Friday, November 9, 2012

Sour Grapes




On the day of Obama’s 2009 Inauguration – in fact, at the very moment he stood upon the podium and gave his surprisingly forgettable speech – I had a flat tire. While the radio piped out the new President’s voice, the ice sheet beneath the car cracked, tipping the jack and bringing the weight of the car crashing to the earth. The jack was crushed, and the wheel permanently warped.

Voodoo, happenstance, karma, call it what you will; I call it a harbinger of what Obama’s first term would be like for the Slapinions patriarch.

Oh, you think I’m exaggerating? Sure, I’ve had good days since then, and I’ve certainly laughed and loved and all that jazz. But pound for pound the last four years have SUCKED.  Unemployment. 
UNDERemployment. Mounting debt. Personal conflicts. Relationship issues. At least one nasty hangnail.

To date the Obama administration has not, I repeat, has not been good for me personally.

It certainly didn’t get any better on election night.

My election prediction was close, with Obama taking 303 electoral votes [as of this writing, days after the election, Florida’s electoral votes are still up in the air]. That’s a loss of 62 electoral votes and upwards of 7 million popular votes since his 2008 victory, a moral (but wholly inconsequential) victory for the good guys. 

Yes, of course I’m unhappy with the national vote. I certainly didn’t want Obama getting another four years in which to muck around and make a mess of things (and be idolized by the media while he does it), but the odds were in its favor.

But Wisconsin . . . dangit Wisconsin, I’m mad at you. 

 It’s not that you went Blue. It was predictable, with the weight of the Madison and Milwaukee electorate serving as a reliable voting bloc for Democrats in Presidential elections. No, what really ticks me off is the election of Tammy Baldwin to the Senate.

Wisconsin has an activist Republican Governor, some of the brightest stars of the GOP, a Republican Senator that knocked off one of the icons of the DNC, and who do you elect to fill a Senate seat vacated by a long-time moderate Democrat? Naturally you chose an extremely liberal, tax and spend Congresswoman so far to the Left her own party kept her at arm’s reach.

Disturbing, but acceptable I guess. Will of the people and all, blah blah. But Wisconsin, you elected this extremist by pointedly rejecting Tommy Thompson. You took some crazy political ads put out by Baldwin and somehow bought into the notion that Tommy Thompson wasn’t “for you” anymore, and that he wasn’t “for” Wisconsin.

For the record: that’s Tommy Thompson, legendary Wisconsin Governor, the man who reformed welfare, spurred our economy, encouraged bi-partisanship and put this state on the national political map for the first time in years.

You drank the Kool-Aid and sold him down the river, giving Baldwin a 51-47% victory at the polls. By political standards it wasn’t even close.

I’m disgusted by that about how easily Wisconsin stabbed him in the back. I really am. Tommy, you deserved better.


*
The worst part about losing an election – aside from, you know, losing – is the inevitable deconstruction of the campaign, otherwise known as “Fix the Blame”.

If you listen to the mainstream media, Tuesday’s results are a clear rejection of the GOP’s principles, and an indicator of ‘old white society’ being trumped by the young and minorities. I was listening to Terry Moran on Nightline pretend to file an objective story pushing that agenda the other night.

Meanwhile, GOP pundits are insistent that Mitt Romney wasn’t conservative enough and that he didn’t present a clear enough distinction to secure the base and inspire America to rise up and vote. The GOP, so the story goes, has twice gone with moderates and lost because of it; it’s time for the next Goldwater.

Both are wrong.

Mitt Romney did not lose the election. Barack Obama won itObama won, not because he was a good President, or because Romney did something wrong, but because his personal popularity, tied directly into societal expectations, assured his survival  given anything short of a drastic ‘worst case’ scenario [i.e. total economic collapse, an Iran Hostage Crisis, etc.]  Or, to put it another way: the cool kid was once again voted Prom King.

Look, I know Obama scored big with minorities and the young but let’s cut through the bull. The African American community had a vested and pigheaded interest in having Obama re-elected. Not because he has benefited their communities – he hasn’t done that for anyone – but because he‘s an icon. It isn’t about the man it’s about what he’s seen to represent for them; if he had completely adopted the policies and stances of Romney he would still have been trotted out as the man of the hour. Kicking him to the curb would have ruined this modern fairy tale, and so it was all hands on deck and the hell with reality. Listening to local ‘urban’ stations squirm to rationalize his failures was an education in the workings of propaganda, and apparently it worked.

The young vote Democrat out of group mentality, but, as in 2008, it was also fueled by the glorification of Obama in the press. Sure, I know complaining about the MSM is a good way to make you sound like a kook, but 100 years from now books will be written about the lack of objectivity in the media.  Personally, politics aside, I think it’s revolting how much time this President spends posing for magazine covers and answering inane questions, like last week’s TV Guide interview about his favorite TV shows.  Favorite TV shows? I have a low level office job and I barely have time to watch X-Factor, how the heck do you run a country and still have time to have favorite “shows”, plural? The time he allocates to the fluff media is outrageous. Damn it, sir, deflate your ego for a moment and do your job!

On the GOP side, take a deep breath and think before you speak. Mitt Romney wasn’t defeated because he was too liberal. That’s nonsensical. If he didn’t cause the ultra-conservatives to jump up and speak in tongues, oh well; to the nation as a whole he was falsely painted as a conservative ideologue.

I’m not suggesting the GOP adopt a “Big Tent” policy where conscience and ideology are surrendered in exchange for a vote, any vote; there’s already one Democratic Party, no need to create another. But don’t roll up into a fetal position and go all Wyoming militia either.

In my view, here’s what the party needs to do to remain viable in future Presidential elections:

A)     Differentiate, in the public eye, fiscal and foreign policy stances from social issues.  The economic and foreign policy choices of the GOP are solid and generally well received. Unfortunately, they have become entangled in the ideological turf wars where the DNC has the upper hand, and then negated. That needs to change.  Voters should feel comfortable voting with their pocketbook or flag without feeling like they are betraying their class or race.

B)      Social issues are complex, and should be expressed as such. The GOP is not anti-women, it is anti-abortion. It is in no way anti-Latino, but it is anti-illegal immigration. It is not anti-gay, it is reluctant to approve of gay marriage.  It is not racist, but refuses to promote welfare and assistance programs solely to avoid that mis-label. Now, translate that into what the public hears: anti-women/Latino/gay/black. That’s not a winning formula. Instead of trotting out the same old beliefs reduced to a tag line, explain what is really meant and work on embracing those members of society who, suddenly, find that they’ve agreed with you all along.

C)      Walk the tightrope between obstructionist government and ready acquiesce. Pundits – from the winning side – are quick to call on the GOP to embrace bipartisanship in the wake of the election; in other words, give up the ghost and surrender. Nonsense. It is the duty of the GOP controlled House to stall as much of Obama’s agenda as possible provided that the bill on the floor is well and truly objectionable to the beliefs of the party and the betterment of the nation. On the flip side, to have any legitimacy in future elections, if a legitimate and beneficial motion comes to the floor, that same GOP controlled House must let it pass.

That’s my two cents.

In closing:

Mitt, you ran with passion, honor, and true vision. I admire your ideas, and I thank you for your effort on behalf of America; it’s a shame the majority of this country didn’t see where their interests truly lie. You’ve earned a place in my personal Hall of Heroes.

Mr. President: I don’t hold out much hope you’ll improve your performance in your second term, seeing as the status quo rewarded you, but I hope for the best, from you and for this country.

Good luck to you, and to us all. 

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