Saturday, August 30, 2008

Obama seemed unbeatable. And then . . .

I watched Obama's acceptance speech Thursday night--something I hadn't even really planned to do. But I was driving home from somewhere just before he began to speak, and I happened to be listening to NPR, something else I haven't done in months. Somehow, the excitement of the reportage got me thinking, "I really honest to listen to what the man has to say."

Based on everything I have heard or read about Obama, I am really not interested in him becoming our president. And, honestly, nor am I excited about McCain. I would prefer a true, limited-government libertarian (either big or little "L" libertarian!) in office. After eight years of a borrow-and-spend, unlimited-government Republican as president, I'm really not interested in four or more years of either more borrowing-and-spending or taxing-and-spending unlimited-government politicians in office. But I doubt my preferences are going to make much difference this election cycle!

Anyway, I listened to Obama and was impressed. (I've never heard him speak before.)

I was impressed not in terms of wanting to see him become our president, but in terms of his message. I thought, "McCain is sunk. A message of 'hope' and 'change,' even if it is empty, will tend to pull the heartstrings more than any stick-in-the-mud, reactionary, negative message of 'We can't afford it,' 'You're a socialist,' or, 'You're so naïve.'"

Beyond the appeal of the dreamy message itself ("Imagine"!), and Obama's incredibly smooth and apparently heart-felt delivery, I was astonished (though I probably ought not to have been!) at how many young people, and "people of color" there were at Invesco Field. And that the stadium was so full! And how do you get 75,000 people all to cheer so wildly at one time for a speech . . . especially when the man who is speaking makes such unbelievable claims about all "he" is going to do: how "he" is going to change the tax code, and "he" is going to make health insurance affordable for everyone, and "he" is going to transform America.

Oh, yes, and he is going to go through the budget, line by line, and locate billions of dollars to fund all of his favorite projects.

[I don't think so! Not when, as I noted a few weeks ago, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Richard W. Fisher, is able to say,
[A]ll we would have to do to fully fund our nation’s entitlement programs would be to cut discretionary spending by 97 percent . . . discretionary spending [that] includes defense and national security, education, the environment and many other areas, not just those controversial earmarks that make the evening news. All of them would have to be cut--almost eliminated, really--to tackle [the] problem [of unfunded federal government obligations] through discretionary spending. . . .

[J]ust to drive an important point home, these spending cuts or tax increases would need to be made immediately and maintained in perpetuity to solve the entitlement deficit problem. Discretionary spending would have to be reduced by 97 percent not only for our generation, but for our children and their children and every generation of children to come. And similarly on the taxation side, income tax revenue would have to rise 68 percent and remain that high forever. . . .

[Of course, whether Obama is blowing smoke or not, I wish another recent president would have shown even a glimmer of gumption to go gone through the budget line by line and cut out the fat . . . instead of increasing so many line items beyond what his political opponents had even dared to ask for!]

Oh. And the last incredible line about how "This [my candidacy] has never been about me. It's always been about you."

Right. (Not!)

But the line went down well.


So, even though I don't believe a word Obama said about what he "will" accomplish, I sensed McCain was sunk.

And then yesterday. McCain picks Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska.


[Strange: I remember having heard of her--i.e., having read of her--somewhere just a few weeks ago, in an article in some magazine we get. Just can't remember which one.


Suddenly, I thought, maybe McCain can pull this off. Having as his running mate a woman, a relatively young woman (younger than Obama!?!), mother of five, staunchly pro-life, a gun-toting hunter and outdoorsperson . . . : it sure could change the dynamics of the campaign.

Now, suddenly, I sensed, people won't be talking about Obama; they'll have to talk about Palin. And the energy and dynamism of Obama's campaign compared to McCain's: it suddenly disappears.

We're still not talking about a whole lot of substantive issues. (I phrase it that way only because I see one [very] substantive issue being addressed directly: the issue of human life. But other than that--yes, extremely important, but still "only" one among many!-- . . . Other than that, what I've just talked about is wholly personality-driven.)

Oh. But it does remind me: I was struck by Obama's comment. Something about how, "No matter where we stand on the matter of when life begins, we can all agree that there should be fewer unwanted children."


But there is a big--huge--difference in how we might achieve that end.

Will there be "fewer unwanted children" because we killed the ones whose biological parents don't want them? Or will there be "fewer unwanted children" because there has been some (God-given) change of heart on the part of parents so that the children who were, at one time, unwanted, become wanted? Do we have a government that, by policy, seems to urge citizens to give in to their basest desires . . . or do we have a government that urges citizens to buck up and rise, if not to their highest moral plane, at least to a minimally non-destructive position?
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