Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Straw the Broke the Camel's Back

First a visual haiku that represents this campaign better than anything I could possibly write here. Enjoy for a moment of zen.......

Did you let that image soak in? A cool, composed Obama walking away from a badly sputtering McCain...left in the dust of electoral history, choked and gasping for relevance. In reality, that's a screenshot from the end of the final debate. McCain, in his inimitable way, exited in the wrong direction, caught himself, and corrected. However, rather than correcting himself in a dignified and statesmanlike way he chose his preferred gaffe-correction strategy of calling much greater attention to his mistake by dancing a jig, sticking out his tongue, and bobbing his head like a chicken. That's not a mean-spirited jab at McCain. That's actually what he does in those awkward situations. It's very hard to imagine him staring into Putin's eyes and winning a contest of wills.

I've written on debates in the past, so I won't belabor the point, but the entire series of television events went the way of the medium. The cooler candidate won. In fact, speaking of electoral politics in the television age, my mentor Lance Strate once noted that no "hot" candidate has ever won a presidential election. McLuhan's "hot versus cool" comes in handy to understand this little side note.

One bit of common wisdom I've heard spoken among presidential politics scholars is that an election rarely shifts after October 15th. People's choices solidfy by that point, and if this election is now solid, McCain will lose a landslide and the Congress will shift even further to the Democratic side. As a fellow believer, I look forward to seeing what kind of chops a good Democratic government has, however I want to see a good Democratic government first. Obama's leadership will make or break that, and his historical position is met by historical circumstances. If ever we needed a leader of great character and brilliant mind, it is now. I believe we have that leader, and his campaign message of hope is now solidifying in my mind as more than a slogan. It's a promise and, yes, something to cling to in these hard times.