"Be afraid. Be very afraid."
Although I am slightly pleased by John Edwards' second-place finish ahead of Hillary Clinton in last night's Iowa primary, I am less pleased that Barack Obama won it so handily, mostly with the assistance of what have come to be called "first-time caucus goers."
My analysis of that phenomenon is not as rosy as some. It indicates something that is actually rather obvious, that Barack Obama has excited our excitable young folks who respond to his amorphous "message of hope" rather than delve more deeply into the nuts and bolts of his policy proposals (his ideas on Social Security are practically Republican, and his health care plan is very weak and far too conciliatory to the health insurance industry), and without considering what an Obama candidacy would really mean in the heat of the general election.
I know the argument that holds that Obama will bring new Democrats into our party. I merely don't think it will offset the effect it will have on the currently somnolent right, and on the residual bigotry, both ethnic and racial, that still resides in the hearts of many people who deny it. Generally speaking, in a general election, a black man has to show a preference rate in the polls, even the exit polls, of greater than 6% in order to win the actual vote count, because that many people are racists but are afraid to admit it to pollsters.
When I couple this with Mike Huckabee's trouncing of the rest of the Republicans' sorry field last night, I am filled with the same feeling that the background music in various suspense and horror films tends to impart -- one of impending doom.
Did you like what the Swift Boaters did to John Kerry in 2004? Well, neither did I, but we all have to recognize how effective it was in helping to engineer a second term for George W. Bush. But I will tell you right now, it will seem like a lovefest when compared to what this same bunch (and they were just a finger on the iron-fisted hand of the Republican slander machine) will do to a guy whose middle name is "Hussein" and whose primary school education was, in part, received in a "madrassa."
Add to this his admission of cocaine use. What do you suppose is the percentage among undecideds and independents who think his straightforwardness on this point outweighs their negative opinion of cokeheads? This is DESPITE so many of them having twice voted for one -- because they gave the benefit of the doubt to Bush's DENIALS.
It doesn't matter that he's a member of the mainstream United Church of Christ. It doesn't matter that schools in largely Arabic nations like Indonesia where he lived with his parents are ALL called "madrassas." It doesn't matter that Bush was a drunk and a cokehead and cocaine dealer in real life. Do you think that most of the Republican rank and file care about, or even KNOW about, these actual facts, which are not generally mentioned in the venues from which they receive their information exclusively? Republicans pander to ignorance, fear and bigotry, and they will be HIGHLY motivated to vote against Barack Obama to the point at which Huckabee, with his non-threatening, socially reasonable aw-shucks persona will TROUNCE us throughout the redlands and in some bluer areas as well, like Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Much now depends on New Hampshire. If it turns out similarly, we have to look to some places we aren't accustomed to depending on, like South Carolina, to prevent us from making what I fear will be an ENORMOUS mistake.
Please, people, think about who we are likely to be able to elect next November, and vote with your brain rather than your heart. Actually, though, in my opinion, John Edwards is MORE liberal than either Obama or Clinton, and is likelier to get America back on the right track more directly and effectively than either, even if we COULD elect them, which is doubtful.
But if the race is Obama v. Huckabee, we are cruisin' for a bruisin'. Mark my words.