today bethany and i (and maybe robin and holly) are headed to colonial beach, va to knock doors for "that one". it should be fun. to get myself psyched i read gail collins. she is my all time favorite columnist! her column today is fantastic!
Omigosh! It’s almost here. The one and only Election Day! Except, of course, in the 30-odd states where voting has been going on for some time. Nov. 4 is not quite as much of an event there, although it’s still a big date, what with watching the returns and celebrating Laura Bush’s birthday, along with the increasingly popular feast of Half a Week After Halloween.
Our two-year presidential campaign now ends with a monthlong vote, followed by weeks of litigation over provisional ballots. After that, the new president is sworn in and given 100 days to accomplish his legislative agenda, after which everyone will start plotting for 2012.
It is a grand system in that great American tradition that has given us the seven-month baseball season and the half-gallon cup of soda. We have supersized the election. And why not? Barack Obama’s campaign budget is now supporting half the national economy. I don’t know how we’re going to get along without it, unless we can convince Mitt Romney to start gearing up instantly for his comeback.
Although the polls have consistently shown Obama ahead, Democrats are all afraid of the infamous Bradley effect, in which people falsely claim to be voting for a black candidate so pollsters don’t think they’re racist. In the case of this campaign, you’d have to be paranoid enough to believe the canny closet racists were also falsely assuring the pollsters that they thought Obama would do better with the economy, health insurance and bringing change to Washington, and would appoint better people to his administration than McCain. Which does seem like a lot of effort to impress a stranger on the other end of a telephone line.
The polls also suggest that Sarah Palin has, in two short months, managed to scare the pants off large portions of the population. Confidence seems to be plummeting not only in her own qualifications but in McCain’s overall ability to pick good assistants. These concerns were probably not allayed by the candidate’s promise to take Joe the Plumber to Washington with him.
It also didn’t help when former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, a McCain supporter, was asked on NPR whether Palin would be ready on day one to step in if a crisis occurred.
“Of course not,” Eagleburger responded.
This was a particularly cruel blow since Eagleburger is not just one of the five former secretaries of state that the McCain campaign constantly cites as having endorsed the ticket. He is one of the four who McCain was actually able to remember during a recent interview on “Meet the Press.”
To be fair, Eagleburger went on to qualify his statement and said that given some time in office, he thought Palin would be “adequate.” These days in the McCain camp, this may be what passes as a ringing endorsement.
Obama is going to be racing around from rally to rally over the final 96 hours — eight states in three time zones. This sort of last-minute dash around the nation is another American political tradition, which serves the dual purpose of setting a good example for the campaign workers and torturing the campaign press corps in retribution for all those months of writing down the things the candidate said.
Obama’s target audience is the 10 percent of voters who told this week’s New York Times/CBS News poll that they did not feel as if they had received enough information to make an informed decision on the presidential race. I believe we have met them before. They are the men and women who get up at a town hall meeting after the candidate had just made a 20-minute opening speech about his/her plans for health care reform, and say: “What I want to know is, what are you going to do about medical costs?” My theory is that whenever they hear someone start to discuss the issues, they cover their ears and make humming noises, the way my husband does when I say it is time to take a look at our 401(k)s.
In The Times’s poll, the percentage of respondents who said that they weren’t totally sure who they were going to vote for was almost identical to the percentage who said that they think the economy is doing well. Are they the same people? If so, perhaps they are still undecided because they are waiting to get their marching orders from well-informed friends like Abraham Lincoln, St. Catherine of Siena or Seabiscuit.
The best approach at this point is probably to ignore all polls and just wait to see what happens. Take a deep breath. Do a little meditation. Make a list of all the things you’re going to do once you no longer have to spend time worrying about who’s going to be the next president.
I personally am planning to read the Russian classics.