Breaking news: A veteran Democratic operative, who worked on Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley's much-cited losing run for governor of California in 1982, just told me that a combination of the "Bradley Effect", in which undecided white Democrats (e.g., Hillary Clinton voters) can't make themselves pull the lever for the black candidate, and John McCain winning all seven toss-up states, could elect McCain president.
(What's never mentioned about the Bradley Effect, by the way: Bradley got a rematch with Deukmejian in 1986—and wound up getting crushed 61-37. California was a very different state back then…)
But even if the Bradley Effect kicks in, McCain would still have to win all seven toss-up states. The odds of flipping seven heads in a row is one out of 128.
I don't make horse race predictions about elections. There are a million people in that business, and the usefulness of all that trivia you have to learn about this year's Battleground States mostly evaporates on Election Day. Instead, I go to work when most pundits knock off. I begin analyzing the results as soon as 100 percent of the precincts are in and I have hard data to work with.
But for the purposes of this Election Day article, I'm assuming that Obama wins.
What did the Republicans do wrong?
Let's stipulate that McCain has done a few things right. Most notably, he toned down the Bomb-Bomb-Bomb, Bomb-Bomb-Iran stuff.
Back in February, I explained that the Republicans would likely need to choose between two general strategies
My guess was that McCain would shun the former because he was terrified of being criticized by his media friends for being "divisive". So instead he'd opt for the latter: try to whip up World War III (IV?) fever against Iran to "bring us together".
I was right that McCain didn't have the guts to bring up Obama's obvious Achilles Heel, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.—although Obama donated $53,770 to Wright's church in 2005-2007, according to the candidate's tax returns. Rev. Wright spent April auditioning enthusiastically for the role of Willie Horton of 2008, the easily understood embodiment of the Democratic candidate's leftism. But McCain was too prissy to take Wright up on his offer.
McCain supporters kept assuring me that "Maverick" wasn't a wimp, he was just waiting for the precisely-timed moment in October to roll out a barrage of ads featuring Rev. AmeriKKKa's greatest hits collected from the DVDs his church sold on the Web for years.
Well, it's November now, and McCain hasn't mentioned Wright's name since April. Maybe he's gearing up for a big rollout of those killer Wright ads in December?
But I was wrong, too: McCain didn't play up the idea of getting America into a third land war in Asia as much as I thought he might.
That was the good news. The bad news: it left McCain without much of anything to talk about. Mostly, he just talked about what a hero he is.
Okay, he was for offshore oil drilling. And then there's … uh … nuclear power plants! And, well, some other stuff, no doubt.
The Republicans' winning issue this year could have been mass immigration, both illegal and legal. But they somehow wound up with the author of the 2006 McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill as their candidate!
Imagine if Obama's illegal alien aunt had surfaced after the GOP candidate had spent the fall defining the immigration issue in the American mind. It would have been the coup de grace. As it was, McCain operative Mark Salter threw the issue away, saying "It's a family matter"—as if the laws of the United States are an Obama "family matter". (Maybe they will be, but not just yet).
And what was McCain against?
Well, he was against socialism, redistribution of wealth, and unrepentant terrorist William Ayers!
Yes, but what does Ayers have to do with Obama? Well, they worked together on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.
But wasn't Walter Annenberg the biggest Republican donor of his day?
Okay, now, you know and I know that Old Man Annenberg got taken to the cleaners by some slick leftists who didn't do a darn thing for the test scores of Chicago public school students, but who built their brand names in the tax-and-grant consuming sectors of Chicago's leftist fringe by handing out Annenberg's millions to all their friends and allies. But do the voters?
Maybe there is more of a connection between Obama and Ayers than opportunism. But if McCain was going to use Ayers as his trump card, he should have hired private detectives in Chicago five months ago to document the Obama-Ayers relationship and then leak the findings to the National Enquirer. Heck, anthropologist Stanley Kurtz has singlehandedly done a better job of tracking down the Obama-Ayers links than the entire McCain campaign.
(Don't you have the feeling that nobody in the McCain brain trust ever got around to buying Rev. Wright's DVDs?)
