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next week's column: Concession Speech


Okay, so the election’s finished, and not quite to my liking. Clearly I was a bit too quick to book the Washington, D.C. Hilton for my inauguration party, and don’t even get me started on how expensive it was to hire the Beach Boys. I shall unpack my car, break the news to the kids, and start writing columns that will hopefully be less about politics and more about funny.

What a weird and memorable campaign season it was. Memorable, even for those of us who’d just as soon not remember it.

This time last year Hillary Clinton was bringing out her old measurements of the White House windows, preparing to hang new curtains as soon as she moved in. John McCain was carrying his own bags onto commuter flights, continuing a lonely and hopeless fight in middle-of-the-country states that people on the Coasts aren’t convinced even exist during the off-season. Joe Biden was just another Presidential candidate, who’d developed the remarkable ability to walk with one foot in his mouth. Sarah Palin was … well, nobody knows what she was doing back then, not even most people in Alaska.

And now Barrack Obama is going to President of these United States. Imagine that. Do you realize it’s only been a handful of decades since some of his family couldn’t vote at all, let alone run for office?

Meanwhile, over on the other side, was Sarah Palin, who was hated more for her
conservative views than for the fact that she’s a woman.

This is one great country.

I’m serious. Even though Obama would have been third in line of candidates I would have voted for (early results show I carried part of a neighborhood in one county in Michigan, and one precinct in England), the fact that he could even be considered a contender is a great thing. McCain is going to fade back into Congress. Palin is going to disappear, back to Alaska and her family and her caribou. Biden will be there in the background, his occasional gaffs smoothed over by a sympathetic media. Me? I’m going to write books, get rich, and move to Hawaii.

But Obama made history.

Don’t get me wrong: I remain fearful he’ll advance a socialist agenda (which isn’t a bad thing, if you’re a socialist), weaken our defenses, and support tax and spend policies that will hurt the economy even more than it’s already hurting. I have a litany of concerns, including the whole experience thing.

But hey, maybe he’ll do okay. I’ve been wrong before – we all have. After all, two of the most unpopular Presidents were Harry Truman and Abraham Lincoln, and once sifted through the prism of history it turns out they did okay. I have a feeling history will go a little easier on G.W. Bush too, once everything’s sorted out, but who knows? Calling a sitting President “best” or “worst” is like predicting the stock market, and we all know how well that turns out.

But you have to stand in wonder at the pure history of this moment. Some people will argue that Obama is only half black, but so what? He’s still our first black President. Not a big deal? Read your history.

The forging of our nation was almost derailed, all the way back in 1776, over the issue of slavery. We fought a war to free black people, killing hundreds of thousands of Americans. For decades after that black people were still considered secondhand citizens. They had to fight for equal rights in where they lived and went to school, what jobs they could have, and even the right to use the same drinking fountain. So the USA isn’t perfect -- what country is? But man, how far we’ve come.

So you Republicans and moderates, perk up. And while we’re on the subject, I’d like to thank and congratulate you. I’ve always been a news junkie, and I think I paid more attention to this election than any other in my life – and yet, during the entire thing, the only people who I ever heard bring up the issue of race were Democrats and the news media.

Surely there are plenty of idiot racists who hate Obama just because of his color, just as some hate Palin just because she was women. It’s a free country: You can’t rid it of morons. But for the average person -- the guy who wants a chance to get ahead in life, pay his bills, and keep his family safe -- there just wasn’t a sense that race was an issue. Lots of people voted against Obama, and I never met one who cared abut his skin color.

Fifty years ago it would have been a far different thing, with open racism across the country; maybe thirty years ago. The sense I got this time around was that there were too many important issues to worry about something as inconsequential as that.

I guess what I’m saying is, it’s not so bad. As usual, the party that’s out of power will act as a watch dog, while the centrist majority again waits for someone to be their champion. The economy will be bad for awhile, as it would have been regardless of who won. We’ll continue to face challenges, domestically and abroad. There’ll be hurricanes, and wars, and scandals. Life will go on.

My advice is to disagree with President Obama when you feel he’s wrong, but support him. Pray for him, if you’re the praying type. The man’s facing a mountain of challenges, and nobody should be hoping for him to fail – if he fails, the world suffers for it. Let’s bring back not only hope, but the willingness to work at making America great again.

