None of us have ever lived through an election at a time when 80 percent of voters think the country is headed in the wrong direction. But now that we’re in the thick of it, a few things are clear. From voters, the demand is: Surprise Me Most. For candidates, the lesson is: Weirdness Wins.
You can go read the rest of it. The article talks about how "Democrats have an advantage in a straight up issue contest" and how "the campaign has become a battle between two different definitions of change" etc. etc.
But, you know, I think most pundits--both left and right-leaning--miss the point of what's been happening in the last several weeks.
The real issue is WHY most Americans believe that the country is headed in a wrong direction and WHAT kind of change they are searching for in this Presidential election. And I think on both those questions the traditional media, the traditional left and right pundits, the traditional Democrats, and the traditional Republicans-- ALL have it wrong.
First, let's talk about why most Americans are not happy with the way things are going. The standard explanations are that (1) they don't like the Iraq War and (2) the economy is in the toilet.
These two memes are supposedly the cornerstone of the rise of the Democratic Party, which has believed ever since 2006 when they won a majority in the House, that the American public was voting to repudiate Bush and to end the Iraq War. Additionally, since Bush's election, they've tried their damndest--along with a lot of help in the media-- to make people believe that the American economy is crumbling; that we are in a recession and that it's all the Republicans fault.
I happen to think both of their fundamental premises are incorrect; and I think that the majority of Americans do not subscribe to them either--at least in the way the Democrats assume that they do.
It seems to me that most Americans were/are unhappy with the war in Iraq primarily because the US didn't seem to be winning. In fact, all they ever read about in the MSM was how poorly we were doing; how despite our overwhelming military superiority, those clever terrorists were simply impossible to conquer. And, as a side note, there was always the not so hidden message of how much suffering we were deliberately inflicting; how awful and inhumane our military was--except when a case could be made of how victimized they were by the evil Bush Administration.
From all this misinformation, the American public concluded (at least partly rightly) that the war was not being managed well; and the Bush Administration became the focus of their ire as the low job approval rating in the polls indicate. For whatever reasons, the Bush Administration has done little to effectively counter this perception and that has added to the public's dissatisfaction. There certainly was a lot of incompetence to go around, and a lot of mistakes that had to be corrected. The public was not happy.
But arriving at that conclusion is quite different from embracing the assumption (made by many Democrats and the left) that Americans want to declare defeat and depart.
On the contrary, I would venture to guess that a significant majority of American want--and have always wanted-- the US to achieve victory. They do not want America to lose the war and bring the soldiers home at all costs. When they hear the Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi (who, frighteningly is TWO heartbeats away from the Presidency) declare that "The War is lost" and that we can forget about defeating terrorism in Iraq, they instinctively react negatively.
Americans do not want another Vietnam in the sense that they do not want America to lose a war for political reasons. And they find it hard to swallow that most Democrats seem to believe that losing the war is an absolute necessity to winning back the White House. If the Democrats ever presented an alternative strategy for winning the war in Iraq and the war on terror, Americans would overwhelmingly vote for them to have that opportunity (which is what I think they suggested in the 2006 election cycle). But the Democrats are proving that they can't stomach the idea of winning, even when we are clearly winning.
Barack Obama still wants to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. He wants to say the Surge has worked beyond our wildest dreams, so let's declare defeat and leave. Let's ignore the sacrifice of our troops and move on. Now he says we have to focus on Afghanistan (which we do), but who realistically believes that any Democrat (except Lieberman) has the guts to win there either?
Americans want to be proud of America. They want America to win its battles and wars. They want America to stand up and lead the world. They know deep in their hearts that we have the freest, most prosperous and productive country on the globe. And, they want to their politicians to be proud of our brave men and women in uniform (and not see them as poor helpless victims) and to be proud of our country and not see it some sort of evil equivalent to the terrorists we fight.
In short, they have been unhappy with the war, not because they necessarily think it was a bad idea to begin with (though some might); or that "Bush lied, people died"; but because, until the Surge, we weren't being serious about winning it.
Since the Surge, it is clear that we ARE serious. Give a Point to McCain, who has been serious all along about it.
Now as to the economy. Most people really only believe the economy is in the toilet for other people. They know that their own circumstances are not that bad. Yes, the price of gasoline has gone up at time to unheard of levels; but notice the silence now that those prices have dropped down again below $4 a gallon. They know that some people are having trouble with their mortgages, but most people aren't.
