Saturday, August 30, 2008

Situation Normal...

Since last I posted so much has happened: The John Edwards road-not-taken turned out to have been a lover’s lane to nowhere. I suppose I should feel relieved the Dems didn’t waltz down the aisle with him (a helluva convention that would have been), but in truth the only loss was to John’s rep and future career, neither of which have any major political implications. We weren’t backing him because we thought he was a great guy, but only because his stated positions were the closest among the viable candidates to something like a sustained attack on inequality.

Still, lusty John did demonstrate something we’ve been saying all along: the point of a progressive politics is not to get a particular candidate elected but to create a movement strong enough to force whoever happens to be running for office or holding office to do the right thing. And alas we are a long ways from there.

Of course, the biggest event of late was the Beijing Phelpsiad Denver Obamafest, which despite the pre-Convention grousing that the Clintons were going to be big-time party poopers, went off without a hitch and with everyone on message.

If progressives were supporting Obama in the same way that Frederick Douglass supported the backsliding Republican party after Reconstruction—that is, as the only ship afloat in a wide empty ocean--then I might not be as distressed as I am. But the ecstatic squeals at being relegated to steerage, or let's say, towed in a leaky dinghy in the wake of the good ship Obama are truly disconcerting.

BHO’s tapping of Biden as his VP makes the point better than I can. This was a pragmatic choice designed to appeal to folks like David Brooks, who on August 22 insisted that Biden was the best choice for the country but wondered “whether Obama was wise and self-aware enough to know that.” So how did Brooks reward Obama for having made the “wise” choice? Well, by writing a snarky article about Obama’s acceptance speech. Increasingly Obama appears to be a candidate prepared to make all sorts of concessions to woo a portion of the electorate that’s never going to vote for him anyway. The rest of us will just have to hope he'll get back to our concerns once he's done what he thinks he needs to do to win the election.

Which is not to say he will or won’t beat McCain, whose choice of Sally Field Sarah Palin, doesn’t seem like much of a wild card, unless, that is, some putative Democrats get so starry-eyed around the importance of having a person from a certain background in a position of prominence that they lose all sight of substantive politics. But what are the odds of that happening twice in the same election cycle?