Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Godspeed, Dear Turtles

Reading Andrew Sullivan give reasons for his support of the Obama candidacy calls to mind watching footage of hatchling turtles struggling out of the sand and trying to make their way to the sea. Some will make it, while many will be snatched up by hungry birds:

So why do I find myself still longing for him to win?
Because, I can't see how domestic policy could become more statist and less responsible than the past eight years. Because I want to see such a record punished with electoral defeat for fear they still don't know what they did wrong. Because I think Obama's diplomatic skills and public relations brilliance could serve this country very well. And because of what Obama represents in our collective consciousness.
Here's a turtle-by-turtle account of how I see these aspirations faring in the sands of reality:
  • I can't see how domestic policy could become more statist and less responsible than the past eight years - Agreed. "It can hardly get worse no matter what we do" is hardly a ringing endorsement, but it fits.
  • I want to see such a record punished with electoral defeat for fear they still don't know what they did wrong - Fair enough, but what is the basis for the hope that they'll actually draw the correct lessons? I harbor no such illusions. Should Obama defeat McCain, I fully expect the American right to conclude that McCain lost because he didn't follow George W. Bush slavishly enough. Even if every exit poll taken shows deep voter aversion to the idea of a third Bush term, I fully expect movement conservatives to decry McCain's traitorous, defeatist capitulations to the anti-Bush hordes. I continue to wonder "is our conservatives learning?" and I continue to answer no. And I'm hardly alone in the view that really-existing conservatism is little more than a Rube Goldberg contraption designed to preserve injustice, prejudice, stupidity, tribalism, and every other bad idea imaginable.
  • I think Obama's diplomatic skills and public relations brilliance could serve this country very well - I think so too, but it must be recognized that if elected president, he will be acting in an environment in which his political opponents will be hyperaware of any and all transgressions against their preferred standard of cartoonish bellicosity attached to Yankee exceptionalism. As I think back on 2000, I often wonder how many hours would have passed between the 9/11 attacks and Gore's impeachment, had he not immediately unleashed the full nuclear arsenal on, oh, anyone at all in the vicinity of the Middle East (except Israel).
  • Because of what Obama represents in our collective consciousness - This is very much in play! One of the larger, hungrier birds circling the scene caws loudly to the effect that Obama represents a reprehensible admixture of liberal guilt, socialism, appeasement, and elitist disdain for the tee-vee audience.
Can we get those turtles to the sea? It's audacious to hope so.

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