The Rebooting of America, 2008

“That’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more.”
– Popeye the Sailor

Rudy Giuliani has the lead, but Hillary’s not conceding.

A year ago, halfway through this interminable election, all the pundits had it Hillary Clinton vs. Giuliani. New York Neo-Lib vs. Neo-Con. A few months later, the pundits woke up and found out that there is, indeed, a country west of the Hudson.

Today, the mean-spirited Christian Taliban who hijacked the Republican Party woke up and found out that their nightmare came true and That One – the secret Arab, Muslim, Terrorist Redistributionist – was elected by folks who just couldn’t stands it no more. They also found out that their belief that “pro-American parts of the country” would be the key to advancing their theocratic notions was, to quote Bill Clinton, “a fairy tale” – a vicious, racist, soundly rejected one at that.

Which brings me to what pissed me off the most this election: no, not the nasty attacks I received from Ralph Nader supporters for writing that it was time to turn it all over to the Dems, as they are complicit, after all. No, it was the GOP strategy of seeking to win by dividing people based on the basest of “identity” politics.

Real America

Even Mike Huckabee, he of the floating cross ad, wasn’t nasty enough – anti-Christ-like enough – for these rabid folks. He, after all, had some weird Christian populist notions like caring for others. The “real” Americans wouldn’t have Mitt Romney, either. Though his conservative Mormonism and “blessed by God” wealthy elitism was right up their nave, they are after all, equal opportunity bigots. And, for them, Mormonism hasn’t been around long enough to shed its “cult” status.

So, they finally settled on the unprincipled, unhinged faux War Hero. Said war hero was more than willing to discard any convenient-at-the-time, past beliefs and adopt whatever furthered his one consistent belief – John McCain First!

But, first he had to prove his conversion was real. So, McCain searched long and hard (one fifteen-minute meeting) and picked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to carry the cross. The right-wing theocrats drooled all over themselves at the choice and gleefully signed on for the us saved -versus-the-infidels trip; no matter the, as yet, unchecked baggage. Wink. Wink.

Can you just imagine the “Christian” response if one of Obama’s daughters was an unwed, pregnant 17-year-old with an alcohol problem – if the drop-out stud “baby daddy” proudly claimed to be a “gangsta” on Facebook? Or, if Hillary had used her clout to try and get a government employee fired? – oh, yeah, I forget. Can you imagine if folks were distributing images of Michelle Obama with an AK-47? Oh, yeah, again.

Palin jumped into her role with gusto. No matter that she was incoherent on real policy issues. She could “connect” with the racist underbelly of “real America.” And, she had the looks – a Rush-approved “babe” – in American Idol Nation. I found it astonishing that NBC ended its Election Eve national newscast with a piece on how Saturday Night Live influenced the perception of Palin and thus, the election! Mind you, NOT the Couric interviews. Accurate, of course, but surprising in its honesty – and not just network loyalty.

And, just in case Palin wasn’t fully up to it (she convincingly was on the “real America” part), then there was the fall-back fraud of Sam the Sham Plumber. Good Gaia! The media fell for that? Do they vet anyone on the Right? Can you imagine if say, MSNBC, ambushed McCain with a twice-divorced, tax-dodging, wife-beating, unlicensed, unemployed plumber – complete with ludicrous lie about being, or fantasizing being, an overtaxed $250,000+ per year profit small business owner? Wurzelbacher once lived in Wasilla, Alaska. He once lived in an Arizona condo on Keating Way, built by none other than McCain’s felonious former benefactor Charles Keating, Jr. “Joe” could very well be related to Keating. That’s just too many coincidences. What is it with the media and failing to investigate virtually any GOP claims? WMDs anyone? What is it with the GOP and “plumbers?”

My parents grew up in Palin/Wurzelbacher’s “real America” in the conservative heartland where Michigan, Indiana and Ohio come together. Numerous relatives still live there. The Ku Klux Klan burned a cross outside my great-grandparent’s farmhouse as they didn’t want any “non-American” Irish homesteading there. It didn’t matter that the Irish wing of my family came to America in 1746, ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War or that Gen. Abner Doubleday was my great-grandfather’s uncle. All that mattered were that they were “other.”

