Saturday, October 25, 2008

worried? don't be.

It always happens the same way.

I'm talking with a friend, and we're chatting about whatever topic of the day happens to be on our minds, when the conversation–because it's late October and this is an election year–turns political. My friend will get this look on his or her face, a suddenly drawn, dazed, faraway look, and I know what is coming. The words vary, but the sentiment does not.

"I'm so worried that we'll blow it again."

Or a frequent variation:

"I'm so worried that the Republicans will steal it again."

It amounts to the same thing, I suppose. Either way, Sarah Palin is a heartbeat away from the Oval Office and the guy there ahead of her has sworn to appoint more "strict constructionists" to the Supreme Court. Oh, and he has this nasty temper, makes kneejerk decisions, seems to think that the solution to any international crisis is the use of force, and supported Wall Street deregulation with more fervor than just about anyone else...until it crashed. Yeah, and he hates everything Bush stands now for even though he bragged again and again about doing everything in his power to get the guy elected and re-elected...and voted with him well over 90% of the time.

Nothing to be concerned about there.

So my friends look at me, shadows forming around their eyes and their skin turning pale from lack of sleep, and utter their deepest, darkest fears. Like Cubs fans, they see their side looking like champions, but know deep down inside that something, somehow, is going to go terribly, unavoidably, heartbreakingly wrong.

And I look back at them and smile.

"Not gonna happen," I tell them. I know all of the arguments. Heard 'em all a thousand times. And I do believe that the last two elections were stolen by Rovian machinations. And I do believe that eight years is plenty of time to put mechanisms in place to secure the outcome of this one as well. Yet I say loudly that I am not worried. I'm not complacent--not at all: I still believe we need to do everything possible to get out the vote, everything possible to prevent fraud, everything possible to call attention to the problems some people are already having at the polls, everything possible to counter the hate-filled campaign that McCain and the RNC are running. I'm just not worried.

I have many reasons for this, I tell them. First, there is the simple matter of scope. No one, not Rove or anyone else, could have predicted that the extreme swing of voter registration numbers combined with the dismal Bush approval ratings and the tanking economy would put so many "safe" red states in play and, not only that, but turn many of them quite solidly blue. If no one predicted it, no one would have needed to do anything to cheat to prevent it: this is just logical.

Then there is the magnitude of Obama's reach. Polls have him ahead by so much in some so-called "swing" states that unleashing an organized election day attack--even one involving paperless voting machines--would leave a stench that could hardly go unrecognized. Too many attacks would need to be unleashed simultaneously; someone would be caught, and Rove may be a scoundrel but he is a smart scoundrel: he knows this. He would never risk having the whole vote fraud operation found out in this way. I do not believe the "OK" will ever be given.

And even if it is: by Election Day, as many as 1/3 of the total number of votes cast in 2004 will already have been cast via early balloting. And a hugely disproportionate number of these early voters are the very ones that the GOP would love to disenfranchise come November 4.

Besides, there are several states sliding even now from solidly red to frustratingly (for the GOP) purple. I had a friend up from Georgia today who told me that, like Bob Barr, she actually believes that her state will vote for Obama on November 4. Whodathunk we'd even be talking about a thing like that?

Finally, and most importantly, I have two words that assure me any time I begin to have the same doubts that cause my friends' sleepless nights:

Barack Obama.

I have been supporting his candidacy since Kerry lost, believing even then that the freshman senator from my home state of Illinois would throw his hat into the ring this year. In the winter of '07, when he announced, my husband said "So what?" because it was of course going to be Hillary. I just said: Wait. When this is over, Barack Obama will not only be the nominee, but he will win the Presidency. His strategy has been letter perfect. The enthusiasm of his supporters has been incredible. His ability to harness the youth vote has added a dimension to the American political scene that has never before been witnessed. His campaign has been, to put it as simply as I can, among the very best of all time.

