Off My Feet

Don't forget to read Eli Gunn Jones's close examination of Kobe's komix habit.

Less vexed than yesterday. So much less. Maybe that's just because McCain's acceptance speech was so tepid, and so much of it obviously modeled after Obama's, that I probably didn't need the preemptive tranquilizers.

But as the curtain falls on this most demented of events, I've got a few over-arching thoughts—like, not just vitriol—worth trotting out. For one, this Republican mockery of Obama as a prophetic figure, capable of performing miracles, sent to change the world, destined to alter the course of history. . . how exactly does a party currently remaking itself in the image of one single man, and his supposedly singular AMERICAN STORY, get away with calling out Obama's cult of personality? It's not just the maverick shtick, or the P.O.W. flashbacks. The narrative's being drilled into us ad nauseum, and all of his missteps and brushes with death—not to mention dating of strippers and hanging out on the margins of the Cuban missile crisis—turn "hero" into a positively Obama-like mosaic, and nudge "service" closer and closer toward "destiny." Face it: The Republicans are dead, long live McCain. And when you put all your stock in one man, you have to elevate him, foibles and all, to something resembling the supernatural.

What's more, it's a tad improbable to hear the party of Ralph Reed take potshots at the lofty, expansive tone of the Obama campaign. The Republicans, from Reagan until about five minutes ago, were the party of religion and quasi-religious grandeur. Policy decisions were made based on prayer, and God's voice, and Revelations. Seriously people, come on. You talked about crusades, butchered "city on the hill," saw Christian civilization challenged, believed that everything happened for a divine reason. That's the kind of material that gets voters worked up, and it's sure as hell working on the progressive side of things with Obama's constant appeals to history, humanism, and, when Biden says it, "reckoning." That's the humanist version of prophecy and yeah, it does come out of the black church, the progressive tradition, and some warmed-over sixties-isms. It's human nature to be inspired by it in politics, and it's the basic mechanism of all organized religion. So why true believers, who can't go five steps without uttering the word "faith," would see Obama's use of it as empty and callow. The least they could do is be real about it and call him seductive—the Great Pretender, or the Antichrist.

P.S. Parts of that McCain speech were totally Mark Warner. The stuff Rachel described as "coming from the future where everything is great and there aren't any parties or elections."

UPDATE: Back in my mind once again.

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At 9/05/2008 2:09 AM, Blogger Graydon said...

I guess I want to go back to a comment I made far too late in the fray during the storm the followed the "that's it..." post.

Aside from the frustrations I felt during the 3rd night of the convention, walking away from the RNC I am very optimistic and for one primary reason:

They just don't have a policy leg to stand on. Even the '04 Bush campaign, as open to low-blow tactics as it was, had several substantive policy initiatives: Flat Tax, Social Security Reform, Personal Health Savings Accounts, etc...

I happen to think those are all awful ideas, but they were real policy ideas. The entire McCain campaign is completely hampered by the fact that they don't have any substantive policy proposals and if they do, they fall completely in line with the least inventive and most unappreciated parts of the Bush Agenda.

I think this is why they have harped on offshore drilling so forcefully. For some unexplainable reason, it is the only issue that the majority of the American public supports them on. So they push it as if it is a comprehensive energy plan when really it is a band-aid on what may end up being the most severe socio-economic crisis in the history of late capitalism: Our dependence on oil. Not foreign oil. Oil.

Oh ya, and McCain is a god awful speaker. The Republicans have got to be glad that is over.

At 9/05/2008 2:36 AM, Blogger philip said...

I disagree with John McCain on every possible position and I'm liberal as hell (though I live in SF so I'm middle of the road here). I get scared when I see the looks on the faces of RNC attendees.

But I still felt bad for McCain when he was talking. He kept hitting the inflections wrong on words or fucking up the pauses or stresses. It wasn't pretty to watch.

At 9/05/2008 5:03 AM, OpenID wreakjavik said...

Part of the fun in being an anarchist is that you can thumb your nose at everybody about this time of year and just yell "Fuck electoral politics!" I learned my lesson last time around, when I held my nose and voted for Kerry, even though he wasn't going to end the war in Iraq (and neither will Obama), even though he's a corporate schill, and boring as fuck... and then the asshole didn't even have the balls to step up and beat the most unpopular president in the history of, um, ever.
For the life of me, though, I just can't figure out what would make somebody vote for McCain/Palin, unless they were abused as a child and developed some severe Stockholm syndrome. Because, you'd best believe, they're gonna fuck you. And then, they're going to fuck you. And then, they're going to fuck you some more. They won't even buy you a nice dress afterward. Just a nice ruptured asshole for your troubles.

