"Foul," cry progressive bloggers who convinced themselves that Obama would undertake a vast progressive agenda and see Rahm Emanuel's centrist Democratic past as an impediment to the big leftward swing and his insider status as an abandonment of the big "change" meme. "Hypocrite," screeched right-wingers attempting to throw Obama's healing message of bipartisanship back in his face by referring to Emanuel's taste for political warfare.
Both complaints miss the point.
For one, Obama does not come to the Presidency borne upon a platform of greater liberalism; he's a fairly conventional center-left politician in terms of policy. He rises on a rare combination of temperament and talent and judgment, not ideology. Many liberals admired the former and somehow intuited the latter, based upon nothing but their own hopes and dreams. Obama is a progressive, but he lives around the center. His choice of Rahmbo as chief of staff is clearly aimed not at Emanuel's own centrist political ideals, but at his ability to get things done.
And that means getting things done on Capitol Hill - and not by changing the minds of Republicans, but by keeping Democrats in line. Rahm Emanuel's job is not to turn red state reps blue, but to whip the Democrats into a tightly-disciplined tool of Obama's center-left policy. To put it bluntly, his job is put some spine in Reid and Pelosi on President Obama's behalf...
...If Rahm Emanuel has to break a few congressional heads to get it done on behalf of President Obama, well - that's the Chicago way.
Matthew Yglesias observes that the cry of "he must govern from the middle" is already going up. But these people don't know where the middle is. The government owns a majority interest in several heretofore private banks, is embroiled in foreign adventures for which it cannot pay, and, from the looks of the various referenda results, is riven with significant cultural divisions. It looks more like Lord North's Britain than what we usually think of as America. The new President is better advised to seek solutions rather than some mythical center line to toe.
Have a look at the prominent conservative thinkers who are working on a conservative "game plan", trimming like little Clintons in search of the Joe the Plumber vote that brought John McCain all the way to 163 electoral votes. They're looking for the middle because they have nothing else to do. It's a fittingly harmless occupation for people who are not going to be making policy anytime soon.
Bill Maher asked Cornell West what he thought about the socialism charges being hurled at Obama in the last days of the election...
And Cornell West answered...
For me it’s just an exciting moment to be alive when you see that kind of desperation. You see...it really is. That’s what it is. It’s the last gasp of the conservative era where the economics of greed, the culture of indifference and the politics of fear have been brought together in such a way that it hides and conceals the plight of poor people and working people.
More than likely....look, look at what they said about Martin Luther King, Jr.: He was Communist.
They probably say Jesus, Jesus loved the poor: Communist
Amos: Loved the poor, Communist
So, in that sense it’s an exciting thing to behold. But we’re in a transitional moment. The real question is...can we generate a commitment to fairness and justice in the face of greed? Can we generate compassion in the face of indifference and can we generate hope in the face of fear?
That's not me. Pshaw! I wouldn't be caught dead in front of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections without my plastic Obama/Biden hat, slacks and tennis shoes. And my Redistributionists for Obama! lapel pin.
That lady, only partially committed to the Democrat agenda, walked up and down the street, handing out propaganda to everyone waiting in line.
And she got a workout. It was a long line.
It started in the basement of that white building way, way up to the right, wound up four flights of stairs, out the front door, around the corner, all the way down the street (as you can see), then behind me, across the street and up the next block. Which was where we parked. Illegally. Cleveland is notorious for not having enough parking. Voter suppression tactics! So, we parked on a side street, crossed our fingers and got in line.
We got into the back of the line behind a beautiful African American woman named D. She was beaming. And so was the guy behind us. And so were all the people behind him. And every single person in front of us. People were excited and proud and eager to vote.
Obama's volunteers must've learned over the last few weeks that people have been a little too eager to vote. Every five minutes a new volunteer appeared to tell us to only "Fill in the bubble next to Obama's name. Do not also write it in. Because if you do, that's voting twice and your vote will not count!"
One man even tried to get a cheer going:
"C'mon, everyone! Fill in the bubble! Don't write it in!"
The cheer fell flat. People were eager to vote, not eager to cheer. I have a feeling that's going to change tomorrow night.
D told us she has a friend who works for the Board of Elections who told her everything was really organized this year. Seemed to be. Although the line was really long, it was amazing how fast it was moving.
Then again, time passes quickly when you're having fun. Twenty minutes passed very slowly Friday night after trick or treating was over. Our neighbor, Joe -- Joe the Neighbor -- came over and we stood at the door talking. He kept saying how "risky" it was to vote for Obama. I couldn't figure out what "risky" was code for, so I said, "Like we haven't learned what the consequences of risky are after the last eight years?"
