Last night, in a fearful fit in the middle of the Palin/Biden debate, I sent a desperate text message to two of my best friends from my alma mater, the University of Mississippi (Hotty Toddy!, Ole Miss Debate '08! Chomp, Chomp, Florida Gators!, etc.)
It's probably best that I don't include the text verbatim, but here's a pretty accurate depiction of what I said: "This person might be the next president of the United States. God help us all."
This may surprise you, but I wasn't talking about Joe Biden.
Before I continue, let me square with everybody. I qualify myself an independent voter. I've been leaning Obama only since my work with the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation this past spring semester (community organizers by the way. They do exist), when thanks to my contacts there I was made aware of Barack Obama's seminal speech on race, which I still think is best moment of the elections so far. See for yourself.
That said, I still wasn't completely sold on Obama, though it wasn't his fault. The truth is, I was a McCain guy before I ever knew about Obama. I loved the Straight-talk express. I loved his laid-back appearances on The Daily Show with John Stewart. Alright, this might all sound cliché now that the media has rammed the narrative to the ground, but I loved his independence. He wasn't hung up on social issues like his fellow Republicans. Okay, maybe a "maverick" is a little much, but you have to admit he has showed a strong independent streak, something the New York Times readily admitted when they endorsed him as the most qualified Republican in the primary field in January.
When McCain and Obama each captured their nominations, I was giddy. I told my friends it was "win, win" and that I would be fine with either Obama or my favorite Republican won, and continuing that belief even up to the last few months as McCain started waddling back over to the right. For me, McCain's willingness to suddenly tow the party line after spending much of his career on its margins was forgiveable: as far as I was concerned, he had at least earned my trust long enough to still consider him come September.
Then came the Palin pick and her remarkable introduction during the Republican Convention. Then came the revelation that many of her assertions were entirely false. Finally, her interviews with Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson, in which she revealed that she may be pretty adequate at being the governor of Alaska, she has no idea how to relate to the global community. Take in point, this video in which she talks to Katie Couric about the magazines she reads to keep up with the world.
Needless to say, I'm a little disappointed in "The Maverick," and not even for picking someone more conservative on social issues to rally the Republican base. I'm disappointed in John McCain because he picked someone who very clearly isn't ready to be president. Look, the debate on McCain's age aside, but the simple fact is that he's 72 years-old. Yes, I think he's capable of running the country at least better than our current president. But it's the perception of the possibility of his health deteriorating that gives him the responsibility to at least a choose vice presidential candidate who is prepared to be president of The United States, now. Not tomorrow. Not when he or she is able to catch up with what's been happening in the world the past 40 years. Right now. If anything, last night we learned that if even any vice presidential candidate is competent enough to do the job, it's Biden.
Still, I do have a little more peace of mind now. By making such maverick decision by picking Sarah Palin, John McCain made my November decision for me.
Bryan, I'm an independent, too (which I caught some flak for, and I won't name names), and although I was leaning in the Obama/Clinton/Edwards direction at the beginning of the campaign, I hoped that if a Republican happened to win, McCain would be the one because I thought he was moderate. Now all I see is a this-is-my-last-chance-so-I'm-pulling-from-a-different-playbook candidate who has compromised his own principles to get elected. The 2000 McCain and the 2008 McCain are different people to me.
I was never going to vote for McCain, but I had a decent impression of him and thought he would be an improvement over Bush in a worst case scene. McCain's catering TOTALLY to the wingnut wing of his party has made me very afraid for America. If they win, God help us doggone it. You betcha my friends.
I endorsed Obama in January 2007, but still thought McCain was by far the best of the Republican field--his gutsy position on immigration being one of the reasons why. But he sold out on that, and on so many other things, to capture the nomination.