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Not There Yet

November 5th, 2008

It’s fascinating, really. There should be no question about this election, none at all. Obama ran as good a campaign as one could imagine–a strong, 50-state strategy, a positive, above-board campaign, well-funded, well-organized, as much done right as anyone could hope for, almost no missteps. McCain, on the other hand, ran a bad campaign: he lacked focus in some of his home territory, lied his ass off, called his opponent every name in the book–and unlink many past campaigns, he did so in his own name–and his campaign was not as well-funded, made terrible choices, and was peppered with gaffes and missteps.

There was not just a double-standard at work here, but a decidedly marked double-standard: had Obama performed like McCain had, it would have been a rout, McCain winning by huge margins, nobody questioning the outcome well before election day. In this race, Obama had to do everything right, but McCain could pull all kinds of crap and get away with it clean. Early in the year, McCain blatantly violated campaign finance law, and yet despite founding his reputation on campaign finance reform, the media paid no attention. McCain did the same thing on several issues–violating what he had built up as his core principles–without having to pay any penalty for it. He played the veteran war-hero image up to the hilt, but got away clean with a dismal voting record on veterans’ issues; he played up how he had been tortured, yet never paid the price in public for caving in and supporting Bush’s torture policies; he based his career on campaign finance reform, yet his campaign was run by lobbyists, and this was rarely touched on by the media. McCain flip-flopped on almost every issue imaginable, reversing his position blatantly, sometimes within weeks or months of having stated the opposite, and yet the media never called him out for it–in fact, they jumped on Obama for “shifting” his policies, even when he did no such thing. McCain supported deregulation of the financial industry, and his campaign manager was and even still is a paid lobbyist for Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae–and yet you never seemed to hear about this outside of the liberal blogs, even when McCain made loud accusations that Obama was in those institutions’ pockets because of the most tenuous of connections.

A lot of this is the tire swing effect, but a lot of it is the GOP’s success in working the refs. Too many reporters were unwilling to call out a veteran and former POW for rather blatant dishonesty and even lawbreaking. Too many otherwise-objective reporters created false equivalencies for fear of being called “liberal media,” while the conservative-leaning media–substantial in number–had no problem whatsoever being full-out McCain supporters while calling themselves objective with a smug self-assuredness.

And so forth and so on. You get the idea. Obama ended up about 10% ahead in the closing polls before election day. By all standards, there should be no doubt right now. But there is–a fairly good amount of it. I find myself nervous, uncomfortable. I know Obama is probably going to win, but I maintain this fearful, nagging doubt. There has been too strong an impact from the results of 2000 and 2004, there is too much doubt about those voting machines and the right-wing’s dirty tricks. McCain is gloating, pronouncing that he’s going to win it, and though you know it’s probably just an attempt to encourage his supporters to vote, one cannot escape the feeling that he knows something that we don’t.

All fears, all worries based upon past experience and not the actual vote from today. But there they are. This should be a landslide, there should be no question.

The fact that there is such question, that there is such doubt, not just from me but in so many people, demonstrates, I think, that there is something badly wrong with our system, that there could be any doubt that so superior a candidate as Obama could lose, or that so inept and damaged a candidate as McCain could win–especially after the last eight years, especially after this economic disaster we’re facing, especially after McCain is tied so closely to both.

Something is very wrong with the way things are.

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