For once, big states like California will have a say, it seems, in choosing the GOP and Democratic Party nominees. I don't like all this early packing of primaries while there's still snow across the northern tier. But at least there is some drama. And a sense, this Tuesday, that going to the polls will matter.
I've made clear that (with some small/nagging reservations) I support Mr. Obama for the Democratic nomination and (with much greater reservations) Mr. Paul for the Republican. Might I add another reason to the long list that I've offered before?
I've just returned from Europe where, I must tell you, the prevailing attitude is not only disappointment with America, but also a certain amount of shadenfreude, or secret pleasure, over how far into silliness we seem to have fallen. The spectacle of two "royal families" reigning over the American political parties for almost thirty years is viewed as proof that we have become absurd, lacking any confidence in our ability to draw new leaders from the general population. An age-old trap that we used to accuse the Europeans of!
It is, frankly, part of the same sickness that prompts the directors of major corporations to hire CEOs only from the same, tedious list of unimaginative, uninspired and terminally greedy golf-buddies. An utter repudiation of the ideal that markets and democracy will find talent from a great and vast pool, amid a brash and brilliant populace.
I won't pretend that there aren't aspects of Mr. Obama I'd have preferred to see tested and proved for a while, first. I pray that he is what he seems. But still, what he seems is worth a gamble. Because, what he seems to be is the best of what America stands for. He seems confident, honest, eventempered, and willing to pragmatically negotiate, free of fixed dogmas, helping us to work out, among ourselves, answers to a myriad problems.
This trait -- appealing to us to argue fairly with each other... and even perhaps to enjoy it, the way Americans have in the past -- is what I like best. And even though Hillary Clinton officially stands for the same thing, you know that it simply won't happen under her.
Yes, both of them would appoint dedicated public servants, instead of dogmatic henchmen, to posts supervising the skilled men and women of the civil service, officer corps etc, releasing the Bushite choke-chains and finally allowing those professionals to get back to doing the jobs we pay them for. (The fundamental purpose of government -- one requiring no further legislation -- and one that I am almost alone bringing to center-stage.)
If they did nothing else, that would be worth fighting for. Still, we should want more than that. Much more.
I am not interested in winning a battle or two in Culture War. I want to end it! And there is a glimmer of possibility that Mr. Obama could accomplish that. If we help him make this a blowout.
And for those who are registered Republicans? Well, he may be crazy, but at least a vote for Ron Paul would help him get a speech at the convention -- a speech where he'd fire up the libertarian wing and propel them toward confronting the dark cabal that's tried to turn America into a Banana Republic. (If someone were to whisper in his ear, "damp down the psycho-ward stuff and stick to the things folks like about you!" That'd be cool, too.)
Yes, If I weighed their political souls on a balance scale, Mr. McCain is more tolerable than either Mr. Romney or Mr. Huckabee. In debates with the Democratic nominee, he would cede several points, about torture and pork spending and global warming, and that would force a sudden, dramatic -- apparently miraculous! -- shift in the official conservative center of gravity. Indeed, conservatism is so agile, so protean, amoebic and ever-amnesiaic, that the McCain-influenced version would suddenly claim it had been against Guantanamo and for Kyoto, all along!
(Watch! Just like they NEVER opposed Martin Luther King. And "don't-ask-don't-tell" was THEIR idea, all along.)
Certainly the Los Angeles Times agrees with me. In their first presidential endorsement since 1972, they chose Obama (enthusiastically) and McCain (with deep reservations). I'm glad the smart and courageous Times of my youth is back. Still, McCain is SO weird and troglodytic in other ways... including accepting the psychotic notion that the War In Iraq has anything to do with enhancing US security...
...that he still has to be classified as a genuine, bona fide horror story. Fifty times better than Bush still leaves one a long, long way inside the borders of monster-land.
Can I say anything positive about Romney? (Talk about protean!) Or Huckabee? (At least we'd have it out with Nehemia Scuddder NOW, instead of waiting till 2012.)
No. If you must turn reflexively to the right... vote for Paul
Oh, the Washington Post carried an opinion piece by my fellow science fiction author, Michael Chabon, outlining his answer to dour democrats who come up with excuses not to support Obama. Good stuff.
OTHER POLITICAL MATTERS
The first Armageddon Buffet of 2008 -- second in importance to 2012! -- is now online. Always a lovely festival of cantankerosity. Special watch kept on that countdown to wars, famine, pestilence and all that.
And in similar spirit, do have a look (and viral) this one that makes you laugh & cry at the same time. (Thanks Zechariah.) http://blip.tv/file/520347
An article by the nearly-always wise Bruce Schneier: What Our Top Spy Doesn't Get: Security and Privacy Aren't Opposites. “The debate isn't security versus privacy. It's liberty versus control.”
How the rats are jumping ship! Daniel Pipes (of all people!) declares Bush's policies have failed utterly. Well, well, the fantastically delusional Pipes at least manages to criticize Bush, though surely enough from a very right-wing position. Though, at this point, less from a “seen the light” perspective than from an effort to retain a scintilla of relevance
Still, go to the article anyway, to see one photo that sure gives support to the simple, parsimonious explanation to all of our troubles. The “Manchurian Candidate” hypothesis, distilled in a single image. Viral this photo! And the one out there showing Bush bowing his head -- bowing! -- before a foreign king whose every move is against the American enlightenment.