Saturday, December 29, 2007
2008's Central Theme?
The assassination of Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto earlier in the week crowded everything else off the front page. Despite its impact, one still can't discount that this has, for the most point, been a slow news week. To a large extent, this was expected. The week of Christmas historically means a Congress on hiatus, a minimum of government offices open, many businesses closed, and on election years such as this, a temporary strategic de-emphasis on voracious campaigning. Every Presidential candidate running has taken great care to refrain from direct attacks on its opponents and has been loathe to drop major bombshells. What remains are the over-warmed shadowy leftovers of arguments, accusations, and innuendo. No need to worry, American People. We are only in a momentarily lull, so rest assured the gloves will be off again well before our post-New Year's hangovers have subsided.
I notice a few conservative commentators are ranting anew about immigration, hoping to make it the central campaign issue of the year, let we forget, is finally only a few days away from arriving. At long last, the answer to the bumper sticker that proclaims "Is it 2008 yet?" will be emphatically provided. These pundits hope to make illegal immigration as important an debate as was National Security in 2004, but I would qualify that thus far their attempts are mostly in vain. Wishful thinking alone is insufficient to influence the fight for the hearts, minds, and tip of tongue banter of the average citizen. This blog addressed the immigration debate in length months upon months ago. I feel no compelling need to revisit it and so curious enterprising souls can scour the archives if they wish.
The question remains, then, what will be the central issue of the year to come? I cast my vote for economic woes, since it has been proven time and time again that the American public responds more potently to it more than anything else. Send its young people to war on false pretenses, restrict its civil liberties, resort to barbarically punitive means of punishing its so-called enemies, call into doubt the patriotism of the Loyal Opposition, Americans have proven time and time again to be a remarkably forgiving people until they realize the latest conflict they face is the War on Pocketbook. Even the self-described apolitical spring into action and spout platitudes of outrage with a sense of vigor so pronounced one wonders from whence it came.
One can be sure the growing recession, a largely a lethal product of greedy subprime lending, unwise overseas war, and persistently high energy costs will be co-opted by Democratic candidates in the same fashion as Bill Clinton's "It's the Economy, stupid" mantra of his 1992 campaign. Though interest rates cuts and slight-of-hand tactics have largely kept the bottom from dropping out, one can be certain that if it does, the Bush administration and by implication the GOP will find themselves blamed in wholesale fashion. It nearly goes without saying that this is the Democratic party's race to lose. That being said, I have grown too cautious over the years to make any sort of pronouncement of victory before all the votes are counted, or at least before the votes which will count are tallied. The last landslide victory was twenty-four years ago and these times are far different to those.