It’s surely a measure of how bad things are out there that I’ve actually gotten a couple of emails from students asking if I’m ever going to post anything again. It has been over a month now since the last incisive Cobbloviation, after all. Part of the long dry spell on this site may be chalked up to a brief trip to Italy, the tab for which, I pray to God, the Missus never reveals to me. American tourists were in much shorter supply this time than in 2002, but with their currencies flush, the Euronats and the Aussies were thick as green flies on fresh cow-plop, and they all wanted to talk about our election, most of them curious, it seemed to me, to know if some last minute shenanigan or systemic manipulation would deny the Barackster the Democratic nod. There were clearly no tears flowing for the duly departing Doofus, but if they saw McCain in comparably critical terms , I didn’t pick up on it.
The most interesting sequence of events for me over the last month began with Hillary’s defiant June 4 non-concession speech, in which she seemed utterly convinced that by sheer force of will she could erase the primary results. Her ostensible effort to leverage ol’ Oby on the VP-ship while refusing to recognize him as the nominee, first struck me as further evidence that if she wasn’t going to be allowed in the cockpit, she intended by God to sabotage the whole flight. By throwing around her seventeen million votes and effectively asking him for something she already knew he wouldn’t give, she seemed to be setting up a situation where she could cast herself once again as the abused, humiliated female who could hardly be blamed for failing to rally her minions by the millions to this arrogant male chauvinist upstart who had hoodwinked just enough of the sovereign electorate to snatch away that which was rightfully hers. Could she really be expected to ask any self-respecting woman in America to vote for a man who had dissed their ol’ gal pal “Hil’” so egregiously?
How then did we get from the reality-defying speech from la-la land on the evening of June 4 to breaking news on the evening of June 5 that she would be conceding within the next few days and endorsing Barry O.? Was Bill eagerly drafting plans to gather several intern-bimboettes and return to the campaign trails in a rental van, pulling over every now and then to take on condoms and other supplies and maybe for some impromptu speechifying wherever folks had not yet developed an immunity to his charms? As the official story of her so-called change of heart goes, enough of her big-time supporters simply told Ms. C. that she had already blown by the “enough already” sign several weeks earlier. I have no doubt that this happened, but, in light of her not so-veiled threat the previous day to undermine ol’ Oby nine ways to Sunday, I’m guessing that she agreed to swallow the proverbially bitter bill only after it had been coated with a generous dollop of sweetener. With the Clintons, it’s always about either power or money, and since she was supposedly foregoing the former, that probably means she was being promised a great deal of the latter. So much for her campaign debt, including the $1,200 tab at that Dunkin D’s in Iowa.
With Hillary and Bill relegated—temporarily at least--to the purgatory of the sidelines, it’s interesting at this point to watch the emerging Obama-McCain dynamic. In the face of a substantial media backlash, the Obama camp quickly backed off overt suggestions that the very senior Senator from Arizona sometimes seems disoriented and confused on the stump. Relax guys, age discrimination is one of America’s most acceptable prejudices, and when the campaign blahs set in, the press will eagerly puncture its own protective membrane around Johnny Mac just as it did with Oby. On another front, in fact, disapproving accounts of the younger, friskier McCain’s rather unceremonious dumping of his permanently injured first wife in favor of the permanently hot and inexhaustibly rich Ms. Mac #2 are already starting to make the rounds.
Polls are still mighty shaky indicators of the November outcome at this point, but even discounting the Newsweek numbers showing a fifteen point spread, Real Clear Politics’s cumulative poll figures suggest that Oby may be opening up a least a small gap. The conventional wisdom seems to be that, given the helluva mess we’re in, that gap should approximate the Grand Canyon. I’m thinking that there just too many doubts about the Demo nominee for that to happen anytime soon, if ever. On the other hand, McCain’s best talking point is that things seem to be calming down a bit in Iraq. Problem is, not many folks seem to care. Two-thirds of those polled still think the war was not worth the cost and well over half favor American withdrawal even if it means that Iraq is left to drown in the blood of its own sectarian strife. Then there’s the economy, where neither candidate has said much that’s exciting, but what McCain has said sounds eerily like what the Bush administration said, and we all know where that got us.
The real poll number that spells trouble for McCain is 15 percent. That’s how many Americans seem to believe the country is headed in the right direction. We may not know how much Obama’s race is going to hurt him with white voters, but we can be fairly certain that the scarlet “W.” that might as well be tattooed on McCain’s forehead doesn’t figure to be much of a plus for him.