Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wherefore base? Bastardy base?

Andrew Sullivan, plumping as ever for Obama and McCain, submits to his own 'base instincts' while worrying about those of the electorate:

The chart above shows the remarkable polling similarities in John McCain's recent primary successes. After a slow decline, at some point late last year, voters sensed he really was their best bet on character, policies and viability. And so the battle now is really one between the worst base instincts of both parties and their most promising candidates for the general election. It's about the defensive figures of the past defending their turf and power against their own parties redefining themselves for the center. I'm hoping McCain and Obama manage to defeat these forces of entropy.

While he has totally bought in to the promise of Obama as a "uniter," Sir Sullivan, as many have noted, has some polarizing tendencies of his own (ya think?). I support Obama, but I recognize that there are plenty of good reasons to support Hillary. And while I admire McCain and have been disgusted by the campaign Romney has run, a large corner of my brain suspects that Romney would be a better president - I think he's ten times smarter than McCain, and intelligence counts for something if not everything.

Sullivan, like too many commentators, has succumbed to the assumption that if voters don't go his way they've gone to hell in handbasket. In the inscrutable mind-heart-gut calculus, many may conclude that Hillary's toughness and Romney's brains are qualities needed in a President. How can Sullivan, or anyone, be certain that McCain won't drive the U.S. off another pre-emptive cliff, or that Obama could handle a world-threatening crisis like, say, nuclear war between India and Pakistan? All of us should trust that the electorate is smarter than we are. Not infallible, but on the whole an effective decision-making engine.

1 comment:

  1. Smart post, and I agree with you about the tendency to believe that if one's chosen candidate loses the primary, the world will end. I especially despair whenever I hear a fellow Obama supporter say they won't vote for Clinton. Sulking accomplishes nothing.

    On the larger point, I think that what drives a lot of Clinton supporters is revanchism, and I think that's blinding them as much as Sullivan is blinded by Obama ethereal vision of 'unity'.