Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Never seen a PUMA except in a zoo

I decided to add Pandagon to the blogroll here. Welcome back, Jesse Taylor. Also, if one has a blogroll it should include Michael Tomasky, the best liberal pundit Morgantown, West Virginia has ever produced.

Tomasky today listed some things Hillary Clinton could have said in her convention speech last night but didn’t. I didn’t watch, I confess, although my wife did and thought Hillary did a fine job. But Tomasky is on target. In particular, Hillary could have said something to counteract the argument that Obama is a show horse, not ready for the job of president, the argument she pushed during primary season and which John McCain has now picked up pretty much word-for-word. In my daydream version of her speech, Hillary said “You know, we ran a pretty darn good campaign, 18 million votes, accomplishments A, B, and C, but you know what? Barack Obama ran a better campaign.” This is not a controversial statement, and I’d think it would do her psyche some good to acknowledge that her campaign made tactical errors. And it would do Obama a lot of good for her to assert that he won legitimately, not by playing the race card or gender card or gaming the primary system somehow. The rules were the rules, and he played the game a little bit better.

I guess if I’m going to spill my neuroses about Bobby Abreu’s batting statistics, I can do the same about discord in the Democratic Party. I don’t completely doubt that PUMAs exist: I have observed them in their ideal habitat, as callers-in to the Diane Rehm Show. But I struggle with the notion that PUMAs exist in numbers sufficient to really threaten Obama’s candidacy. Really? You’re really such a committed feminist that you’ll throw the White House to John McCain? McCain of “cunt and trollop”, “Janet Reno is Chelsea’s father” fame? I’m not panicked but I am vexed. My youngest daughter is a Hillary dead-ender herself, but I cut her some slack since she’s seven years old.

But people are funny. They're perverse and cling to hurts and delusions in spite of objectivity and even self-interest. Big Dog Bill, the Man from Hope, was deeply wounded to be painted as a racist; never mind how crazy it was that his status as Virtual Black Candidate would transfer to his wife and outweigh the impact of an Actual Black Candidate. Hillary seems hurt not to have been more seriously considered for Obama's VP slot; never mind how obviously awkward that would be with her marriage and after the bruising primary fight. Some women Democrats really are in a frenzy for Clinton out of some potent blend of their own thwarted hopes and Hillary's celebrityhood; never mind how good Obama is on women's issues, and how few real alternatives there are in our system.

The ancestors of the PUMA are the Soccer Mom and the NASCAR Dad: specimens that loom a lot larger in the minds of political elites than in the voting public at large. This is what I tell myself to keep from panicking. But y’know, I openly wished for a competitive primary race, and this is the result: some people are truly agitated that Their Candidate didn’t win, and fractious Democrats is a story the media loves to tell at every opportunity. As Tomasky says, the party would have a similar problem even if Clinton’s and Obama’s roles were reversed, and he were the runner-up. And as with the Joe Biden nomination for VP, I have succumbed to the realist point of view that what the MSM says does have an impact.

A note on the shoes: Oh, man, I had forgotten they were called Clydes! A big shout-out to Walt Frazier: you were great running the point, dude, how the Knicks have missed you the last twenty years, and I hope Just For Men is being good to you. I had a pair of these when I was about 13, dark blue with the light stripe. My biggest complaint was that the color ran like crazy if the shoes got wet—like, if the wearer had a newspaper route (a shout-out to the Washington Star: you had your moments as well) and was out before dawn on the weekends shlepping papers, taking short cuts through the dewy grass of a Northern Virginia suburb. Newsprint all over my hands and arms, blue suede dye on my feet. Those were the days.

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