“That One” Patiently Bests Grumpy Grandpa
What’s wrong with the media? This morning too many of them are ready to call the election for Obama. I want to believe them, but I dare not.
Round 2 of the Obama versus McCain rumble in Nashville last night was low key compared to the great hype we got from both the media and the McCain campaign going in. After four days of relentless negative personal attacks against Barack Obama by Sarah the Impaler and Dishonorable John, the brave hero from Arizona didn’t have the guts to confront Obama face to face with his disgraceful attacks. Instead the Senator from Arizona delivered a tepid performance of his many stump speeches in response to questions. He once again failed to conceal his lack of respect for Obama by referring to him once as “that one.”
That one? Now, the commentators on the television seemed at a loss to interpret this strange reference. But out here in the real world I understood it very well. I’ve heard it all my life. “That one” is the way a grandparent or parent disdainfully refers to a naughty little child. Despite his worldliness, I think John McCain understood exactly what he was saying, too. Arizona where he’s from and Oklahoma where I was raised are not all that different culturally. In fact, many Okies settled in Arizona during and after the depression when they wearied following the seasonal crops from Oklahoma to California year after year. Once again, John McCain relegated a 40-something year old grown man to the status of child. How ridiculous.
This whole tactic is right off the schoolyard. Sarah Palin and John McCain have nothing to offer the American people in this time of financial meltdown, so they have resorted to the “cootie” attack strategy. In effect, Sarah Palin is going out day after day like the girl bully of the class – you remember her – and telling her fellow students that Barack Obama has “cooties” and shouldn’t be associated with. How juvenile! It diminishes Governor – can you believe she’s a governor? – Palin’s already diminishing likeability polls, not to mention her cred as a grownup. As for Grandpa McCain, it’s even more ridiculous for someone of his age to engage in such silliness. It makes him look like a foolish old man.
McCain’s ineffectiveness as a leader really surfaced as he announced his new socialistic plan to bail out homeowners from their “bad mortgages” as a solution to the economic crisis. He rolled it out like a loaf of Wonder Bread at the family picnic. Nobody noticed it, because it was next to Aunt Tillie’s homemade dinner rolls. It was thrown out there almost like an afterthought. I personally believe it was thrown out there with almost no thought at all. It looked more like an electioneering ploy thought up moments before McCain took the stage. He delivered the announcement with no apparent enthusiasm or indication that he actually understood what he had just said and what the result of such a thing might be. Most people in the center and left hardly noticed it, but after the debate it was revealed that the ultra-conservative base of the Republican Party was not amused. They heard it loud and clear, and didn’t like what they heard.
I award the Jack Smack-down Award to Senator Barack Obama for his deft springing of a trap on the unsuspecting McCain. Dishonest John called Obama naïve for “telegraphing” his willingness to go into Pakistan to get Osama Bin Laden. Obama came back with the punch of the night. “Senator McCain says I’m green behind the ears and don’t understand.” Obama then tossed what sounded at first blush like a compliment McCain’s way to which McCain spoke out of turn thanking him. Then like a prizefighter with a plan, Obama sprang into action citing McCain’s “humorous” Beachboys parody: “Bomb, bomb, bomb; bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.” He pointed out that McCain called for the annihilation of North Korea. Then delivering a knockdown punch, he fed McCain one last foolish hawkish “telegraphed” remark made by McCain after the invasion of Afghanistan, “Next stop, Baghdad.”
It was enjoyable watching McCain’s smug grin fade to a grimace as he digested his own public remarks being crammed down his throat by “No Drama Obama.” It was dramatic enough for me. Once again, Obama, the master of the level-headed argument, scored a point on his unprepared opponent. It was a huge reminder to all who were watching that Barack Obama, the man conservatives want to depict as a lightweight, can hold his own in the ring. The post-debate polls reflected that fact as Obama was viewed to have won the debate by those who watched.
On this last point, there was a disconnect within the focus group of “persuadable” voters assembled by CNN to watch the debate. As they watched and turned their dials, over and over again they showed agreement with Obama and dropped to neutral or negative territory with McCain. Despite this apparent fact, when asked who won the debate, Obama only bested McCain by one. And then in an incredible lack of understanding of their own recorded expressions during the debate, 14 of the 25 said that if they had to vote right then, they would have voted for McCain. I found this troubling. Adding to my personal concern was David Gergan’s comment during CNN’s panel discussion that Obama’s large lead is suspect “because he’s black.” He said it right out loud. I don’t criticize him for it at all. I think it was a bold admission by someone on television. He cited a Stanford study that estimated that Obama’s poll numbers could be inflated by as much as six percent by people who will not admit that they wouldn’t vote for any black candidate.
Other panelists discounted the study saying that the polls during the primaries had been fairly accurate and didn’t support that. But then almost all at once they remembered New Hampshire. Living in a state like Texas – one of the old Confederate States of America states – I do not doubt that possibility. I’m a longtime liberal with a record of working on civil rights issues from time to time, but because I’m white, I’m always amazed by racist remarks I hear from my fellow Texans when there are only white people in the room. While the emergence of Barack Obama onto the national political stage heralds a great new day for civil rights in our country, racism/tribalism runs deep. And I will admit that time spent in both the black and Hispanic communities have shown me that it can be a two-way street.
That being said, I offer a different viewpoint. I feel that it’s just as likely that white voters when asked whether or not they would vote for a black man, for instance Barack Obama, might be afraid to admit that they would because one of their friends might find out. When the Obama delegates from my precinct met to discuss strategy for our County Convention, we had an open discussion about our fears to put an Obama sign in our front yards. The young woman who hosted our meeting had one on her front door when we arrived, but admitted that it was there to help us find her house and she would be removing it immediately after the meeting. As bold as old Jack is in his column, I have yet to feel comfortable putting an Obama sign up in my front yard. I don’t deem it safe in redneck Texas whose residents bear too close a resemblance to the redneck sheriff in Pensacola yesterday where a Palin rally participant called for the assassination of Barack Obama unchallenged. Radical Muslims have nothing on radical rednecks. So it may be possible that people in areas like mine are afraid to admit that they are voting for Barack Obama when asked. For our side, I hope that is the case.
Anyway, I enjoyed watching Obama smacking down John McCain last night and hope you did, too. But remember that the bell ending the fight won’t ring until November 4th. Keep fighting!