A friend of mine has embraced this mantra: “Expect good things.” Instead of spinning and fretting over worst-case scenarios, she sets her mind on best possible outcomes, and “expects” them. Where I come from, a deep Midwestern pool of pathologically practical Lutheran genes, we have a rather different mantra: “Hope for the best, expect the worst.”
It’s kind of how I’m approaching the election these days. Here we are – in a recession, an energy crisis, a healthcare crisis, a military quagmire (today is the fifth anniversary of the “end” of major combat operations in Iraq), beholden to a president and a Republican party with some of the lowest favorable ratings in modern history – and the Democrats have somehow gone from a “sure thing” to a statistical tie with John McCain, a man who promises not to change a thing in his administration’s management of Bush’s war, and to continue the Bush economic policies that are working so well for us all.
To whom do we owe our thanks? To an inexperienced Obama campaign that may have gotten a little complacent and cocksure – just as Clinton was getting desperate enough to launch her “kitchen sink” strategy (the apparent success of which goes to show you really can’t underestimate the critical thinking skills of an electorate)? To the emergence of a really ugly side of Bill Clinton? To Obama’s failure to finish off the Rev. Wright controversy weeks before Wright finally forced him to, allowing Clinton reverse her slide and begin, as Josh Marshall put it, “controlling the agenda”? So many choices!
And yet the silver lining here may be that, despite the media-magnetizing idiocy that is the Democratic Primary, McCain is not sailing ahead. As Marshall observes, he’s still on a honeymoon, with no opponent and a distracted press. The “mainstream” media hasn’t even begun to comment on his inconsistencies on Iraq, his campaign finance cheating, the rich irony of his criticizing Obama’s “elitism” as he flies around the country on his heiress wife’s corporate jet, and yet he’s only managing to stay even with Clinton and Obama in the polls. Once there is a genuine contest underway, who knows?
Expect good things.