We all know the standard curmudgeon GOP line is that youth talk but they don’t vote. Yes, that’s generally true. But youth talk is important. Young people develop habits and opinions in their youth. Right now, we’ve got a whole lot of young people developing bad habits and opinions by jumping on the Obama Express. Even if Obama doesn’t pull off the upset that the dark side of my soul longs to see (as I know HRC is the better candidate to run against in November and the better President if we must suffer a Dem) the Obama Express is still going to be there and then benefit Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in general for a long time to come.
Duane Patterson noted something incredible last night that’s only bolstered when you consider the last paragraph of Richard Reeb’s post on the Remedy. The combined age of the five folks in the camera shot with John McCain last night was something like 332 years old! Everyone (excepting McCain’s lovely wife) was grey. (And in another thread below Clint points out that Mrs. McCain is hopelessly "out of style"--though I admit this shows that he knows more about women’s fashion than I.) When you look at Obama’s supporters on the other hand, you see people in their 20s. You see life, exuberance and, yes, also inexperience. But Americans will forgive inexperience before they forgive crotchetiness. They will, anyway, unless they’re given a very good reason not to forgive the inexperience.
John McCain obviously can’t make himself younger. His wife would look foolish if she attempted to look more "hip." As old as his mother is, I thought she looked impressive and alert and her recent interviews demonstrate that her mental faculties are in no way diminished by age--to say nothing of her spirit. This bodes well for John. He comes from strong stock. John McCain will not get the same kind of youth support that Barack Obama gets. Indeed, he ought not want to inspire that kind of reflexive, unthinking and insipid prostration.
But all young people are not twits. There is plenty to be tilled from the fertile garden of thinking and emerging-in-intelligence youth. John McCain can start by reminding us that he, too, was once young. He can talk about character in a way that inspires rather than chastises. His story is an inspiring one. He has not used it to as much good effect as he might--partly, I think, out of a sense of modesty and partly out of a (sensible) desire not to bring up the whole Vietnam debate and, thereby, hearken back to the debates of the 1960s (yet again). There is some danger in this, I admit. But the debate that Obama wants to engage is, for all his youth and inexperience, a very old one. This can be demonstrated. The truth is that Obama is nothing new under the sun. And he can be made to look very foolish for thinking that he is. Young people are always insecure about the possibility that they look foolish. Don’t offend them by telling them that they are foolish--but point things out that lead them to this conclusion on their own.
There are things a septuagenarian can do to inspire young people. Two of them are NOT pandering to or ignoring them. Appeal to their minds and give them credit for having minds and then, perhaps, you may win their hearts. Such a strategy would do more than win McCain and the Republicans young voters. It would go a long way toward winning him all kinds of voters in general. For, in this need to have respect for our minds and in the desire not to appear as fools, we’re all very young at heart.