Saturday, November 1, 2008

The best and the worst?

I just got back from 4.5 days in Mexico. I kept up with the news each night before bed, unfortunately CNN is the only English-speaking news station I could get.
Watching the Obama infomercial on Wednesday was surreal. I kept wondering what Neil Postman would say if he were still alive. Just a few days before election day, I think we may be witnessing the best and worst campaigns in the post-TV era.

On one hand, there is the masterful campaign of Barack Obama. He has handled every aspect of his long run for president with discipline and skill. He has fund raised like no one has ever seen before. He has exploited his massive media advantage to the absolute fullest. He has various grassroots service groups working as his minions (Many pro-Obama internet efforts as well as the "Rock the Vote" city to city tour and others like it- which are basically campaigns to register first time voters to vote for Obama). When the various attacks have come from the other side (Ayers, "lipstick on a pig", his various non-supportive statements about the war and our troops, Jeremiah Wright, his mysterious birth certificate, Joe the Plumber, "share the wealth", etc.) he fends them off and even turns some of them around to his advantage (apparently lots of people like his Marxist economic theory). He even muddies the water with some "Christian" voters when he was asked what book influenced him most and he responded "The Bible". Now I think that's hogwash because of his numerous misquotes and clear ignorance about the content of Scripture, but compared to McCain's answer- "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (oh come on!), he clearly had a better answer. There are many Christians who are going to ignore Obama's radical pro-abortion promotion because of his carefully worded seeming promotion of his brand of Christianity/spirituality. He also out-Christianed McCain when asked what he would like written on his tombstone. He said: That "he was a good man, and an honest man." And that "he was a good father and a good husband." And that "he tried to give something of himself to make the world better" McCain's answer? "He served honorably...and he put his country first." Sorry John, "country first" is too nebulous any more- it dates you. Obama scores big points in such comparative interviews. Obama's 2008 campaign for president may well be the most well organized, best strategized and executed campaigns the post-TV era has ever seen...if he wins on Tuesday.

On the other hand, there is the dull and depressing campaign of John McCain. I will vote for John McCain on Tuesday based on some core principles, not because of his campaign. Very frankly, every time I see side by side interviews with McCain and Obama I am amazed Obama isn't ahead by 25 points in the polls. McCain has been totally knocked off message since the week after the Republican Convention which is partly a credit to Obama, but his own lack of discipline and unclear communication about how he would be different and better than George Bush has been burying him. Some have blamed the choice of Palin as the reason for McCain's slide over the past 30 days. I say that's a total joke. Palin gave McCain the lead over Obama for the week after the convention. Her tangible energy solutions were starting to gain traction and expose Obama's real dirth of a plan for this very important issue. McCain's decline has come because he has not been able to clearly articulate how he is different and better than George Bush especially since the so-called financial crisis hit. His choice to go after various weaknesses of Obama (mentioned above) has seemed to be his main message, not a vision for the future with him as president. Like Obama, he should have been stumping his particular vision of governance with his right hand and jabbing Obama's weaknesses with his left hand. Instead, he looks like he's got nothing in the leadership column so he's going to convince us all we shouldn't vote for Obama because of his socialistic, terrorist friendly ways. Sure, that's enough for his shoe-in voters, but for a great many others, it doesn't work. Then, the mother of all mistakes- McCain votes for the bailout. He says he's different and better than George Bush economically then votes for the bailout? That may well have sealed his fate. The bailout doesn't hurt Obama, he's a spend-happy democrat who salivates whenever the government can gain an interest in the private sector. The bailout was McCain's chance. He blew it in a monumental way. The last 30 days of McCain's 2008 campaign for president may well be the most poorly focused, mismanaged, and uninspiring campaign in the post-TV era.

Yes I still think John McCain would be a better president than Barack Obama. Admittedly I base this on Obama's clear message concerning who he is, what he values, and how he proposes to govern and not because McCain has offered a radically superior alternative. Unfortunately I can't see how McCain can overcome Obama's mastery of these past months and his own botching of the last 30 campaign days.
Why do I keep using "post-TV" era as a description of these campaigns? Because I seriously doubt that either of these candidates would have been chosen as representatives of their respective parties before the "Age of Entertainment". See Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" for more...


Rick Calohan said...

Today my mom and I went to vote in advance, (If my wife was an American citizen she would have voted for John McCain) so I know at least he has two votes in a state that will go to him anyway. We voted for all the pro-life candidates on the ballot. While in line the total wait time from parking, walking, and leaving the polling place was one hour. The family in front of us was talking about the mundane, the people behind us were talking about their Messiah, obviously, it was not Jesus, nevertheless even though they did not mention him by name, I just know that Jesus did not buy a 30-minute television spot so it had to be about Obama. While none of us knows what the outcome may be on Tuesday, I must say that by faith, regardless of the outcome, I know that God is Sovereign and all thing work for His greater plan. I took with me going into the booth casting my ballot, and leaving the polling station that solace. Time is running out in this election and I am sure all of us know of someone who is going to vote for the Big O. Even though the say they are a Christian, their vote is not going to reflect Christianity. So perhaps each of us in our own way could put into terms they should know in their hearts. May I suggest a sermon that might make the difference Tuesday, November 4, 2008.

Principals for Voting by Dr. R.C. Sproul:



Frontier Forest said...

As I lament on the probability of a victory for full-blown Socialism with an Obama win, and ponder all the stupid blunders from the McCain camp, I must stand on this secure fact. He is Sovereign and He is in absolute control! To put this election and the destiny of our country in proper providential perspective, we all should read and meditate over the anointed words from Daniel 9:3-19. As he prayed and lamented for repentance for his people, that God would restore and rebuild the land of his fathers, his thoughts should be our thoughts. “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Thine own sake, O my God, do not delay, because The city and Thy people are called by Thy Name!” Daniel 9:19

Steve said...

That's a good assessment of the presidental election. On the one hand we have a Cult of Personality that has hypnotized the uninformed MTV Generation with his slick used-car salesman rhetoric, and on the other we had a patriotic guy that's so used to playing to the middle that he had a campaign that no one could really grasp. That includes McCain! How can you go from supporting the government takeover of the financial system and then a month later be a champion to the Joe the Plumbers of the nation that don't want socialism?

Many excuse Obama's impending reign as part of God's master plan, but I think that's incorrect. God values our free will and ability to follow him out of love, not out of fear or because he forces his choices upon us. I do not believe God wanted a man like Obama as POTUS, but was wise enough to realize that someday the people of the US would squander their freedoms and follow people as reprehensible as he. After all, when the Bible refers to us as sheep it is not a compliment! God did step in and gave us far more worthy individuals, but we as a nation chose to reject them. Voting is simply an implementation of the free will of the masses.

Of course I do believe there's a master plan and that God will influence events and appeal to hearts to move in that direction, but I don't think the plan has any set dates and names due unpredictable nature of human free will. I believe the master plan is built from God's infinite understanding of human nature and knows it's only a matter of time before we set the stage that will force His return.