Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What matters most

Chalk up Sept. 2, 2008 -- two days before Republican presidential candidate John McCain gives his acceptance speech at the GOP convention -- as the day his campaign gave its concession speech on the things that actually matter.

Proof? Let's go to an actual, live, on-the record statement from McCain campaign manager Rick Davis: "This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates."

Rarely do you hear a campaign of utter distraction spelled out so clearly. Still, just to show that we're good Americans, perhaps we should forget all about the economy, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, health care, education, the environment, and all those other things that don't help the GOP win elections. Instead, let's fire up the grill for some delicious mooseburgers and paste a picture of McCain's face on a hand puppet so we can hold it up over James Garner's head during a 24-hour Maverick marathon.

That's what this election is about, my friends.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Lessons learned? Here's hoping

New Orleans couldn't afford another crushing blow. Fortunately, Mother Nature appears to have pulled its punches there this week.

Hurricane Gustav was powerful and exacted a terrible death toll -- more than 70 people, including at least seven in the United States -- but in New Orleans, at least, it wreaked nothing like the hellish watery havoc that Hurricane Katrina brought three years ago at this time. Forecasters say Gustav will dump a bunch of rain on northern Louisiana this week -- after Tropical Storm Fay, we here in Alabama can sympathize -- but by and large, the worst of the storm mercifully appears to have played out.

One heartening thing to see is that federal and state officials appeared a lot more prepared for this storm -- and more publicly vocal about their preparedness -- than they were for Katrina. For a case study, look no further than President Bush, who spent the early hours of the Katrina catastrophe playing guitar with a country singer and eating birthday cake with John McCain. This time, though, Bush called off an appearance at the Republican National Convention and headed to a command center in Texas -- close enough to the storm-affected area to act quickly, but not so close to the danger zone as to be in the way of relief efforts.

On the political side of things, Barack Obama and the RNC organizers both have responded in the correct (and electorally wise) way, staying out of the danger zone, temporarily tamping down the campaign, and urging supporters to donate to hurricane relief groups. It was refreshing to see upper-echelon politicos with vastly different viewpoints on so many of the key issues of the day agree that some things really aren't political.

And it'll be even more refreshing if McCain pops the trial balloon he floated in an NBC interview wherein he said he might deliver a speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination from somewhere along the freshly devastated Gulf Coast. Seriously, how tone-deaf can a person be?