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A Debate of Sorts

November 6, 2008

My good friend Blogger Mark recently posted his immediate post-election thoughts – and while I agree with some of his sentiments, I disagree with others wholeheartedly. Rather than confine my response to the rather limited comment field, I figured I’d offer a rebuttal here.

Good luck to Barack. I don’t agree with the vast majority of his policies, and I am scared shitless of his suggestion of playing nice-nice with Iran, but his eloquence will undoubtedly come in handy as long as he can write the speech beforehand and doesn’t have to deliver anything off the cuff, where he seems to struggle mightily.

For my part, I don’t agree with a number of Obama’s policies, either. That said, something in this country is seriously broken, and the Republican party in its present form doesn’t seem to have any coherent answer to the multitude of crises that we face. Which is why, in this election, I went with temperament and judgment over political ideology.

Regarding Iran, I have to disagree wholeheartedly. The idea of one country refusing to talk to another strikes me as petulant, and serves only to inflame the passions on both sides. Engaging in talks does not equal appeasement, it equals maturity and pragmatism. Now, if Obama begins to show signs of appeasing Iran, I will be among the first to call him on it, but I don’t see that being the case. 

I am conservative, but I realize conservatives can’t win every election cycle….and this was a landslide (and perhaps deservedly so). What’s more many of the so-called “conservative” Republicans in the legislature have not been acting according to the principles of conservatism, and have been spending recklessly. I am displeased with the Republican party, but hold steadfast to to fiscal (as opposed to social) principles of conservatism

In this, I echo the sentiments of the numerous conservatives – Colin Powell, Susan Eisenhower, Christopher Buckley, etc – who ultimately supported Obama. I didn’t abandon the Republican party. The Republican party abandoned me. The party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan is all but unrecognizable today. The strains of social conservatism and anti-intellectualism, the corruption, the massive increases in government spending…they sicken me. After the last eight years, the Republican party deserved to lose, and lose big. Whether they can recover, in my opinion, depends on whether they use their time in the wilderness to get back to core conservative principles or, instead, double-down on far right, religious conservative base.

If a Democrat had to win, I am happy it is an eloquent and non-vindictive one (Hillary, Reid, Pelosi, etc.), and I am much happier with Obama as president than Hillary. Obama’s policies are about as far left as this country allows…and they admittedly scare me. For someone who claims to reach across the aisle, he was arguably the most liberal member of the entire Senate, but give me him over Hillary any day of the week. I hope my sincere reservations about his policies prove false and our country can move forward.

I wholeheartedly agree. Thank God we escaped a Hillary presidency, for a multitude of reasons (dynasticm, vindictiveness, the Clintonian method of governance). That said, I don’t think Obama is so much liberal as he is progressive…my read on his policies and his stance is that he doesn’t so much see government as the solution to every problem, but as a means for setting the conditions that allow those solutions to arise organically.

On the other side of the aisle, McCain ran a horrifically bad campaign, and with the incumbant Republican with a 29% approval rating, it would have taken a monumental effort from someone with a presence like Ronald Reagan to have given the Republicans the remotest of shots. McCain is not Reagan, and so he, or any other Republican candidate, was doomed from the start.

The simple fact of the matter is that the Republican party has a seriously denuded talent pool. In my opinion it is going to take years, and a groundswell of new thinking, before the GOP will be able to put forward a compelling national candidate.

However I do think Sarah Palin was subject to an INCREDIBLY disgusting and unfair lynch-job by the media. I challenge you all to find any such instance in which a vice-president was scrtutinized as much as she has been. Compare it to Biden ?? We as a country seemed to be much more concerned about the “experience” of our potential vice-president and chose to conveniently gloss over the even less executive experience that our now incoming President has. It’s just ridiculous given how much more important the presidency is than the vice-presidency; it makes no logical sense, and thus screams of intellectual dishonesty….shame on us for that. 

I’m sorry, but the scrutiny in this case was self-invited. When one of the major cornerstones of your stump speech is a lie (“thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere”), and proven beyond the shadow of a doubt to be a lie, and you keep trotting it out time and again anyway, well, that’s going to raise suspicion. What else might she be lying about? What else might she be distorting. The refusal to hold a single press conference, the frightening lack of basic political awareness…all of these things invited the press to take a closer look, and when the McCain campaign shut them out, it only hardened their resolve.

But to my mind, none of this was ever about Palin. It was about McCain, and his judgment in picking her as his running mate. Once her complete unpreparedness (and I’m not talking just about experience here) came to light, once it became obvious that her selection was entirely political, it brought into question all of McCain’s claims about putting country first and about preferring to lose an election than lose a war. Which is why, when McCain suspended his campaign, the reaction wasn’t “oh, how noble of him”, but rather, “are you f-ing kidding me?”.

In an election season when we broke through an incredible racial barrier and made history,it is unfortunate that, based on the way Palin was treated, we showed that the gender barrier is still alive and well. 

Sigh. Obama largely shyed from race, and only really discussed it in the wake of the Jeremiah Wright controversy. And even then, he never once used the fact that he is black as a crutch or as a part of his persona. Palin, on the other hand, used her gender for all she could, what with the “hockey mom” lines, the winks to the camera during the VP debate. When you trot it out like that, when you lean on it to make up for other deficiencies, in my opinion you deserve to be called on it.

Here’s hoping Palin remains a stalwart in Republican politics. One of my friends and I have a bet (a fancy dinner) over whether Palin will remain a prominent figure in the American political system during the next presidential term. 

Please God, no. Palin is a manifestation of what’s WRONG with the Republican party. She represents the worst elements of social conservatism and anti-intellectualism. If she remains a stalwart of Republican politics, all it will mean is that the GOP has learned nothing from this election, or from the damage they have done to themselves and the country over the last eight years.

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