In contrast to Obama's murky dealings with Ayers, the Democratic candidate has long boasted of Wright's mentorship, devoting most of pp. 274-295 of his first book, Dtreams From My Father, to Wright, and borrowing the title of his second, The Audacity of Hope, from Wright's sermon about how "white folks' greed runs a world in need".
Let's be clear: the reason McCain has gone on and on about Bill Ayers but hasn't mentioned in six months Jeremiah Wright is because Ayers is white and Wright is black. McCain is terrified that if he mentions Wright, Republicans will be smeared as racists.
McCain chose the latter.
If you don't allow yourself to bring up race, you simply cannot run against the real Barack Obama. You wind up running against the fantasy made up by his strategist David Axelrod, credulously summed up last week by the New York Times' Brian Stelter as Obama's "refusal to be defined by his race and his aspirations to bridge the partisan divide".
Why can't you run against the real Obama without talking about race? Because the real Barack is all about race.
Look, Obama wrote a 460-page memoir about his successful struggle to define himself as a black man, which he helpfully subtitled A Story of Race and Inheritance. Only after rejection by black voters in a 2000 election as not "black enough" threw him off his carefully plotted career path of revenging Harold Washington, the late first black mayor of Chicago, by retaking the mayor's office for the black race, did he have Axelrod whip him up a new white-friendly image as the postracial healer.
It's utterly ridiculous that Obama has been running for President for 20 months and almost nobody in public life has carefully read the man's autobiography. (Except me—see below).
McCain walked into exactly the same trap as Hillary Clinton did—for exactly the same reason. He failed to make coherent and vivid to voters' Obama's long history of leftism.
Why not? Because the single thread explaining Obama's leftism is race. Once you rule out anything touching upon race, such as Rev. Wright, you're left only with vague generalities and random-sounding connections, such as Ayers.
For example, you might think that McCain would have run against "Chicago politicians", since the Hawaiian-born Obama chose to become one of that notorious breed. But you'll be denounced as a racist for suggesting it, though, since Obama chose Chicago precisely because, as he said in 2000, "Chicago in many ways is the capital of the African-American community in the country."
Obama's leftism doesn't derive from any particular ideological conviction. Instead it's utterly an outgrowth of his race. Leftism is his way of reassuring other blacks—and himself—of what he himself calls in his autobiography his "racial credentials". By spending 23 years in the business of, in effect, taking money from whites and giving it to blacks, Obama, who is half white by nature and utterly non-black by nurture, proves that he is "black enough" to other blacks and to himself.
Some other thoughts:
Whatever happened to Affirmative Action?
As I pointed out in July, Obama handed McCain the Affirmative Action/quota issue by opposing the heroic Ward Connerly's initiatives that are on state ballots in this election cycle. Obama favors quotas—America overwhelming disapproves. In fact, Obama is an Affirmative Action candidate, as none other than Geraldine Ferarro said in March. McCain nominally endorsed Connerly's efforts, but made no further attempt to use the issue. Yet he could have won this election on Affirmative Action alone.
In this front-end loaded mix of winner take-all states and proportional states, John McCain wrapped up the nomination on February 5—nine months ago!—by lucking into narrow victories, while Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee won mostly in states with proportional distribution of delegates. There's little evidence that McCain was the most popular vote-getter, just the most fortunate.
Winner-take-all primaries are justified with the fallacy that a long drawn-out primary process, like the Obama-Clinton epic, is "divisive". So what? The Democrats' extra four months of campaigning garnered them hundreds of millions of dollars of free media. It excited their base to donate hundreds of millions of dollars more. Meanwhile, Republicans hit the snooze button from February 5 until Sarah Palin was announced as McCain's running mate in late August.
Something else that became clear this year:
It was asking too much of anybody to come in cold and have to start defending something as contradictory and incoherent as McCainism without any warm-up.
Nominees need a two-stage process for choosing a Veep. A month before the final deadline, McCain should have made up a short list of three potential choices. Then each one should have been told to make a featured speech at the convention and to help on the campaign trail. Aides should have been dispatched to work with them on their surrogate skills. McCain should have listened to his aides' feedback, then make your final pick.
