Monday, April 14, 2008

The Game

At yesterday's "compassion forum" (sigh) held near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as we approach the primary on April 22, Hillary acquitted herself well, going after Barack Obama for his supposedly elitist statements about the working class clinging to guns and religion and prejudice because they were bitter have-nots. Having finally gotten an issue she can strike the Teflon Obama with, she has gone to town with it, and just in time, with her once-commanding lead in PA shrinking.
But it just underscores the odd, almost Alice in Wonderland nature of this Democratic primary so far. Really, Obama's statements were not elitist--merely honest, if a bit too generalized--and I get the feeling most people know that. But by the rules of The Game (as presidential politics was being called as far back as 1796) we have to accept that she has scored some points, that Obama has committed an error.
Presidential politics is the first and greatest of our national pastimes, as I often say. In the 19th century, voter turn out was consistently in the high 70% (reaching an all time high of 82% of eligible voters in the truly crooked election of 1876). While we haven't reached that in the 20th or 21st centuries, this current contest, preliminary as it is, is really reaching out to voters. In the last few elections, the Game got kind of boring--that lost in space feeling you get when a baseball game enters the sixth inning and you know nothing, ever, is going to happen--but I am happy to see that we are all keeping score and cheering. And jeering.

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