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The International Writers Magazine : Reality Check + Readers Letters

Power to the People
Bailout Crumbles Beneath Populace Outcry & Candidates Scramble To Keep Up
James Campion

Following the most dramatic display of democracy in modern times, the electoral map has revealed a seismic shift. The American people have spoken loudly and the presidential candidates had better be listening. Congress sure listened.

You don't think so? When was the last time you witnessed a final and very public failure to pass a bill of such dire magnitude as that of the Bail Out? I can tell you, if you like? How about never. Bills that significant with that much pre-hype and unfettered grandstanding never fail that miserably when all indications were to the contrary. Illustration of this unprecedented congressional anomaly was a stock market in record freefall.

Normally congress, unless it is headed by puppet demagogues like Newt Gingrich, even at its most inept, is shrewder than this. It is regularly a body careful not to rock boats and appear as rudderless and foolhardy as it did last week. Normally votes are meticulously considered, vociferously argued and either pushed through with beating chests or abandoned outright, not changed on the fly and abjectly booted with millions of voters looking on aghast. Normally laws, as Benjamin Disraeli once mused, are like sausages; best not seen being made.

There could only be one reason for such an upchuck in spineless etiquette; the citizenry went ballistic, or as one congressional aid put it to me; "By Monday afternoon these people had the fear of God in them."
Who put it there?
Angry constituents pummeling the Capital Hill switchboard in record numbers.
Not since the pending impeachment of Richard M. Nixon had the legislative branch of this government been harassed so vehemently. It was an unprecedented free-market protest that some deemed arbitrary and naïve and others as responsibly heroic. Either way, it's ultimately what this democracy jag is all about.
Consequently, the fallout has rendered this most historic of presidential races upsidedown.

For the first time, this space is willing to concede that there is a serious chance Barack Obama could be the next president of the United States.

The Democrats are the ones handed the Golden Parachute. Let's face it; if a Southern Caucasian were running instead of an African American Liberal, it would be a faits accomplis. McCain and this bespectacled hood ornament he calls a running mate could take their ball and head home, because it would be over and done. But, sadly, this is not the case, and even one of the most ineffectual and laughably goofy campaigns in recent memories still has a fighting chance.

For two solid weeks John McCain has acted as if he'd awoken from a frenzied round of shock therapy. His every move has sabotaged his candidacy. The "suspending of my campaign" and nearly pulling out of the debate for a Here Comes The Calvary two-step backfired when house Republicans flat-out ignored he and his lame-duck president, forcing McCain to scuttle to Mississippi where he spent two agonizing hours acting like a condescending jack-ass in front of millions of debate viewers.

Ironically, it was the Arizona Senator who emerged the victor, but you'd never know it. His humorless crank show bogged down by wooden platitudes turned an extremely weak performance from his opponent into looking oddly presidential. In a weird twist of fate, this is works out better for McCain, since Obama's ability to actually formulate coherant thoughts has always been a glaring drawback to obtaining the presidency.

Speaking of which, the Palin choice for VP, a queerly devised cocktail of ballsy desperatation just a few short weeks ago, has quickly gone from intriguing freak show to complete implosion. Two fairly timid network interviews revealed the woman as a stammering dimwit. Aside from authoring some of the funniest evening news soundbites in recent memory, it caused over a dozen prominent conservative scribes to demand her immediate dismissal from the ticket.

Palin's entry into national punchline coupled with almost daily disasterous economic news, and McCain's inability to have anything close to a singular position on any of it, began to heavily tip heretofore swing states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wisconsin, and stunningly Virginia to Obama's side. Top McCain aides, against their candidate's wishes, received their week-long pleas to pull funds from Michigan completely, and within days even Ohio, for the first time since this battle was forged, had severely lessoned its Republican support.

But to the surprise of more than a few, the vice presidential debates did not bury the McCain ticket after all. Palin was not as dismally vertiginous as advertised, and at times even used her folsky populism to score points with the usual rube-voter block. Meanwhile, Joe Biden spent endless sentences displaying his wonky dance of the bland, regurgitating a mind-numbing rollout of facts and figures. Of course, Biden won the bloodless contest, as did McCain the week before, because he is better versed in the deeper details of governance. Obama, as Palin after him, has a broader appeal, both choosing to give speeches instead of answers. Throughout her overly rehearsed robotic performance, Palin completely ignored direct queries to meander aimlessly into melodrama.
    (Fill blank in with question here)
    Biden: Blah, blah 7,400, blah blah, forty-percent since 1984, blah blah, $600 million."
    Palin: Blah blah, gosh darn it, blah blah maverick, blah blah (add wink here).

