The division of sports and leisure is in charge of Roxie’s World this evening, on account of the non-Lady Terps are down in Durham squaring off against the evil empire of Duke. The political team has taken the night off to lick its wounds following last night’s resounding defeat of Hillary Clinton in the Crab Cake primaries and to reassess our official position on the issue of electability. That position has been colorfully yet clearly articulated by Moose, who for months has maintained that Democrats could nominate “poop on toast” and win the presidency this year, given the unappealing field of Republican candidates and the spectacularly failed presidency of George W. Bush.
This morning, though, the moms woke up to a cold, ugly rain and the sound of a triumphant John McCain launching the peroration of his victory speech last night in Virginia – and the opening of his attack against the man many now assume he will face in the fall:
I do not seek the presidency on the presumption that I am blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save my country in its hour of need. I seek the presidency with the humility of a man who cannot forget that my country saved me.“Holy crap,” Moose muttered, “turn off the radio. There goes the election.”
“No kidding,” Goose replied. “You just can’t beat such gorgeously balanced sentences, such elegant use of antithesis – ‘I do not seek the presidency on X. I seek the presidency on Y.’ That is poetry.”
I swear, Goose is almost as weird as Moose is sometimes.
“Yeah, but it’s also a withering attack on Obama’s sole claim to the office – his personal magnetism, his followers’ belief in his salvific powers. If McCain can effectively re-frame those appeals as signs of arrogance, vanity, or a young man’s belief that ‘all glory [is] self-glory,’ as he says earlier in the speech, well, that’s just devastating to Obama’s cause. McCain doesn’t have to bother pointing out that Lyndon Johnson’s support was crucial to the success of the civil rights movement. All he has to do is talk about the brotherhood of war, which he also does earlier in the speech, to prove that he understands interdependency and the nobility of fighting for a cause greater than oneself. He’ll never let someone label him a racist for saying that either.”
“No one will even try. That’s the kind of weasely move Democrats only pull on one another. You know what this whole Obama cult of personality thing has got me thinking about?”
“The opening song from Jesus Christ Superstar, where Judas tells Jesus how dangerous this whole messiah thing has gotten to be. He accuses Jesus of succumbing to all the hype about him.”
“Oh, yeah,” and then Moose started to sing,
You’ve started to believeAnd then Goose chimed in,
The things they say of you
You really do believe
This talk of God is true
And all the good you’ve doneAnd then they both started to laugh. I covered my ears with my paws. It's so embarrassing when they go all 70s on me.
Will soon get swept away
You’ve begun to matter more
Than the things you say
“But seriously,” Moose said, “you know what this debacle has me thinking about?”
“The iPhone. Obama doesn’t represent a new kind of politics. He represents the triumph of branding in politics. He’s positioned himself as the iPhone in this race, while somehow Clinton has been turned into the political equivalent of your grandmother’s rotary dial phone. The problem with that strategy is that voters-as-consumers or voters-as-fans are likely to be fickle. They may move on to a new product by fall.”
“But do you think McCain is a product they’ll be interested in buying?”
“Hey, Republicans are nothing if not marketing geniuses. They sold enough people on Shrub to get him into the White House for two terms. McCain’s speech last night unnerves me because it suggests a brilliant line of attack against all of Obama's pretty rhetoric.”
“But isn’t it just another version of Clinton’s experience argument?”
“Basically, but he’s a guy, a war hero. He doesn’t have to prove his commander-in-chief credentials, which is a big part of what Clinton’s experience argument was aimed at doing. McCain can make a contest between him and Obama all about who’s the manliest man, and the old white former prisoner of war is going to win that contest every time. All he has to do is stand there stiff as a board, make a couple of well-timed references to ‘Nam, and suddenly voters remember that grandma’s old rotary phone never dropped a call and didn’t shatter into pieces when it got dropped. Obama looks like a self-involved pretty boy, a puff of smoke. Faced with the two of them, voters realize they don’t want to be cool; they want to be safe.”
“A pretty boy? So McCain can use a subtle combination of racism, ageism, and effemiphobia to beat Obama, where Clinton’s age and experience are held against her?”
“Sure, honey. That, it turns out, may be how you beat the bitch -- and the black guy. C’mon. Let’s go downstairs and have some coffee. It’s time to face the day.”
(For a round-up of commentary on the Obama Messiah Watch, see this from our blog pal Jon Swift.) And if you, too, can still recall all the lyrics to Jesus Christ Superstar, even if you can't remember what you had for breakfast this morning, then click on this vid. Just close your office door first. Please.