It just raised their hopes that, despite their catastrophic advice over the last two terms, they were still going to complete their takeover of the Republican Party. Then McCain not only yanked Lieberman away from their fingertips, but replaced him with a small-town American, the kind of person that the neocons' grandparents always swore to them would someday come after them with torches and pitchforks.
If you are going to run as a "maverick", then act like a maverick.
Stand up for the taxpayers and say: "Wait a minute! You want how many hundreds of billions of the taxpayers' money, Mr. Paulson, for your deadbeat speculator friends in the financial industry?"
Once the economy collapsed on the Republican incumbent's watch, McCain was doomed…unless he vociferously separated himself from the Bush Administration's policy. The Establishment media would have denounced him, but fed-up taxpayers would have rallied to him.
That was his one chance. But, of course, McCain is not truly a maverick. He's completely a creature of the MainStream Media.
I'm sure McCain was counting on the Bush Administration being able to keep the economic catastrophe from happening until after the election. That's how they do it down in Mexico, where financial collapses followed the election of the ruling PRI's successor candidates in 1976, 1982, and 1994. The Bush dynasty has had warm relations with the Mexican ruling class for half a century. So they understand how the game is played.
But it just turned out that the Bush Administration was even less competent than those Mexican governments at keeping the balls in the air until McCain was home free.
We're going to hear all over again about how crucial the Hispanic vote was to Obama's win. It's bunk.
You know—how the GOP killed itself by not favoring open borders abjectly enough, and so forth and so on. Hysterical pundits will announce that the Hispanic tidal wave accounted for 8 or 9 or even 10 percent of the vote!
Then, a year from now, the Census Bureau will quietly announce the results of its huge post-election survey of voting, the gold standard of ethnic voting shares. It will show that the Hispanic share of the vote, which was 5.4 percent in 2000 and 6.0 percent in 2004 actually was only 6.9 percent in 2008, or whatever.
And nobody will pay any attention at all because the fallacious conventional wisdom (10 percent!!!) will already be carved into everybody's brains.
Moreover, you'll hear all about how the GOP share of the Hispanic vote dropped from 44 percent in 2004 to, say, 30 percent on Tuesday.
Sigh. First, as I've shown repeatedly, it wasn't 44 percent in 2004. The exit poll company admitted the mistake several months later. It was about 40 percent.
Second, the reason the GOP even got 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004 was because Bush and Rove bought the Hispanic vote via the Great Hispanic Housing Bubble. In part due to Bush's jihad against down payments on home loans, mortgage dollars borrowed for home purchases by Hispanics increased 691 percent from 1999 to 2006. In 1999, less than 7 percent of first time buyers in California, the black hole of the Bubble, put no money down. By 2004, it was 33 percent, by 2006 an incredible 41 percent.
Democrats appealed to Hispanics by being the Tax and Spend party. Bush and Rove resolved that Republicans would win Hispanics over by being the Borrow and Spend party.
And debauching credit standards for Hispanics debauched them for everybody. So there was a huge amount of unneeded construction and remodeling, carried out in large part by Hispanics workers, making Hispanics unusually pleased with the Republican incumbent in 2004.
In 2008, though, as made clear by a recent LA Times article on how Hispanic voters in Las Vegas are trending toward Obama because so many have defaulted on their mortgages, the firehose of Other People's Money has finally been turned off. And Latinos are returning to their natural political home. [Economic strife drives Latino vote, By Marjorie Miller, October 26, 2008 ]
The Mortgage Minority Meltdown. The Diversity Recession. And landslide losses anyway. How did the Bush-Rove experiment work out for the GOP—let alone America?
(Cheerful footnote: To combat all this confused thinking, I've written a new book about Obama's life story. As the two parts of the title imply, it contrasts the recent Axelrodian hagiography of Obama as the biracial transcender with the man's own evasively written but ultimately quite clear autobiography. Thus I call it, in tribute to the upcoming Harry Potter movie, America's Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama's "Story of Race and Inheritance." For the updated FREE pdf download, click here.)
[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog. His new book, AMERICA'S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA'S "STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is available here.]