Anticipation

Shepard Fairey's Obama poster from OBEYFor someone who keeps asserting that the presidential contest is proceeding pretty much as expected, and who spends much of his time trying to calm the nervous Nellies, I have been spending an awful lot of time lately at FiveThirtyEight.com, watching for signs of disaster. By and large I have been made happy by what I’ve not seen: any serious movement in the polling that would indicate trouble for Obama on November 5.

So, tomorrow I vote, the voting ends, and someone will be elected president. Naturally, I hope it’s Barack Obama, but my vote in the District of Columbia will have scant effect on the outcome. It would be nice if I could vote in Ohio and make more of a difference, but until we decide that “place of birth” can be substituted for “current residence” in registering to vote, I will continue to merely pad the results in a place of little consequence, as far as the Electoral College goes.

Before we leave this campaign behind, I can’t help taking note of a particularly ridiculous mantra that the McCain camp has recited for the last month or so. While patiently explaining his tax proposals to a Republican “man in the street” in Ohio by the name of Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, soon to morph into a cartoon character called Joe the Plumber, Obama said the tax plan would “spread the wealth,” specifically to the “Joe the Plumber” of early times, when he wasn’t on the verge of cracking the $250K barrier (which, it turns out, he wasn’t anyway) and could use some financial encouragement in the form of lower taxes. In the retelling by GOP operatives, this became “redistribution of the wealth,” and to support this stronger version of what Obama didn’t say, they dug up a radio interview from 2001 in which law professors were discussing an old and generally discredited and unused theory of redistributive mechanisms in the hands of the courts. In the course of the scholarly discussion, Obama expressed skepticism that the courts were configured for that sort of activity. This the McCain camp waved around as evidence that Obama is a “socialist.” Later, as is their wont, they upped the vituperative ante to “Marxist.”

It’s all nonsense, of course, and a sign of the desperation that descended on the McCain campaign in October. The Obama campaign dealt with this junk moderately well, at times with a welcome dose of humor. But they never said the obvious: McCain apparently does not like to see wealth spread around. McCain and his party prefer to see wealth concentrated.

It took an old Republican operative and Reagan staffer, David Gergen, to put the lie to the McCain campaign’s tomfoolery:

Gergen suggested that the Democrats should invoke the example of Teddy Roosevelt, who was both a Republican and one of the greatest advocates of progressive taxation in the years immediately preceding the enactment of the current income tax.

Gergen also noted that the Reagan administration was responsible for enacting the Earned Income Tax Credit, an extremely successful redistribution program which returns money to the working poor.

“Sometimes they get so carried away that they don’t realize the realities of what we’ve been going through,” Gergen added. Apparently referring to McCain’s promises to “create more wealth,” he explained that “the wealth over the last 30 years has been redistributed—it’s been redistributed upwards. As we grow, the top one percent’s getting a disproportionate share.”

(Note that Gergen includes the Reagan years in his criticism.) Wealth redistributed upward—i.e., concentration of the wealth in a few hands. Progress will entail active efforts to reverse the trend to oligarchy and plutocracy in the United States of America.

Perhaps the first step will be taken tomorrow.

At the very least, we will likely to see the cessation of such scurrilous attacks as the one McCain–Palin have mounted against Rashid Khalidi. I have managed to avoid the Washington Post for several months now. It was a pleasant surprise to be referred to their editorial on the subject. One passage goes to the heart of what many see as Obama’s open and deliberative temperament:

Listening to Mr. Khalidi can be challenging—as Mr. Obama put it in the dinner toast recorded on the 2003 tape and reported by the [Los Angeles] Times in a detailed account of the event last April, he “offers constant reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases.”

It’s fair to question why Mr. Obama felt as comfortable as he apparently did during his Chicago days in the company of men whose views diverge sharply from what the presidential candidate espouses. Our sense is that Mr. Obama is a man of considerable intellectual curiosity who can hear out a smart, if militant, advocate for the Palestinians without compromising his own position.

The Post asked Khalidi if he wished to comment on what McCain et al. have been saying. If you didn’t know Khalidi is American-born, his answer might tip you off:

He answered, via e-mail, that “I will stick to my policy of letting this idiot wind blow over.”

The Post concludes:

That’s good advice for anyone still listening to the McCain campaign’s increasingly reckless ad hominem attacks. Sadly, that wind is likely to keep blowing for four more days.

That was Friday. Now it’s T-minus 24 hours or so …

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  • Proverbs for Paranoids, 3: If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.
    Gravity’s Rainbow

    ‘Is it about a bicycle?’ he asked.
    The Third Policeman