Why the race was lost
By Michael M. Bates
Castro last week described Obama as "more intelligent, cultured and levelheaded than his Republican adversary." The American people agreed. So let the finger pointing commence. In no special order of consequence, here are a few probable reasons for the GOP loss:
● The candidate. John McCain wasn't conservatives' first, or even fourth, choice for nominee. Infinitely preferable to Obama, he nonetheless carried too much baggage for many in the party's base. Legislative liaisons with Teddy Kennedy and Russ Feingold on matters like immigration and campaign finance didn't inspire confidence. Neither did McCain's late conversion to tax cuts. Not discussing the Jeremiah Wright connection, a sensible basis to question his opponent's judgment, was unwise. Bringing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to the ticket did help a lot. People who dislike her would never have voted for the GOP anyway and she was a huge asset to the campaign. McCain's estrangement with the rank and file never fully healed. When the Republican Party stops serving as a vehicle for conservatism, it falters.
● The economy. That the country's teetering on a recession is apparent. At the same time, circumstances aren't as calamitous as Democrats assert. One out of 510 Illinois homes was in some stage of foreclosure in September. That means 99.8 percent weren't. Certainly for those directly hit by the economic downturn it seems like a depression. Yet you at times have to wonder how bad it all really is. The Chicago Tribune last month sympathetically wrote of a suburban man who lost his job a year and a half ago. He only now is "getting ready to cancel the cable." On Sunday, the parking lots of a huge area mall were filled almost to capacity. While the Bears were on, no less. In an electronics store, I stood in line while watching customers ahead of me hauling out HD TVs. Yeah, I know this is anecdotal. Nevertheless, most people aren't acting as though we're in a depression. The economy and George Bush's tenure in the White House were a powerful one-two punch on McCain. For his part, the candidate failed to convincingly call attention to Democratic liability for the sour economy. Who's been in charge of both houses of Congress?
● Media bias. The mainstream media have been in the tank for Democrats for decades. This election, they hit their personal best. The Center for Media and Public Affairs analyzed the last two months of the campaign. They found the broadcast networks gave Obama more positive coverage than McCain by better than 2-1. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press conducted a survey. The result: "By a margin of 70%-9%, Americans say most journalists want to see Obama, not John McCain, win on Nov. 4." Americans knew what the game was; it made no difference. Hope and change.
● Fraud This one's difficult to comprehensively depict because it was rife in various aspects of the election. Obama took no accountability for all that money he collected. Even the Washington Post reported ". . . the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts. . ." That's how Barry's auntie, an illegal alien living for years in government housing in Boston, was able to unlawfully contribute to Obama's campaign.
Then there's ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), involved in numerous voter registration investigations across the country. Obama paid one ACORN front $832,000 to turn out his vote. In Ohio, the Democratic secretary of state attorney refused to verify hundreds of thousands of suspect voter registrations. In Virginia, a Democratic election official balked at counting military ballots because of a technicality. In Alabama, six counties had more registered voters than adults of voting age. In Chicago, as usual, Election Day no doubt resembled a remake of "Night of the Living Dead."
● Ignorance. Lots of folks don't have the slightest idea of what's going on. As you'd expect, those are the people who elected Obama. A recent conversation with a long-time friend was dismaying. Though quite bright, she doesn't pay much attention to politics. (Then again, maybe that's a sign of her intelligence). Anyway, she told me that after examining the candidates' positions, she chose The One. The reason why? Her biggest concern is government spending. She thinks the Democrat, all evidence to the contrary, is a fiscal conservative. That must be why, I patiently explained, the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union calculated Obama will increase spending by more than $1 trillion over the next four years. NTU's projection for McCain is for less than half of that. That didn't sway her. Hope and change all the way.
Clearly, I'm disappointed Obama is going to the White House. At the same time, in the short term it might be for the best. If Obama lost there likely would have been extensive, dangerous disruptions across the country. The optimism among Obamatons was so high that they would think "their" victory had been stolen. Democrat strategist James Carville alluded to this on CNN last month:
"Now let me be clear here, if Obama goes in this race with a 5- point lead and losing this election, the consequences are -- bull, man. I mean I don't think that's going to happen, but I think David it's a point to bring up.
"But you stop and contemplate this country if Obama goes in and he has a consistent five point lead and loses the election, it would be very, very, very dramatic out there."
We'll have more than enough drama over the next four years. God save the Republic.
This Mike Bates column appeared in the November 6, 2008 Reporter Newspapers.