Whether any of this makes a headline beyond the weekend is dubious. Soon the reformed Senate version of this massive federal government economic band-aid with its porked up millions for Puerto Rican rum and tax benefits for auto racetrack owners will head back into the House where it will surely pass this time.

And the temperature of the people will again be taken, and where that leads will inevitably decide how the last month of this election season goes.

At some point John McCain needs less more bold moves and bizarre forms of performance art or pulling distracting side-shows from his hat, and more finding of a way, any possible way, to not look like the poster boy of a stale government sitting on bad wars and a shitty economy.

And Barack Obama had better not think for one solitary minute he is still not the underdog.

© James Campion October 4th 2008

READERS RESPONSES October 10th 2008

Honestly, I don't see the ultimate math playing out old school like you anticipate.
(OBAMA IN THE UPHILL Parts I & II -- Issues: 8/6 -- 8/13) The economy is going nowhere at best between now and November, Bush has the lowest approval numbers since they have been recording such stuff, and not even the staunchest Repugnicans seem to be able to crank up so much as an stiff nipple for J-Mac. You are not hearing ANYwhere in repugni-land "MCCAIN, BABY, YEEAH!" It's more like "Uh, well, McCain, I guess..."
    I think as we spin closer to Election Day, Obama will continue to pull people in with his irresistible charisma, enthusiasm, head-bob-inspiring strategies for tackling specific issues and his undeniable, un-derailable ability to rouse, enthuse, and convert, while the angry white worm will continue to, in variety of ways, reinforce the perception that he is simply Bush 3, which is exactly right and true.
    Don't underestimate the power of the people's extreme disgust with the state of things after 8 years of abject folly, and don't take the polls to the bank. A LOT of Bush voters who don't like Obama are simply going to stay home and work on continuing to erode the threadbare shiny spots on the seats of their Barco-loungers, rather than make the pilgrimage out to the firehouse or the elementary school, stand on a long line, wait on tired feet, just to raise flaccid, non-plussed fingers to pull a cold, cold lever for a guy they really are just not that into.
    NO ONE wants 4 more years of idiocy.
    Don't equate lip service in the polls with actual voter lever-pulling.
    Obama in a landslide, you heard it here first.
-Tim Roache

I just don't get it; I don't get why some people think Obama is such a consummate orator, charismatic, standing for change. I just don't see it. I just don't get it. When I listen to him, I want to barf.  When I look at him, and I'm trying to be nice, I see ooze. He is so full of it.
    Yes, as you point out, the mere act of electing him president represents inherent change by virtue of the fact that he would be the first black (albeit half) president. But that's where any good change ends. The merit, the qualifications, the experience are all lacking. He is an empty husk with no good ideas that bode well for this country (well, if you consider far left, extreme liberal, socialist, hate America blather ideas then you might disagree with me) and I don't understand why people don't see that. Forget that this is, still, a relatively free country where people are allowed, so far, to believe in what they want and express what they want. Although, that continues to change; I heard one has to be careful in NJ now not to joke about religion in the workplace. Thanks, liberal court, for another effort to squash freedom of expression.
    So look, if race is the qualifying degree of change, then lets elect Morgan Freeman as the democratic candidate.
Elizabeth Vengen Esq.

What makes Obama different (enough) is everything, and that will, I
hope, include the way momentum travels. Even Dylan "endorsed" him. Oh, the times they are a changin'! This will be the first time I've voted for a president in 20 years and only the second time ever. My vote is for my son, no one should be allowed to talk down to our very smart 11 year olds ever again as McCain does, as if a lecture straight out of "Leave It To Beaver". No son, we weren't really in black and white back then, that was just TV. Color hadn't been invented. But it's here now!
Laura @ Motif

Your post of "Obama in the Uphill II" is some very accurate work. It is about the numbers! "Everybody knows the dice is loaded.  Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed." - Leonard Cohen
Mack in South Carolina

You state that "Ohio, the most economically devastated state in 2004, loudly resounded that it would rather collectively starve than vote for any pansy liberal," yet they keep sending Dennis Kucinich back to Congress.
~The Hesh Inc.

