Given the ideology-free cluelessness of the McCain campaign, conservative and libertarian intellectuals (I guess that includes me) are now talking about what America will be like under Obama and how much or how little damage he will do. Here are my predictions:
1. Get ready for four years of grovelling leader-worship on the part of a significant part of the population. Note how Rolling Stone literally gave him a halo.
2. Get ready for an orgy of political correctness. People have claimed that Sarah Palin’s use of the expression “hockey mom” is racist (I didn’t know this, but apparently black people don’t play hockey). Similar things have been said about the expression “Joe Sixpack” (I guess they don’t drink beer either). These accusations have not by any means been limited to insignificant chunkheads here in the blogosphere. Notoriously, Congressman John Lewis compared John McCain to George Wallace and suggested that he might cause people to murder innocent little girls. I hope you don’t mind this sort of thing because you will be hearing a lot more of it. As an inmate of a typical, solidly liberal university, I am used to it, but you may find it annoying. More importantly, now it will tend to insulate the most powerful man on Earth from criticism. People who criticize Obama will feel that they have to couch their remarks in language that can give no offense. It will be like boxing with handcuffs on.
3. Get ready for a divided and angry country. Obama's party will not only control the White House but both houses of Congress. I don't expect them to be magnanimous in victory. They have suffered (how they have suffered) eight years of not getting their way, and they won't have to take it any more. This will make a lot of others feel helpless and unrepresented by the system. The last time the Democrats were in this kind of lockdown position was the first two years of the Clinton administration. The result was anti-government rage over the incidents at Ruby Ridge and Waco, which festered in a dangerous segment of the political right. Some of it was rational, but much of it was just crazy. It finally peaked out when a certain nut-job bombed the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. I don't know what will happen this time, but I am very sorry to say that I would not be surprised to see more bloodshed.
4. Get ready to watch at least a year of OJT. Once before we elected a Senator with a rather skimpy legislative record who nonetheless gave lovely speeches and had written two pretty-good books. He was charming, but it was unclear what he stood for, if anything. Of course I'm referring to JFK. Well, you may be thinking, finally you are saying something positive. JFK was a great President! Actually, the first half of his term in office, at least, was dangerously inept. In April of his first year there was the tragically incompetent Bay of Pigs invasion. Then, in June, he met in Vienna with Khrushchev, who we now know sized him up as a lightweight who could be easily managed. Eventually, concerned that Kennedy would invade Cuba in earnest (an idiotic move that The Boy President actually was considering) Khrushchev moved missiles into Cuba. Finally, Kennedy showed signs of eptitude: his handling of that crisis was effective. But note that (like his earlier courageous response to his PT boat being run over by an enemy ship) it was a solution to a horrific problem that he himself (probably) had brought on himself.
Of course, none of this really speaks to matters of substance. What will he actually do? What will his policies by like? I have no idea. I know he says he will cut the taxes on 95% of Americans, but no sane person believes he will do anything like that. He will inherit a crumbling economy and a government that is racing toward insolvency. His announced policy views, such as they are, are clearly not adapted to that sort of situation. As far as we know, he has never been in any sort of leadership position during any sort of crisis, as JFK had been with the destruction of PT 109. How he will adapt, no one knows. What we must hope and pray for is that he will not do what Hoover and Roosevelt did: turn a bad economic situation into a great depression. It will be well within his power to do so.
Added later: During the week of October 24, Joe Biden's mouth became famous all over again for saying something similar to what I said in point 4 above: "“Mark my words,” the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.” The difference is of course that Joe doesn't seem to think this is a bad thing.