Monday, November 10, 2008

Post-Mortems

UPDATE: below

First, from Charles Krauthammer in Friday's Washington Post:
In the excitement and decisiveness of Barack Obama’s victory, we forget that in the first weeks of September, John McCain was actually ahead. Then Lehman collapsed, and the financial system went off a cliff.

This was not just a meltdown but a panic. For an agonizing few days, there was a collapse of faith in the entire financial system -- a run on banks, panicky money-market withdrawals, flights to safety, the impulse to hide one’s savings under a mattress.

This did not just have the obvious effect of turning people against the incumbent party, however great or tenuous its responsibility for the crisis. It had the more profound effect of making people seek shelter in government.
Agreed. Next, P.J. O'Rourke in the Weekly Standard is more depressing:
Let us bend over and kiss our ass goodbye. Our 28-year conservative opportunity to fix the moral and practical boundaries of government is gone--gone with the bear market and the Bear Stearns and the bear that's headed off to do you-know-what in the woods on our philosophy.

An entire generation has been born, grown up, and had families of its own since Ronald Reagan was elected. And where is the world we promised these children of the Conservative Age? Where is this land of freedom and responsibility, knowledge, opportunity, accomplishment, honor, truth, trust, and one boring hour each week spent in itchy clothes at church, synagogue, or mosque? It lies in ruins at our feet, as well it might, since we ourselves kicked the shining city upon a hill into dust and rubble. . .

Liberalism had been running wild in the nation since the Great Depression. At the end of the Carter administration we had it cornered in one of its dreadful low-income housing projects or smelly public parks or some such place, and we held the Taser gun in our hand, pointed it at the beast's swollen gut, and didn't pull the trigger. Liberalism wasn't zapped and rolled away on a gurney and confined somewhere until it expired from natural causes such as natural law or natural rights. . .

Government is bigger than ever. We have fattened the stalled ox and hatred therewith rather than dined on herbs where love (and the voter) is. Instead of flattening the Department of Education with a wrecking ball we let it stand as a pulpit for Bill Bennett. When--to switch metaphors yet again--such a white elephant is not discarded someone will eventually try to ride in the howdah on its back. One of our supposed own did. No Child Left Behind? What if they deserve to be left behind? What if they deserve a smack on the behind? A nationwide program to test whether kids are what? Stupid? You've got kids. Kids are stupid.
I mostly agree. Third is The Economist, which endorsed Obama, but now says "Fate dealt John McCain an impossible hand":
The state of the economy was surely Mr McCain’s biggest problem, but he was also doomed by two other factors. The first was the impossibility of appealing to both Republican activists and independent voters. Mr McCain needed both groups to win: the activists because they do the hard work in elections and the independents because self-identified Democrats outnumber self-identified Republicans by about ten points. But, as a Democracy Corps poll revealed last month, today’s Republican activists live in a different mental world from the rest of the electorate: a world in which Mrs Palin was a good choice, in which their candidate has been too mealy-mouthed in making his case, and in which the Republican Party needs to move to the right to win elections.

The second was media bias. A survey for the Pew Centre’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that, in the six weeks between the conventions and the last debate, unfavourable stories about Mr McCain outnumbered favourable ones by more than three to one. When Mr McCain tried to focus on "non-Republican" issues such as poverty, the media all but ignored him; when Mr Obama broke his pledge to restrict himself to public financing, the media tut-tutted at first, but quickly moved on. One need only imagine how the New York Times would have reacted if a Republican candidate had broken such a pledge, and then gone on to amass a war chest of $639m to his opponent’s $360m, to see how profound the bias has been.
Again, I mostly agree. Fourth is Kyle-Anne Shiver of Pajamas Media:
When the object is to win, it would seem that the most salient key to victory lies in properly gauging the true character of one’s opponent. And in this regard, it seems to me that our beloved Senator McCain -- outstanding war hero and statesman that he is -- failed to comprehend the reality on the ground regarding Barack Obama and that army of trench fighters backing his candidacy. . .

John McCain’s failure to assess the depth of his opponent’s desire for power -- power for its own sake -- was his own fatal flaw.

And the moment of truth in this campaign:
When Larry King asked John McCain less than a week before the election whether he believed Barack Obama was a socialist, McCain firmly answered, "No."

In fact, he should have said, "Verily, I do not know what Barack Obama is and neither does anyone else, except perhaps the man himself."

To which McCain might have added for extra flourish -- and perhaps hundreds of thousands of votes for himself:

"If he walks like a socialist, and quacks like a socialist, then there is very good reason to assume that he is a socialist."
For this, one needs no education, but he does need a grain of common sense. Pure common sense -- common sense not defiled by the ongoing, ubiquitous reeducation camp we euphemistically refer to as political correctness.

John McCain, in this contest of your life, your own misplaced sense of graciousness defeated you.
There's something to this. Finally, here's Bob Owens of Confederate Yankee:
My feeling about John McCain's candidacy are well known. I've never been a supporter, but simply felt he was a far better option than the man who eventually won.

Now that the campaign is over, however, some of McCain's staffers are seeking to blame others for the loss, instead of accepting defeat at the hands of an Obama campaign that was better focused, organized, and managed. . .

The[se] people need to find another line of work.

John McCain's staff--no doubt including those leaking--ran an often unfocused campaign. If they want to start casting blame at those responsible, they better find a mirror first.
I agree 100 percent.

MORE:

The Wall Street Journal's assessment of Sarah Palin:
Our advice would be that she also broaden her appeal beyond the politics of cultural division. One unfortunate campaign decision was to turn Mrs. Palin's initial response to press criticism into a consistent theme. The Governor's stump speech took on an us-versus-them cast, framing the election as a battle between the "real America" and blue-state elites. Hard as it may be to believe, New Jersey is part of America too.

This was an odd turn for Mrs. Palin, given her reputation in Alaska of taking on her own party and reaching across the aisle. Her commitment to a set of principles -- cleaning up government, taking on crony capitalism -- is what earned her 90% job approval. Her decision to jettison that appeal in favor of a base-rallying cultural pitch turned off many independents and suburbanites. Mrs. Palin will need those Americans if she wants to rebuild a party that must win in places like suburban Philadelphia, Orlando and New Hampshire to retake the White House.

As for Mrs. Palin's Republican critics, they might consider if they can afford to write off a young leader with such natural political talent. We don't see a large constellation of other GOP stars on the horizon. Mr. McCain was right to understand that his party needs a new generation of leaders who haven't grown comfortable with the perks of Washington. Especially as Democrats once again grow the Beltway, the next GOP leaders will need to make a better case for entrepreneurship and limited government. Mrs. Palin deserves a chance to see if she has the skill and work ethic to become that kind of leader.

3 comments:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

In my own post about not voting for lawyers, I am still playing out the ideas that came from your comment. (Note to others - Carl noted that lawyers are better at tearing down than building up). It was an oversimplification for brevity, but I have still found it interesting to thing about types of lawyers, types of wealth creation, and how it all interacts. I would appreciate you expanding on the idea in a post of your own.

Carl said...

Hmm. I've never thought through all the implications, but I'll ponder it. (AVI's post is here.)

Anonymous said...

The adversarial nature of law is not conducive to truth and justice prevailing. Winning and losing is what law is all about. If truth and justice happen, they are accidental by-products.