Funny how "change," once derided as an empty slogan of the Obama campaign, has become a mantra for both candidates. "The last eight years haven't worked very well, have they?" says John McCain in a video at his Web site, promising "a new direction." No matter who wins, I think most Americans are ready for that.
My column this week is a collection of semi-random thoughts on the long campaign. You can read the whole thing after the jump.
A few last thoughts on the election
News & Record
Some scattered thoughts about the upcoming election:
• It will be nice to watch a ball game without being bombarded by all the political ads, although I guess the people who sell the ads may feel differently.
• When someone tells me that Obama's a socialist, I widen my eyes and ask urgently if they think he'll nationalize the banks.
• One of the smarter things I've heard on the campaign trail came from GOP gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory. Speaking last month at Greensboro's Temple Emanuel, he didn't pretend that the corrupt one-party culture in Raleigh is a function of ideology, but instead a product of "the arrogance of power," which as he noted also played out in Tom DeLay's Washington. The point is that we need clean, transparent government, which we have not had for a while, and that single-party rule is not a great formula for getting it.
• Experts argue about the importance of get-out-the-vote efforts. Having researched the ground-game strategies of the Obama and McCain campaigns, I think field organizations will make a real difference in this election, and that Obama's Internet-enabled operation gives him a big advantage. One indication is the huge -- and heavily Democratic -- turnout for early voting in North Carolina, which has been a major focus of the Obama campaign. Turnout could make the difference in a close race -- and also have a big impact on other contests on the ballot. North Carolina itself is still an uphill climb for Obama, but the fact we're discussing it in November says something about the ground game.
• The next Republican I meet who is passionate about Liddy Dole will be the first. Sure, a lot of people want her vote in the Senate, but her absenteeism from the state seems to have had real consequences in terms of personal support. And frankly, when I look at her campaign, she doesn't seem to have tried very hard there, either.
• Chris Rabb, the keynote speaker at the recent ConvergeSouth conference, asked the crowd about unintended consequences of a possible Obama victory. I thought about a Rhino Times column by Scott Yost, in which he quoted an Irving Park woman who said an Obama presidency would mean we shouldn't have to hear about racism anymore. A black president would represent a landmark in race relations, but of course it wouldn't end racism -- instead, it would complicate the discussion in some ways, including some good ones.
• Something I've heard from folks across the political spectrum: Presidential campaigns should not last for two years.
• I heard John McCain say in the final debate that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were at the core of the financial meltdown. I said to my television, "Please explain exactly what you mean by this," but he didn't answer. The fact is that Fannie and Freddie were late to the subprime party, and that while all those bad mortgages represent a big economic problem, the opaque, highly leveraged, and largely unregulated securities sitting on top of those mortgages turned that problem into a global crisis, and those securities are the product of the deregulatory regime championed by McCain. No wonder he didn't respond.
• We all have to prioritize in tough times, including governments. I see the renovation of Greensboro's dilapidated War Memorial Auditorium as a must-do, and the transportation bonds as a necessary investment in infrastructure, and the very small housing bond as a prudent choice. The sales tax increase is a sensible way of forestalling more property tax increases while supporting local schools. Sorry, Parks and Rec, but the pool bond didn't belong on the ballot this time, and I can't support you now.
• The meltdown of the conservative punditocracy has been interesting to watch. Christopher Buckley was chased from The National Review, the magazine founded by his father, for daring to endorse Obama. Kathleen Parker was pilloried for questioning the bona fides of Sarah Palin, who also failed to pass muster with Peggy Noonan, George Will and others. The Big Tent is collapsing upon itself, and the end of an ideological era is not pretty.
• Funny how "change," once derided as an empty slogan of the Obama campaign, has become a mantra for both candidates. "The last eight years haven't worked very well, have they?" says John McCain in a video at his Web site, promising "a new direction." No matter who wins, I think most Americans are ready for that.
© News & Record 2008