Sunday, August 31, 2008

September's eve

August has been a chunky month. As it comes to a close, a few thoughts.

Gustav gusting
My wife once lived on Louisiana's Gulf Coast. It's no surprise, then, that she's been keeping a close eye on Hurricane Gustav and exchanging e-mails with friends in New Orleans and Houston.

Like most Americans, I lack Mrs. KintlaLake's personal connection to this imminent natural disaster, so I've been watching local, state and federal attempts to avoid repeating Katrina mistakes. I've also noticed some residents' inflated sense of entitlement to government aid in preparing for and evacuating from the storm.

Some of us remember one particularly disturbing after-effect of Katrina -- the City of New Orleans seizing more than a thousand firearms from law-abiding citizens, guns that weren't part of any criminal investigation.

The city's reckless violation of Second Amendment rights left these citizens unarmed in the face of roving gangs, home invaders and other criminals. The National Rifle Association has filed a lawsuit against Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Superintendent Warren Riley.

As compassionate Americans, we hold the residents of the Gulf Coast in our hearts as Gustav approaches.

To Mayor Nagin and Supt. Riley: We'll be watching.

Sarah Palin
In the interest of fairness, I haven't yet seen how well Gov. Palin handles the pressure-cooker that is national politics. Fortunately for her, she has 65 days to show us what she's got -- besides her gender, ultra-conservative ideology and featherweight résumé, anyway. Unfortunately for those of us who like to apply independent critical thought to such things, 65 days probably isn't enough time.

Let's be honest about one thing, though -- viewing Sen. John McCain's choice of Gov. Palin as anything but a fourth-quarter "hail Mary" at this point is symptomatic of a serious Kool-Aid overdose.

Republican convention
For obvious reasons, the "disunity" angle was all the buzz during last week's Democratic convention. Republicans, set to meet this week, have their own problems, of course.

Sen. McCain, whose support among humorless conservatives had been hanging by the proverbial thread, apparently reinforced the tether by selecting Gov. Palin. Thing is, his choice exposed another fracture: "scorecard conservatives" vs. rank-and-file Republicans.

The former, litmus paper in-hand, labor under the delusion that they can win elections all by themselves. The latter know that a pristine conservative ticket has virtually no chance of succeeding, so they forgo right-wing idealism in favor of a relatively conservative alternative -- and a shot at a Republican win in November.

At the other political extreme, pure liberal ideology doesn't suffer from conservatives' delusion -- it's the difference between exclusivity (conservative) and inclusion (liberal). Big-tent liberal ideology dilutes identity, however, something that today's sheepish electorate craves. As a result, inclusion is a strategy that doesn't reliably deliver election-day wins -- even when it should.

In any case, this week's Republican convention has potential for true drama and divisiveness, albeit with better haircuts, real diamonds, more expensive suits and probably less weeping.

I despise watching politicians suck up to voters -- unless they're sucking up to me, that is.

After announcing their engagement in Dayton on Friday, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin dropped by the Buckeye Corner on Lane Avenue in Columbus. He bought an armload of Buckeye shirts and other trinkets, and she bought an Ohio State cheerleader outfit for her young daughter.

Isn’t that just precious? Score!

Late yesterday, the Obama-Biden ticket held a rally in the Columbus suburb of Dublin -- wisely, well after Ohio State's game with Youngstown State. After congratulating the Buckeyes on their 43-0 victory, Sen. Barack Obama shouted into the microphone, "O-H!"

Immediately, 19,000 voices responded as one, "I-O!" The
antiphonal chant between candidate and crowd was repeated twice more.

In these parts, you can win a lot of votes by pandering to OSU fans, but anyone can swipe a credit card. It takes a professional suckup to lead a cheer.

Advantage: Obama.