Did They Ever Get It?

Ya know, when you think back to the past 6 months or so, for as maddening as downright dumb as some of the stuff coming out of NRO et. al was, in retrospect it all seems sort of amusingly amateurish, and almost, well, cute. I mean, looking back, all I can really wonder at this point is whether any of them realized how abjectly stupid this stuff really was, or whether they actually believed it as they were typing it.

Over the course of the past 3 months, Obama has been too black, and “really white.” He’s been a Stalinist and the descendant of Hitler. He’s been friends with Louis Farrakhan and dovish Jews. He’s been a radical black liberationist and a secret Muslim. He’s been a pacifist and a domestic terrorist. McCain was going to follow bin Laden to the gates of hell, solong as they don’t happen to be in Pakistan. To say the right never settled on an argument is to give them too much credit. Indeed, they were making contradictory claims simultaenously, trying to unload everything in 40 years of culture warring at Obama.

But I think the most absurd thing about the whole endeavor was the way crowds suddenly became vindication for them. Let’s get something straight; this is (nominally) a participatory democracy. The whole idea is to get lots of people tolike you, and then to vote for you. So if you’ve got lots of people comingto your rallies to see you, you’re probably doing alright. But more than that, I think there was something truly special, something almost Earth shattering, in those crowds. Admittedly, they were one of the things that early on made me really look at Obama as, maybe, something special. Is that a good reason to supportĀ a candidate? Maybe not, but there was something truly unique about it. I’d never seen anything like it; constantly filling basketball arenas during the primaries, 75,000 people in Oregon, 20,000 in Idaho, the convention speech, 100,000 in St. Louis, and I don’t think American politics has ever seen something quite like that. It was, in itself, something that moved you, something that made you pay attention,something that made you want to be involved, much in the way that a good baseball game is enhanced further when the crowd is really into what’s going on. And the celebrations last night wereeven more amazing. I think yu’dhave to go all the way back to the end of World War II to find anything like that level of spontaneous celebration and joy on such a massive scale. It’s certainly never been rivaled in politics. And there was, and is, something truly moving just in that. It gives you the sense that we really are the United States of America, despite the best efforts of “real-America.”

So did they understand that? Yeah, I think deep down they did. Afterall, you can’t spend that much time watching politics without knowing you’re seeing something you’ve never seen before. But that was all they had to work with. And now they don’t even have that.