I think the reason anyone is reacting the way Shoals has -- taking this absurd collection of half-truths, flat out lies, and ugly personal attacks, and treating it like it's a serious campaign -- is because none of us actually trust the Democratic party not to piss its pants and lose all this composure and confidence that Obama's built over the last 8 months or so. If the Obama campaign filmed a YouTube video of him watching the Palin speech, and then at the end, turning to the camera and saying, "That's the fucking stupidest shit I've ever heard in my life," I guarantee you he'd win by a landslide.

At 9/05/2008 5:35 AM, Blogger r. alcatraz said...

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At 9/05/2008 5:36 AM, Blogger r. alcatraz said...

rather, this post > last post >> McCains' speech > Palin's speech.
but in a good way.

At 9/05/2008 10:10 AM, Blogger Graydon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9/05/2008 10:29 AM, Blogger FunWithLogic said...

Wreak: I think that you are forgetting that many of the people who might be receptive to such statements would not even hear the original speech/transcript. Did people ever hear the speech where Obama discussed why his Islam faith has given him the strength to run for president? Did people ever hear the powerful, well-paced, new-wave and convincing speech that the brave Palin made, amidst the rancor of a media elite ready to take her down a notch? Did people ever hear the speech where McCain defied his party's elite, broke ranks, and sought to transcend party lines by seeking to run a bipartisan campaign on ethics reform? No. Because they did not happen, but, because of the spinning, I am sure many people think that such speeches were made.

Remember the guns and drugs. "These people" are being fed processed information and you really have to be careful. This isn't the primary and crying "bullshit" when no one even knows what that is anymore is not going to get him in the White House (not that it would have worked in the primary, either). Also, the pundits and politicians will gladly go apeshit on anyone who calls their entire paradigm of half-truth a house of cards. They would go at Obama and tear him down. (That said, he could probably subtly call bullshit a little more than he has so far, but he needs to pick his battles.)

At 9/05/2008 10:31 AM, Blogger FunWithLogic said...

I mean "guns and god." Whoops!

At 9/05/2008 11:14 AM, Blogger Michael said...

Exactly, as I said in one of my comments on the That's It post: rank hypocrisy. Having it both ways. Whatever you want to call it: you can't stand up there and talk about change and ending partisan rancor after the speeches that came before, especially when it's your opponent's theme.

I have no issue with conservatism, even though I don't agree with it. That's not what we're hearing. What we're hearing is resentment, hypocrisy, and cynicism of the worst kind. McCain should be ashamed, for he has shown glimmers of rising above this in the past.

At 9/05/2008 12:24 PM, Blogger jim in austin said...

Man, I haven't seen that many old, sour, anal retentive white people in one place since the last audience pan on the Lawrence Welk Show. And I can say that because I'm an old white guy who grew up with these bastards. We DO NOT need any more of what they have to offer, believe me...

At 9/05/2008 1:26 PM, Blogger Jon Bois said...

Shoals, in this post, seems to be digging right at the sentiment that ropes me back from liberal idealism into liberal defeatism every election ("every election," honestly, meaning "the last three at the most."): that "politics" in the normal sense is not separable from "politics" in the negative connotation of the word. This is still true even if Obama wins the election. If he wins it, he'll win it closely and in spite of the pseudo-logic that is present in both parties. And when he's gone, it will still be there, because people will still vote for candidates out of appreciation for manufactured character, moral integrity, and other superficial nonsense. I don't think any Presidential campaign can ever really be a campaign of issues.

I'm not ready to jump headlong into defeatism just yet, but IOZ, who I'll quote here, isn't really helping things:

"The Democratic Convention, with all its post-Kennedy raptures about worlds safe for democracy and men on the moon and chickens in every pot was bad enough, but I dare you to watch the vicious spectacle in St. Paul, the mewling chorus of creationist morons worshipping like Spielbergian Thuggees at the alter of destruction, and contemplate that they represent a full 50% of your countrymen, who haven't even the decency to require circumspection from their empire of death, and tell me that what this nation--this world--needs is more elections."

At 9/05/2008 1:46 PM, Blogger Christopher said...

Damn. I dont neccessarily agree with IOZ about elections being bad for the world. But politics American-style definitely seem to be sinking to the lowest common demominator. Anything they do they justify with a Means-Ends argument: do whatever it takes to get elected because that has to happen before you and your party can help "fix" the country. The only thing I got out of the RNC is proof that, somehow, Republicans still aren't ashamed of themselves.

At 9/05/2008 1:56 PM, Blogger Doug said...

Glad to have FD back. Liberal asshole moments will happen I suppose - posting while in the midst of an anti Republican fury ought to be just as inexcusable as posting while inebriated or tripping.

At 9/05/2008 2:16 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

President Palin says, "Let them eat caribou."

At 9/05/2008 2:18 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Question, now, after watching the embedded video: are there people in the press asking Palin or other Republicans what's so worthy of mockery in community organizing? I haven't seen it but I don't watch a lot of TV.

