Monday, October 20, 2008

Obama's new constituency

It is really rather painful to watch the ongoing American election knowing I cannot vote in it. Every time I see an encouraging news report that gives Obama a comfortable lead, or read a column like this one by Charles M. Blow in which he announces that it’s all over but the shouting and the Obamas can start measuring drapes in the Oval, I recall the last two U.S. elections. The margins by which Obama leads (on average) are comparable to those held by Al Gore in 2000, and let’s not forget that the exit polls in 2004 were trending toward John Kerry. Every time someone predicts a blowout for Obama I cringe, infected as I am by the congenital liberal certainty of doom.

On the brighter side of things however, an ongoing source of both hope and amusement has been in seeing conservatives south of the border attacking the McCain campaign or, in some cases, going so far as to endorse Obama.

What conservatives, you ask, are endorsing Obama? Well, none other that the inveterate pro-Iraq War hawk Christopher Hitchens, who writes in Slate that the debates “showed Sen. John McCain to be someone suffering from an increasingly obvious and embarrassing deficit, both cognitive and physical.” Further, “the only public events that have so far featured his absurd choice of running mate have shown her to be a deceiving and unscrupulous woman utterly unversed in any of the needful political discourses but easily trained to utter preposterous lies and to appeal to the basest element of her audience.” Say what you will about Christopher Hitchens (and I could say a lot), but he does have a way with words.

But it doesn’t end there … Christopher Buckley, scion of William F. Buckley, has also endorsed Obama in a column titled “Sorry Dad, I’m voting Obama.” In it, he says of McCain that his “once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises.” For his pains, Christopher (gotta say, I like the way the Christopher bloc is shaping up here) was turfed from The National Review, a periodical founded by Buckley Sr.

And most recently? Our old friend Colin Powell, formerly Bush’s secretary of state, and the most vocal moderate in Bush’s cabinet—which, to quote John Stewart, also made him “the blackest moderate, the whitest moderate, the tallest moderate, the shortest moderate …” You get the idea. Yes, just yesterday Powell went on Meet the Press and stated that the recent negative campaigning by McCain tipped the balance for him, as he “thought that was over the top,” and “was beyond just good political fighting back and forth.” He further called Obama a "transformational" figure, and that while Powell has a great amount of respect for McCain, it is time for a generational change.

Powell, incidentally, joins other former republican secretaries of state Henry Kissinger (seriously), Alexander Haig (who served under Reagan), James Baker (Bush Sr.’s administration) and Lawrence Eagleburger (who also served briefly under Bush Sr.) in endorsing Obama.

(Can I just say that I love the name Eagleburger? It sounds like a lunch special in the Capitol Building cafeteria, something you would order with a side of freedom fries).

Looking back over this list—to say nothing of the condemnations of McCain’s campaign by such staunch conservatives as Kathleen Parker and David Frum—I've got to say, if you’re John McCain you really have to be wondering “just how far from the pack have I strayed?”

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