It’ll be okay.

And if it isn’t, I’ll be there in 2012.

Now, I know what you're thinking. But a deadline is a deadline; I usually send my column in on Friday, but the absolute final deadline is Monday, so I had to make a call. If I'm right, I'll be the first one in the media to call it, and I'll also win a twenty dollar bet. If I'm wrong, my guy will win ... well, my guy of the two who are running. Or, best case scenerio, I'll be loading up the truck and moving to Washington.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 2nd, 2008 11:04 am (UTC)
I respect and admire you so much, I must say. You are one of the reasons I still have great faith in this country and our ability to come together no matter our political beliefs. The vitriol is out there, and it's disheartening. But I am so glad to know intelligent people of every political stripe. America is wonderful that way.

If McCain wins, I plan to take a similar attitude. Cautious support and hope. I share some of your concerns about Obama even though I campaign and plan to vote for him, so if he does win, I won't relax just because he shares my political beliefs. I'll do my best to watch him and judge him and stay involved just as I would with a Republican president.

Anyway, thanks for writing this. I hope your prediction is correct, because I'm biased that way. ;) But even more than that, I hope our country is well served by the man we end up with. <3
Nov. 2nd, 2008 11:07 am (UTC)
Oh and did you see Ben Affleck on SNL last night? He did a hilarious version of Keith Olbermann, and John McCain was pretty damn funny as well.
Nov. 3rd, 2008 05:57 am (UTC)
I saw only some video with McCain, so I missed Affleck. Speaking as a McCain supporter ... I was shocked at how well he did! And isn't it strange, to see SNL being funny again after all these years?
Nov. 3rd, 2008 06:25 am (UTC)
I'm one of the rare people who actually thinks SNL has been funny (off and on) in recent years. Not as funny as the early shows, but those are always hard to beat.

But yeah, McCain is actually a really humorous guy! He hosted the show once a few years back, and I watched him do a roast-type thing for a benifit dinner the other night. He cracked me up! So much funnier than Obama (the guy's too stiff to tell a good joke).
Nov. 3rd, 2008 06:44 am (UTC)
It's unfair for me to judge SNL; I stopped watching it regularly years ago, and only catch bits and pieces these days. They must be doing something right -- they're still on the air!

Obama will lighten up as time goes by -- remember, he hasn't had as much experience in front of crowds or cameras as McCain. By the time his first term is up he'll be polished and much more relaxed.
Nov. 3rd, 2008 05:53 am (UTC)
Yes, we need a good President right now regardless of his party, and we need one desperately. My biggest problem is my very firm belief that the economy is *not* our biggest danger or challenge -- terrorism is. The economy always goes in cycles, but it isn't being directed by people who want to destroy America. But that's another area in which you never really know how a guy will react unless he's challenged, isn't it? For all its other problems, the Bush administration performed brilliantly in stopping further attacks and pursuing the bad guys, and that's something very few would have predicted before 9/11. So who knows?
Nov. 3rd, 2008 06:21 am (UTC)
er.. this is probably a rant you didn't want *sheepish*
Well, the economy scares me a lot more than terrorism at this point, but terrorism worries me as well. I'm more afraid of McCain's approach to foreign affairs than I am of Obama's. I think Obama will do well and listen very carefully to what the military leaders and experts are saying before he makes a decision. That's important to me.

My uncle works for the Pentagon and he said the Bush administration basically took the money and power out of their hands, and placed it into the hands of private companies, then ceased to really communicate with them. Soldiers are fighting in horrible conditions with limited supplies because Bush chose business over them.

I vehemently disagee that the Bush administration performed brilliantly. They ignored a memo warning explicity of the attacks on 9/11, then proceeded to launch a war in Iraq when most of the attackers came from Saudia Arabia (a country full of leaders who are friends with the Bush family, so I can see why they wouldn't want to go there--and if it wasn't neccessary, I wouldn't want them to either). Al Qaeda came into Iraq after we dismantled the government. The violence has increased over the years in Afghanistan because the Bush administration had concentrated it's efforts elsewhere.