Whether he wins or not, I hope what comes out of this Obama business is a collective getting over of the black thing. (THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN SHILL -- Issue: 9/3/08) Do the slack-jawed troglodytes of this country really need a protracted, over-priced sham of fucking sycophants in Denver to convince them that we're all just people?! I've been "getting that" notion for years.
    I keep hearing this "It'll be so great for the black community if he wins" garbage, mostly from well-paid white liberal self-haters, one of which I'm currently dating, who love to wring their hands and feel guilty about shit they never had anything to do with. Like somehow Obama winning is going to level the playing field and automatically erase what's left of racism in this country. What the?! Yeah, they may feel better for a minute...until they realize The Man is still The Man, just a different color than we're used to.
    It doesn't take much investigating to find that Obama is just the flipside of the same old tired political wooden nickel, and that's about as close to "change" as you're ever going to get. His side likes to suck $ from the economy and funnel it into diseased financial sinkholes, the other likes to play Fear Factor by sticking our nose in other people's business at a few billion dollars a day.
    Four years from now, no matter who becomes President this November, both parties will gather again for another 4-day waste of time and money to convince the P.T. Barnum suckers of this country that the previous four years were great because of them or lousy because of the other guy. And people will buy it. Scary. Maybe that's because the two things you can do in this country without having to prove you're not a complete fucking idiot is have a kid and vote.
Ken Eustace

You are correct in your analysis that the McCain campaign needed to shake things up after Obama's great speech in Mile High (HURRICANE PALIN STEALS THUNDER FROM RNC -- Issue:9/10/08) But speaking as a conservative who has been TOTALLY uninspired throughout the McCain nomination, I am very excited at the Palin selection. I loved watching Olbermann & Matthews squirm after her speech was over. They definitely fear her. She has the ability to re-define who today's 'women ' are (not Gloria Steinem's definition) proud mother grounded in values, walks the walk on her pro-life stance (electing to go forth with the birth of her down syndrome son) -- very tough and yet feminine. Yes, she's a little hokey...but this will play well in Punxatawney, PA and other parts of the Mid America battleground.
    I have been saying that McCain was doomed for a very long time now, but this may come down to the wire after all -- strictly based on their VP choices. Biden was the VP choice of only 6% of the Democratic delegates prior to the convention and brings very little to the table, and he simply re-affirms how left of center this ticket truly on.
Donald Brown

James, James, Jamsie James James!
Don't be a hater - you really need to get your facts together! Regarding the section of your "piece" where you say Governor Sarah Palin is "embroiled in an ongoing investigation on the firing of an in-law". Try reading the editorial in Investor's Business Daily dated 9/3/08 entitled "About That Trooper" for the real story. As far as her "weird connections to the Alaskan Independence party which continuously proposes the secession of the state", this is also more garbage spewed out in an attempt to smear Sarah Palin. Oh, and as for her "knocked up" teenage daughter--- remember, if Obama's momma didn't get "knocked up", we wouldn't be having this discussion now, would we?
L. Geller

Welcome to the People's Republic of America
James Campion
Presiding Over The Ashes Of Free-Market Capitalism In The Age Of Avarice
It became frighteningly apparent these past weeks the gang running for high office knows even less about this than you

The Total Eclipse of McCain
Palin Into Driver's Seat
James Campion
There is no point ignoring it any longer; John McCain's brief stint as the focal point of the Republican ticket for president of the United States is over. Sarah Palin is in charge now. The polls, the press, the people, and the opposition party's obsession with confronting her at every turn have spoken; it is all Palin all the time. McCain is simply in the way now.
Hurricane Palin Overshadows McCain
James Cameron
In one fell swoop the McCain camp galvanized a flaccid base, challenged the gender/generational voting gap, and put some historical wow into a comatose candidate fronting a damaged brand.
Rocky Mountain Shill
Democrats Make Mile High Noise and History - James Campion
There are only two aims of achieving success at a major party's national convention; define/redefine the candidate while skewering his opponent and bridging any chasms widened by primary overzealousness, power positioning, and/or the expected special interest harangues.

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