That experience later led my parents to stay in inner city Flint as white flight saw our neighborhood change from ethnic white working class to African-American working class in less than five years. It wasn’t an easy place to be a white teenage boy, but the experience taught me that all this stuff about who are the “real Americans” is a deadly cancer that must be excised from the body politic; banned from use as a wedge by ambitious, conscienceless elitists of any political or religious persuasion or ethnic background.

So, yeah, that part of it and the prospect of more to come – four years of such attacks on Obama (making their endless attacks on Bill Clinton seem like childplay) was and will be insufferable. But, unlike the liberal Dems as a whole, Obama has proven he can stand up to bullies; i.e. Bill Clinton. It’s one of his best traits. And, I’m more than ready for the end of 216 years of white, male presidents.

There will be plenty of legitimate reasons to oppose Obamian policies without suffering through any more malignant, Rovian crap. And oppose Obama we will; on justifiable grounds; whenever necessary. He is, after all, an Imperial President-elect now.

The Quality of the Campaigns

“Well they say time loves a hero
but only time will tell
If he’s real, he’s a legend from heaven
If he ain’t he was sent here from hell”
— Little Feat

Obama is refreshingly intelligent and talks to people like they’re adults in a time when people have more than had it with the twisted anti-intellectualism of the GOP. Obama ran a next to perfect campaign. He had to. There was the “bitter” gaffe, the smug “you’re likeable enough” riposte to Clinton and his lame attempt to co-opt the Joe the Plumber nonsense at Debate Three. But, not much else. He kept a far tighter rein on Biden than McCain did on Caribou Barbie – something that actually influenced the outcome.

Forget the hostility and negativity that defined the McCain campaign. Speaking just to the quality of campaigning, can you just imagine “my fellow prisoners,” if Obama had botched things like this one where McCain took a swipe at Jack Murtha and Obama?

“You know, I think you may have noticed that Senator Obama’s supporters have been saying some pretty nasty things about Western Pennsylvania lately. And you know, I couldn’t agree with them more. I couldn’t disagree with you… I couldn’t agree with you more than the fact that Western Pennsylvania is the most patriotic, most god-loving, most, most patriotic part of America, and this is a great part of the country.”

Or if Obama had said something this inane, which McCain did in response to Chris Wallace on Fox Noise?

“So is one of the tenets of socialism redistribution of the wealth? Not just socialism — a lot of other liberal and left wing philosophies — redistribution of the wealth? I don’t believe in it. I believe in wealth creation by Joe the Plumber.”

And what about Joe? This one was surreal, though surreal seems to be the default mode for McCain:

“Joe’s with us today. Joe, where are you? Where is Joe? Is Joe here with us today? Joe, I thought you were here today…. You’re all Joe the Plumber. So stand up and say that ‘I thank you.’”


The myth that the corporate media were in the tank for Obama from the beginning is ludicrous. If Obama had made just one of these gaffes (and these are but a fraction of McCain’s total) the right-wing media would have never let up – witness the Ayers buffoonery. As opposed to what they did to John Kerry, the media did everything they could to avoid close inspection of McCain’s actual military record – if this “hero” was real. They failed to demand his (and Palin’s) medical records after they went ballistic about Bubba’s or McCain’s full military records like they did with Kerry. The “just what is he (she) hiding?” bogus outrage doesn’t apply to the GOP, it appears.

Holding Obama Accountable from “Day One”

We’ll know soon enough how hard we’ll have to fight bad Obama policy. Even before Inauguration Day, we’ll know. Who Obama picks for his “team” will be all-telling. At first, I was offended at Obama’s calling out the Baby Boomers as a whole, not just the sorry lot of politicians my generation has produced. If President Obama fails to break completely with the narcissistic Baby Boomer politicians; we’ll know. If he keeps Gates at Defense or appoints Powell in his place; we’ll know. If he recycles Gore’s ghost writer and greenwasher-in-chief Katy McGinty at Interior; we’ll know. If he anoints Gore, himself, as some sort of Climate Change Czar; we’ll know. If he puts Zbiggy or Kerry at State; we’ll know. (Though, I would certainly enjoy the howls from the Right should he appoint Hillary or Bill Richardson as Attorney General.)

We’ll know soon enough if he intends to take on the prison-industrial complex; end the War on Drugs and stand down the private, mercenary armies like Blackwater.

