Kathleen Parker likens McCain to "grumpy ol’ granddad breaking up the keg party" because of (what others here have called) his dusty old CEO speech. She thinks he should have acknowledged the thing that made her (involuntarily) smile upon watching Obama victorious. What was that thing? Parker argues that it was a kind of "born again" moment for America--a birth for which we all ought to get some credit as midwives. McCain’s laundry list of attacks on Obama didn’t take into sufficient account the feelings that Parker believes inspired her involuntary smile. She argues that McCain needs to get people "to avert their gaze from the shiny new object of their affection" before he can start hammering Obama with a point by point refutation of his policies. This election will not be about Obama’s policy prescriptions--and even less so about McCain’s--it’s going to be entirely about the "idea of Obama." In a race so personal and also so embedded in abstract (and undefined) things like "hope," is there any way that an ultimate victory by McCain can be seen to be "simply be a loss for Democrats -- and not a loss specifically for African-Americans?"
Parker said that she slapped herself when she caught herself giving in to the involuntary smile. A lot of people are not going to be as disciplined as she in this respect. Can McCain win without slapping them? I’m inclined to say "no." Thing is, that’s a tricky place to be in American politics.
It wouldn’t be the 2008 campaign season, however, if I didn’t close on a note of hope. If Parker is right and a good description for McCain is "grumpy grandpa breaking up the kegger" consider this: don’t kids act out sometimes because they actually WANT to get caught? If the American people are caught up in a childish infatuation and are about to take some radical step just because it makes them feel good, a good part of them is likely to be looking back over their shoulders to see if there isn’t someone shouting to make them reconsider. A kegger can be great fun . . . and McCain ought to acknowledge this . . . but in the morning there’s always a terrible mess to clean up. And then you have to worry about the consequences of the mess and the broken stuff and the stains in the carpet that won’t go away. Perhaps there are enough sensible Americans who can recognize the virtues of a fine drink without feeling compelled to get all drunk and crazy with it? McCain has to try to break up the party by suggesting there’s a better way to the same feeling. We can be good Americans who believe in racial equality without having to drink from this particular cup.