The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture


Posted by sarjonycwit on October 20, 2008

The biggest issue in the United States still has to be the upcoming presidential election, seeing as how it has yet to happen and will significantly color at least the next four years of world policy, but lately it’s not feeling like much of an issue at all.  The final debate cemented what was already becoming apparent to a majority of voters:  We were deciding between a candidate who is thoughtful and collected and one who is fiery and uneven, between a candidate who can process complex issues quickly and speak intelligently to policy concerns and one who resorts to oversimplification and false allegations, and finally, dare we admit it, a candidate whose bearing and insight are appropriate to the office of the presidency versus one whose bearing and insight—at least as expressed during the debate—are not.

There’s no need to spell out which candidate is which, but in case there’s any doubt, this Frank Rich editorial could more or less stand as a proxy for my feelings about one of them:

Another amusing op-ed piece, and one more appropriate for those who resent liberals recommending liberals, is that of David Brooks.  Brooks can be very insightful about sociological issues, but he struggles to balance his conservative views with even-handed writing.  Usually he succeeds, but at times it becomes clear that his success comes at the cost of great effort.  One such case was when he wrote this failed attempt at satire that bitterly mocked the tone of the democratic conventionIt cost him some of his cache not only by starkly revealing his bias, but by demonstrating a surprising capacity for contempt for his political opponents.  This past Friday, however, he posted an interesting article on Obama in which he refers to him as a “homeostasis machine.”  At times there may be glimmers of Brooks struggling to reign in his desire to smear Obama, but at other times his penetrating insight is manifest in his critique of the leading candidate.

It’s hard to see at this point what path could lead to McCain winning the election.  He continues to disappoint both in and since the final debate, condescendingly (and inaccurately) talking to voters about “Joe the Plumber,” disingenuously bringing up William Ayers and ACORN, claiming to campaign honorably while his insufficiently informed (i.e., dangerously ignorant when placed in the context of what a person in her position could be expected to know) VP selection accuses his opponent of consorting with terrorists.  It’s a very odd feeling to be disappointed by the performance of the candidate you always hoped would lose the election, but that is what many of us on the left side of the cultural divide are feeling.  Is there anyone out there who doesn’t agree that these campaign tactics are condescending and disingenuous?

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As a side note, I can’t speak for the Arab community, but I don’t blame McCain for the apparent distinction he made between Arabs and good family men.  It seems apparent that McCain correctly interpreted the intention of the speaker, who didn’t mean “person of Arab descent,” but rather something along the lines of “dangerous non-Christian foreigner and likely terrorist/sodomist.”  So McCain in this case responded in good faith to the speaker’s intention, and unfortunately did not pay sufficient attention to her choice of words.  This doesn’t excuse the woman’s ignorant racism, but McCain cannot be held accountable for it.

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And while we’re questioning people’s motives, isn’t it a little convenient for Colin Powell to come out in support of Barack Obama at this late stage of the game?  It isn’t that anyone doubts his sincerity.  Through all the scandal and secrecy of the Bush administration, Powell has emerged as someone who behaves honorably and can speak his mind when the situation calls for it.  Still, what could be more politically expedient?  To further his own career, Powell needed to join a campaign early enough to affect the election, thereby displaying his loyalty and earning gratitude.  However, he had to make sure he joined the right campaign.  So, he waited until the debates were over, and then jumped on the ship of the leader.  Can anyone be certain he wouldn’t have come out in support of his friend John McCain if McCain were in the lead?  Would someone else in Powell’s identical position be viewed more cynically?  If so, what is it about Powell that grants him permission to choose his loyalty at this late stage of the game?

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P.S.  The title of this post refers to McCain’s state in almost every single minute of the final debate.


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