Work and Days

Victory Laps for the Hare, as the Tortoise Crawls On

The Tragedy Continues

McCain is already in mid-August matching and sometimes besting Obama in the polls. It should not have been so.

Gas prices, the economy, Iraq, Bush Derangement Syndrome, lack of energy production, Republican scandals in Congress, out-of-control spending, the Bush dunce appointments like Scott McClellan and the Texas crowd, all this and more created a sort of perfect storm for conservatives. Meanwhile, a disenchanted electorate was mesmerized by a new Pied Piper from Chicago-town who pranced in promising deliverance, while poor, pant-suited ‘ole Hil was crying out to the hypnotized, lockstep villagers in a scratchy voice, “Wait,wait! He’s dangerous!”

So the Democrats went with the Pied Piper who is leading them over the precipice. They wanted a post-racial, landmark candidate, a sort of Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice topflight national figure, but with a hard liberal edge.

Instead they got “typical white person” and “clingers” rants, the nut Rev. Wright (whose long-awaited literary masterpiece should soon be out) and the nuttier Father Pfleger, one too many preemptive-victimization “they will play the race card on me” whines from Obama, Michelle’s “raise-the-bar”, “downright mean” and “no pride” resentments, the Clinton-Obama 19th-century Race Wars, the lop-sided ‘it’s OK for some to vote 95% along racial lines, but not for others along 60%’ sophistry, the peripheral lunatic “black house” rants by Ludacris (of Obama’s I-pod fame) or Bob Herbert (of Leaning Tower of Pisa architectural expertise), and more still. And remember, as Obama slips in the polls, given his lack of content, expect that the current tough-guy, bash’em strategy to easily descend into race once more. Apparently Obama each morning gets up and thinks, “How can I give Sean Hannety more talking points for his evening barrage?” and “Have I done enough for Rush today?”

The Democrats wanted a cigar-chomping populist who could portray the Republicans as elitists who stomped on the Joe little-guy. Once again they got a flashier version of a John Edwards-John Kerry-Al Gore preachy liberal, who whines about the price of arugula and thinks stepping off a jet in shades and polo shirts is an Esquire photo-op. The backdrop to Obama’s European rock tour, after all, was Edwards ‘two-nations’ scandal and Al Gore’s jetting between motor-running, on-the-tarmac SUV and lake yacht.

The Democrats wanted a can-do, help-the-middle class doer (sorta like Hillarysoft 4.0 in Pennsylvania), who some day might drill more cleanly than the polluting Russians and Arabs, keep the money at home, and restore US yes-we-can pride. Instead, once again they got the worldview of the Santa Barbara estate-holder/Greenwich Village Bohemian: Drilling would spoil our ocean views or is messy and icky; my gas-guzzling Volvo SUV is not as crass as those awful Hummers; my Gulfstream V sermonizing is vital, your NASCAR and jet skies are Neanderthal. The Democrats hoped “Sí, Se Puede! meant no more fears about drilling, more nuclear plants, turbines, and everything else under the sun to produce power, not Nancy Pelosi on a failed, “I’m saving the planet” book tour as Congress vacations.

The die-hard savvy Democrats (some still exist) wanted a brawler and wade-into-crowd fiery Truman. They got instead a prissy (and masterful) Teleprompted day-time soap actor, whose impromptu brand is now a string of “ahs, ums, huh? You know’s”. What they failed to note was that a Truman or Eisenhower couldn’t speak on the podium a hoot, but they were great in off-the-cuff repartee. And in the long run that is better than blow-dry platitudes. McCain can’t lecture a lick, but in the melee and tussle, he’s actually quite good. Ask Rick Warren.

If you go the Chicago route (always unwise), then at least go the Mayor Daley way, the guy who exudes the city-that-works ends justify the dead-voter means. But an Obama would choke on Daley’s cigar or even a Mayor Washington’s Big Mac. So what Democrats got instead was all the Chicago downside—the Tony Rezko shenanigans, the Trinity race-hatred, the loony left Ayers/Pfleger ranting, the shady house/yard deals—without the boilermaker, sweaty competence.

Democrats wanted a bison and got Obambi, whose new ‘take no prisoners’ rhetoric in front of the VFW sounds like the Italian army in North Africa not the Desert Rats. Just imagine had Obama written “Dreams From My Grandmother” about a working-class white woman who moved to Hawaii sacrificing her all, stressing integration, conciliation, character, and hard work (all true), rather than future career-in-mind idealization and myth-making about a polygamist, alcoholic and absentee Marxist father? Had he done the former, he would have gotten a small advance, few sales—and now bankable proof of his character, rather than money, sales—and an embarrassing revelation of his PC credentials. Harvard Law Review is as essential to wowing a tiny irrelevant Eastern elite as it is meaningless to proving to mid-America that you can easily size up a thug like Putin, see through Euro-trash nonsense, or get some energy leverage back from the mullahs and House of Saud.

The Democrats expected an in-the-tank liberal press to publish charts and graphs of how the “progressive” FDR Obama was better for the blue-collar-worker than the Tom Dewey Republican. Instead they got the last gasp of the 1960s spoiled-brat loudmouths, ranting and frothing how an Obama could at last reify their own narcissistic, guilt-ridden pretensions. The amen-stable at Newsweek, for example, would not have been hired there as copy-editors in the 1960s. If Chris Matthews thinks his tingle up the leg giddiness helps Obama, or Sen. Obama’s race speech is the new Gettysburg Address, he doesn’t know Bakersfield or Dayton. A Keith Olbermann rant is a veritable McCain campaign ad.

I like Barack Obama. He’s a good father, husband, hard-working and refreshingly pleasant sort, enormously bright and a gifted speaker. He doesn’t need the faux-Trinity Church cadences and falsetto black-preacher style to come across as sincere and well-meaning. I think he really does believe that he simply jump-started a Chicago political career using the race card on the way to becoming a liberal Illinois Senator, on the way, in turn, some day to a centrist Humphrey-like national candidacy—and that such contortions were just politics as usual and not disingenuousness or worse.

But something has gone terribly wrong with the Democratic hopes and dreams. Obama, ten points behind Hillary last autumn, ran to get experience, so that in eight years after the Clintoni’s third and fourth terms, a three-term Senator, with campaign savvy, and a long, not-too-liberal voting record, in his late fifties, would have a landmark Presidency. I don’t think that he imagined that anyone would ever really believe the teleprompted hope and change vacuity, and ‘Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain’ gears and levers. Now he is the ultimate “Being There” phantasm.

Bottom Line? Watch the Convention. Obama will, of course, still be nominated, but Hillary will play Medea, Lady Macbeth, and Joan of Arc all in one—and to the hilt.

The tortoise crawls on…