There is an election next Tuesday that will tell us a lot about why Barack Obama will be elected president in November by a comfortable margin.
Of course that election is NOT the West Virginia primary. As I wrote several weeks ago, the Democratic primary contest ended months ago when Obama ran the table in 12 consecutive primaries. He has led Hillary Clinton from wire to wire and pretty much closed her out mathematically a long time ago. The cable networks have pretended there was still a race for the last six weeks because the Clinton-Obama fight has been a full employment program for pundits and they wanted to keep it going as long as they could.
The election I am referring to is the special election to fill the seat in the 1st Congressional District of Mississippi. That seat was vacated by Republican Pete Wicker who took over Trent Lott's senate seat a few months ago. It is a solidly Republican district which George W. Bush carried by 18 percentage points in 2000 and by 24 points in 2004. There is no way a Democrat should win in that district.
The race is considered close and the Republican National Committee has pulled out all the stops to salvage a win. Vice-President Cheney is making an appearance to support GOP candidate Greg Davis and the party has poured a lot of money into ads linking Democrat Travis Childers to Barack Obama and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright--two men who Childers has neither met nor mentioned during his campaign.
I am betting that Childers will win and become the third Democrat to win in three special elections that have been held this year to fill Congressional seats vacated by Republicans in districts carried handily by Bush in 2000 and 2004.
It will be yet another dramatic indication of how damaged the Republican brand has become over the last eight years and why John McCain has no chance in the fall elections. It also has a lot to do with why 24 Republicans in Congress have decided not to run for re-election this year--that's 1 out of every 7 GOP members.
They know what the media can't or won't say out loud. The Bush/Cheney presidency, the K Street Project, Tom DeLay's leadership, the failed war and economic strategies, Karl Rove's style and virtually everything about the way Republicans ran the show when they were in complete control from 2000-2006 have turned America off.
After eight years of arrogance, deceit, and incompetence, Americans are looking for political leaders who they believe are honest, smart, competent and pluralistic. Pluralistic means they are not partisan or bi-partisan but rather are willing to look for best practices and partial wisdom wherever they can find it. Rightly or wrongly, millions of people believe Obama has those characteristics which is why he has become such a rock star in such a short period of time.
McCain, on the other hand, has given strong indications that he, like Bush, is completely clueless regarding the facts and nuances of the situation in the Middle East. He is also trapped in the box of being unable to maintain the positions and qualities that made him popular in the first place--his willingness to be a maverick and buck the Right Wing GOP establishment when he felt it was necessary. When the Bush tax cuts first came up several years ago, he stated that he opposed them since he thought it was immoral to give the richest Americans a tax cut when we are at war. He has since flipped and decided those tax cuts are good and should be made permanent. He's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.
Current polls show McCain as being quite competitive with Obama or Clinton and all the experts are talking about how close the race will be. McCain actually has a lot of appeal and in a different election following a different president he might have a very good chance. But not in this election.
My friend Dennis Prager and other radio water carriers of the Right would be well advised to stop demonizing the Left and start looking inward at their own party and what it will take to make it worthy of support by most Americans in the future. We have never needed compassionate Conservatism more than we do right now but, alas, it has never seemed more absent from the public conversation. The sins committed by Bush/Cheney in the name of Conservatism will probably set us back for a generation.