Tuesday, November 18, 2008


November 13, 2008

The fight for the presidency is finally over. Before turning to the future, it's always good to see how we got to the present. Here are excerpts from previous columns, beginning almost a year before the Iowa caucuses:
February 15, 2007 — So which of the pack in the presidential race will survive the shakedown? The ones who can articulate, both programmatically and personally, the new vocabulary of the common good. Single-issue candidates like family-values Brownback and anti-immigrant Tancredi are now anachronisms. Image-only candidates like Giuliani, "Mr. 9/11," will eventually be judged by the sum of their public life, not just one day of it. Hillary says she is "listening," but we are as sick of listeners as we are of Deciders. Biden, bright but neither articulate nor clean, broke his leg before leaving the gate. Obama has a vision, but is it just a vision of himself? Kucinich has the vision, but the articulation of the self-righteous. McCain and Romney run without a base. Edwards shows some daring, but carries Kerry's baggage. Al Gore is more tarred by Clinton than Hillary herself. Richardson, with his national and international expertise, could be the dark horse, if he can only stay away from Comedy Central.
January 3, 2008 — The horses are at the starting gates at last...
My bet is that not even [Super Tuesday on] February 5, nor the several primaries and caucuses that follow it, will determine the nominee of either party.... By convention time this summer, no candidate will have amassed enough delegates to enter as the winner. Then Old-time Politics ... will take over: All that ad money down the drain, only to have the nominee selected in smokeless rooms and with multiple floor votes. The convention will become the high drama it once was.
January 31, 2008 — Long before Iowa, all through that year- long string of Democratic presidential debates, I sat before the TV thinking: "Dream Team." With the exception of Marijuana Mike Gravel and Don-Quixote Dennis Kucinich, any one of those people at the podium would make a superior president....
In the short-term quest for long-term power, the dangers of bitterness and hatred increase. We the voters can only hope that the inevitable attacks will be friendly sparring and not friendly fire, and that the Dream Team will not end up as just a dream.
February 14, 2008 — And then you have voter fatigue. After a year of foreplay and the multiple climaxes of the early primaries, people may start waking up thinking it sure was nice but do I really want to spend so much time with this person?
February 28, 2008 — Over the months, the Democratic race has evolved into a microcosmal clash of the generations, a symbol of what is going on, largely unarticulated, in the country as a whole. The caucuses and primaries threw out all those graying friends of the family, Biden and Dodd and the rest, and what remained was the fundamental: the test of wills between Mom and the Kid.
July 24, 2008 — Put images of John McCain and Barack Obama side-by-side on the satellite news, and there is no doubt who gets the focus [abroad]. A different view of America emerges.... His complexion and the ethnicity of his name, as well as his youth and energy, tap into the deep well of symbol and draw up something universal, transcending the old polarities.
August 21, 2008 — Achieving effective political goals does not start with legislation, it ends with it. The way to bring about large-scale change is first to bring about small-scale change, change in individuals' attitudes, practices, and vision of themselves and their communities....
This is what Barack Obama learned from his youthful years as a community organizer in Chicago ....
If only his experience will remind him that the politicians don't own the issues, the people do.
August 28, 2008 — Now that the pieces of the Democratic presidential puzzle have been put together, the picture turns out looking like a Picasso portrait: No part of the face is in the right place....
Will the campaign emerging out of Denver be able to overcome the sense that somehow the arrangement is askew? Unless the Democrats, like a good art teacher, can reveal the beauty and the genius of their Picasso portrait by election day, people may end up voting for the devil they think they know.
September 4, 2008 — As Gustav aimed at the Gulf Coast, a third hurricane arrived from exactly the opposite direction — Alaska — and in exactly the opposite form — not a storm with human qualities but a human with storm qualities....
Palin may not finally draw very many disgruntled but issue- oriented Hillary women, but she's got even them thinking twice. Those she will draw are the non-ideological independents and undecideds, female and male, old and young, people who vote from the gut, admiring the veteran McCain yet looking for freshness, youth, and that certain feminine quality to balance him out — yin and yang.
September 17, 2008 — It was change-change-change, and we were so hungry for it we didn't bother to ask what it was exactly, we were just enamored of the very idea of it. A bold, fearless plan to redirect the country would have forced voters to make a choice for or against a real change. But the issues weren't the issue anymore.... And if you don't stand on substance, voters start thinking subliminally. A lot of White people who claim they aren't racist will turn away from him because he's Black.
October 2, 2008 — What we may see tonight [in the Biden- Palin debate] is not a political contest but a psychodrama, a playing out of various meanings of power and weakness.
October 9, 2008 — Barack Obama, who at an earlier stage of the campaign was giving many Democrats "buyer's remorse" by appearing distant and hesitant when off of his fiery stump, has turned decisive and forceful — "presidential" — in recent weeks. John McCain, by contrast, has betrayed a disconcerting dithering behind his hero's mask....
No candidate, no party will fulfill all your wishes; they either are too paralyzed by the polls or don't know what to think themselves.
But develop your wish-list anyway, and go with your gut about those personae. Then hold your nose and vote.

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