And things went downhill from there.
He rolled his eyes, barked and blamed Clinton.
I popped off about Reagan.
He stomped off and went home. No Milk Duds for him!
I felt bad the next morning and thought of walking across the street to apologize. The Skimmer said, "Yeah, go over and say you're sorry. You're sorry Bush has been the worst president in the history of this country!"
As we approached the Board of Elections building, I told D the story about Joe the Neighbor. She shook her head and said, "Oooh, can't say anything negative about Ronald Reagan!"
Larry Jones, who is running for Ohio's 8th District Court of Appeals. And Adrian Fenty, the mayor of Washington, DC, running around shaking hands, just happy to be there.
After more than two hours, I was sitting in front of the petite lady who was explaining to me that I had to fill in all the bubbles, fold my ballot in half then in half again, put it in the envelope and seal it. I thanked her, took my ballot and found an empty voting booth.
I took a look at the presidential candidates' names and filled in the bubble to the left of Obama/Biden very carefully while not also writing in their names. Looked at the names McCain/Palin and was stunned for a second that that choice was actually a real one. I filled in the rest of the bubbles on the ballot, folded then folded again, sealed my envelope and walked over to drop it in the big blue box.
A lady, in her mid 50s, was taping hers closed.
"Tape yours, too, honey! Don't let them mess with your vote. Yeah, that's good. Tape the edges, too! Wrap that tape around to the front on both sides!"
I did what she said wondering to myself if Ken Blackwell had secretly enacted some Scotch tape law in 2004, then dropped my bubble-filled, sealed and taped envelope into the ballot box.
The Skimmer and I walked up the stairs and outside and stood there with a group of people for a few minutes before heading to our car that we hoped had not been towed. It was a beautiful fall day. 70 degrees, the sun was shining and this was playing on two loud speakers across the street.
One lady yelled out, "Ya'll feelin' good?!"
And finally, a cheer rang out!
Jill Miller Zimon, fellow Buckeye, of She Writes Like She Talks, was down at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on Saturday, too. Click over and watch her video coverage. And remember, she is very powerful, so be nice to her!
John McCain has spent a tremendous amount of time in Ohio, as has Sarah Palin. Rural Ohio is still Republican country, and Ohio has many more rural -- if more sparsely populated -- counties in Ohio. Joe the Plumber is also from Ohio. "American" ancestry is a bigger-than-the-median draw in Ohio, Ohio is slightly undereducated, slightly less favorable for same-sex households, and has more self-identifying Republicans than most states. There are more seniors than normal in Ohio, which also favors McCain. The evangelical base turnout was huge in Ohio in 2004, and if McCain's addition of Palin can generate huge turnout from these voters, he can perhaps take the state and overperform the polls. While we're skeptical from what we've seen that McCain's ground game is even in the ballpark of Obama's, stranger things have happened.
What Obama Has Going For Him
Ohio's economy is in shambles, and Barack Obama has hammered an economic message for months that resonates with Ohio voters. Southeast Ohio, the swing area of the state, is Joe Biden country, and when we caught up with him there he seemed in his element -- literally. Although the Ohio River valley was tough turf for Obama in the primary, some polls have put him ahead of Kerry's pace there, and increased turnout in other parts of the state could put him over the top. Unquestionably, Barack Obama's ground force is as good as it gets in Ohio, and if there is a sporadic Democratic voter in Ohio, one of that voter's neighbors has talked to him or her. In the Secretary of State's office, there's no Ken Blackwell this year, as Democrat Jennifer Brunner is in charge. The vote here will come down to the economy and ground game, and Barack Obama holds well on both of those fronts...
...In the presidential race, if John McCain doesn't win Ohio, only three of our 10,000 simulations yesterday showed him winning the election. Simply put, McCain must win Ohio or the election is done.
I was driving through the park earlier in the week when I saw a policeman on horseback at the corner. I always hit the brakes when I see a policeman. As I passed him I wondered what he'd do if I had gone flying by. Would he start galloping after me? Couldn't I outrun him? Could he keep up? Wouldn't I have more horsepower? Would it be worth the price of a speeding ticket to experience that?
I was talking to my mom on the phone a few days ago about the upcoming holidays. And she said, "Well, you know what your dad used to always say."
"If the good Lord's willin' and the creeks don't rise."
I never heard my dad say that, but I like it.
I am dividing my thoughts here by bolding the first several words. I am copying Dennis Perrin. He does that sometimes and I like it.
I went downstairs Tuesday evening and Blue Kid and his friends were watching Fantastic Planet for the 2,000th time.
"This is a stoner movie. You guys aren't fooling me."
They laughed and BK's friend, Griffin, said, "This movie is so random."
