James Leroy Wilson's one-man magazine.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Another Hopeful Sign From The '08 Presidential Election

I don't know how Democrats think the way they do.
  • They whine about corporations, and then insist that the federal government bail out those same corporations.
  • They complain about environmental destruction, but then when the GDP goes south, they insist on "stimulus" packages because they can't conceive of economic growth apart from mindless consumer spending - which encourages the very environmental destruction they decry.
  • Their "muscular liberalism" in foreign policy is not meaningfully different from neoconservatism.
  • The one and only "freedom of choice" they believe in is a woman's right to have an abortion.
  • They talk as if Bush is the worst President ever, and then cave to his demands, from warrantless spying to giving him a $700 billion blank check.
In comparison, one might actually see some logic among Republican voters. They want the government to have absolute power in protecting them from the "bad guys," but if they see nothing inherently wrong with a particular activity, they would rather be left alone. Republicans hate people different from themselves and would like to see most of them jailed or killed. Nothing good comes from the Republican agenda, but at least you know where they're coming from. And to some degree, they do want government out of their lives. Democrats, however, believe that whatever isn't prohibited ought to be subsidized. They rage against the "injustice" perpetrated not by people, but by systems, but have no constructive solution in mind aside from empowering the very same systems they're unhappy with. Their complaints with society are not as simple-minded as Republican complaints, but they are equally immature.

As a result, elections between these two ugly alternatives often boil down to issues other than policy.

By the end of the Presidential primary season, two things were clear:

1. John McCain was a more likable media presence than Hillary Clinton.
2. Barack Obama was a more likable media presence than John McCain.

It is apparent the Democratic Party agreed. McCain, for all his faults, would probably have beaten Hillary Clinton, who came across as a priggish schoolmarm, a left-wing Church Lady, while McCain, though a complete fanatic and/or dunderhead on policy and detestable in his personal life, at least knew how to handle the media.

But Barack Obama knew how to handle the media, and the public, better than McCain.

(I've come across some information as to how Obama did it, but I haven't actually read it yet and therefore won't share the link with you. At first glance, however, this information confirms my suspicions, and I'll give you a hint: enter Milton Erickson in your preferred search engine.)

But whether he did it by natural talent or training, Obama proved the necessity of likability and good manners in today's politics, and that's a positive sign. The dirtier McCain's campaign got, the better Obama's numbers improved. And there's a trend behind this.

Yes, 2004 may have been an exception. Bush II was riding the coattails of 9/11 and a frightened public. Kerry had voted for the worst of Bush's agenda, including the Iraq War, and couldn't convincingly propose better alternatives.

In 2000, however, the Bush campaign had better manners, if only because of Al Gore's appalling sighs in the first debate.

And in 1996 and 92, the Clinton campaign had better manners that Dole and Bush I, if for no other reason than that Dole and Bush I called out Clinton on his "character."

To call somebody else out on their poor personal behavior is the epitome of bad manners. Demagogic and illogical attack ads on matters of policy is one thing, finger-wagging about "character" is quite another.

And the fact is, Obama had tons more to finger-wag about McCain's record and personal indiscretions than vice-versa, but he refrained from doing so.

He also kicked McCain's ass in the election.

Obama's subsequent decisions and appointments leave a lot to be desired. He may very well be as bad as the worst of the self-aggrandizing, freedom-hating presidents. But, in addition to his opposition to the Iraq War and the willingness of the American people to vote for a "person of color," I'm glad Obama was elected if for no other reason that it showed the American people are disgusted with smear campaigns.

Obama generally showed good manners throughout the election season. That is what I hope will be duplicated in all future elections.

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