Friday, October 3, 2008

It's the Stupid Economy

In terms of the outcome on Nov. 4, only one thing matters now.

John McCain’s “maverick” schtick doesn’t matter. Neither does his rightness or wrongness on Iraq, or the Surge, or immigration, or campaign finance, or earmarks. Nor the all-too-apparent ebbing of his faculties.

Barack Obama’s “change” and “hope” schtick doesn’t matter. Neither does his post-partisan pathology, or his appeal to the "creative class," or his narcissism. (One thing that might matter after the election is his triangulating lack of principle on universal healthcare – unless he has the sense to go with Hillary’s plan… and turn to her to make sure it actually happens. I’m not holding my breath.)

Joe Biden’s blabbermouth gaffitude doesn’t matter. And neither does Sarah Palin’s lack of knowledge about… well, anything. It’s not just that both did a decent job in tonight’s VP debate – most notably, that Palin staunched the bleeding from her humiliating Katie Couric performances. It’s because neither the VP candidates nor the presidential candidates matter any more.

Whether America is ready for an African American to be president doesn’t matter. It’ll happen, and that will be that. (Not that racism will be cured, of course. Just that this particular benchmark will be in the books.)

Even whether America is ready for a woman to be president doesn’t matter – for the opposite reason. Instead of putting that one behind us, we’re pushing it back into the cellar. (Afterward, sexism will once again become fodder for concerned tut-tutting by sober pundits on Sunday mornings and PBS evenings. We’ll be told earnestly that we really must do something about the misogyny in our society. Charlie Rose will furrow his brow over it. Our Orator in Chief will no doubt have some inspiring words to utter on the subject, as will the First Lady. All of it will now become a matter of irrelevant Village consensus… because once again, politically speaking, it doesn’t matter.)

Remarkably, I don’t even think it matters electorally what happens with the economic “rescue” plan over the next month – whether it’s the right or wrong thing to do… whether it goes far enough to protect ordinary citizens rather than fat cats… or whether it gets passed expeditiously. Those things matter a lot for the lives of Americans (and denizens of other countries as well)… but they don’t matter for the outcome on Nov. 4. People who are thinking the House Republicans will benefit from their opposition to it are mostly wrong.

The only thing that matters now is the letter “D” inside the parentheses following Barack Obama’s name on the ballot, and that of every Democratic Senatorial and Congressional candidate. To get elected dogcatcher anywhere outside the South -- and in plenty of places even there -- you're gonna need that D.

That’s because the financial tsumani has engulfed everything else, all the differences between the candidates, all the policy positions, all the metaphors, everything.

Of course, what happens after Nov. 4 will certainly matter – how it all works out for our jobs, our health, our kids and our planet. For some of us, Hillary Clinton will continue to matter… and the dream of evolving past our misogyny as a species… and the hope that at some point during the Democratic Party’s coming generation in power, we’ll get our real FDR.

With regard to all of that… it’s Nov. 4 that, sadly, doesn’t matter.

1 comment:

Palomino said...


This thing ended when McCain "suspended" his campaign. I'm not even sure if anyone knows exactly why, but my strong hunch is that this is the case.

Some feel that the impending reality of an Obama presidency will give enough undecided voters second thoughts to send them scurrying to McCain and affect what now appears to be the probable outcome of the election. More likely, I suspect, is a scenario in which polling trends over the next month, aided and amplified by an in-the-tank media, normalize the prospect of President-elect Barack Obama.

See? That was easy.