February 06, 2008
Here are a few random thoughts that have been on my mind of late regarding the national presidential primary season for 2008:
I have been maintaining for some time now that this presidential election is the Democrats' to lose, and they are doing everything they can to do just that. This isn't about policy or principles or character -- these races rarely ever are, no matter how much we might like to think otherwise. There are several reasons that the Republicans face a disadvantage this election cycle:
First and foremost, the outgoing incumbent remains very unpopular, so his party will take a little bit of a hit for that.
Second, when the economy slows down, the incumbent's party takes a hit for that, as well.
Third, when the Dems took over Congress in 2006, they were unable to do anything with their success. Voters who wanted to see "change" haven't seen it yet, so they may be more inclined to seek that change in the White House, which again hits the incumbent party.
Yet as circumstances would have it, the Democrats are doing the kinds of things that tend toward weakening their own cause. A bitter and divisive primary season is one obvious example. The cynicism of the candidates' campaigns is another: Sen. Clinton gets choked up just before Super Tuesday because, hey, it worked before in New Hampshire! (That's just one example.) I'm not sure what bothers me more, the obvious cynicism behind such ploys, or the fact that they seem to work (at least, in the short run). Both of the major candidates for the D's are doing this, and both of them are neck and neck in the delegate count.
The Democrats also have failed to learn from past mistakes. Sen. Ted Kennedy helped to split the party in 1980 by running against Carter in the primary, and that definitely hurt his party's cause that year in the general election. He likewise turned against the nominal front-runner this time, and a former strong supporter of his, when he chose to endorse Sen. Obama over Sen. Clinton last week. The former first lady still took Massachusetts in their primary, but did Kennedy's endorsement help to buoy Obama's challenge and further draw out the race? I'm inclined to think so.
History has shown us that the more divided the party as it goes deep into the nomination cycle, the harder it is to unite against their opponents in the general election. Think of what Kennedy's bid did to the Democrats in 1980, or what Reagan's did to Ford's campaign in 1976.
The fact that the Democrats will take longer to pick a decisive front runner than the Republicans is not a deal-breaker for this election. It is *still* theirs (the Democrats) to lose. The Republicans remain divided, themselves. The neo-cons and the religious right of the Republican party are still not sure that they trust Sen. McCain. Here, the Democrats have an advantage: either Democratic candidate is sure to be backed by the Progressive tail that wags the donkey, while the Republican candidate may not get the full support of the neo-conservative tail that wags the elephant.
Nonetheless, if the Republicans do end up choosing a moderate (and nothing would push McCain more firmly into the moderate camp than having the neo-cons abandon him), how well is the neo-liberal platform of the Progressives going to play in the general election? With Clinton and Obama trying to out-socialist each other with promises of entitlements (such as Clinton's promise of a $5,000 grant for every child born) and nationalizing medicine (at which Hillary failed during Bill Clinton's first year in office), they need to be careful not to promise bread and circuses to their base now that could alienate them to the larger public in November.
As I alluded above and in previous posts, I'm intensely interested in seeing if the neo-cons and the religious right are truly inclined to abandon their party-of-choice if their party-of-choice nominates someone with whom they are uneasy. Sen. McCain does seem to be headed for the nomination.
If the neo-cons decide to abandon him, and if he wins the general election anyway, he won't owe them any favors. It seems to me that the neo-cons turn their backs on the Republican party at their own peril.
Memo to Gov. Romney: Stop whining about "dirty tricks." These exact same dirty tricks were played by Bush's supporters on McCain in 2000 (for example, "push polls" in South Carolina that insinuated that McCain's Vietnamese daughter was actually his love child born out of wedlock, rather than his adopted child, as is actually the case), and they will be used again by supporters of the Democratic nominee in the general election.
For that matter, how confident are you that none of your supporters have used any dirty tricks against your own opponents?
I do not endorse dirty trickery. But whining about dirty tricks won't help your cause. Whining that your opponent tricked you in a debate is also not a prudent strategy. If you can't handle a little sneakiness during a debate with McCain, how are Republicans going to trust you to hold your own in a debate with Clinton or Obama?