I firmly believe the president lied to the American public and we lost lives as a result. I would have, and still would if it weren't so late in the game, supported an impeachment.

Bin Laden is still at large, as are many of his underlings. Many have said, and I agree, that we are in more danger than we were because of the policies of this President.

I'm sorry to be so outbursty, but it's a very touchy issue with me. I have military in my family, and I protested the Iraq war with thousands of people all over the country (which the media neglected to report), and watched my voice get drowned out by not only Republicans, but the Democrats I'd helped put in office. Now our economy is wrecked, which is not entirely Bush's fault, but I believe we could have pulled ourselves out more quickly if we hadn't been hemmoraging cash to the Middle East.

McCain was certainly challenged in that POW camp. He proved himself extremely brave and honorable. But that doesn't mean he has the temperment and intellect I seek in a President on world issues.
Nov. 3rd, 2008 07:19 am (UTC)
interesting article
By chance I just now stumbled across this article about Bush. It won't answer your concerns, but I think it gives an idea of the mindset that led to some of his mistakes, and also shows why McCain is anything but "four more years of Bush" like so many people claim. Not that it matters! :-)


Really, there's not much point of either of us ranting about Bush, I suppose. (Sure wish I'd thought of that a moment ago. I'm going to delete my last reply, it's silly to go back and forth and I was just seeing red at that moment.) He's gone in a few months, irregardless, and then we'll see how a Dem controlled Congress and White House handle things.
Nov. 3rd, 2008 08:13 am (UTC)
Re: interesting article
Ah, I wish you hadn't deleted it. I'm sorry I made you see red, but I'm never offended by opposing beliefs, and I love hashing out differences because I often learn something from them. Dancing around issues is what makes me nervous, but I'm never worried about someone telling me I'm wrong or discussing things with me.

I've always thought I'd love to have a marriage like Carville and Matalin. Seems like such fun.

But I digress. I can't read that article because I don't have authorization or something (that's what the error message said). Sorry!
Nov. 3rd, 2008 08:43 am (UTC)
Re: interesting article
Oh, you didn't offend me; I just got mad. Way different thing. :-) And I don't like to be mad, so I figured why not just forget it? But you're right, though -- hashing out differences do teach us something, sometimes. It's just that after 8 years of (what I see as) misinformation and blind hatred, I just get really tired of trying to make people see things the way (I think) they are.

*grumble* It must be a friends only post. Let's see if I can do an LJ cut, it's kinda long:

The Last Days Of The Bush Presidency
But Words Will Never Hurt Me
The president, friends say, is handling the attacks on him with characteristic equanimity.

Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey

If George Bush took the insults personally, he didn't let it show. On Oct. 23, John McCain, who once stood by the president despite a tense personal relationship, let loose with an unsparing rebuke of the Bush administration's failures. He chastised the president for the "conduct of the war in Iraq for years, growth in the size of government" and for ignoring the will of Congress. "We just let things get completely out of hand," McCain told The Washington Times. McCain's attack read like a Barack Obama ad, only angrier....

That same day, Bush invited a group of women from the Middle East for an informal chat at the White House. He posed for photos and answered their questions, part of his effort to show that the war on terror is not a war on Islam or the Arab world. "When it comes to my views on Muslims, I believe that we pray to the same God," he told the women, according to a person at the meeting who, like others quoted in this story, asked for anonymity speaking about private conversations. "I believe we share in the same beliefs. I believe Muslim mothers want their children to grow up in peace." But at one point, Bush's thoughts turned inward. He told the group he understood why so many people had an unfavorable view of him—and his presidency. "I know I have got an image," he said. "I don't live in a cocoon."

As his presidency winds down, Bush has seeded his calendar with more of these informal, non confrontational events in which he can showcase his softer personal side before appreciative audiences who are proud, even thrilled, to be in the presence of the president. Outside the White House, they are not easy to find. Bush, whose poll numbers now hover in the 20s, will leave office in January with perhaps the lowest approval ratings of any modern president. Bush bashing is nearly as popular among Republicans as it is among Democrats. Obama has made Bush's record the central theme of his campaign. One of Obama's aides' principal lines of attack against John McCain has been to lash him to the president's policies, labeling him "McSame."

