[Weekend rant to follow: my thoughts on the Tuesday primaries. Misery multiplies.]
Well, for a while there I actually allowed myself to think there was a chance things could change. I guess I was the stupid one. All along I've acknowledged that I could be kidding myself; but it felt good, really good, if only for a minute. Like a gentle touch under cool sheets. Until someone busted in and turned on the lights.
Living in the pacific-most and northwest-most corner of the Pacific Northwest, where the air is liberal and the coffee frothy, some might excuse me for thinking the idea of issue-based politics could take hold. Hanging with people who, like me, are information junkies and politically obsessed, I could even be forgiven for concluding that people were ready to reject the oldest and most Rovian ways of winning elections. Overlooking for a moment the reality that we are a nation of people who can't identify whole continents on maps, who can't list the three branches of government, who can't name the first president, I actually let myself imagine civil discourse and energetic attention to the important issues of our time -- now, finally, when it matters most. What an imbecile I am. You'd think the last person I'd delude would be me. (Yeah, like that's never happened before...)
I guess you can't blame Hillary for doing whatever it takes. Her campaign was floundering, and salvation was hanging there like rotten fruit on the lowest branch. Stating the obvious, she told herself it has always worked and is still there for the taking -- one man's call for the contrary to the contrary. So, like any smart politician -- and if nothing else, she's surely that -- she reached into the toilet of time and threw handsfull. He's not a Muslim.... far as I know. The phone at three a.m. Stuff that, while clearly false and fear-based (in what way, exactly, has she been "tested" to handle that call?) appeals to those who need short answers to long questions. You win elections by assuming the worst of us, not the best.
Now she claims both she and McCain have "crossed the Commander-in-Chief threshold." How, exactly? In the single most important military decision ever made, they were both wrong. Sleeping in the White House (on the other side of the bed from "the phone") is no more qualification, ipso facto, than is bleeding in the Hanoi Hilton. In fact McCain, who says his experiences have taught him what war is, not only agreed to the disaster but didn't speak up when he was told by the Army Chief of Staff that far more troops would be needed. Not until it was well past too late. Saying you're qualified doesn't make it so. Showing judgment when the chips are down might. I can see no objective measure by which Senator Clinton has a claim on the mantle more than Senator Obama. There just isn't one. But there is a reason the Constitution makes the Commander-in-Chief a civilian: he or she is supposed to be able think independently and separately from the military mind. One did. Two didn't.
Oil prices have more than tripled since Bush took office. The dollar is at an all-time low, and falling. Deficits -- and foreign ownership thereof -- are rising unsustainably. Yet people are convinced the over-riding issue is what happens at three a.m. in some imaginary scenario. The real danger, the very possible destruction of our economy from within -- which not only has more capacity to damage us than any terrorist, but is already under way, not imaginary at all -- gets no mention. We are treated like idiots. And like idiots we respond.
Yes, after these years of despair at what the old politics hath wrought, it turns out it still works, and, no doubt, always will, until we're entirely past the tipping point. And by then, waking up won't matter. Bullshit carries the day. So why the hell not? Other than the fact, of course, that Hillary Clinton has poisoned the pool and then drowned in it any hope of changing the political climate (not to mention any chance of a Democrat in the White House). So, great. She can fight like a Republican. Whoop-de-fricking-do. See ya around, America, it was nice knowing you. Show yourself out, if you don't mind. I need to sit here for awhile.