09/05/2008 @ 04:13 PM: To the few who have perhaps noticed, I rarely offer blog-type posts here anymore. These days every dude and his uncle and his uncle's old roommate have a blog. One more online opinion floating around hardly matters. But, well, we're in an election season, and politics is one of my passions after music and creative things. Below is something I wrote on the DNC and GOP conventions for an online political thread; it has been revised for its posting here.
I've watched a lot of both conventions (in the case of the RNC, I've been literally just a couple of blocks from it), read articles and analysis, and poked around the internet for general reaction. I'm totally burned out on the rhetoric. It's just crazy-in-abundance from both parties and all the pundits during these two concentrated weeks, and I feel like I've been bitch-slapped with a sack of shitted-out alphabet soup spewing the catch-phrases of the season. There's a lot of folks from both parties using terms like "let's be clear," "the fact of the matter is, "the reality is," etc., but both could so not be more subjective. I've tried to absorb as much from both conventions with as much personal objectivity as possible, making note of the bias I possess as an Obama supporter.
The conventions really are the big kick-off to the election--when most regular citizens actually start paying attention. They're about rallying the base and getting some quality face time with independent voters. They're also about throwing out those catch-phrases and seeing which will stick. We've already heard a ton about "offshore drilling." Now there's a handful more. I was happy to see the Democrats finally pull out a really good convention with lots of energy and enthusiasm. The party of fuddy-duddies (as I often call them) seems to have developed some focus on changes in policy and, for once, not spent the better part of their time in defense mode. The Republicans put on what I felt was just an ordinary convention. They recovered from a slow start and picked up the energy during the last couple of days. A few days ago I heard or read or saw an interview (I wish I could remember the context) where the interviewee commented that the Republicans are losing relevance. That comment stuck with me, and as I watched the convention I wondered how true it was. Their message was a regurgitation of the same old, same old: lower taxes, smaller government. Their delegates were a sea of mostly white, older people, as were their spokespeople.
I, like many, was intrigued to see Sarah Palin's speech Wednesday. She's very bold and aggressive, and despite not agreeing with her on many issues I can see where she is someone who throws down the axe in the interest of getting things done. It took me until about an hour after her speech, though, to figure out why so much of it bothered me: Sarcasm. Her talking points were just drenched in heavy sarcasm and overblown parables. A hint of sarcasm in the interest of humor is acceptable selectively, but she laid it on so thick it became condescending and snobbish. Moreover, sarcasm is hardly ever a productive quality and demonstrates complete disrespect for those you're referencing. I'm sure that was fun for supporters, but from the outside it appeared low and arrogant.
McCain's speech was not nearly as thorough as Obama's in the sense he avoided the controversial topics of Bush and many social issues. (NPR aired a bit last night on a Republican strategist's class where he specifically taught campaign workers to avoid those very topics since they are considered weaknesses for the McCain campaign.) In contrast, Obama hit all the major issues with his speech. Neither candidate really explained in much detail how they planned to fix things and/or make "change," nor what their exact definition of change actually was.
I still really like John McCain, and I probably would have voted for him in 2000 had he been the Republican nominee. Most folks don't know how dangerously close he came to becoming a Democrat after the bitter primary battle with Bush in 2000--really close. He came even closer to accepting the VP slot on Kerry's campaign in 2004. He did neither for one reason and one reason only: because each was too great a risk. If either move proved to be a mistake his chances of running for president would be ruined. He made each decision based on his political ambition. Were they the right decisions? It seems the answer is probably 'yes,' but we'll really only know for sure in a couple of months. McCain has also drastically shifted positions on social issues to better align himself with the right. I don't see the same guy I did in 2000.
I've been following Obama since I was in Chicago during an election cycle in 2002. He's played to the opportunities, but the guy hasn't wavered on his political ideals. On one of the four million political specials I watched in the last two weeks, one individual interviewed said about Obama: "Sometimes you find the opportunity, and sometimes the opportunity finds you." McCain wiggled his way into his nomination with a lot of strategy aimed at it over many years, and Obama pursued his political career in strides he felt confident with. In a sense Obama was "called" to this nomination by the people who knew him along the way, and he wasted no hard work getting there. That is one of the many reasons why I'm voting for him.