I’m less pessimistic than some people I know about the prospects for Democrats taking back the White House in November. Yes, things are looking bleak at the moment, but I’m still pretty optimistic that Democrats will unify substantially by the fall, and that Obama will be better able to deflect smear tactics than Kerry was, and that McCain will be exposed as a potentially senile flip-flopper who talks a maverick game but is actually just another deficit-growing, war-mongering, choice-denying, fat-cat-cronying (new verb) Republican who will continue the disastrous Bush policies. And the external advantages for a Democrat are so overwhelming (economy in the tank, quagmire in Iraq, Republican president with a record-breaking 69 percent disapproval rating) that they will likely outweigh Obama’s vulnerabilities.
It’s really time, though, for Democrats to start informing the American public about who John McCain really is. Here’s one suggestion: in order to help lure back the 25% or so of Clinton supporters who say they will vote for McCain in the general election if Obama is the Democratic nominee, I propose widespread distribution of McCain’s strongly anti-choice views (I don’t think many Democrats know this about him) and even more widespread distribution of the joke he told at a fundraiser in 1998: “Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?” (Pause.) “Because her father is Janet Reno.” This is the man who those die-hard Clinton supporters prefer to Barack Obama? This is the man who supposedly has so much class and integrity? (Admittedly, a tasteless joke might endear him to some people: “What a regular guy! I’d like to have a beer with him! Therefore he’d make a good President!”)
Obviously, my (relative) optimism depends on a quick, graceful and gracious exit by Clinton, and I will admit that things aren’t looking too good on that front right now. I should probably wait until the Pennsylvania results are in before posting this, because a big Clinton win in PA may well augur the election of John McCain in November (not necessarily because it’ll be a sign that Obama can’t “close the deal,” but just because it makes a quick and graceful Clinton exit a lot less likely).