September 30th, 2008

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I’m conflicted.

The Dodgers, my team, have made it to the playoffs. The Yankees (who manage, every time the ump yells, “Play Ball” to be facing my second favorite team), are not. Life should be good.

But (apart from rooting, by and large, for anyone playing the Giants; save when the Giants winning would be good for the Dodgers, in which case I hope the bad guys lose) my second favorite NL team also made the play-offs. I team I have rooted for, for years.

To make it worse, the Dodgers are playing the Cubs on Weds. night. In 2004 the world dodged a bullet; for a brief moment it looked as thought the Cubs would be playing the Red Sox. Who then to root for?

By way of explanation, for those who don’t follow baseball... I was in a pub in Ayre, Mass. It’s a Sox bar. I admitted to being a Dodger fan. I was gently jeered. I pointed out 1: I was from L.A. and it’s the home team. 2: It’s National League. 3: I like the Sox just fine and 4: I hated the damned Yankees. Four guys each put a buck on the bar and bought me another Guinness.

So I like the cubbies (hey anyone can have a bad century).

So, I guess the thing to do is root for the Dodgers. If they win, I’ll be a little sad. If the Cubs win I’ll be a little sad too. If, however, the Cubs do win... I know, hands down, who I want to win the series, and that’s ok. It’s been a long time since I could root for my second favorite team without reservation.
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How he plays the game

So last week, the financial crises lots of people have seen coming, finally broke. Bush has to be hating this (and his meeting with Yuschenko of Ukraine, well he looks worse than Nixon ever did Then again, he’s got a lower popularity than Nixon ever fell too. Mostly because the war everyone hates, is his war in a way that Viet-nam wasn’t Nixon’s, but I digress). Bush wanted this to be a Jackson/Van Buren, or Reagan/Bush sort of deal, i.e. he breaks it, and the next guy pays for. The timing couldn’t be worse for him.

It’s not good for the Republican Party either. It’s at about the perfect window to affect the election. It’s not far enough away that any attempt at a fix can have any effect. The fix being offered, isn’t going down well. Having this White House whip out a bill... well the odds of middle america trusting them, not so much (the various things which ought to have been big news; lies about WMD, the “rationale of the week” about why we actually went in [what with the lies about WMD being hard to keep going, some 5 years later, with not a tank of VX, or vial of anthrax to be found; much less the yellowcake Rice said proved Hussein was lying, because not an ounce of the mythical stuff was included on his declaration], the warrantless wiretapping, the outing of Valerie Plame, the US attorney firings, the no-bid contracts to campaign contributors, the refusal to answer subpoenas, hell, I’d go on, but I’m tired of typing, and y’all are probably tired of reading).

Enter John McCain.

His strategy seems to be, “look presidential”, which means his tactics ought to be playing to his strengths. He’s got them (or should). He’s been in the Senate a long time. He’s seen (right or wrong) as independent of the White House... a “maverick” who sees the things which ought to be done and pursues them.

That’s the meme his pushes, the story he’s been telling.

He decides to take a gamble. His VP isn’t bringing much to the table. She’s been caught out as clueless, and less than deft at hiding it. His judgement is being questioned. If the most experienced executive on any ticket is as piss-poor as she seems, uff-da. It’s changing the focus of things, the health records he managed to hide in plain sight are starting to gain traction (and there seems to be something in there he’s trying to hide. The whole gimmick of letting a bunch of reporters look at them for a few hours... that’s a scam. No way for them to scan them all for something dramatic, much less figure out if they’re complete).

So this mess comes along, and he decides to double the stakes. He’s going to save the day.

In a mad-fit of nobility he’s gonna suspend his campaign. He’s going to sacrifice his bid for president in the interest of the common good. His personal presence is so important he can’t attend the debate. He tried to deflect that by saying was more than willing to have 10 town halls; if Obama was willing to tag along with the McCain campaigns priorities.

Right, can’t take his chartered jet to Mississippi, because he has to be in Washington, saving the economy.

Obama doesn’t let him off the hook, and he caves in; attends the debate.

Strike one.

At the debate he looks petulant (or scared) and comes across as patronising and condescending. Oddly enough (as I scan the reactions) those who had already decided which way they were likely to go, tended to think it was a draw. The undecided, seem to have plumped more to Obama.

Strike two.

The compromise he worked to get hammered out... failed. The Republicans insisted the Dems take ownership of it and pretty much pass it all alone. His party... the one he’s going to be in charge of, should he win the election, couldn’t be arsed to fall in behind him.

Then he goes out to a press conference and, with the same sort of condescending arrogance, explains that he went and worked to get what he thought was best for the nation. Encouraged people to compromise, and come around to his vision, and they failed him.

He both assumed the mantle of the president, as if he were already in the office, and whined about it.

Strike three.

He’s already got a couple of strikes against him in the VP category. She’s got one more swing coming in the debate. Admittedly the expectations are low, but from what I’ve seen she’s going to have a hard time rising even to those. The real burden is going to be on Biden to avoid being too hard on her, lest she get sympathy for being abused.

I don’t see any good way for McCain, at this point, to turn the financial mess around. He’d have to come up with a bill that the people who innundated their reps with protests about the present steaming pile of dung will buy off on.

That would require starting from scratch, and including things (fixing the problem at the bottom; finding ways to prevent foreclosure, taking real stakes in the banks that fail [the swedish model], allowing shareholders to have a real say executive compensation, etc.) his party just won’t sign onto, and his campaign contributors would stop ponying up

So, is he gonna stick with this, and come back to the plate, late in the game (it may not be the ninth, but it’s sure as hell later than the 7th inning stretch) or try to find a new strategy?.

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