Blue Kid said, "It's not random. It's about the Soviet Union's occupation of Poland."
Griffin said, "Whatever. I don't get it."
Matt piped up, "Dude! It's a metaphor."
Kyle said, "Yeah, what do you think? Actual blue aliens came down and made people slaves?"
Griffin said, "Well, let me just say that I'm Czech, so I can say what I want. It's totally random."
Matt said, "Dude!"
I saw this monster on the path while walking in the woods on Sunday.
It tried to kill me.
I walked into the living room Wednesday night and Blue Kid was snuggled on the couch under a blanket. Reading a book.
"What are you doing?"
"Reading? A book?"
I asked him later why he was reading. A book.
"Because Taylor wanted me to."
Taylor is either BK's new girlfriend or he wants her to be.
I think I'm in love with her.
Hopefully, once the election's all over I'll stop dreaming about politics. In one, a group of us were watching a movie and Sarah Palin was there talking loudly on her cell phone so no one could hear the movie. And I thought, Figures! In the same dream George Bush was standing behind me, all despondent because he was "going to lose Toledo." And I kept thinking, Just run ads there! But don't think I'm going to do them for you. Then I shooshed him. In another dream Barack Obama and I were sitting next to each other at a counter in a diner. I was telling him about my family members who are on the fence about voting for him. I pointed to my brother-in-law who was sitting behind us in a booth near the window. Obama gave me a quarter to give to my brother-in-law so that he could play the jukebox.
Only four days 'til the election. I think Obama's gonna pull this out. That is, if the good Lord's willin' and the creeks don't rise.
With 10 days to go until election day, long brewing tension between Sarah Palin and key aides to John McCain has become so intense, it is spilling out into the public...
...“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,” said this McCain adviser, “she does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else. Also she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: divas trust only unto themselves as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom.”
Some people say Sarah Palin is clueless and stupid. I don't see it that way. I think she's driven to an incredible degree. She's got her eye on something in the future, she's got tunnel vision and she's storming full steam ahead to get it.
And I don’t see any reason why she shouldn’t see herself as the “next leader” of the Republican Party, or whatever’s left of it. I’ve said as much before. She’s the darling of the “Off with his head!” types — the race-warriors and militia guys, the clinic bombers and gay bashers, the creationists and conspiracy theorists and all the rest of the motley anti-modernity crew. And really, what else is left of the old GOP coalition? The Neocon imperialists are so discredited that they’d refuse to show their faces in public if they had any shame (which they don’t). Gilded Age-style laissez-faire capitalism, which is the most thoroughly and consistently implemented of all Republican “ideas”, has caused so many people so much pain that even voters who are temperamentally inclined toward free-market policies are hungry for an activist government. And Republican moderates of any stripe are a severely endangered (if not already extinct) species.
The angry culture-warriors are all that’s left. Now, it’s just a matter of the party’s leadership coming to terms with the new reality. And when they do, they’ll be surprised to find that they missed the coronation. They’ve already got their new queen.
The card reader wasn't working at the gas pump tonight so I had to run inside to pay.
The man normally working behind the counter these days looks to be in his early to mid 60s. He could be younger but he's a heavy smoker and his face is deeply creased and ashen. He's short and slight with slumped shoulders. His clothes hang on him and look a couple sizes too big. He's always swooping his thinning blond hair over to the side out of his eyes. It's a habit.
I handed him my card and as he rang it through he winced and said, "And what about these goddamn crooks running these companies into the ground and then getting 42 million dollars for it?"
"Yeah, I know."
"I voted early and I voted against every incumbent. Every single one. Throw those bums outta there!" He took a breath and continued, "I voted for Obama. What? I'm gonna vote for McCain?" He scrunched his eyes together in disgust and looked away to the side, swooping his bangs out of his eyes.
He continued, "He's just like Bush. His policies would be just like Bush's. And what the hell's the matter with him anyway? He's 71 years old! He should retire. What's he doing?!"
"He wants to run the world, I guess."
"Yeah, well, screw him."
The door opened and a man walked into the station talking on his cell phone.
Impatiently, he asked, "Either of you two know where there's a Mexican restaurant around here?"
Mr. Craggles behind the counter said halfheartedly, "I don't live around here."
I thought for a minute and couldn't think of a Mexican restaurant in our little town.
"I don't think there's a Mexican restaurant around here anywhere." I laughed and said, "There's a Chinese place up the street and you can get some good spaghetti over there."
Thinking I was unfunny and probably uncool, he said sarcastically, "Well, that's helpful." And he walked out of the station in a huff.
Mr. Craggles winced and slammed the register drawer shut, "Yeah, and screw him, too."