Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Race

In the latest New York Times article on the election, this paragraph appears:
“Senator Obama has more money than God, the most favorable political climate imaginable — a three-week Wall Street meltdown and financial crisis — and with all that, the most margin he can get is four points?” said Bill McInturff, one of Mr. McCain’s pollsters. “That does speak to the questions there are about lack of experience, his candidacy, and other things that make people say, ‘Gosh, is he really ready?’ ”
This is, I believe, a fundamental error on the McCain campaign's part. I think Obama passed the experience threshold after the first debate, if he hadn't done so already. The reason that he doesn't have a double-digit lead—though some polls give him close to one—has nothing to do with McInturff's argument. It's because of his name and because he's black.

I think that this means that the viciously negative campaign the McCain campaign says it's going to run in the next month is a waste of their dwindling resources and time, because nothing they say about Obama's supposed associations with radicals or his lack of experience or his "dangerous" willingness to use diplomacy is going to be scarier to the American people than the scary stuff that's already on the surface—stuff they are apparently willing to overlook to the tune of a 5.9% advantage to Obama according to the Real Clear Politics average of the current national polls. That doesn't mean we don't live in a racist country, only that our fear of the unknown is now less great than our fear of a known quantity: the bankrupt (in every sense!) Republican leadership of the past decade.

Obama's rope-a-dope strategy seems to be paying off big right now. I can only hope—in spite of the lack of evidence, in spite of his apparent "pragmatism"—that he has a similarly cool strategy for installing and pursuing a genuinely progressive agenda as President. We may, however, have substituted progress on the level of identity politics for the kind of progress that would really move large numbers of people at home and abroad toward justice and equality.

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