How Obama will deal with the contraction of the Empire will also be quickly known. As Bill Bennett, of all folks has written, the Empire is an “extravagance” that we must stand down. If a plan to retreat from our 700 – 1000 overseas military installations isn’t developed soon, the country will be rapidly bankrupt and Obama will be a one-termer, for certain. The economic havoc wrought by not abolishing the empire will destroy any chance of gaining Universal Health Care like the civilized Democracies. Gone also will be any chance of a public works program to rebuild infrastructure.

Very few people mourn the demise of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Spanish Empire, the Japanese Empire or even the British Empire these days. The world and we ourselves will be far better off once the “American Century” is over with. It’d be far cheaper (in money and lives) to just buy the remaining oil. (One thing I do give McCain unintended credit for is that he made it quite clear during his despicable campaign that the wars and occupations are all about oil.)

Alexander Cockburn dropped the definitive marker as to what Obama has seriously wrong about him and just what progressives will have to do to hold his feet to the fire.

(Somehow though noting its mirror image, he missed the abuse directed at Obama voters by Nader deadenders. I can provide him with e-mail copies. Of course, only Nader is right on the issues! But, what’s the point anymore? There is not an iota of evidence that Nader’s many runs, like those of Gus Hall before him, have moved the Democrats one inch our way; nor, much evidence that the public supports him given Peak Nader has clearly come and gone. Actual election? Impossible. Just as for the Boomer Democrats, it’s time for Nader to step aside and allow space for new leadership.)

Popeye the Sailor trumps Joe the Plumber

Ultimately, this election was about a citizenry that “couldn’t stands no more.” The old GOP black magic of “Fear, Hate, Tax Cuts for the Rich and PermaWar” just didn’t work this time. Neither the recent pseudo-recovery on Wall Street aided by Bush’s Plunge Protection Team – the same inept folks who oversaw the crash – nor the recent drop at the gas pump worked. Neither did the usual dirty tricks, like calling voters in several states with text messages or sending e-mails urging Obama supporters to put off voting until Wednesday because of the long voting lines – said long lines themselves being a clever kind of new poll tax. In Canada, they use paper ballots and have the election tabulated within a couple hours. Here in Oregon, we use mail-in paper ballots that are scanned and some are doubly hand-counted for control – the system has worked flawlessly for over a decade with a far higher average participation rate than most states. So, just who benefits from the unaccountable machines and the long lines necessary to use them? Democracy? Hardly.

Americans were treated to a raw display of looting by the wealthy classes during Bushtime – both Bushtimes. It’s no mere coincidence that the trillion dollar Savings & Loan heist (see Charles Keating, Jr.) took place on Reagan and Bush the Elder’s watch and that the Enron and Lehman Bros. crimes and this Fall’s trillion dollar looting took place under Bush the Lesser. Neil Bush’s Silverado Savings and Loan collapsed in 1988, costing taxpayers $1.3 billion. “Redistribution” anyone? Americans have finally awakened to the 20-year-long crime spree of these repeat offenders.

Somehow McCain’s “brain trust” never figured out that the “real America of Joe the Plumber” is a distinct demographic minority. Less than 50 million Americans live in the – let’s brutally decode it – ill-informed, white, rural areas of the “real Joe” meme. It didn’t work for a desperate HRC and it didn’t work for McCain. Yet, the GOP’s already off and running with it again. It’s an integral part of their post-mortem denials.

After eight years of a smug, me-first, fake down-home scion of privilege (“Bush the Cowboy?”) with daddy issues driving the country off a cliff, REAL Americans just couldn’t see yet another, more unhinged version in the White House – “McCain the War Hero” who can only top his admiral daddy and granddaddy by becoming commander-in chief.

It was nice to see the old Goldwater conservative and the Rockefeller social liberal wings of the GOP split off this time – downright heartening to see the logical consistency of Christopher Buckley and other conservatives.

Bible Spice 2012

Somewhat unfortunately though, the voter disgust with the neo-Cons has led to the rout of “moderate” Republicans. Though the Gordon Smiths of the GOP fully deserved their fate after fanning fears, abridging Constitutional Rights, conducting a one-sided Class War, and enabling Bush all these years; it does mean that the Christian Taliban elements are all that’s left standing and are who the party will regroup around – leading to more “real America” cancer and the Bible Spice 2012 campaign which began a few weeks ago on Saturday Night Live.

MICHAEL DONNELLY has no illusions about Obama and no illusions that the complicit Democrats will ever hold the thieving traitors accountable. He can be reached at


MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at