In fact, most people probably think that those few who are having problems got in way over their heads to begin with by obtaining a mortgage they couldn[t afford. And further, that the companies that gave them the credit to buy a house they couldn't afford should have to accept the financial consequences (along with the hapless homeowners who readily accepted the loans) of their poor decisions. That's why there's such a furor about the big bailouts of these companies--bailouts that will be financed by all hardworking, conscientious citizens of the US. They are the ones who are going to suffer the consequences--not Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and the many banks--who rightly deserve to go under.
What would be the consequences of their going under? The owners of those companies; the Boards that approved their bad decisions; the stockholders will all suffer. AND THAT IS A GOOD THING. Will there be a ripple effect on the economy? You bet. But I bet the economy would adjust and then we'd all be better off in the long run. Not only would they have learned a valuable lesson from the experience, but other companies would also figure out that if you make bad company decisions, you will have to pay the price and not expect everyone else to bail you out. Hence they will think twice about cavalierly making the same kind of poor business decisions that seem to be the norm.
Instead, these companies and the individuals who run them and the stockholders who approve their decisions are getting rewarded for bad judgment. And who will be punished? That's right, the ordinary taxpayer. And they are smart enough to grasp this truth.
That's why, despite Obama's promises to fix everything AND lower taxes at the same time, the American public is coming to realize that this false Messiah doesn't really have any new tricks up his sleeve. He is just another mouthpiece, albeit a very pleasant one to listen to when he has his teleprompter strapped on, for the same old tired and failed leftist solutions. You know, the same old class warfare BS that the left has tried to foist on the American consciousness since early last century.
It is true that many people on the left buy this sort of crap unconditionally because they beleive that wealth magically appears out of nowhere and is created out of nothing; and that if you take money from the "rich" and redistribute it to the "poor" then the world will be a better place. Au contraire, as every communist/socialist experiment in the real world has shown, it only leads to misery and oppression.
But reality is not something the left can be bothered to cling to; hence they repeatedly recycle all the same worn out slogans and policies, hopeful that they can distort the past and make them sound like something new. Obama certainly made them sound new again briefly with his vagueness and soaring rhetoric.
The problem is that McCain, with a little help from Palin, in a short time has suddenly made most of the non-committed Americans realize the kind of change they really want:
-They want to be proud of America again and not be constantly told how 'evil' it is;
-They want America to get on with winning its wars without all the PC posturing and military bashing;
-They want government to help the less fortunate, but not to tax those who work hard to the extreme; while financially rewarding those with poor judgment and a grand sense of entitlement. Americans want to help out "the little guy"--probably more than any culture (and we are the most giving culture in the world); but we help them so they can get back on their feet; not so they can constantly put their hands out for more. As a culture we still believe there are consequences for bad judgment and behavior (though sadly, that attitude is becoming more politically incorrect every year as more and more "victims" vie for cash handounts and special treatment).
-They want government not to stand in the way of the their life, liberty and the pursuit of their happiness.
Americans do, indeed, want change. But not the kind of change being aggressively peddled by the Democrats, who are now primarily fueled by the extreme left within the party. Most Americans are waking up to the fact that it is those very same leftist ideas now being put forth so eloquently that have been the source of polluting even the Republican message--as many supposed "conservatives" betray every principle they stand for in order to be "popular" in the polls. All we have now is a situation where both parties have become clearly dysfunctional at running the goverment and leading the country in a time of great challenge.
Give multiple points to McCain and Palin who have now effectively defined themselves as the mavericks for change, fighting corruption and sleaze on both sides of the aisle. They have managed in a short period of time to put both parties on notice and they have tapped into the real cause of discontent in the American population.
I certainly could be wrong about all this, but I don't think I am. McCain an Palin are starting to epitomize for the voters of this country the "right" direction it should be heading.
Pundits of all persuasions have noted that the 2008 election is the Democrat's to lose. And that's exactly, precisely what they are doing.
UPDATE: On the economic side of things, take a look at this, from Jonah Goldberg:
Top recipients of Fannie/Freddie donations:
#1 Chris Dodd
#2 John Kerry
#3 Barack Obama
#4 HIllary Clinton
For the record, that's two Democratic presidential nominees, two also-ran presidential candidates including Hillary Clinton, at least the second most significant Democrat in the country. .
Of the top 20 on that list, 15 are Democrats.
Do you think the American people are beginning to 'get it'?