Monday, September 1, 2008

The election-season circus

Well, this has become one crazier-than-usual election, eh? On Thursday night I attended a convention-watching party at a hotel downtown, and brought along an old friend of mine who during the primaries was a huge Clinton supporter. (She's got her own blog so you can read her take, if you're curious. It's like point-counterpoint!) I guess it has been hard for us Obama supporters to realize that Hillary fans still bear hard feelings. And because we've tapped into the "Young People Love Obama!" meme, we aren't used to meeting or understanding Hillary supporters our own age.

My friend, Anushka, is still going to vote Democratic, though. She wishes she could feel more enthusiastic about Obama's candidacy, but this election is too important to sit out or to vote McCain in protest. I think young people, especially, understand this; George Bush has been president for over a third of our lives, after all. Along with Obama, it is time to say "Enough"!

Two of Obama's points that got major applause in San Francisco were "We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets" (S.F. having quite a visible homeless population) and "Surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination" (for obvious reasons).

Afterwards, Anushka and I speculated about who McCain would pick as VP the next morning. Since I am a pessimistic person who concocts Worst-Case Scenarios, I said I most feared that he would pick Condoleezza Rice. If he chose a black woman who had experience in the highest levels of government, I thought, he'd surge ahead in the polls.

"I don't know," said Anushka. "Somebody was telling me...there's some female Republican governor..."

But she couldn't remember the governor's name and I couldn't help her out. Though, you see that she was right! I agree with Anushka's post that the selection of Palin seems like the worst kind of tokenism. I mean, the thought has crossed my mind "Would Hillary Clinton have gotten where she is if she hadn't married a powerful man?" and yet next to Sarah Palin, Hillary looks like the most qualified person who ever sought office. Clinton impressed millions of voters in New York State as a senator, then millions more all over America during the primaries... Alaska has about half a million residents of voting age!

When the inexperienced Ms. Palin was announced as veep, I mainly assumed that she might crack under the pressure--more pressure than she's ever had in her life, presumably--and a few weeks from now, make some embarrassing gaffe. I didn't guess that she was such a hasty choice, barely even vetted by the McCain camp, and that a variety of incendiary stories about her would dominate the news cycle over the next few days. On the one hand, I'm glad that reporters are working hard to demonstrate to the public that she is an incompetent candidate. On the other hand, maybe the Democrats should be worried that nobody is talking about them anymore--it's all Palin all the time, even if most of the news serves to discredit her.

As someone with a guilty love of melodrama, I was intrigued by the weekend's rumor that Palin's baby was actually her daughter's child; as someone who thinks that politics should not be equivalent to scandalmongering, I was hoping that it turned out to be false. Face it, I don't want Palin to get elected, but I also don't want to have to think of her as someone who would perpetrate an elaborate lie in the name of "family values." Still, all these stories combined just make me think of her as irresponsible and unready to lead. Even the fact that she has a four-month-old special-needs baby... I'm not saying she should have aborted the child, nor that she should stay at home to raise it. But don't you think that a woman in her forties, who knows that her age puts her at risk of complications if she gets pregnant, who already has several children, and who has just started a very demanding job, ought to be extra-specially attentive to contraception?

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