Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Embarrassment of Riches

True confession time. I admit that when I started this blog I had every intention of posting at least three times a week. And, in the beginning, I did a pretty reasonable job of it. The worry was that there would be too little worthy of comment and I would run out of material that merited derision and scorn. The exact opposite is what occurred. The reality is that there are so many incredibly ludicrous events taking place that I’ve been overwhelmed. It's the classic Sisyphean task of pushing the boulder of intellectual critique up a hill steeper than it appeared to be at the outset.

Today we find ourselves in the denouement of the primary election season. In January no one could have predicted the outcome. There have been plenty of lessons to be learned along the way; probably the greatest of which is that the media horse-race coverage that had been declaring anointed victors for more than a year in advance was wrong. Simply wrong, in both parties. One coronation collapsed quickly and one took a long and painful process.

Where is Rudy Giuliani today? You might recall that he was such a shoo-in that he didn’t even need to get involved in those essentially meaningless carnivals of Iowa and New Hampshire. I’ve long taught in class that the “first-in-the-nation” folderol is flawed and essentially unrepresentative of America. Neither IA or NH look like any significant part of this country. All white farm country, or all white retrograde colonial snobs, the demographics of neither place reflect a microcosm of America. So, Rudy learned my lessons and waited for Florida. At which time he was as stale as last week’s deli rye and re-warmed pastrami.

Then, there was the canonization of the appropriately conservative Republican candidate by the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, Dobson, et. al. There was slim hope that any of the candidates would pass the battery of litmus tests, so quickly the pundits began to point out that no one was adequate. Best hope could have been Duncan Hunter or, even better, the stentorian baritone pronouncements of Fred Thompson’s paternalistic patience. But Hunter simply didn’t raise the public awareness, and Fred’s heart wasn’t in it.

The voters spoke and lo, they choose moderation and independence. The collective wisdom somehow outdid the parochial conservative concepts and recognized the essential truism of American presidential politics that neither major party can win the race without the undeclared middle—the wishy-washy bane of both extremes, the despised moderates. McCain simply overwhelmed the various factions and possibly in the process highlighted the essential flaw inherent in a primary election that doesn’t lock the door on unaffiliated voter participation. Lesson learned.

Now, we’re seeing the final nail driven home in the witch’s coffin. The oaken stake is being hammered and the vampire might be finally defeated. Hillary is scheduled to get a lesson in addition today and by midnight will learn that there aren’t enough votes to still add to her total to get the necessary final number of delegates. Spinning, ala Gore-2000, is going on at incredible rate. The desire to obfuscate by pointing at a popular vote majority remains as meaningless today as it was seven and a half years ago. The plea to change the rules after the scores are tallied is just as disingenuous. Hillary is history as far as president is concerned.

Lessons learned?

Elections are won by votes cast, not media prediction.
Rules established prior to a game last until the game is over and a winner declared.
“Open” primaries hamper a party’s ability to choose their own candidates.
The national popular vote doesn’t determine anything except maybe American Idol.
Moderates and independents are essential to presidential electoral victory.
Women and minorities can be very competitive in national politics.
Emotion and spin are more important than issue positions.
Money and ambition don’t get easily overcome.

There are a lot more…

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