First off, I am laughing my ass off about the whole "Joe the Plumber " fiasco. At first glance, Joe the Plumber seemed like a Republican dream-- a Midwestern single father who was a hardworking plumber who was thinking about buying a plumbing business, but feared Barack Obama's increase in income taxes on those making over $250,000 would make it so that he couldn't buy the business he hoped to. Obama stated that perhaps it's not a bad idea to "spread the wealth around."
McCain and Palin immediately started hammering on this. The "spread the wealth around" comment was proof, they claimed, that Obama wanted class warfare. What they and the idiots claiming that this is proof of Obama's "socialist" agenda fail to mention is that there has been class warfare going on for a couple of decades; there has been a huge shift in wealth from the middle class and the poor to the rich. A reverse socialism.
And of course "Joe the Plumber" turned out to be a fraud. He's not a licensed plumber. And he's not thinking of buying the company he works for. It was an "academic" question. And of course, worst of all, it turned out that in all likelihood, Barack Obama's tax restructuring would have been beneficial to him.
Then there's the ACORN issue. When I first heard about this, I wondered "What could ACORN have done wrong?" They're a wonderful organization-- it stands for "The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now." They've done a lot of good things, particularly help with affordable housing here in Chicago and many other cities. They've done a lot of community organizing work and-- here's where they got in trouble recently-- voter registration.
They're not perfect. According to Wikipedia's article on ACORN, Dale Rathke, the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke, embezzled nearly a million dollars from the organization in 1999 and 2000. The Rathke family secretly agreed to restitution in order to protect ACORN's reputation. Both Rathke brothers have since left the organization. They were also discovered to be union-busting.
ACORN's recent troubles had to do with phony voter registrations. It seems that some overzealous ACORN workers submitted fake voter registrations, registering with names like Jimmy John (yeah, like the sandwich shop), members of the Dallas Cowboys and dead people (hey, that's an old Chicago trick!). The fraud was discovered by ACORN itself, and they fired the workers involved. In all, there were about 2,000 fake registrations.
During the Democratic primary, Barack Obama's campaign had hired ACORN for a "get-out-the-vote" campaign that was not linked to the Lake County, Indiana problems.
What was the response of the McCain campaign? Somehow, Barack Obama was tied to a group that was responsible for "massive" voter fraud. And somehow, ACORN was responsible for the economic collapse.
The second assertion is too ludicrous to even consider. Regarding the first one, first off, I'd hardly call 2,000 fake registrations in a country of 300 million people "massive." And secondly, here's the thing, guys: you can register whoever you want, but it's not going to result in voting fraud. Jimmy John, the Dallas Cowboys and the dead people were not going to show up to vote. Well, maybe the dead people will here in Chicago.
Things are not looking up for John McCain. He's finally figured out that "it's the economy, stupid," but he's in a lose/lose situation. He looked idiotic when he was ignoring the economic problems, which were obvious to most of the country even before the recent stock and banking meltdown. Now, in addressing the problems, he looks even more idiotic, claiming that somehow in his nearly 3 decades as a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate that he was somehow not behind the deregulation that resulted in the catastrophe. His opponent, as he points out repeatedly, was not in office throughout that period.
And the big elephant in the room is the war. McCain keeps jumping up and down pointing out that "the surge," which he supported and Barack Obama opposed, "worked." Let me point out a few things.
The very first point is that McCain was one of the biggest cheerleaders of the war. Let me remind everybody that the original premise for getting into this war was that Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein-- remember him?-- was developing "weapons of mass destruction"-- nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Despite clear evidence that this wasn't true-- remember Valerie Plame?-- they vetted and squelched information, and out and out lied until Congress was stampeded, like with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, into an unnecessary war.
Let me point out one hero in this whole thing. Remember General Eric Shinseki? He was the four-star general who got before the Senate and stated that he believed that it would take "several hundred thousand" troops to take-- and hold-- Iraq.
Neo-con Paul Wolfowitz, then Deputy Secretary of Defense stated:
There has been a good deal of comment - some of it quite outlandish - about what our postwar requirements might be in Iraq. Some of the higher end predictions we have been hearing recently, such as the notion that it will take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq, are wildly off the mark. It is hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam's security forces and his army - hard to imagine.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld concurred, and Shinseki retired before his term as the Chief of Staff of the Army was up.
I would take the "surge" as vindication of General Shinseki. But one of the things that nobody is talking about is that a lot of the tenuous relative peace that has been brought to parts of Iraq: that it has been done by arming and
Let me remind you of one other sad moment in the whole sad spectacle of this war, a war that has been no small part of our economic problems. Remember General Colin Powell, then the Secretary of State, being sent out to do the administration's dirty work-- to set forth the administration's phony case for going to war? This can't have set well with General Powell. This undoubtedly had something to do with his decision to stick to the people who got us into this mess and endorse Barack Obama for president.
After Powell made his announcement, my father sent me an email stating "What is the GOP going to do now, try to discredit Powell?" I replied that they would, of course. And they did. It's almost comic-- they're like a drunk in their ability for denial. Every piece of evidence that their views are wrong are part of the conspiracy against them.
I read recently that Lyndon Johnson, when he signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, predicted that he'd written off the South for the Democrats for a generation. He was absolutely right. The Democratic Party has undergone a realignment and adjustment since then. After decades of tolerating racist "boll weevil" Democrats in order to win elections, the Dems had to recognize the realities of writing off the votes of many religous and social conservatives and, of course, bona fide racists. In the meantime, there were other shifts-- the upward shift in wealth that resulted in an endangered middle class, the rise of the Democratic Party in the suburbs and a growing Latino population are among them. The Democrats have ridden out the period of readjustment, and will, I suspect, begin to reap the benefits of this in two weeks from today: all the signs are looking like a massive electoral vote victory, plus large majorities in both the House and Senate.
In the meantime, the Republican Party is in its own version of a split-personality position that the Democratic Party once was in. The mainstream of the party consists of moderates-- people who want taxes as low as they can be, get a decent return in government services for the taxes paid, low crime, a strong national defense, etc. The mainstream of the Republican Party does not want a Christian theocracy, they do not want abortion to be illegal and they do not want to kick every immigrant out of the country. The Republican Party has depended on the lunatic fringe of the party-- the ones who salviate over Limbaugh, O'Hannity and the other idiot talk-radio guys. They were able to steal one election and scare a bare majority of American voters into a second one (well, along with some voting hanky-panky in Ohio), but, I think, a lot of those voters will, this November 4, say, to quote the Who, "We won't get fooled again." The party will lose ground and lose elections to the Democrats until they heed the advice of Barry Goldwater, Colin Powell and other conservatives and stick to the values of their own base.