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We Enter the Home Stretch

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As I write, there are a mere twenty-seven days to go until the American people decide who they wish to see as their next president. Normally, about half the population doesn’t even bother to vote. For many, voting is irrelevant: “What difference does it make who is elected? Why waste my time?”

My own guess is that because of the unprecedented historical circumstances – the racial factor – the voter turnout will be a good bit larger this November 4; perhaps close to sixty percent. Some normally non-voters will vote simply to vote against Obama because he is black, but many more will vote for him because they see in him a change from what is typical American politics. A larger turnout should work in Obama’s favor.

Lots of things can happen in the next four weeks to change the campaign’s dynamics. In an American presidential election there is always the possibility of an “October Surprise”. They’ve happened before and they could happen again. A conspiracy-minded colleague of mine thinks the Republicans will announce in the next week or so they have captured and killed Osama bin Laden, an event that would swing the voters toward McCain. We’ll have to wait on that.

There is still one more presidential debate and that could change things as well. However, McCain doesn’t seem to have helped himself in the second debate this past Tuesday. In fact, he probably fell further behind. Most of the pundits, as well as the post-debate polls, gave the nod to Obama. The constant McCain attacks were fended off and Obama got in a few punches of his own. McCain may have seriously blundered when he once referred to his opponent as “that one.” Obama, on the other hand, appeared cool, collected, courteous and presidential. And since campaigns like this are far more about image than they are about issues, appearing presidential can make all the difference.

As I have suggested before, the sun simply shines on Barack Obama. Everything he touches turns to gold. The McCain-Palin duo seemed to be gaining significant traction in the aftermath of the Republican Convention. However, that first blush blew off the Palin rose. In several interviews, she has appeared absolutely clueless with regard to domestic or international affairs – or anything else, for that matter.. She mostly refuses to address the subject at hand and, instead, wanders off into flights of political babble in which nouns, verbs, adjectives and prepositions seems to tumble in profusion in no discernible pattern. Her speaking style often makes her sound like an utter moron which, of course, challenges McCain’s judgment for having chosen her in the first place.

Simultaneously, although it should have been anticipated many, many months (years?) ago, came the recent crisis of global capitalism of which I wrote last week. As of this writing, even though the so-called “bailout” legislation has finally been passed by the US Congress, global stock prices continue to plummet, “wealth” simply evaporates over the period of an hour or so and financial institutions around the world need to be “rescued” by various governments. A global panic seems to have set in as traders in New York, London, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Hong Kong, with their herd mentality, are shedding stocks as quickly as they can. Some are mentioning the unmentionable; i.e., that the current crisis is the worst since the Great Depression of eighty years ago.

While this crisis may be bad for many of us, it was manna from heaven for Obama’s presidential quest. Every time Obama needs a break, it seems to happen. Obama began pounding McCain with regard to the economy and his polling points went up. McCain’s erratic behavior and decision making over the last two weeks has hardly improved his standing.

McCain is seen to have an advantage with regard to foreign affairs while Obama’s expertise is seen in addressing domestic economic problems; in bringing change to the way Washington does things. With the economy at the forefront of voter thinking, Obama, according to the latest polling data, has surged into a significant lead.  The average of all the various polls currently has Obama at 50%, to McCain's 43%.

More importantly, Obama is leading in the so-called swing states, and even some that have heretofore been deemed “safe Republican”. The American Electoral College is a complicated process that is not understood even by most Americans. I will try to explain how it works in a future column.

Suffice to say, there are 538 votes in the Electoral Collage and, in order to win, a candidate needs a simple majority: 270 votes. Some states are deemed to be “safe Republican” and others as “safe Democratic”. Other states lean to one party or the other. A final category is a group of states labeled "tossup,” which could go in either direction. It is the states labeled tossup that are the target of intense campaigning. In recent days, Obama has jumped ahead in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio. He has also gone slightly ahead in formerly Republican states such as Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. At the last count, if the election were held today, Obama would get 296 electoral votes and McCain 163. 79 are tossup. This would be enough for an Obama victory.

These numbers have obviously caused a panic in the McCain camp, the consequence of which has been an all out attack on Obama’s character. McCain would appear to have concluded that he cannot beat Obama on the issues; therefore, the only alternative is to go completely negative, throwing mud all over the place and hope enough of it sticks.

The Republicans seem on the verge of panic as McCain’s poll numbers sink rapidly. As they get more and more desperate, they will use increasingly desperate tactics. Palin was running around the country last week claiming that Obama was “palling around” with terrorists. Bill Ayers is a professor at the University of Illinois and lives in the same Chicago neighborhood as Obama. Forty years ago Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dorhn were founding members of the Weather Underground, a leftist group that blew up several buildings in protest against the Vietnam War. Obama was eight years old at the time. Ayers and Dohrn hosted a small fund raising party for Obama a decade ago when he was running for Illinois state senator. They also served together on several foundation boards dealing with educational issues in Chicago.

