Sunday, March 02, 2008

American Dream Disorder

American Dream Disorder

Like Gatsby fixating on the green light and the girl he once lost, like Hester Prynne fantasizing about an escape from puritan New England with her paramour pastor Dimmesdale, like phony Holden wishing to live a “mute” life with a “mute” wife out west, many of us Democrats, I fear, get caught in our dreams just like our more famous figures in American literature.

Yes, it appears Barack will win the nomination and Hillary will most likely lose. With an opposition to the war from the beginning, with what seems to be an unblemished public record, with an uncanny, superficial resemblance to JFK, further enhanced by Kennedy family endorsements, and most of all, with a message that resonates and a life partner who is as equally if not more convincing than the candidate himself, Senator Obama has built an insurmountable momentum among Democratic party voters. Aided and abetted by a mainstream media dying for a “new” narrative and an indirect means by which to drive the nails into Hillary’s coffin, Barack has justly carpe diem(ed) the moment.

But the mainstream media narratives are shifting. And electoral reality with many Americans, whether or not the pundit class recognizes it, conveys another story.

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve already previewed the summer & fall Republican attack narratives that the mainstream media will no doubt intensify: “The Patriot Question, The Barack Edition.” They’ve already gone after Michelle, and they will stop at nothing equating Barack’s name to some of our more renowned “radical” Islamist enemies. Have we conveniently forgotten about our swift-boating, presidential campaign past?

But lady of mass instigation, Maureen Dowd, in today’s column, suggests that attacks against Obama’s patriotism “may not have the same traction.” Silly Maureen, these attacks already have gained some traction. It seems that Dowd also likes to dream and fantasize. And while I would NEVER suggest that the ever-astute Frank Rich has a touch of the American Dream Disorder, I’m admittedly concerned. In today’s column, “McCain Channels His Inner Hillary,” Rich highlights what many Democrats are either overlooking or completely disregarding in their dream states: Senator Obama will not have an easy campaign against Senator McCain, who has adopted the Hillary “experience” offensive, despite what some early polling and match-ups forecast.

As Rich duly notes, Senator McCain is far more appealing to Democrats and liberals than what one might initially think. That Bomb, Bomb McCainy invokes the wrath of Flush Limfart and Mann Coulter only increases the appeal, especially among those Reagan Democrats who’ve been a part of the Clinton coalition—a coalition of the dwindling. Perhaps this is why in must-win Florida polls, as Rich emphasizes, McCain decisively beats Obama. But even Rich suggests that for McCain and his supporters, “The Patriot Question, The Barack Edition” will NOT have much force in the wake of the RNC’s overtly racist “macaca” days. I think not.

“The Patriot Question, The Barack Edition” has already taken foot; just take a look at Steve Croft’s segment on tonight’s 60 Minutes Sunday. Croft interviewed a group of Ohio blue collar men who said they didn’t like Obama because he wasn’t patriotic and he was a Muslim. Lies, I know. But what we are witnessing here is a tectonic narrative shift; the campaign against Obama is all over the web—whether you are looking for it or not; and quite frankly, Senator McCain is a perfect character foil to set this story into hyper-drive: Veteran, former prisoner of war, hawk, older statesman.

Like it or not, many people respect McCain’s “story” and his commitment to our country. Many people do see him as paradigm of…patriotism, the very thing the echo chamber clamors Barack is not. While I will certainly support Senator Obama’s candidacy—I do believe he is unequivocally the better choice, I do fear that many Democrats and pundits are only dreaming if they think that the RNC smearing and fearing won’t work because it already has.

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