In June, I went on record as saying that this election would not even be close. I predicted a 15-20% popular win and an electoral blowout. Again, everyone said I was nuts. Sarah Palin's nomination has caused me to reassess the popular vote prediction, which is by far the less important of the two numbers, but nothing has caused me to doubt at any time that the national press would eventually get over its initial infatuation with the newcomer and get on with its vital task of vetting the candidate that McCain did not bother to vet.

Why would I give the press that much credit? Two reasons: bloggers, whose rise to prominence has been, again, something that the Rovian strategists have not foreseen (and McCain has not quite figured out even today), and who continued to beat the drums against the liars until someone in the traditional news media had to take notice of the rising noise; and (again) Barack Obama, whose campaign never met a smear, a lie, or a problem it could not face eye to eye and beat backward home. Palin, who started her national rise already under the shadow of Troopergate, was in retrospect pretty easy pickings, but the Obama campaign and its surrogates forced the vetting of this would-be VP to take place under the public microscope, and every disclosure looked that much worse for John McCain.

So my friends look all worried, but I smile. I point to, show them the latest polls and Nate Silver's insightful and comprehensive interpretations, and I ask what they are doing to assure an Obama victory. And every day I wear a different Obama pin. Today was "Unicorns for Obama." It makes me smile.

I have a costume I am going to wear to school on Halloween, the scariest one I have come up with in years. It consists of a blue wig, a red top, and red slacks. On the wig, I will affix a cardboard puzzle piece of Illinois. Elsewhere, on the top and slacks, I will affix the other 49 states. I'm calling this costume: Karl Rove's Final One-Finger Salute to America, or "It's the Voting Machines, Stupid." Undoubtedly it will give my friends more nightmares.

But isn't that what Halloween is for?

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it's your hair that i notice first
streaked with morning
it frames your face
you lying there eyes closed
soft breath not quite there
i follow its path as it bends the sheet
and i can touch you there
touch what i feel is you
in the spark of daylight
you'll rise
pull on the wrinkled shirt from last night
say something you think is beautiful
drink some coffee
from behind my paper
and drive away,
leaving a kiss on my lips
and a hole in my heart
where a fire ought to be

Favorite Films

  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Amelie
  • The Princess Bride
  • Casablanca
  • Annie Hall
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • All That Jazz
  • Citizen Kane
  • Love Actually
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Big Fish
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Almost Famous
  • Bull Durham
  • Notting Hill
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • Magnolia

All-Time Favorite TV Shows

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Gilmore Girls
  • M*A*S*H
  • The West Wing
  • The X-Files
  • The Daily Show
  • Ally McBeal
  • Picket Fences
  • All In The Family
  • Seinfeld
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Star Trek
  • Firefly
  • Wonderfalls
  • Northern Exposure
  • Get Smart
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • Monk
  • Felicity
  • St. Elsewhere

Current TV Shows I Enjoy (in no particular order)

  • Perception
  • Major Crimes
  • American Horror Story
  • Louie
  • Suits
  • The Newsroom
  • Falling Skies
  • Franklin and Bash
  • Veep
  • Scandal
  • Fairly Legal
  • Girls
  • Don't Trust the B---
  • Justified
  • Portlandia
  • Psych
  • The Middle
  • Person of Interest
  • Happy Endings
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Nikita
  • Raising Hope
  • Castle
  • Drop Dead Diva
  • Covert Affairs
  • Elementary
  • Rizzoli and Isles
  • Revolution
  • The Last Resort
  • Alphas
  • SNL
  • Revenge
  • Community
  • Suburgatory
  • New Girl
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Grimm
  • Nashville
  • Downton Abbey
  • Smash
  • Homeland
  • Fringe
  • Glee
  • Haven
  • Community
  • Warehouse 13
  • Modern Family
  • Vampire Diaries
  • The Daily Show
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • The Colbert Report
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Leverage
  • Rachel Maddow Show

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