Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

NRO's Victor Davis Hanson on Campaign Casualties

You may have noticed, dear reader, that I have largely sworn off political commentary around here in recent months. I have become more and more disillusioned as genuine people of vision and conscience on both sides of the aisle have dropped out of the Presidential race in favor of a trio of political opportunists, none of whom I can vote for and look at myself in the mirror the next morning.

I have my problems with Hillary Clinton and John McCain, but the one thing I can't keep down is this: Barack Obama has said things about race and class in recent months that I find find infinitely more ignorant and offensive than anything Don Imus has said, and the only thing that disturbs me more than the potential of an Obama presidency is the fact that so much of America seems to want it, or to believe they do.

I realize that very few of this blog's readers are likely to peruse the National Review Online. But Victor Davis Hanson's column today is just brilliant, and I'm going to link to it and reprint it here. Hanson expresses my despair better than I could.

I'm not sure I really want to launch into a discussion of this nonsense as much as I just want an expression of why I don't want to launch into a discussion of this nonsense.

Casualties of the Campaign
Unfortunately, none of our nation's looming crises are among them.
By Victor Davis Hanson
April 17, 2008

It is only four months into 2008, but the presidential campaign — already too long and nasty — is still a long way from over. And the casualties are mounting.

First, George W. Bush’s popularity remains dismal — even though some of the complaints about his first term have gone by the wayside. The French and German governments are now staunchly pro-American. Violence in Iraq is still way down from a year ago. America has been free from a terrorist attack since 9/11.

No matter. Nothing has seemed to help the president. His approval rating stays at, or sinks below, 30 percent.

Why? The current gloomy economic news and the continuing human and financial costs of Afghanistan and Iraq explain a lot. But another reason is this present election cycle. For the first time in nearly six decades, no incumbent president or vice president is daily hammering back in defense of the recent four years.

We expect Democratic opponents Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to trash an incumbent Republican president. But Republican nominee John McCain seldom endorses anything about the two Bush terms.

Again, the last time America witnessed anything similar was when Harry Truman left office with a 22-percent approval rating — under furious attack by Republican candidate Dwight Eisenhower and yet shunned by his own party’s nominee, the maverick Adlai Stevenson, who had not been part of the Truman administration.

If the current president hasn’t been helped by the present campaign, look what’s it’s done to his predecessor. The Clinton legacy is wrecked. Left-wing bloggers, liberal columnists, and some Democratic politicians now despise Bill and Hillary Clinton — even more than did “the vast right-wing conspiracy” of the 1990s.

A furious Hillary keeps charging the media with the same sort of bias that the Republicans used to routinely claim always favored her husband. Apparently the Left has become infatuated with Barack Obama and does not want another eight years of the once-iconic Clintons — especially after their use of the race card, the hardball politics, and Hillary’s chronic exaggeration and misstatements.

Globetrotting Bill Clinton spent seven years crafting a legacy as a post-partisan senior statesman. Now he’s thrown that away by devolving into a political henchman assigned to take down the Democratic Party’s first serious African-American candidate.

Whatever the final result of the 2008 campaign, the image of an above-the-fray Bill is no more — shattered somewhere between the disclosure of the $109 million Clinton tax returns and his finger-shaking lectures to the press about its supposed unfairness to his wife. Democrats once were enchanted that their party might usher in the nation’s first woman president. Now many of them fear Hillary is a bothersome obstacle in the way of an even more hip and novel breakthrough candidate.

Racial relations also soured from the campaign. Obama promised to be our post-racial healer. But so far, even if it weren’t his intent, he is proving the most racially contentious candidate in recent American history.

African-Americans still line up behind Obama, even as whites keep voting in large majorities for Clinton.

The more Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, keeps sounding unhinged, the more Obama can’t quite free himself from this hateful albatross.

And when Obama talks down about middle America’s fondness for religion and guns; or suggests that small-town America is “anti-immigrant” and “clings” to “antipathy to people who aren’t like them;” or quips about the “typical white person,” he only increases racial polarization — cementing the image of someone who sees America in terms of “they,” not “us.”

The Bush and Clinton legacies, Obama’s “new” politics and race relations are all casualties of a wide-open election without incumbents. But the greatest casualty has been our inability to figure how to deal with looming crises.

So far we haven’t heard specific workable proposals from the candidates about how exactly they would solve energy dependence, soaring food prices, illegal immigration, or outdated farm subsidies.

There has been no new solution offered about the looming Social Security crack-up. Few candidates have expressed novel ideas of stopping staggering deficits or bulking up a sinking dollar — much less exactly the sacrifices necessary on all our parts to restore American financial solvency. No one has offered a better way of dealing with an ascendant but lawless China, an unhinged Iran, or the ongoing war against Islamic extremism.

In 2008, everything and everyone has fallen victim to a nasty campaign — except America’s nastiest problems.

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  • At 4/17/2008 6:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Did you vote for Bush, Andrew?

  • At 4/18/2008 8:39 AM , Blogger Andrew Hamm said...

    Anonymous, I'm a self-styled radical moderate. I've voted for Republicans and I've voted for Democrats. As far left as I lean on issues like assault weapons, education, the death penalty, and funding for the arts, I swing just as far the other way on taxes, illegal immigration, and national security. I think both sides of the aisle have valid arguments and important points to make, and I think both sides have a serious lack of real leadership and integrity.

    So I don't know what the point of answering that question is. Whomever I voted for, it was four years ago, and the world is a much different place now. I'm not interested in viewing current events and the current political climate through the lens of the 2004 election, or the 2000 fiasco, for that matter.

    Also, to be perfectly frank, I'm more than a little bit leery of answering that question of a poster who won't even sign his/her name.

    Besides, everybody knows I'm voting for Doctor Doom in November.

  • At 4/18/2008 9:24 AM , Anonymous Philip Hamm said...

    Lighten up. Learn to accept the realities of American Politics: you need to do a lot of pandering and prop up a lot of bullshit to get the office.

    Think this is new? Here's a little historical perspective: FDR promised when he campaigned in 1940 to a very isonlationist nation “Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign war.”. Hew knew full well that it was a ridiculous lie, but he also knew if he didn't say it he wouldn't get elected.

    Here's a serious news article on the matter

    Vote for the person who is going to be the best president. All three of these people are dedicated public servants and are intelligent. You'll never find a candidate who agrees with everything you like. Don't throw your vote away because you don't like the political process or because none of the candidates are perfect.

  • At 4/19/2008 9:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    It's just a question.
    Sorry I asked.

    Interesting response though...


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