So, on the eve of New Year’s Eve 2008, I put my baby down to sleep and turned off the TV for the night. And here I sit, with a goblet of aged, Spanish sherry…okay, it’s 30 year Scotch…okay, you got me, it’s really just a Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon, but it’s 2001, a good year…oh, alright, it’s actually Franzia from a box…
It’s all I can afford on a teacher’s salary, sadly…
Enough of drowning my own sorrow. Let’s turn my frown upside down, as the old cliché goes, and turn the microscope on other people’s miseries. And what better way to do so then to revisit the biggest political missteps of 2008. It’s just such a rich landscape.
Here now, without further delay, the TOP 12 POLITICAL BLUNDERS OF 2008.
12. Clinton’s 3am phone call. After losing Iowa and “finding her voice” in New Hampshire, and then losing a string of primaries only to pull out California on Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton apparently decided it was time to go Republican. Her campaign put together and ran the now infamous “Obama’s not ready to answer the 3am phone call.” This move ranks as the number 12 political blunder for 2008 because Clinton reminded voters that she was tied to old Washington, and perhaps too much of a hawk for liberal voters. Effectively, what she thought would be a good move to bolster her standing actually backfired and Clinton ended doing the work of Obama for Obama.
11. Joe the
Plumber Campaigner. In what could only be construed as total idiocy, John McCain decided that Joe the Plumber was the ace in the hole he needed on the campaign trail to excite his crowds and to overtake Obama’s commanding lead in the polls. Joe. The. Plumber. Who turns out doesn’t make anything close to Obama’s proposed tax increase bracket. Who turns out isn’t even named Joe. Who turns out to not even be a licensed plumber. Great move, Grandpa McCain.
10. McCain’s many, many homes. Yes, here’s old Johnny Mac again. You’ll be seeing him in here a couple more times due to his totally inept campaign. At a time when foreclosures were running rampant and ordinary Americans were either losing homes, or in dire danger of losing homes, John McCain gets on TV and mumbles off some words that sound amazingly like “I don’t know how many homes I own.” Bonehead? I dare say so. That’s why it’s here, at number 10.
9. Can Sarah come out and play? The Republican Party/McCain campaign shot themselves in the knee caps when they decided the best move they had to prevent Sarah Palin, who knew nothing, from looking like she knew nothing, was to completely shield her from the media and the press, rendering her the image of a know nothing. Keep it up, please, Republicans! Please hide your 2012 presidential candidate from the press as well.
8. John Edwards, baby daddy. Though the affair with Reille Hunter did not take place in 2008, the public revelation of it did. John Edwards actively carried on an affair when he was considering, and then actually running for president. That’s either sheer guts or utter stupidity. The revelation did not cost him the nomination, for he had already suspended his campaign by then, but it did destroy any shot he had a cabinet spot in the Obama administration. Many pegged Edwards for Attorney General. Oh well. And to further sully himself, Edwards figures that it would help repair his damaged image by stating that he only stuck his wee-wee in this other woman’s vajayjay when his wife’s cancer was in remission. Because as we all know…That. Makes. It. Okay.
7. I’m running against the devil, I think. How absolutely brain dead was Elizabeth Dole’s ad suggesting, and not subtly, her opponent Kay Hagan was a Godless heathen?
Maybe Dole got confused. Maybe she thought she was running against Gay Pagan, not Kay Hagan.
I’m glad the folks in North Carolina had the good sense to vote the hate mongering Dole out of office. North Carolina voters proved that they have more brains than the morons in the 6th district of Minnesota who reelected Michelle Bachmann-McCarthy. Yes, I just went there. You got a problem? Go look at what she said and then google some of Joseph McCarthy’s old speeches.
6. No on Prop 8. No, no, the “No on Prop 8” ideal is not the political blunder. It’s their campaign’s total lack of organization. For a group of people who really wanted something, they sure as hell didn’t work too hard to try to achieve it. One month before the election, I began to see tons of yellow “Yes on 8” lawn signs popping up all over my neighborhood. Teams of two, on two separate weekends, knocked on my door to discuss the possibility of me displaying their sign on my front lawn. Now, I’m vehemently opposed to the bigotry of the “Yes on 8” side. I went as far as to call it Prop H-8. But they were organized, active, and itching for a fight…actually, a win. I never saw one person come to my house to talk to me about “No on Prop 8.” In fact, I had to hunt them down on line, drive down to their local office, and then PAY them to purchase a sign.
