Democrats are in my blood, but I have become a statistic: another turncoat rejecting Obama in favour of the McCain-Palin ticket.
I have become a traitor in my old age. All my friends predicted it – said it was inevitable – and that it would in fact be a sign of responsible maturity. No, I insisted, I would be true to my ideals to the end: I would always vote Democrat for president. Democrats are in my blood, I insisted proudly; generations of my ancestors have voted Democrat since they arrived on US soil.
How could I ever vote Republican? And yet it seems I have become a statistic in this election: another turncoat rejecting Obama in favour of the McCain-Palin ticket; yet another white woman flocking to Palin with an 11-point margin over Obama in my demographic.
It’s shocking, really, as I am a made-to-order Obamaite: an intellectually elitist liberal from New York City with an Ivy League doctorate, I am not immune to either the occasional latte or strenuous bouts in the gym. I have campaigned for Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and UNICEF, worked to help Latin American defendants with few rights and even less English, and have even marched on city hall to keep abortion legal: I am Obama’s ideological sister. And yet, I simply cannot stomach him. I am sure there is an explanation for this beyond mere self-loathing.
I think it started last March when I interviewed his then-foreign policy advisor Samantha Power for Diplomat. It was the day before the infamous ‘monster’ comment that forced her resignation and the day after she had been up all night watching the returns of the mini-Super Tuesday. Perhaps she was tired (she arrived late with hair wet from the shower and guzzling coffee), but I found her surprisingly ignorant, considering her much-vaunted celebrity status.
Her foreign policy analysis was basically vague platitudes about dignity and quotations from her new book she was pushing: a biography of UN überdiplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello. Her first, Pulitzer Prize-winning, book, A Problem from Hell, was an expansion of a school paper. She and Obama seemed well-suited to each other: both under-qualified celebrities preaching vague change to the world order.
McCain is rapidly overtaking Obama, despite the most favourable conditions in a generation for a Democrat to take back the White House: an extremely unpopular Republican president, an equally unpopular war, a crashing economy and the most charismatic political speaker since the 1960s. How could the Democrats’ Wunderkind lose?
One factor no one has discussed is that the Obama-Biden ticket is eerily familiar. Bush II also ran as an under-qualified neophyte preaching a new world order with a well-qualified v-p and an equally clever Cabinet that would surely advise him well. Well, we know how well that worked out for Bush.
And so far Obama has displayed a serious lack of judgment in his advisors, who are mostly celebrities who think it is a good idea to borrow a Styrofoam Hollywood set for his convention speech (in a stadium, followed by fireworks, like a Rolling Stones concert) or even a custom-made mock presidential seal or to flit around Europe and the Middle East pretending to be Dr. King or JFK or whomever else he wants to be that day.
At least McCain is himself clever and qualified to be president (imagine that!) and relies on his v-p and Cabinet to be in touch with alternate points of view to his. His running mate alone brings the needs of working women, the disabled, blue-collar workers, and the Inuit to the ticket. What could be better-rounded?
And yes, there is also some truth that pissed-off Hillaryites (like me) see in Palin their chance to put a woman in the White House, especially since they think Hillary was treated so unfairly by the Obama camp. But it is also true that these same Hillaryites, and even those who never really liked Hillary that much, have been galvanized by the meanness and elitism of the liberal criticisms of Palin. As Peggy Noonan wrote, it has “reminded the entire country, for the first time in a decade, what it is they don’t like about the Left.”
There is another factor that has not hitherto been accounted for: that magical mystical ghost of Bill Clinton that hovers over both camps. It’s a sad comment on Obama’s political demise that he now has to seek advice from the husband of the woman he slated so badly and fought so bitterly, whom he tried to bully his party to keep her name off the convention nomination ballots, as was her well-earned right. (I never did like a bully.) Bill is trying to coach Obama to connect with the working class and get them to feel he cares.
Yet Palin has no such difficulty: she channels this Clintonian strength, much to my personal delight. While the Obama camp possibly regrets its choice to keep Hillary off the ticket, Palin praises her “determination and grit,” not-so-subliminally signalling that she herself shares these qualities.
Even Palin’s defeated political rival for the governorship, Andrew Halcro, says: “She has a fabulous stage presence and an uncanny way of connecting with people and making them feel like she has their best interests at heart.” Sound like any former president you know?
Obama is not as innovative as he pretends to be. A grossly under-qualified Machiavellian wolf in sheep’s clothing, he has relied on spun bedtime stories and bullying tactics to get him what he thinks is his entitlement. No, thanks; I’m voting for McCain and Palin: one will bring a lifetime of experience and the other will bring that Clinton magic back to Camelot. And I can remain an unrepentant liberal.