The elu­sive land­slide

Why do I have nag­ging sense that the Obama ship may be headed for the rocks, that his touted easy voy­age to a ru­n­away tri­umph is a myth cre­ated by ca­ble tele­vi­sion and big news­pa­per?

The Covington News - - News -

The early vot­ing lines lengthen as Nov. 4 ap­proaches. The fin­ger- point­ing be­comes an­grier. The Repub­li­can blame game grows louder. The polls, one by one, high­light dou­ble- digit di­vides be­tween first- place Barack Obama and lag­ging John McCain.

Gov. Sonny Per­due and sev­eral other Repub­li­can no­ta­bles have dropped from sight. The odor of roasted lame duck is in the air.

Nearly ev­ery sign points to an Obama pres­i­den­tial victory — not just an or­di­nary win, but one of his­toric pro­por­tions — a sweep, if you will.

One poll even shows Obama ahead in Ge­or­gia, and hardly any­one ex­pects in­cum­bent Repub­li­can Sen. Saxby Cham­b­liss to reach the magic 50 per­cent- plus- one mark that would spare him a runoff against Demo­crat Jim Martin.

If ev­ery­thing is go­ing so swim­mingly for Obama and his Demo­cratic buds, why do I have this odd feel­ing that the Oc­to­ber sur­prise won’t come this year un­til Nov. 4? Why do I have a nag­ging sense that the Obama ship may be headed for the rocks, that his touted easy voy­age to a ru­n­away tri­umph is a myth cre­ated by ca­ble tele­vi­sion and big news­pa­pers?

I am not quite gutsy enough to pre­dict that Sen. Obama will not win the White House, but I do be­lieve his elec­tion may be one of the clos­est in his­tory — even closer than the BushGore bat­tle of 2000.

You see, I don’t sub­scribe to the sen­ti­ment es­poused by the New York Times and MSNBC: That Amer­ica has all but dis­carded racism, that a new gen­er­a­tion has shed the curse of the pre­vi­ous ones, that race doesn’t mean much to many of the new­bie vot­ers. The polls seem to bear out this the­sis; only a small per­cent­age of vot­ers say race mat­ters. That’s what they say. But what will they do?

I wish I be­lieved TV com­men­ta­tor Keith Ol­ber­mann and big- time colum­nist Frank Rich. They claim Sarah Palin is try­ing to play on the small­town prej­u­dices of Mid­dle Amer­ica to win votes for Palin- McCain — I mean McCain- Palin. They say Sarah is wast­ing her time.

I think Keith and Frank are wrong.

The Nov. 4 elec­tion ought to tell us.

When the bal­lots are counted, we ought to have a good idea of whether:

• The race card still trumps all other cards, in­clud­ing the GOP’s stu­pen­dous malfea­sance, mis­fea- sance and non­fea­sance at gov­ern­ment’s high­est lev­els. Race re­mains a ma­jor fac­tor in pub­lic life.

• Young peo­ple have at last de­cided to vote in large num­bers. Obama is de­pend­ing partly on the youth vote to help him win. The po­lit­i­cal grave­yard is filled with un­suc­cess­ful politi­cians who were sure that the young and still ide­al­is­tic would turn out en masse. They never have. Will they now?

• Mi­nori­ties — blacks and His­pan­ics — have come into their own as de­ter­mi­nants in a na­tional ( or even state) elec­tion.

• Barack’s votes from women will off­set his neg­a­tives with older white men. We shall see.

My un­easy feel­ings about the Obama cam­paign may be mis­placed. They may be trace­able to an ear­lier piece I wrote in this space. I said I thought Obama’s ré­sumé was too thin for an ap­pli­cant for pres­i­dent. Sen. McCain man­aged to min­i­mize my fears by choos­ing a run­ning mate who thinks the three branches of gov­ern­ment are dead limbs left from an arc­tic storm.

How­ever, she is happy to have $ 150,000 worth of high fash­ion to wow the dudes back in Wasilla. That new red leather jacket re­ally looks cool on Sarah. How much did you say that cost? Think of Palin mov­ing up to pres­i­dent, and you will see how much bet­ter Obama ap­pears.

An­other solid clue that I may be mis­judg­ing the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion: Gov. Sonny Per­due, the GOP’s lead­ing light in the Peach State, has gone to ground. He has hardly been seen since he was sighted in Cal­houn fly­ing a state he­li­copter at state ex­pense to be­come cer­ti­fied with state pa­trol pi­lots as a he­li­copter pi­lot.

Whether the state con­sti­tu­tion re­quires a gov­er­nor to fly a chop­per is un­cer­tain, but one thing is def­i­nite: Per­due has mis­cal­cu­lated the state bud­get so badly that our schools and colleges will be feel­ing his des­per­a­tion cash cuts long af­ter he has de­parted.

He also has or­dered pad­locked the state’s war vet­er­ans’ home at Milledgeville. He fig­ures to save a few more bucks there. Per­haps that is why he is not out beat­ing the drums for John McCain, who has spe­cial ap­peal to vets.

In any event, I am a mem­ber of a dwin­dling mi­nor­ity who still be­lieve Sen. Obama is a long way from a land­slide next week in his quest for the pres­i­dency.

Clip and burn this col­umn if I am wrong, and don’t re­mind me of it. I al­ready owe a steak din­ner to a state se­na­tor. I bet him last year that Hil­lary Clin­ton would be the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee.

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