I also staged a “Debate on Prop 8” at the school I teach at. The YES side got back to me four hours later; that evening, I had one confirmed speaker lined up; by the next day, I had both debate participants. For the NO side, I was put in touch with the person in charge of the southern CA campaign. And still, I had no idea who was going to show up to the debate until the morning of the debate. Did I want “Yes on 8” to win? Hell no. Was I surprised they won? Hell no.
Worst of all, had the “No on Prop 8” side prepared better, organized better, fought a better fight, they would have set only a political example, but a moral example for the rest of the nation. Now, other states will look and go, “well, hell, CA can’t even stand them homos…” An absolutely shameful blown opportunity.
5. Do not pass go; go straight to the US Senate. Two words: Rod Blagojevich. Enough said? Nearly. This guy, who was already on shaky ground with his constituents, had the audacity to try to blackmail the most popular President-elect in modern American history. How did Blago think it would end? Obama would capitulate, tell his staff to lay down and get stomped by some punk bitch corrupt governor? How dumb does someone have to be to think they can get away with extorting the US president-elect? This will surely destroy Blagojevich’s political career, and that’s why it’s sitting pretty right here, at number 5.
4. Sarah and Katie…sitting in a tree…T-A-L-K-I-N-G. So back at number 9, I pointed to the self-inflicted wound of the Republicans who tried to shield Palin from the press. I guess they knew what they were doing after all because when Palin unleashed herself on to the American public, she caused a major self-inflicted wound of her own. For those who never saw any snippets of the interview—or the parodies on Saturday Night Live for that matter—let me just quote you two of the laughable things Palin blurted out with glee: “I have foreign policy expertise because I can see Russia from my house,” and “I don’t need to name any of the major newspapers and magazines because I read them all.”
Of course, since we’re talking disastrous interviews, what about her interview with pussycat Charlie Gibson? Gibson asks her for her thoughts on the “Bush Doctrine.” Palin’s answer: “in what sense, Charlie?” Um, in the sense of the Bush Doctrine, beauty queen…
3. “The fundamentals of our economy are strong.” Sitting ugly at number 3, yet another boo-boo from John McCain. With the country’s real estate and mortgage markets in collapse mode, and with the nation’s banking system crumbling quickly before our eyes, AND with people losing jobs left and right, McCain blurts out “let them eat cake” at one of his televised campaign rallies. Senator McCain, at the time you spoke these fateful words, my two year old labrador retriever could have told you the fundamentals of our economy are not sound. And oh yeah, reading those words, and the subsequent ones, off your crib sheet on live national television doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
2. See you all in Florida. Love, Rudy. Pssst…wanna know a secret? Wanna know how to go from anointed frontrunner to an afterthought quicker than a toilet flushes? Pull a Rudy Giuliani. Here’s a man who was the presumptive frontrunner for the Republican nomination due to his heroic tethering to 9/11, and he chose, as a specific strategy, to skip all of the early caucuses and primaries, and to focus on the crucial state of Florida, whose population is like 75% ex-New Yorkers… Well, unfortunately, in the month or so that Rudy sat out on the sidelines, others made news and bigger splashes, like dark horse Mike Huckabee, who won Iowa and turned the Republican race upside down. By the time Florida rolled around nearly a month later, Giuliani had all but been forgotten. A completely miscalculated move, that’s for sure. And it deserves to be number 2.
1. Go, Go Boobie Power. The biggest political blunder of 2008, hands down, is John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin to be his VP running mate. This move was a fiasco on so many levels. To begin with, he alienated a lot of smart, politically savvy women. Most of them saw right through his paper-thin attempt to lure disgruntled Hillary supporters. And as Palin made the rounds, both in rallies and on TV interviews, more and more people saw who she really was. And knowing she was just a 72 year old McCain heartbeat away from the Oval Office, scared the holy doo-doo out of a lot of folks. And then of course, the more she spoke of her absolute, blind faith in the almighty, the more she started to resemble George W. Bush. And that began to turn people off.
By the end, she had done what many—myself included—thought was impossible to achieve: she’d made George W. Bush look like a Rhodes Scholar. McCain may have dusted up some base support, but he lost a whole lot of independent, and just plain sane, voters. And for sabotaging his own shot at being president, I firmly place this as the number 1 political blunder of 2008.