C'mon, dude. Get a new debate coach and move on.
It seems lately that now, as much as ever, the campaign is more about the campaign than about anything else. Issues? Character? Bah. According to various polls, people are voting on the basis of how the campaigns are being conducted. In South Carolina, for example, many people said that Bill Clinton's campaigning on behalf of Hillary influenced their vote -- negatively, as a general rule. Solution? Ask Bill to tone it down, and voila! Problem goes away.
No change in message... but then again, the news isn't covering the message. They are covering whether Hillary teared up, or how McCain's campaign overcame setbacks from six months ago, or whether it was wise for a candidate to bank his entire strategy on winning Florida. Floridians didn't reject Mayor Giuliani's message. They rejected his campaign strategy.
To paraphrase a previously successful campaign, "It's the campaign strategy, stupid."
Why are Gov. Romney and Gov. Huckabee still in the race, even though they are improbable to win the Republican nomination? Here's a guess: it could be that Romney wants to set himself up for being a viable candidate in 2012 or 2016, or perhaps he hopes Huckabee will drop out and then he'll be able to leverage his support from the neo-cons to still have a shot at winning in 2008. As for Huckabee... by playing spoiler to Romney, he might not only be setting himself up as a potentially viable presidential candidate in the future, but may be trying to win a spot on the ticket as nominee for VP with McCain.
And if Huckabee does end up on a McCain ticket, what does that do to McCain's street cred with the neo-cons and religious right? Or, for that matter, with the moderates of both parties? A McCain-Huckabee ticket has the potential to unite the party better than any other pairing, but it also has the potential to alienate *everybody*. Hmmm.
I still think Sen. Clinton is the odds-on favorite to win the Dem's nomination. Then again, I still expected the Patriots to win the Super Bowl, even with only seconds left on the clock and the Pats down by three. So, what do I know?
My last thought for the day (and if you've read through all this so far... my proverbial hat is off to you):
It's not enough to vote. If you believe in your candidate, you need to donate money to their campaign. If the stakes are high enough that it matters to you who wins, your donation will make more of a difference than just your vote alone.
Make your checks out to "Friends of Allan Rousselle."
February 07, 2008
I fell off the Soda wagon a little while ago, albeit not very hard.
My weight has been bouncing a little between 30 lbs and 25 lbs down from when I initially decided to kick soda in April of last year. I haven't been soda-free all of that time, but I've definitely been soda-reduced.
Recently, a doctor told me I was best advised to cut out caffeine entirely, so I've been soda-free again for a few days. My weight has not dropped any since my last Coca Cola. Nor, for that matter, has my tendency toward insomnia abated. (I'm typing this at 4:30am on what I still consider to be Tuesday -- even though it is actually now Wednesday. I'll schedule it to post on Thursday, just to be goofy.)
But I sure do miss scratching that soda-craving itch.
February 18, 2008
When I was in college, I took up foil fencing. I suspect that this may be where I picked up the habit of occasionally announcing "Touche!" whenever someone gets me with a good play in cards or some other friendly competition. (I might also have picked this habit up as a result of a line from a Smothers Brothers routine, in which Tommy says, "Touchy, touchy", to which his brother response, "Touche, Touche.")
Alexander (all of five and a half years old) and I have been playing Crazy Eights in the evenings, and he asked me what it means when I say, "Touche!" after he plays something that I can't match. I explained the concepts of announcing a good hit or acknowledging a good rejoinder.
So, imagine my surprise when we were playing cards earlier this evening, and Alex played a queen and said, "Queen Shay!" And then, when he played a six, and said, "Six Shay!"
Dude cracks me up.
February 19, 2008
My partner-in-crime behind "The Mattress Fund" recently posted our collaborative effort (under the name "Mutually Exclusive Productions", or, "MutEx") on YouTube.com:
One of these days, James and I are going to have to work together on another project.
