Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Deliver Us From Intellectual Laziness

So if you've been following politics recently, you've no doubt heard about Senator Obama's decision to forego public financing for his general election campaign. It's hardly a surprise, but it is controversial.

The rationale is pretty obvious. His campaign has already raised amazing amounts of money via the internet, mostly smaller donations from millions of different people. Why lock yourself into a set amount of money when it's possible the current method will yield several times that amount?

McCain has committed to public financing, even though there's growing evidence to suggest he's been violating election laws left and right. That, of course, hasn't stopped him from going after Obama on this issue. Hardly a surprise, but I expect that sort of shit from Republicans at this point, and this post isn't about him.

With Obama's decision, it's a classic head vs. heart issue...and this time, I think I'm leaning toward heart. While it is admirable that Obama has struck a chord with so many regular folks giving small private donations, the decision also reeks of the "everything to win" approach that so often made Hillary Clinton off-putting. It seems beneath someone who talks so often about changing America's typical politics.

So I'm disappointed, but I'm obviously going to still vote for the guy. At this point, he would have to bite the head off of a baby before I wouldn't. If Hillary won, I would have (reluctantly) voted for her as well, because after 8 years of Bush, the Republicans need to sit in the corner and have a fucking time out.

So I'm about to put forward a concept which may blow the minds of most political commentators: I'm criticizing a candidate for a particular action....without endorsing his opponent.

Hard to grasp, I know. At least that's the impression I get from a lot of Obama's internet supporters.

So why is Jon Stewart at the top of this entry? Well, The Daily Show recently had some fun with Obama's decision, and dug up a tape from one of last year's Democratic debates. In it, the moderator asked who among them supported public financing. There's Obama with his hand up. Oops.

And here's the typical response:

From Joseph A. Palermo:
Jon Stewart and The Daily Show should be mindful whenever Obama is the target of their satire that they don't end up regurgitating Republican talking points. The producers should be careful when poking fun at Obama not to provide fuel for the right-wing slime machine. Poke fun at Obama all you want, but do it in a way that also reveals the Republicans' mendacity and hypocrisy.

Okay, that's just lame. Obviously Republicans are not short on either mendacity or hypocrisy, but come on. Every Obama joke has to be balanced by a joke about the Republicans? What if every time someone made fun of Bush, they had to also mock a Democrat? That's stupid. Another annoying element of this is the implication that Stewart has some responsibility to help get Obama elected. No. The guy makes fun of people. That's his job.

During his routine, the normally wild Daily Show crowd was pretty quiet, prompting Stewart to say "It's okay to laugh at him. Really."

It's sad to see normally astute commentators become close-minded zealots just because it's election time. Why can't more of them be like Katie? The other night, she asked me "Did you hear about Obama? That he's a jerk and won't do public financing?" Is that intellectual honesty I smell? I knew there was a reason why I'm gonna marry her.

It is not a "Republican talking point" to note that Obama's position on public financing has changed. Not when a tape like that exists. Again, I don't think it's an egregious offense, just a disappointment. It's not going to change my vote or the vote of most people I know who don't like this turn of events. And I'm not worried this issue is giving the Republicans a chance to dust off the old "flip-flop" accusations, since on that front, McCain still has Obama outnumbered by a ratio of about 20 to 1.

So as we look back on the last eight years, let's not forget one of the main things that made Bush and his supporters so obnoxious - shit like this.