While watching the NBC Olympics on television, quietly enjoying the 105th consecutive evening of women’s beach volleyball, I had a sad thought: This is going to end someday. Then, like the morning sun rising over the mist of a polluted Florida swamp, shines a happy thought: The Democratic Convention goes off on Monday. This means, dear reader, we can gather ’round the campfire, open the whiskey bottle, break out the banjo, and play our quadrennial parlor game, “How will the Democrats lose this presidential election?"
First, we should inventory what the Dems have to work with, beginning with the George Bush–created Iraq war as a monument to his mindless arrogance. Then, we have corruption as a way of governing, relentless incompetence, leading players in Bush’s national security bureaucracy are liable for criminal prosecution (likewise the justice department, likewise the state department), an army misused to the point of exhaustion, running up the national debt to 9 trillion 500 billion dollars, a job-approval rating of 28 to 33 percent depending on the poll, a recession, $4-per-gallon gas, the Katrina debacle, unending home foreclosures, bank closures, declining standard of living… Add this up and one would think any Republican running for president — particularly one supporting the same policies that sunk George Bush — would be doomed.
One would think wrong. McCain, whose senescence is becoming more obvious by the day, is running near even with Obama and appears to have the momentum.
It’s beginning to feel so familiar, the Democrats putting together another come-from-ahead loss. Our parlor game is to puzzle out how they’ll do it this time around.
I don’t see any new tactics so far. Republicans will attack their opponent’s strength even if it’s hard to keep a straight face while doing it. So, if McCain employs lobbyists to run his campaign, attack Obama for being too close to lobbyists. If you wear $520 Ferragamo loafers, attack Obama for associating with rich empty-headed celebrities. If you own ten houses, attack Obama for being an elitist. If you started going to church three months ago, attack your opponent as being not quite a Christian. And here’s the money shot: If your opponent is black, accuse him of “playing the race card.”
The Democrats have one consistent-to-the-point-of-routine reply to these attacks: cringe and cower.
So, how will the Democrats lose this time? And to make it more interesting, I’m inserting a new rule: from now on you can’t use cringe and cower as the only reason why Dems will lose this election.
Yes, yes, I hear your complaint: “This is what the Democrats do best. What else is there if I take away their most reliable campaign tool?”
Well, how about: Cringe and cower, plus mealy-mouth support for gay coupledom. This kills two birds: you still enrage Republicans, and now you’re insulting a large part of your base.
Or, cringe and cower plus support for some kind of offshore oil-drilling. You gain no Republican support because they know yours is mealy-mouth support, and you insult another large portion of your base.
Or, cringe and cower plus support a retroactive amnesty bill for telecoms who willingly and illegally violated the law. Which is a nice way of saying they wiretapped your phone and intercepted your email.
Or, cringe and cower plus…okay, I admit it, this is getting harder, like trying to find a legit square for the Q on the last play of a Scrabble game. Still, we must needs push on.
Cringe and cower plus Nancy Pelosi and the senate guy, Harry Reid. This is the face of the Democratic party in Congress, coming at us with all the verve and manly self-confidence of an abused puppy. According to the Democratic National Committee, next Monday, “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Claire McCaskill will speak about the values of the Democratic Party and the efforts to take America in a new direction and to reach out to all voters, in particular new voters, independents, and Republicans to get the country moving in the right direction again at this critical time; nightly theme will be ‘One Nation.’” Nauseating. Clueless.
On Wednesday, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will discuss Barack Obama’s plans to make America more secure by investing in smart energy policies.” Can we wait until Wednesday?
Cringe and cower plus play defense at all times. This has the bonus of making it appear you won’t fight for the job. Ours is a bang-bang shoot-’em-up culture, so refusal to fight is a cultural taboo. You’ll solidify the Republican vote against you while disheartening your voters. A twofer.
According to electoral-vote.com Obama is favored to receive 275 electoral votes, McCain 250, and 13 votes too close to call. Exactly four years ago, John Kerry was credited with 317 electoral votes, George Bush with 202, 19 too close to call.