Yet those who know the president well say he has withstood the attacks with characteristic equanimity. Bush has never been one to torture himself with doubt or punish himself with what-ifs. Even in the darkest moments of his presidency—the bloodiest months of insurgency after the invasion of Iraq; the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina—there were no hushed stories of a distraught president talking to the portraits in the West Wing. The opinion of the American people matters to him, and close friends and aides say he is not deaf to the fact that he has become an object of ridicule. But they say he also remains unshakably convinced history will see his decisions, on Iraq especially, as the right ones. The same air of self-confident resolve—reassuring to some, maddening to others—that allowed Bush to claim, during the 2004 campaign, that he could not name a single mistake he had made as president, now girds him in his final, difficult and somewhat lonely months in the White House.

Nov. 3rd, 2008 08:46 am (UTC)
Re: interesting article

The president's aides are not always so philosophical, or forgiving. Several of his closest staffers were furious that Bush was not given a prominent speaking role at the Republican convention in September; they privately groused that Bush, who was originally scheduled to speak on the first night, was later disinvited by the McCain camp. In the end, Bush appeared only by video. Some of the president's friends and aides complained directly to him about what they saw as an unforgivable insult. Bush tried to calm them. "I understand," Bush said, according to two people involved in the conversation. "I had to somewhat distance myself from my own father in my own campaign." In 2000, George H.W. Bush had awkwardly tried to reassure voters that W was ready to lead. "This boy, this son of ours, will not let you down," he said. That was the last time Bush 41 spoke on behalf of his namesake during that campaign.

McCain aides deny that they banned Bush from the GOP convention. But the McCain team's palpable resentment toward the president comes through in their version of what happened. The president and Dick Cheney were originally slated to speak on the first night to get "the old guard" out of the way, says a senior McCain adviser, who asked not to be named so he could speak freely about the relationship between his boss and Bush. But when a hurricane threatened the Gulf Coast that day, the party postponed the start of the convention, and with it Bush's speech.

"The last thing this party needed was for people to be reminded of every dumb mistake this administration made with Katrina," the McCain adviser says. "It was a nightmare." The adviser says they didn't try to keep Bush away, but admits that finding the president a new time slot was hardly a top priority. "The guy has the lowest approval ratings of any president in history, and they are complaining?" the adviser says. "Bush understands the political environment we're in. Or, hell, maybe he doesn't."

In place of the convention in St. Paul, that week Bush took a tour of the battlefield at Gettysburg with his wife, Laura, and a small retinue of loyalists, including Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales, Karen Hughes and Harriet Miers. Bush was in an expansive mood, pushing aside the vagaries of election-year politics and taking the long view of history. His tour guides recounted Lincoln's war strategy and the newspaper headlines that screamed INVASION! INVASION! Bush interjected: "Well, did the president say, 'Bring it on'?" says Jake Boritt, one of the guides. Bush made it clear he was being self-deprecating. "He's got that Southern style of being quick-witted with a slow delivery," Boritt recalls.

Bush has made just one public campaign appearance with McCain. On the morning after the Texas primary in March, the two men had lunch in the White House and then went before reporters. At the time, McCain was battling to win over the conservative base of the Republican Party and hoped an event with Bush would help. There is little warmth between the president and the senator. In 2000, Bush allies brought down McCain's presidential bid with a smear campaign in South Carolina claiming McCain had fathered an illegitimate child. McCain subsequently made peace with the president for political purposes, but the damage could not be undone.

The Rose Garden event lasted exactly 10 minutes. Bush slapped McCain on the back and smiled for the cameras. A reporter asked McCain if the two would campaign together. "I hope that he will campaign for me as much as is keeping with his busy schedule," McCain answered awkwardly. As one senior McCain aide puts it now, "We were getting it over with."
Nov. 3rd, 2008 08:47 am (UTC)
and the rest
I didn't realize it was this long when I read it ...