Then, of course, there is the appeal to subliminal racism. Palin suggested several times last week that Obama not an American like “we are”, that he doesn’t have “our values”, that somehow he was not a real American and, therefore, should be rejected by the American voter. As I’ve suggested before, the Republicans are the experts at sleaze and fear campaigns. The more desperate they get, the nastier and more vicious the attacks on Obama will become.

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About Bill Hansen

  • Election alert! Where’ve you been the October surprise is upon us. Isn’t a stock market 1929-like crash freakin surprise enough?

    I just posted this to my blog:

    It’s unofficially official voiced by the best bloggers and yours truly–that not only will Barack Obama become the first black president but that he will do it in FDR-style 2nd-term landslide.

    I jokingly called his potential win months ago a “mudslide” win; but it seems that it will be both: a mudslide followed by a landslide.

    Daily Kos naturally is also taking the lead in stating the obvious: Obama will win. The funny thing is that MSM wants what I call “inventory control.” They don’t want to let the “black” cat out of the bag because that would then make them both superstitious and superfulous of sorts.

    I’ve already found the title for my political book, heard it on a show I was watching.


  • jamminsue

    Bill: “The only alternative is to go completely negative, throwing mud all over the place and hope enough of it sticks.”

    Thank goodness McCain realized what he was doing and moderated his attack on Obama. This shows McCain does care about this country (something I was beginning to doubt). I am still not a McCain supporter, but he certainly deserves notice for paying attention.

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    McCain may have tried to moderate his attack but Palin won’t quit and the supporters aren’t buying it. They are revved up and rarin’ to go. They are pissed off and ready to fight. I fear violence and if it happens it will be on McCain’s head. He lost control of his campaign long ago and he can’t get it back at this point by trying to make nice.

  • Heloise

    Smashing news: Chris Buckley FOR Obama! Unbelievable.

    From The Daily Beast Web site:

    “The son of William F. Buckley has decided—shock!—to vote for a Democrat.

    Let me be the latest conservative/libertarian/whatever to leap onto the Barack Obama bandwagon. It’s a good thing my dear old mum and pup are no longer alive. They’d cut off my allowance.

    Or would they? But let’s get that part out of the way. The only reason my vote would be of any interest to anyone is that my last name happens to be Buckley—a name I inherited. So in the event anyone notices or cares, the headline will be: “William F. Buckley’s Son Says He Is Pro-Obama.” I know, I know: It lacks the throw-weight of “Ron Reagan Jr. to Address Democratic Convention,” but it’ll have to do.

    Dear Pup once said to me, “You know, I’ve spent my entire life time separating the Right from the kooks.”

    I am—drum roll, please, cue trumpets—making this announcement in the cyberpages of The Daily Beast (what joy to be writing for a publication so named!) rather than in the pages of National Review, where I write the back-page column. For a reason: My colleague, the superb and very dishy Kathleen Parker, recently wrote in National Review Online a column stating what John Cleese as Basil Fawlty would call “the bleeding obvious”: namely, that Sarah Palin is an embarrassment, and a dangerous one at that. She’s not exactly alone. New York Times columnist David Brooks, who began his career at NR, just called Governor Palin “a cancer on the Republican Party.”

    Sean and Rush may have cost McClone the race with their hate baiting and fear mongering. What a way to go guys–we love ya for that.


    PS: The National Review is that conservative rant rag.

  • Smashing news: Chris Buckley FOR Obama! Unbelievable.

    Couple of days late there, Heloise.

    A true confirmation that Chris Buckley is a buffoon.

    The idiocy of the article pretty much speaks for itself.


  • Gawp. I just went back and read this over-the-top lovesong to Obama.

    Is there no outrage which people will not ignore when they look at Obama? It’s inexplicable.

    I believe in civility and politics and all that, but I’m starting to think we ought to have some sort of IQ test before people are allowed to vote.

    That so many could be suckered by Obama’s empty rhetoric and slick demeanor depresses me beyond belief.


  • Heloise

    Are you saying he was faceicious here? If he did not mean it, I mean I thought it was real. When I say things at least I say just kidding afterward. And if he meant it and it is days late, that’s early for me.


  • Clavos


  • frank burns

    There was an article in a British newspaper about spies who say that AQ is planning an “October Surprise” — apparently they don’t like how the election is going, know American psychology well, and are goint to shake things up, to get a leader installed who will give them what they want. It wold be the “best” thing for McCain, and the worst thing for the US and the world. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen.

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    Dave: YOU believe in civility?


  • Heloise

    Dave “IQ tests for voting?” you say? You did write that? Now, that’s ole school southern racial politics. Gotta have a test, an ID, and now an IQ above a certain number? Good thing you’re not in charge.

    I’ve heard all I need to know to assess your position…typical southern Texas pol.