If not, it seems unfortunate that an extremely mean-spirited series of attacks on Obama's job in his first years out of college would prompt questions about why the job is relevant, but not about why those attacks are considered fair or appropriate.

At 9/05/2008 2:27 PM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

BS: I am largely in agreement with you about last night, and this convention.

Also, to bring this back to roundball, this year's campaign = Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz (1997 or 1998).

Palin = Hornacek (replace cheek wiping with palm-licking) and Biden = Rodman (replace tattoos with folded handkerchief and cufflinks).

At 9/05/2008 2:52 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

That Obama video is pretty cool, but how dope would it be if he said, "This is very curious. So this is work I did 20 years ago, and if I have my chronology right, I was a community organizer when Sarah Palin was in community college. Now, let there be no confusion, I'm not dissing community college, but that's the chronology. This was 20 years ago." And then went into the rest of his spiel.

I know that's playing into the whole elites versus blue collar fake culture war, but dammit, I do not want a president who went to community college!

[Full disclosure/Hypocrite Alert: My dad went to a community college before transferring to a 4-year institution and getting his PhD.]

At 9/05/2008 3:02 PM, Blogger Charles said...

The chants of "USA" over the protesters shouts actually got me to look up ticket prices to get out of this country. I am starting to get a bit skittish with every forced march down "war vet memory lane" that somehow qualifies a man to be president.
"When things turn weird, the weird turn pro." Visions of ex-patriot romanticism are beginning to dance in my head.

P.S. to Shoals: You coming down to see Polvo in Portland?

At 9/05/2008 3:11 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Nah, I'll be at the Seattle show tonight. That'll be three times in one month, which is probably enough for me--regardless of the band.

At 9/05/2008 3:13 PM, Blogger bernard snowy said...

Chanting "U-S-A!" over the protesters was bad enough, but how completely fucked was it when they started doing the same thing while McCain was talking about how he understands that people are having a tough time keeping their jobs and paying the rent? That just blew my mind. I don't understand how the Republicans can even pay lip-service to the idea of 'change' when they're so in denial that they won't even listen to their own candidate saying that things in this country might be less than perfect at the moment.

At 9/05/2008 3:53 PM, Blogger Jon Bois said...

Yeah, it's a real bummer. In this country, it is beyond easy to spin something into something else completely untrue, and do so with a straight face, and benefit from it.


At 9/05/2008 7:50 PM, Blogger wondahbap said...

Wow. You guys are so serious. Can't you guys tell the RNC was satire?

Wasn't it?

At 9/06/2008 12:46 AM, Blogger lundym said...

If there is any hesitation amongst the American public in their decision between McCain and Obama, all that should be put to rest in a debate. Obama will likely hand McCain his ass. The Republicans may as well pull a string in McCain's back and pre-program some catch phrases.

btw, Loved that Bulls-Jazz comparison. Who is McCain? Malone? Stockton? Stockton's hard to argue with, but the warrior mentality/hair line makes Malone a strong candidate. Wait. Ostertag?

At 9/06/2008 9:13 AM, Blogger Kaifa said...

Since I'm not really that well-versed in American politics, can somebody please explain to me what the big deal is about the strong focus on experience in office? (not a rethorical question, I'd seriously like to know)

For one, are the different levels of public office really comparable? I get that some skills are transferable, but is there really that much to learn? It's not like the president has to be an expert in every little detail, that's why he has access to just about every advisor he wants to seek out. And the traits that he absolutely has to have - a reasonable approach, leadership, the ability to inspire people - are more intrinsic than learned in lower level offices, aren't they?

From afar this seems to me a little bit like the discussion about the NBA age limit. And from what I've seen, Obama has way more LeBron in him than Ndudi Ebi, and more KG than Gerald Green.

It even touches upon this site's dicussion of whether a few seasons in college would have helped Josh Smith or rather compromised him. Isn't the grind through all of the political offices a little bit like learning all the fundamentals in college but losing that essence that made you special in the first place?

At 9/06/2008 10:25 AM, Blogger wondahbap said...

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At 9/06/2008 10:28 AM, Blogger wondahbap said...


The problem is Palin's inexperience. Not Obama's.

If Obama is LeBron, then Palin would be Michael Olowokandi.

We all knew LeBron was coming years before he came, and he was every bit of what we expected. Olowokandi played at Pacific for a reason. He sucked. Except, the Clippers were the one team dumb enough, and inept enough to think they saw a #1 pick. (I didn't say Kwame, because that would then place Bush as MJ).

Point is, Obama has experience, just as LeBron was a pro before he ever entered the League. Palin as a sexy, "maverick" selection will ultimately be a tragic mistake, just like the Candy Man.


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