Little wonder Bush has been content to keep his distance. (The men have been seen together one other time, getting into a limo after a Phoenix fundraiser.) "He's approached this with a degree of understanding and is not letting it get to him," says a former senior aide who remains close to Bush. Another friend says Bush knew the attacks were coming. "He made up his mind during the '06 midterms that he was going to become the easy, short-term punching bag," the friend says. "Any second-term president gets a longer-term perspective, with politics in the rearview mirror a little bit." Some Bush aides privately express relief that political reporters, preoccupied with the campaign, no longer bother to scrutinize the president's every move and misstep.

Bush has begun to look toward life after the Oval Office. Friends say he will likely move back to Dallas, where he and Laura lived before Bush was governor. Texas remains the last frontier of Bush Country. "There is a great deal of affection for the Bush family, and that includes the entire family," says James Francis Jr., a close friend. Francis says Bush will likely write his memoirs and give speeches. But his main focus will be to build his library and a policy institute to promote democracy in the Middle East. Laura Bush, who is said to dislike Washington even more than her husband, is looking forward to reclaiming a more normal life. "She told me she hadn't cooked in 14 years," says Ruth Altshuler, another close Bush family friend. "I really see her taking a few months, if not a year, to get settled and then start slowly to get in the Dallas life," she says. "Everybody is going to want her to be honorary chairman of everything."
Nov. 2nd, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
I'll be honest, I haven't been reading your columns on LJ because, well, I generally disagree with a lot of Republican ideology stuff--which isn't to say I hate it, or even think it's wrong, I just disagree. Hubby is a Republican, and our conversations about politics are always very interesting because we have a fundamental disagreement about the way some things work! But, I digress. I have missed your writing because it's always clever and referential without being offensive, and I enjoyed this for more than just the concept itself ;)

Though, I will say, I've actually lived as a socialist, and Obama? Not so much. And I'm not just saying that out of blind defense--I honestly truly lived in a commune where all our earned money went into the bank and everyone got the same amount in a stipend every month, no matter how much or how little we personally brought in paychecks. We shared houses, cars, and many other things, and when someone wanted to get higher education as an adult, for example, it was a decision everyone made, because we were all paying for that person's education. Of course, I was a teenager at the time, and there were some awful interpersonal things that ruined it in my point of view, but, yeah. Just had to toss in those few cents! Hope you don't mind.
Nov. 3rd, 2008 06:18 am (UTC)
Well, if anyone would know you would! What you're speaking of is certainly a true form of communism the way it was meant to be, while (I believe) Obama and his handlers are heading more toward the kind of socialism we saw in Russia and China -- where everyone's equal, but some are more equal than others. ("We all must share equally -- I'll be in charge of defining equal.") Although I love the idea in theory, it seems to me that in real life it's very, very difficult for even a small group to do what you did without it devolving into a power struggle. Of course, in small groups you could simply throw out people who are capable of doing their part, but get lazy.

My gut feeling is that Obama's a lot more left than he's let on in the last year, although in truth we haven't seen him in action enough to be absolutely sure on that. In any case, our system tends to moderate politicians by nature.

So you and your hubby are Carville and Matalin, huh? :-) I'll bet those conversations are very interesting, indeed!
I used to read everything that anyone on my flist wrote, even though the majority are liberals, so I could get as much info as possible. At first I'd respond, then I realized absolutely no minds were being changed and it was pointless to take a chance on hard feelings. About a week ago I did what you're doing, and stopped reading the political stuff written by my liberal friends; it just raised my blood pressure and made me want to "correct" them, which would have caused pointless arguments because everyone's minds are made up. I mean, what's the point? Just the same, I kept writing the stuff myself because I figured if I could get through to just one person ... :-)

Anyway, you won't find too many more of my columns being strictly political, unless something happens that really sets me off. I much prefer just going for the funny.
Nov. 2nd, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
It really is the best election ever, yes? Estimates of 130 million people voting - 25 million more than ever before. I've covered politics for a long time and never seen anything like this.

Not too shabby for a democracy. And I agree, whoever wins, get behind em and work to fix things.... We have the choice between two principled candidates who will work towards compromise.

Red or Blue - we all want the same thing - a good life for our children and a reasonable expectation of happiness.
Nov. 3rd, 2008 06:21 am (UTC)
Yep, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There are always some who are out for power, but most of us just want to get along and leave a better place than the one we entered.
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