Obama's Speech, McCain's VP,
And Why Canadians (and the rest of the world) Care
I have taken journalism and political science. I am a hardcore political junkie. I've been following Obama's quest for the White House from day one with a heavy sigh and a "Yeah, that'd be nice but fat chance" glimmer of hope that's just been floored by the success he's been meeting in that quest.
Like most Canadians, I'm watching everything with bated breath, jealous as hell that this mandate of change and excitement is one only our friends to the south get the honour of voting on.
Americans scoff amongst themselves sometimes about why Canadians care so much, why we're stumping on our blogs, or what have you. I mean, Americans would never get invested in our elections, so it's understandable they're so baffled by our vicarious political leanings.
The grand dame of Can-lit Margaret Atwood once wrote, "When America sneezes, Canada catches cold."
I have seen disturbing changes in Canadian politics in the eight years since Bush took over. Our country has become divided and bitter in the wake of the Bush era. Conservatives have regained power over our country. Politics divides differently in Canada. The rural regions swing right and the urban centres polarize to the left. When the Conservatives retook Parliament Hill, they did not win a single seat from any of Canada's largest cities.
And when freedoms crack down and things go conservative, it's cities that get hit the hardest. It hasn't been fun.
Here, in Vancouver, the so-called "pot capital of the world", the Bush era has definitely impacted this city. This city has been changed as a result of the tough stance and pressure hurtled at it by Bush and the DEA, who were all paranoid about our pot industry. Since then, our city's cops and leaders have kowtowed to the DEA's pressure and we now have American DEA agents in OUR city, and cops are arresting for simple possession again after seven years of just looking the other way.
Americans don't care about our elections because our politics don't affect their lives. Canadians care about Yankee elections because it impacts us on more levels than you will ever, ever comprehend. Yes, we're invested. And that's not going to change.
Obama's a political genius. That speech was a masterpiece. I've never, ever seen a campaign's tone set down so forcefully and eruditely in one sitting. Things are going to get fun now.
Another reason Canadians and everyone else are so invested in the outcome of this election is, we miss America the world power. We miss the America that had integrity and respect, and whose opinion mattered on the world stage. We miss the America whose word was trusted and not considered dubious.
America doesn't need another maverick cowboy with an antagonistic streak at the helm. We want to see someone inspire us all again. If someone like that takes the stage in America, that political culture might be contagious to Canada, too. What a gift that'd be.
McCain's VP choice offends me as a woman.
It's no fucking shock that the first time a woman ever gets onto the Republican ticket is when the election is so close, on the heels of the "soccer mom vote" that won 2004 for Bush, that women once again are the swing vote (because we know which way African-Americans are presumed to vote, and I think the Pasty White Guy Party doesn't see them as attainable any time soon) in a year that a woman gets passed over for VP in the Dems, is just a little convenient. And because picking a black guy would've been way, way too obvious, even to a party as unsubtle as the Republicans.
Throw into that that she's a former beauty queen, has only two years experience but sure is feisty and cute, is known mostly for selling the Alaska's governor's jet on eBay and putting the dough back into state coffers, and has a disabled kid at home, and all the other "isn't that convenient?" attributes she brings, and it's just fucking ridiculous this woman got the nod.
She's more experienced than anyone out there? Really? She's tackled the major issues of our times? She's a foreign policy whiz? No, she is one of the most "popular" governors. I thought McCain was opposed to the notion of this election being a popularity contest? I thought he loathed Obama's celeb-appeal? I thought he was preaching that no one could take that seriously?
McCain is 72. He spouts off about shit. He can't remember how many houses he owns. He confuses who the Shiites and Sunnis are. He flip-flops on issues. He gets spastically angry. He's as tactful as a bohunk. He's a year younger than Reagan was when Reagan accepted the nod, and Ronnie had Alzheimers before he even got out the door. McCain's had cancer FOUR times. He was biopsied in recent weeks.
I love looking at life all sunny-side-up and whiskers-on-kittens, but, really... we have to prepare for the odds that McCain could very well be pushing up daisies before his term even came to a close. Or that his mental faculties might just fade away. Confusion, temper tantrums? Not great signs.
And beauty-queen, eBay-member, flute-playing, populist governor of a state that barely even exists on the national stage (with a population under 300,000) who has only two years experience, has no expertise in foreign policy, and who's currently under an ETHICAL investigation for trying to get her ex-brother-in-law fired from his $100,000 state job after he divorced her sister... ... she's gonna be the one who gets to step in and lead the most difficult, politically important country in the WORLD?
But she'll look fantastic doing it. And where DOES she get her shoes?
Get real. Yeah, as a woman, I'm offended. Holy pandering political and whoring, Batman. You couldn't pick a woman who really was a national stage player? Someone who had a little more depth? Who'd served in larger capacities? Who'd maybe completed a term? There are women out there who aren't as cute as a button and who are actually more qualified for a gut-wrenching high-pressure, globally-responsible job as the Vice President of the United States, you know.
Trouble is, McCain and his cronies made the choice to get Hilla-- err, I mean Palin, as VP before they saw the political result of Hillary Clinton getting onside with Obama. I think they blew their choice. I think they underestimated Hillary's maturity and savvy, and her willingness to do what it takes to secure her own legacy. That speech of hers? A legacy speech. It doesn't often get better. And there's 65 days to go. How many more speeches can she deliver between now and then that are derivative of that legacy-making speech, and how damaging a punch can they collectively deliver against the Republicans and McCain?
If my suspicions are correct, I think that the Obama and Clinton camps may have collectively opted to muzzle the Clintons to create drama, knowing full well both Bill and Hill would go totally on page with the party in order to restore their then-tarnished legacies. The Democrats have never been good at creating drama; until now. Now it's apparent they've not only created it, but have heatedly stoked it.
I think the plan for a while now has been to have Clintons put a cork in it, drive up speculation, since the media's been so whorey this year and all, and to just absolutely shatter the speculation with a strong performance of unity at the conference. I think Bill and Hillary will be campaigning a lot this fall. I bet that, sometime in October, as an anti-October Surprise attempt, Bill and Barack will do a few-city tour together, trumpeting the whole "they said Bill was inexperienced, too, but look how similarly brainiac we are! 23,000,000 jobs! $7,500 per family! Per year! 5 million green jobs!" argument.
I think the Palin-bashing will now fall to Hillary, who's going to be sharpening knives and practicing her aim. Girlfight! Hillary's going to be outraged that the woman's under an ethical investigation and appears to be the token Beauty Queen brains-and-smarts sales pitch by a relic of a political party that just doesn't get it. This is equality? Pick the pretty, popular girl over women who are older, less cute, and more experienced? This flies HOW?
But that's just my take.