I haven't written very much about the political world recently. Frankly, the prospect of a McCain presidency, however depressing and terrifying, is presently so unlikely that it animates me less than the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency did during the primaries. (And, in a couple of weeks, I presume I will be receiving apologies from the Clintonistas out there who insisted that Obama would be powerless in the face of constant Ayers/Wright/Hussein smears from the right.)
Don't get me wrong; it's not in the bag and Obama is right to warn against complacency. In one respect, this will be a fairly close election: I would be very surprised if Obama is more than five points ahead of McCain when the popular vote is tallied. However, I think the Democrats' electoral strategy is solid, and I'm glad our hopes aren't pinned on Ohio and Florida. Barack doesn't need either of them to win; this year he needs Pennsylvania and Virginia. If he gets those two, it's over. He can lose Colorado, New Mexico, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Florida, Indiana and North Carolina -- and he'll win at least some of them -- and still take the election. (I base that on the assumption that Obama wins CA, CT, DC, DE, HI, IA, IL, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, NH, NJ, NY, OR, PA, RI, VA, VT, WA & WI for a total of 272 electoral votes.)
I guess now is also a fine time to admit that I was wrong on this point.
However, I am being roused out of my blogging apathy by the recent common mantra from the McCain campaign and their supporters that they somehow represent "real" America. First there was John McCain's brother, who said that northern Virginia was "communist country," which was echoed by McCain spokesperson Nancy Pfotenhauer when she talked about "real Virginia." Touting "small-town" values had always been a part of Sarah Palin's campaign schtick, but then she had to go off in North Carolina and talk about "real America," saying, "the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit," and lauded them for their "pro-America" stance. (She has since apologized for those remarks.) Rep. Michelle Bachman of Minnesota called for an "expose" of anti-American members of Congress.
So much for George W. Bush's 2000 strategy of campaigning on a message of bipartisanship and his famously worthless oath to be "a uniter, not a divider." We've now reached a point where supposedly serious people can say with a straight face that only parts of this country are "real" or "pro-America," and we have a candidate for the White House who can somehow claim that grass-roots efforts to register first time voters and get them to take advantage of the primary fundamental right bestowed on us by the Founders threatens to destroy "the fabric of democracy."
Yesterday, McCain and Palin clarified their stance in an interview to air tonight on NBC. In response to a request from Brian Williams to define what they meant by "elite," Palin said this: "Oh, I guess just people who think that they're better than anyone else."
McCain went on to elaborate that by "elite" he means the folks who live "in our nation's capital and in New York City," adding, "Who think that they can dictate what they believe to America rather than let Americans decide for themselves."
Because, you know, our country's largest city and of course the capital don't have any "hard-working, middle-class Americans," just atheist feminist socialist gay-married immigrant welfare queens who drive Priuses, instead of American-made Cadillacs, on their way to abortion parties with a bottle of chardonnay in one hand and the Koran in the other.
The rhetoric from the right really is that bizarre these days. Consider Rep. Robin Hayes of North Carolina, who tried to deny that he warmed up a McCain rally crowd by saying, "liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God" before he was exposed by a tape of the event.
You know, look: I'm a liberal. I'm gay, I drive a Honda, I live in an infamously progressive city, I believe climate change is real and has human causes, I think healthcare is a fundamental human right, I think the Iraq war was a mistake, I do not believe that all Muslims are terrorists, and I happen to like sushi, goat cheese, lattes, pinot noir and imported vodka. I supported Obama against Hillary in the primaries because she's too conservative for me. (Well, and she's a liar.) Sue me. But dangit, I was born in this country, I work hard (and make roughly one-fifth of Joe the Plumber's salary, apparently), I pay taxes and I frickin' go to church and believe in God. And I vote. I don't "hate" hard-working religious Americans, I am one.
The Republican Party, as embodied today by John McCain, has no message for the country and no vision for the future aside from a rude, non-sensical belief that (at least) half the country is fake, unpatriotic, hateful, lazy, elitist and amoral. Their ideas and policies are so exhausted and bankrupt that their last remaining argument is a spurious claim that they represent the "real" America. No wonder conservatives of principle are deserting in droves to endorse Obama.