruption would damage him, not the party as a whole, and Tim Mahoney would hurt his fellow Democrats at least as much as Mark Foley hurt his fellow Republicans in 2006. We don’t live in a rational world.
- MCain-Feingold aka Shays-Meehan. Any Republican candidate could have made a principled decision to forgo public financing and attack the so-called “reforms” that have done nothing but stifle free speech. Did I say “any” Republican? I’m sorry, I meant all but two potential Republicans: Chris Shays and John McCain. I forgot, who is running on the Republican ticket? Oh yeah, it’s one of those two, isn’t it? Crap.
- Coolness. Somehow Obama has convinced everyone to the left of Duncan Hunter that it’s inapproporiate to even say Obama’s full name or mention his redistributive tendencies. He can mention them himself, of course, that’s cool, but no one else can.
- Campaigns. I used to snicker at Obama’s claim that he has all the requisite executive experience because he’s been running for President for so long. I mean, c’mon, that’s like me having the chutzpah to interview for a job as CEO of some huge company and telling the directors that I’m qualified to be CEO because I’ve … um … applied to become their CEO. But one thing is clear: someone on the Obama campaign has done a hell of a job of organizing that campaign in a way that the McCain campaign can’t even dream of. I know firsthand how poorly organized the McCain campaign is. I’ll elaborate in another post.
- Pendulums. A certain percentage of the population just likes to flip-flop. Don’t ask why. They just do. We needed to see that coming, and to anticipate that “change,” even as an undefined variable, might actually gain some traction this time around. To have avoided the stupid debate over who can be the bigger change, and to have debated instead over what kind of change the nation may want, we needed to get in front of the “change” issue much sooner than we did.
- Media. Everyone but FoxNews is in the tank for Obama. Not sure what the McCain camp could have done about that – whining about it almost certainly wouldn’t have helped – but it’s a reality we have to be prepared to deal with. Obama owned all but one of the major networks already, so he didn’t need his own channel on Dish Network. McCain could have used one.
- Sarah Palin. Just kidding about that one. Without Sarah Palin or someone like her (e.g., Bobby Jindal), McCain would have never recaptured the base, and McCain would be down by at least 10 points in every poll rather than just the outliers. Palin is the only reason I can say right now that McCain will probably lose, rather than definitely losing. I’m cautiously optimistic that Palin-Jindal will recapture the White House in 2012, assuming we still have free and fair elections then. I’m less optimistic that the duo will be able to undo all the damage created by Obama/Biden in the interim (cf. Ronald Reagan, who fired up the base and served twice as long as Jimmy Carter, but never managed to abolish the Department of Education, restore balance to the Ninth Circuit, neutralize Iran or reclaim John McCain’s birthplace).