Thursday, September 04, 2008

We Ought to Get Us Some of That There Reform...

I'm sorry, I know that polls demonstrate Americans are looking for "change" in their government...

But if, like John McCain, you're the most famous Senator from the party that has essentially run the show for the better part of a decade, you look silly running as a reform candidate. Like, very very silly. Like, you can't talk about reality at all, pretty much, because it would work against the case you're building. You have to start making things up, which means that, of course, you'll run into contradictions. The whole argument gets chaotic and confusing, exactly the opposite of what you want. (For more insight into this, one need only watch any given episode of "Mad Men." The best "pitches" are the most straight-forward. Jackie or Marilyn?)

I've watched a lot of GOP Convention coverage this week (hey, it's my job, kinda), and it has felt entirely surreal. Like watching footage of an old political convention in the library. How can Mitt Romney go on and on bashing the "liberal Washington establishment" in 2008? He might as well be railing against the fiscal policies of Josiah Bartlet. Even worse than that, the Republican critique, repeated over and over again at this convention, contradicts itself directly.

Here's a segment of McCain's speech tonight:

"Let me just offer an advance warning to the old, big-spending, do-nothing, me-first, country-second crowd," McCain declared in his acceptance speech. "Change is coming."

So...the Democrats don't do anything. Okay, fair enough. I actually almost somewhat agree with this argument. The Congressional Democrats have not done a lot of things I would have liked them to do, and they are, in fact, largely about symbolic gestures.

(Bear in mind, I'm upset that they're not doing anything to fight the policies of Republicans like John McCain. But the point still stands.)

But how can you concede that things are bad in this country, requiring a "change," then argue that your opponents don't do anything? Doesn't that mean all the bad things are your party's fault? And, of course, they are. Nancy Pelosi didn't lie Americans into a pointless, unwinnable war while losing track of Osama bin Laden. Harry Reid didn't install clueless lackeys and yes-men in positions of great power, wrecking our ability to protect the public from unsafe products, get people out of harm's way during a massive storm or successfully prosecute federal criminals. And Barack Obama didn't decide we should start torturing people, or spying on their phone calls (though he does sort of seem okay with it after the fact, which sucks).

The Republicans, Romney and McCain in particular, are basically admitting these things are not their fault ("they don't do anything!") before essentially blaming them anyway. Sarah Palin seems to think US Weekly is at fault. And I'm not sure who Giuliani even hates any more - everyone not actually standing inside the Xcel Energy Center?

(Speaking of glaring contradictions, Giuliani mocking Obama for liking big cities? Giuliani was mayor of fucking New York. Obama's from Kansas. He thinks Obama's too cosmopolitan? WTF?)

I know Republicans essentially think their constituents are dumb. They think they can just lie to them over and over again, pretend to care about them and their issues long enough to get into power for a few more years, and then continue to give them the shaft like always. And it usually does work. I sort of disagree. I think that, certainly, a lot of American voters are gullible, and can be convinced through clever speeches and smart politicking to vote against their own interests much of the time.

But gullible people eventually do figure shit out, particularly if you make it kind of obvious that you're messing with them. And that's what tonight's acceptance speech from McCain felt like. The part of the crank call where you kind of can't hold on any more and start making up really ludicrous stuff, hoping the person on the other end catches on so you can just hang up.


Brian said...

I think you are missing the main point. John McCain came clean and said that the Republican party went to Washington and instead of reforming it, they joined it. He took ownership that the Republican party has lost its way, and he intends to change it.

When is the last time you heard a politician admit his party had screwed things up? Sounds like straight talk to me.

Jeffery Williams said...

I concur with Brian (Post 1). McCain is trying to be an anti-corruption candidate. That's what he means by change. The McCain - Feingold bill was an attempt to remove corruption from the campaign process. He chose a VP he thinks will help remove corruption.

As far as "Unwinable war" goes, do a search on "Anbar province".

Keep up the good work on Mahalo daily and SMile :) :P :-)

Lons said...

So, yeah, things started improving in Anbar before the surge even started (it's true...look it up...) How's that, do we win? What did we win? Aren't things all better there now, with a working military and police force and government? Oh, no? Why, it's almost as if we didn't win at all, because there's no winning this thing, and we're just trying to paint a limited success in one area as some kind of "victory"!

Also, you and Brian are both way way way way way too trusting. John McCain was right there by Bush's side for the past 8 years. For six of those years, McCain's party controlled both the executive and legislative branches of government. Surely he could have been improving things during all that time, if they were so bad, right?

I mean, RIGHT? He's probably the GOP's most well-known and liked Senator. If he couldn't make things happen for the past 8 years with all that going for him, why should we entrust him with the presidency again?

It's just a nonsensical case! I'm sorry, but it is. I'm not anti-conservatism, per se, though it's not really my personal inclination. But this party you guys are backing, and these people you want to KEEP IN POWER (yeah, keep in power, not remove and replace), they don't want to change this stuff too much. They kind of like thing the way they are, as long as they get to keep their jobs or move up.

Lons said...

Having said all of that, thanks for watching and enjoying the show! Hope we can passionately disagree without hard feelings on either side.

Brian said...

can you believe the media's pussing out on covering Sarah Palin's bullshit? I've completely lost faith in the media this election cycle. Cable news pundits are possibly the worst thing to happen to American politics since prohibition.

Gorman said...

But to say McCain is standing up to his party is slightly off the mark. McCain had no other option but to criticize his own party and the administration at the top of it.

Up until McCain picked Palin, I was actually pretty pleased with how both campaigns were conducting themselves (sure, a little mud and misrepresentation flew from both camps) and wouldn't have minded seeing either in office next year. Honestly. I respect McCain more than almost anyone in Washington to do what's right. If you were to ask me last year to chose two opposing candidates to save my faith in the election process, these were the guys.

But the choice of McCain tells me when push comes to shove, McCain won't stand up to his base to do the right thing. The hypocrisy of the right is getting a bit much. They spend months criticizing Obama's lack of experience, they mock his celebrity status, call him an empty suit and then they turn around and pick a candidate with less experience (compare them both, even a little less is still less) and turned her into a celebrity and have shielded her from the press. If Obama had picked Clinton, though I agree with his decision not to, we'd still have no clue who Palin was.

I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I pointed out that her brother-in-law was not exactly an innocent victim, and that her reputation was apparently a clean one. Even as they played up her motherhood while simultaneously blasting anyone who then questioned it as sexist (for the record, I never questioned her maternal prowess). But that speech at the RNC turned me off. Just as many attacks as Biden's, but absolutely none of the class.

And just like that, I'm back to being a cynic.

Sorry for the wall of text... I guess a week's worth of frustration just kind of built up.