Post Mortem

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

Finally it is over.   One of the worst aspects of this whole campaign has been how long it lasted.  For almost all voters who have clearly developed political philosophies and beliefs, or even just clear party affiliations, their minds were made up long before the rest even began thinking about the election.    This is especially true for those like myself who saw serious problems with both candidates.   Now, at least it is over.

I was never a huge supported of the current president.  While not as moderate as is father, I saw him as a moderate – conservative  who would increase the size of government and thereby cause the party to loose in the future.   I turned out to be correct in that analysis.   While far better than Obama, McCain would have been worse than Bush.   So while I would have preferred a McCain victory as it would have been better for the country, I can at least take some solace in the fact that I will not be put on the spot of being asked to defend  the expansion of global warming laws, etc.

As to why we lost? There are many reasons.  Bush’s failure to defend much less aggressively defend himself and his policies are a huge factor.  One question I frequently hear is “Why doesn’t he defend himself”  or “Why doesn’t the White House get this information out.”  The closest thing to an answer is that the President supposedly does not want to fight old battles.  

While it may be ok for Bush to trust in the judgment of history, and I do in fact think that Bush will look far better looking back in a few years, that does little good for the party that must continue to fight on.  It is as if quarterback who was retiring, decided to simply go through the motions during the second half of the game.

Still a good candidate could have overcome that.   That brings us to McCain.  McCain was the wrong candidate at the wrong time.  Limited by his own campaign finance reform laws,  and estranged from the base of his own party, McCain ran a campaign the elites have been seeking,  a positive campaign that for the most part avoided negative attacks.   

The elites pushed McCain because they all thought this was going to be a election on the war and foreign policy,  and because they wanted to get rid of all those pesky conservatives.   As it turned out foreign policy wasn’t even an issue.  One thing that often plagues Republicans is their success.  Bush has been so successful defending against terrorism and the surge has worked so well, that these have ceased to be issues.   

Even with this McCain still could have won, because Obama has his own serious flaws.  What ultimately tipped the balance was the press coverage.  Going back as far as I can remember, (i.e., the 1960s) the press as always tilted to the left.  But this year it flat fell over, and ceased any pretense of objectivity.   In fact as a recent Pew Research Report showed, the only major network that showed any sense of balance was actually the nemesis of the left Fox News, which had equal percentage of negative  stores on McCain and Obama, and slightly higher percentage of positive stores for Obama.   On the other hand on MSNBC over 70 pecent of the McCain stories were negative, compared to only 14 percent for Obama. 

There is a simple rule I teach in critical thinking: if most of what you hear about something is negative, you will tend to have a negative view, if most of what you hear about something is positive you will tend to have a positive view.   The Pew report showed that in press coverage, except for Fox which was balanced, the press for Obama was mostly neutral or positive, and for McCain was mostly negative.

Even worse than the bias coverage is what didn’t get air time.  One of the reasons the war on terrorism, and the war in Iraq were not a more important factors was that they are going so well that they don’t get covered lest it support Republicans.   Thus the focus was on the economy which does have serious problems,  but even here the reason for those problems  was not covered, for at its core the current problems go to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Democrats.   

Thus with all these negatives, what is amazing is that was as close as it was, and that the predicted Democratic blowout did not occur.

So where do we go from here.  One good thing is that the Republican party will need to reform, and there is currently no clear heir apparent for 2012.  I think the move to the center, with McCain will been seen as the mistake that it was. While the Left constantly likes to speak of the demise of conservatives, The simple fact is that we have not had a really conservative President since Regan.  Bush 41 was nominated as Reagan’s VP and Bush 43 as Bush 41’s son, and neither was really conservative.   Nor was McCain.

Perhaps the closest thing to an heir apparent would be Palin, and as a result the relentless attacks on her will continue.  In fact I expect that before long the elites will be saying how McCain would have won if only he had not picked Palin.   As a fairly conservative woman, she would be a real threat and therefore must be destroyed by the left.

Whoever the next candidate is, if they hope to win, they will need to be able to go around the press to speak effectively to the American people.  A leader must be able to communicate their vision of where they want to take America and what they hope to accomplish and not just  during the campaign.

One danger I do see is a repeat of the Clinton years. Clinton won in 1992 and like now, the democrats controlled Congress.  After two years things were so bad that the Republican won control of Congress for the first time in 40 years.  Then the Republican Congress turned things around so well that by the time 1996 election Clinton was able to take credit and won reelection.

As for the two big fears I had with Obama,  the war in Iraq seems to be going so well that hopefully his  withdrawal will not actually have much effect.   The other concern was the Judges.  There is little hope in the short term there.  The only hope of retaining the constitution will be for some future President and Congress, to force a constitutional crisis that moves the court back into is constitutional role of judging rather than making the law.  But then frankly I have been moving more and more in the direction of that belief even before this election.  Barring that, we will increasingly cease to be a democratic republic , and instead be ruled by a council of Kings, who fundamentally set the policy for the country, while the President and Congress will be relegated to merely working out the details and administering their decrees.  

One final positive, will be clarity.   For months now there has been the Obama of his supporters, or should I say the many Obamas as Obama was so many things to so many people.  Then there was the Obama that his detractors saw.   About the only thing his supporters could agree on was that the detractors were wrong. But they could never really tell us who Obama was.   Now we will find out.  Frankly, I think that over the next few months it will many of his supporter that are surprised at what is about to happen and the change that is coming.  But either way, over the next six months, we will finally get to see the real Obama.

Nov 5th, 2008

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