Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

07/21/2008 (1:37 pm)

C'est la Guerre

Any of you who are attempting recovery from Boomer Whining Addiction should probably skip this post, ’cause I’m whining a little. I’d hate to be the cause of any of you falling off the wagon.

I think we’re watching one of those moments in American political history where a candidate is going to be handed a huge advantage simply by the luck of the draw. We’ve seen elections swung on the basis of nicely timed sound bites that really mean nothing at all. Remember how Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter by chiding him in a debate, “There you go again?” The sound bite meant absolutely nothing. Sure, there was substance behind Reagan, and Carter’s presidency was a bad joke, but the sound bite crystalized the difference and gave Reagan a huge boost.

Or, do you remember the debate between George W. Bush and Al Gore, in which Gore kept sighing in an irritated fashion at Bush’s comments? In terms of actual policy, it meant nothing at all, but we were all reminded of the irritating twit in class who really did think he was smarter than the rest of us, and we disliked him for it. Those impatient sighs may just have cost Gore the presidency.

We can all name a few others as well. “At long last, have you no sense of decency?” The Kiss. “I voted for the 87 billion before I voted against it.” Hillary’s tears. Nixon’s five o’clock shadow when he debated Kennedy. Those moments when the electorate proves that it’s moved more by symbol than by substance, and the fates of lives and nations turn on the mere turn of a few fortunate or unfortunate words.

This weekend, Barack Obama visited Iraq, at a moment in time when Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki had just about finished solidifying his political fortunes. Just about at the moment Obama stepped of the plane, Maliki observed that he’d really like the American troops out of Iraq, and the 16 months Obama mentioned seemed like a reasonable timetable.


The blogs are a-twitter with the repercussions. Rightwards are trying their darnedest to emphasize that the only reason we’re at this point at all is because President Bush, with John McCain’s full support, persisted in pursuing his policy in Iraq, while the likes of Obama were posturing stupidly about how the war was lost. That’s actually true, but it doesn’t matter. The electorate lives on easily digested appearances, not on sound analysis. Obama showed up in Iraq and President Maliki endorsed his position. C’est la guerre. The war is over.

There’s no way this was staged, and frankly, I doubt that Obama has the brains to even attempt to stage such a coup. He’s been flopping around like a grounded trout, saying this and that. Just by pure luck, the last attempt at a statesmanlike position on Iraq to come out of his mouth corresponds to something the President of Iraq just happened to be saying as Obama stepped off the plane for his first visit to Iraq. This was Fate, with all her mocking irony, stepping in and in a single, irrevocable twist, robbing McCain of his strongest argument.

I’m not calling the election, and I’m historically pretty bad at that sort of thing. However, this weekend’s events struck a terrible blow to McCain’s chances. If Obama manages to sound presidential about anything at all, a huge block of unconvinced voters pull the lever for him.

Hot Air recites how awkward this is for McCain, and the Politico rounds out the awful weekend with an explanation about how the rest of the cards just happened to fall for Obama while he’s on the ground in the middle east. Even Liberal Values, making a brazen if thoroughly false attempt to paint this as a vindication for the left’s position on Iraq, gets the effect on McCain’s position right.

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July 21, 2008 @ 10:53 pm #

Maliki’s statements and Obama’s have absolutely nothing to do with one another.

Obama was talking about abandoning the lifeline and Maliki’s was that he was already on board – thank God.

I’ve already decided about the Presidential race: http://www.werescrewed08.com.

July 22, 2008 @ 8:36 pm #

I fear that you are correct, Bob, even though Ecclesiastes is right that Maliki’s and Obama’s positions are not the same. People often don’t pay that close attention, and this is something they will remember, if only vaguely.

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