For the most part, the First Draft Crack Van is kind of like Casablanca, or maybe Las Vegas. What happens in the Crack Van stays in the Crack Van. Which probably explains the way the carpet smells…but I digress.
I’m going to out my van self here because I want talk a bit more about that first debate.
Yeah, the debate itself is old news but what I’ve been thinking about is going to come up over and over in this last home sprint to November 4.
As other FD crackheads can attest, I was certainly one of the most vocal protesters every time Obama said that McCain was right. “Stop saying he’s right!” we shouted. In addition, inside the van and out, lots of folks pretty much wanted Obama to take the gloves off and lay into the old geezer. But would that have worked? The word on the street is that Obama won the debate anyway, and he stayed on the high road throughout, even when he was laying it all down about just how wrong, wrong, wrong Grandpa has been.
This issue gets talked about a lot by the punditry but what do you guys think? I feel like we are all a tad schizophrenic. We’re all about “changing our politics” and bringing the level of discourse up, but the lower into the Rove Gutter Ol’ Fishbelly gets, the more we want Obama to respond in kind. Because we want so much to win. But do we want it at any cost? Are we, and more importantly, is he, naive to cleave to that high road all the way? Or should he slug it out and win, then get back to changing that discourse from the safe perspective of the Oval Office? Would the win mean any less?
I really would like to hear yall’s take on this because I’m not sure. I mean, I know what I want, which is for him to win by Doing The Right Thing, but I’m not sure I’m right. That, and during these last few weeks, it’s hard to keep the Cynicism Troll under the bridge. Then again, I read something likethis by City Mamaand I hear the call of that High Road again:
Having grown up in Hawaii, I know the community that
surrounded him. It wasn’t just his family or his school, but the entire
island surrounding him with the spirit of ohana or family. In Hawaii,
ohana means the entire community, the whole island, is your family in
that “it takes a village” sense. It means that you may disagree with
someone, even vehemently, but since you live on a rock in the middle of
the Pacific Ocean and you can’t run away from them, you need to figure
out a way to live and work together. I saw Obama’s
“Hawaii-ness”—his spirit of ohana—in Friday’s debate.
I saw it when Obama said, “John McCain is
right,” finding therare
points where he could agree with McCain before roasting him in a blaze
of searing criticism. Obama’s agreement didn’t show weakness. On the
contrary. People everywhere,—but especially people from
Hawaii—understand that it showed leadership, a willingness to reach
across the aisle in the spirit of working together, it showed Obama’s
true nature as someone who can seek common ground where he is able, it
In Hawaii, perhaps because of the spirit of ohana or the Missionary
influence or deep-rooted Asian traditions, a high social value is
placed on respecting elders and
being polite. It’s the island way. Grace, gentlemanliness, and courtesy
are social norms. Anyone acting otherwise is an instant pariah. If you
are discourteous, everyone knows who you are. To further illustrate my
point, I would venture to say that
everyone from Hawaii watching the debate was thinking, “Yes, he had to
take McCain down 17 notches, but at least he showed manners and acted
like a gentleman. He wasn’t rude. His family raised him right.”
I know there’s the whole Obama has to be careful not to play into the Angry Black Man issue, and we all know that has credence. We would indeed be naive to think racist assumptions don’t play into this. Not unlike Ginger having to do everything Fred did, but backwards and in heels, Obama has to run a winning presidential campaign, against an experienced, aggressive opponent, in troubled times, all while walking that tightrope.
But I want to believe that there’s more than that. I want to believe that Obama’s awesome civility-fu will let him bloodlessly defeat the old guy, that he can use it to deflect that old soldier’s own blood lust and use it against him. That is, as long as he can win by doing so.
Because McCain’s aggression cannot stand. In her post above, City Mama links to another post that I also like very much:this one, by critic Roger Ebert. It’s also about civility, good manners, basic decency. But Ebert shows a bit more teeth.
I do not like you, John McCain. My feeling has nothing to do with
issues. It has to do with common courtesy. During the debate, you
refused to look Barack Obama in the eye. Indeed, you refused to look at
him at all. Even when the two of you shook hands at the start, you used
your eyes only to locate his hand, and then gazed past him as you shook
Obama is my guy. If you are rude to him, you are rude to me.
If you came to dinner at my house and refused to look at or speak with
one of my guests, that would be bad manners and I would be offended.
Same thing if I went to your house. During the debate, you were
You made a TV commercial showing the moments Obama agreed with you. Everybody knows he did. Did his agreement show honesty, or weakness? It is significant that you said it proved he was not ready to lead. What is the better leadership quality: (1) Willingness to listen to your opponent, and keep an open mind? (2) Rigidly ignoring him? Which of the two of you better demonstrated the bipartisan spirit you say you represent? Was there anything he said that you agreed with? Could you have brought yourself to say so?
What do you guys think we are going to see during this next month? What do you want to see? In addition to an Obama win, of course.