Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Oh, yeah, there was that other race. As we walked up to the courthouse a family of black people came out--a mom and three kids. The oldest daughter was wearing a cheerleader outfit, but she might have been old enough to cast her first ballot. If so, she had never voted in a presidential election where a black man wasn't favored to win. Inside, there were two voting machines. At one of the machines was a black man in his late fifties or early sixties. At the other was one of my colleagues. I knew how both men were voting--same way as me. I joked with the poll workers, "How much does it cost to vote again?"
As we finished, a white couple came in to cast their ballots. Maybe late thirties or early forties. Were they cancelling out our votes? As we walked out the door of the courthouse, we passed a black woman who might have been seventy. She smiled at me.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Obama is up in the national polls an average of 6 percent or so. The number of people who represent themselves as undecided is about 5 percent. I think even the stupidest of us can do the math.
"Oh," you might say, "McCain and Palin may be able to get people to change their minds." Maybe.
McCain may be able to shift the polls back in his direction a bit. As the standard-bearer for the Republican Party, it's his duty to try to do so--for him to completely give up now would be a disaster for the down-ticket Republicans. Races that seemed uncompetitive just a month a go--Liddy Dole and Mitch McConnell for example--are suddenly toss-ups. Even such Republican strongholds as Texas and Mississippi are tightening up. Those GOP incumbents desperately need their base to turn out. But McCain has shown himself to be contemptuous and detached from the rank-and-file of the Republican Party, and he is a lackluster campaigner at best. As it continues to sink in that he has no chance to win, he may completely fold up his tent. Suddenly, the idea of a filibuster-proof Senate seems less like a pipe dream.
Several pundits (including some of Slate's writers) have predicted the death of the Republican Party. When these articles first started appearing last spring, I dismissed them. I thought what we were seeing was the normal ebb-and-flow of political fortunes. But the performance of the McCain campaign has been abysmal. Perhaps the Republican machine has been hampered to a large degree by the erratic behavior of their nominee, but surely McCain is more intelligent, more competent, more presidential than the former governor of Texas? Is there nobody left in the campaign who would explain why it's important to vet your vice-presidential pick? Nobody who might object to shutting down your convention? Nobody who might suggest that antagonizing a press corps that is inherently partial toward you is a bad idea? These are the heirs of Karl Rove and Lee Atwater?
McCain's defeat, especially if accompanied by a thrashing in the Senate and House races, will leave the Republican Party is a state of disarray unimaginable only a few years ago. Who do they have left who will lead them? Mike Huckabee? Fred Thompson? Sarah Palin?