Saturday, September 13, 2008
Chaos v Calm
A hurricane -- called Ike -- is ravaging the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, putting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who did not evacuate in jeopardy, destroying or damaging billions of dollars worth of property, disrupting supplies of gasoline and oil, and otherwise causing chaos for millions of Americans.
In some ways, the Hurricane is emblematic of Chaos primeval. Shakespeare used the metaphor extensively in his late period play "The Tempest." In many respects the metaphor was intended to illuminate political considerations of his time, politics becoming more and more chaotic, eventually leading to the collapse of the British monarchy and civil war.
And we see Chaos as the guiding active principle of the McCain campaign for the Presidency. More and more the Old Man was becoming less and less stable as his campaign stumbled and faltered, kind of like the Old Man's mind, through numerous rough patches. Steve Schmidt and Rick Davis were put in charge of reversing the trends -- which showed decisive defeat looming -- and they commenced their Herculean task by offering a blizzard of lies and character assassination of the Opponent, Barack Obama, a blizzard which has only intensified as the campaign wears on. The selection of Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska to be McCain's running "soulmate" as the campaign gears up for its climax caused untold uproar throughout the political firmament, uproar that hasn't ceased for a moment since the selection.
The Chaos that is the McCain campaign has almost totally eclipsed the Calm that is the Obama campaign.
And yet, once the Chaos of the storm passes, the Calm will remain. Peace will be restored. "We are such stuff as dreams are made of."
As the Chaos of the McCain campaign has intensified, the Obama campaign has come under increasing criticism from inside the Democratic firmament for its inability or unwillingness to "fight back." Obama has seen his poll numbers suffer substantially during the onslaught of Hurricane McCain, and Democrats are fearful that he is throwing away the election by not responding at all or not responding forcefully enough to the insults and lies thrown at him daily and almost hourly by the other side.
Given recent election history, it's a rational fear. Democrats have not responded sufficiently or appropriately to Republican smears, and they have lost the White House again and again in part because of it.
To see Obama now being as laid back and calm as he is while the damage is done almost unopposed by his campaign is terrifying to Democrats. We've seen this play before. And Democrats always lose.
Finally hearing the plaints of the masses, Obama promised yesterday to metaphorically release the hounds on the out of control and chaotic McCain campaign, to become "tougher" in the face of the onslaught. But whatever he did, he did not recapture the media attention. There was, after all, a Category 2 Hurricane to cover on the Gulf Coast, and did you know that gasoline prices may top $5.00 a gallon before the full extent of the storm's damage is understood?
Somehow this is good for McCain and his "soulmate," Herself of the Melting North.
And yet the Calm is what remains after the Storm has passed.
Those who complain about Obama's seemingly excessive lassitude in the face of Hurricane McCain have a point. Yet it's always seemed to me that he's approaching his quest for the White House -- if indeed he actually wants to be president -- with an almost Zen-like calm. He seems almost entirely unflappable. Often, it seems to me he doesn't really want to be president, that he has let loose of all "desire" for the office he ostensibly seeks. He simply allows himself to become the president if it should happen.
McCain, on the other hand, seems to be a furious -- yet mindless -- demand machine, swirling and twirling and making as much of a spectacle of himself as he possibly can. Surely his campaign will burn itself out before the election. Perhaps so. Perhaps not. Surely no one is fooled by his lies and charades. Perhaps so, perhaps not.
There are times I honestly think none of the candidates will ascend to the Throne, that in fact the election, if held at all, will simply be seen as a failed "exercise" and Darth Cheney will emerge from one of his spider holes or bunkers to announce that "Everything is under control, I am in charge of the Government, go on about your business, that is all."
Like Putin, he will continue to exercise his control of the Government whether as an "Interim" Leader, or a Force Behind the Throne, or something else, no matter what happens in November.
He doesn't seem to be packing any bags, does he?
Shock Doctrine indeed.