  • Heloise

    Hmmn, everybody seems to like Heloise’s “over the top” that she used June 27, 2007 on one of her On The Lot reviews:

    “The brain surgery was over the top because it was not grounded enough in reality.”

  • zingzing

    what are you talking about, heloise?

  • zingzing

    dave: “That so many could be suckered by Obama’s empty rhetoric and slick demeanor depresses me beyond belief.”


    have you not been paying attention for the last, oh, 40 years? it’s all empty rhetoric and public image.

    it’s called politics, dave…

    sometimes, i think you’re really bothered by it all.

  • Heloise

    Ooops, looks like there’s a Sylvester Stallone movie from 1987 with the title “Over The Top” hmmm, talk about subliminal.

    Then there was the 1970’s music group “Talking Heads” that God knows I did not watch that movie nor listen to white music with all the great black music of the 1970s, but after writing that “it boiled down to six talking heads” to describe the theme of “Lions for Lambs” movie that seems to have caught fire.

    I’m just a sponge what can I say?


    PS:And what about that quasi-conservative Bill Krystal? After he gave months ago, not weeks ago, McCain the advice to go ugly, nasty etc. he is now retracting his advice. He should recuse himself from the McCain camp and from Fox News.

  • Clavos


  • dave is just jealous because people aren’t falling for his empty rhetoric and slick demeanor.

  • Heloise

    Don’t correct my post for jeez sakes. Who can be that anal? You must be white.

    I’ve spelled my own name wrong. I put the extra vowel in facecious to make sure I got them all.

    Krystal’s lucky I got that close to spelling. He’s crystal-lite actually because you can see right through his head while he’s talking and “thinking” he should change the spelling of his name, not the way Heloise spelled it.


  • zingzing

    what the hell are you talking about heloise? i’m really trying to figure it out. what’s all this “over the top,” “talking heads” stuff? near as i can figure it, you seem to have thought you invented the term “over the top” in june of 2007… until you discovered a stallone movie of the same name…

    and “talking heads”… are you saying you think you’re responsible for some sort of resurgence in the use of the term?

  • Mark, that’s because it’s all the former and none of the latter.

    zing, she uses common phrases and then thinks when people use them at a later date it’s because they are following her lead.

  • zingzing

    really? that’s what i got out of it, but i thought maybe, just maybe, it was me that was losing my grip on reality. her crazy is infectious. just reading her posts makes me feel like i have a concussion.

  • Clavos

    No, zing, actually EB only has part of the story.

    As a result of being JFK reincarnated, she’s in tune with all of history, teleporting back and forth through the centuries, all the while dropping bons mots where appropriate, and as she thinks of them.

    But, don’t take my word for it…ask her.

  • Sorry, zing, but it’s Clavos who only offers part of the story. She claims to have been JFK, but not reincarnated because they were alive on the planet at the same time. Best she explain it. Have your bong handy.

  • zingzing

    i’ve actually had the pleasure of jfk’s company on these boards before. i used to harass her about it, but it’s just pointless. that said, i had no idea about the teleporting back and forth in time thing. that does help to explain her… whatever she does…

    sometimes, she’s relatively sane, if a bit loopy. it’s a strange thing.

  • Heloise

    Exactly. I poll my idioms and words that many MSM would have no clue of using. I am a teacher, scientist and writer. I observe everything. I had not heard anyone use “talking heads” really until I used it.

    As for “thanks but no thanks” Palin said it more in one day than I’ve heard it in my life. Not saying I invented it. Sean started using it on his radio show, after I taunted him, and voila it ends up in Palin’s mouth.

    Black folks use “shout-out” a lot, and “messy” but I credit Oprah for putting “meltdown” in people’s mouth. She did not invent (comes from core meltdown in nuclear physics) it but Chicago people use that word a lot. Moms use it all the time to describe what their kids do in public. My daughter uses it all the time for that reason.

    But my secret source of writing and good words: John McWhorter’s books. He used the word “parse,” and now every darn body is “parsing” just to name one example.

    More Heloispeak extends its use to ‘parse’ ‘trump’ ‘resonate’ ‘cry foul’ ‘uptick’ ‘meme’ ‘news cycle’ ‘observer’ the list is getting longer. And the many action words employed. And the dot.com I let get away ‘politico’. Why? Because I’d been calling my group’s subtitle the “Spiritual-Politico” sometime after 2002 maybe 2004, and next thing I know (circa 2007) a bunch of folks in DC become “the Politico” that’s why I used the politikos (Greek) Yes, I made them pop.

    Don’t be a hater zing.


  • zingzing

    oh, i ain’t being a hater, heloise. far from it. you are what you is. but sorry, all those terms are, without exception, well-entrenched in the popular lexicon. “meltdown” is not oprah’s any more than “politico” was yours.

    and talking heads rock. you missed out.


    i invented the internet.