February 20, 2008
In an act of supreme irony, there's a recently released fakeumentary out there trying to make the case that "Big Science" is waging a war on poor, defenseless Christianity. From the trailers, it's hard for me to tell if Ben Stein is satirizing Michael Moore's abuse of the documentary format and disregard for truth, if Stein is cynically trying to emulate Moore (who, himself, seems rather cynical), or if he truly believes the premise that the scientific community is waging a holy war against religion. So to speak.
Is it newsworthy if an academic institution resists hiring or retaining a biologist who wants to teach that evolution doesn't exist? If so, perhaps there's a documentary to be made on these other scintillating topics:
- the conspiracy of economists against people who doubt the theory of supply and demand
- the crusade of physicists against those who deny the theory of gravity
- Big Medicine's unrelenting smear campaign against deniers of the germ theory of disease
I almost included in that list the conspiracy of Saturday Night Live writers against anything that might be funny, but that would have violated the comedic "Rule of Three."
Persecution complexes tend to manifest themselves in the weak and the cruel. Hitler, and the Nazis in general, had a persecution complex when it came to the Jews. The Clintons coined the term "vast right-wing conspiracy" long before we started meeting on a regular basis. Richard Nixon, for that matter, allowed his own persecution complex to destroy his presidency and his legacy.
The great paradox of the persecution complex is that it betrays a weakness in character, but not in actual power. This is where I find the notion of "Big Science" persecuting the Christians to be particularly unseemly. Christianity holds more sway politically, culturally, economically, and socially in the very fabric of American life than any other force. For decades (well, centuries, actually), it has insisted on regulating what and how we teach our citizenry, from the birds and the bees to the moon and the stars and everything in between.
Now here comes a Defender of the Faith, in the form of a self-styled intellectual, to declare that when scientists would prefer that science be taught in the science classrooms, Christianity is under attack. Kind of like the way Germany was under attack when France wanted France to be run by, well, the French.
Is Christianity so weak in character that it needs this kind of defender?
[Then again, are liberals so weak that they need Michael Moore as a defender? Hmmm.]
February 21, 2008
I'm thinking of you. I've been thinking of you quite a bit lately.
For example, Amanda, when you kindly sent me that "What's up?" e-card out of the blue; you got me thinking of you.
And Kevin and Brian and Greg and Andrea and Allen and others: when you post comments to my blog or drop me an e-mail, you get me thinking of you. I have some of the coolest friends around. Even if I'm terrible about responding. [sigh]
This is funny. A friend of mine from wayyy back (Hi, Jeff) posted a comment to an essay I'd listed here regarding something I'd said that reminded him of something Scott Adams had posted on his own blog. That was at least a year ago, if not longer. Now I'm reading a Scott Adams book of things he posted to his blog, and it's got me thinking of you.
My mom needed some tech support for her website recently, and so she phoned me. And e-mailed me. I finally woke up at around noon, found the messages, and then helped her out. (Woke up at noon? Yes. See what time I'm posting this to my website? I'm staying up way too late, and getting up late is working out okay with regard to our child care / work schedule.) So, yeah, mom. When I do tech support over the phone, I'm thinking of you.
The kids have been sleeping in the big bed in the guest room upstairs lately. There's a painting in the guest room of trees on rolling hills. When I put the kids to bed, and I see that painting, I'm thinking of yew.
I get e-mails all the time from (alleged) Russian women who "saw my profile" on the internet. That reminds me... I haven't had shashlik in a while. Shashlik was my favorite lunch during my summer in the Moscow. Shashlik is made of marinated mutton. Great. Now I'm thinking of ewe.
When I think of bad puns (which, admittedly, is all the time), I occasionally remember how a certain someone used to admonish me that "puns are the lowest form of humor." Oh, the bitter irony of how my sense of humor sometimes makes me think of you.
Memory triggers are on my mind. I just recently completed a short story that takes place in the world where my next novel is set. A world where the main character will spend the entire novel exploring the relationship between our memories and our sense of who we are. Hokey as it sounds, dear reader, as I prepare to embark upon this new novel, I'm thinking of you.
Copyright (c)1998 - 2010 by Allan Rousselle. All rights reserved, all wrongs reversed, all reservations righted, all right, already.
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