Russ Smith feels the time has come to start discussing the unthinkable.
Itâ€™s three a.m. on Oct. 31 and a frantic broker awakens you. Heâ€™s advising making substantial investments that day in the stocks of Lilly, Pfizer and other manufacturers of anti-depressants, as well as high-end booze, say Grey Goose vodka and Hillary Clintonâ€™s whiskey of choice, Chivas Regal. The calculations buzzing through your head are not insignificant. Barack Obama holds a two-point lead over John McCain in the Gallup poll for the Nov. 4 presidential election, and that slender margin suggestsâ€”given the undeniable factor of racism when Americans retreat to the privacy of the ballot boothâ€”that for the third straight time a Democratic candidate will be defeated. Your own preference in the contest is irrelevant: thereâ€™s money lying on the table and only a fool would ignore the marketâ€™s indications.
A month ago, as any honest Democrat will tell you, this scenario was nearly inconceivable. The Republicans had nominated an elderly and inarticulate candidate in McCain, who was marred not only by his association with George Bush, but distrusted by the critical conservative base as well. ..
In mid-September the GOP resurrection is a simple reality, and though I dislike the clichÃ© â€œa month in politics is a lifetime,â€ no one has any idea of how Americans will vote on Election Day. But the fear expressed by a â€œmajor Democratic fundraiserâ€ in Politico last weekâ€”â€œIâ€™m so depressed. Itâ€™s happening again. Itâ€™s a nightmare.â€â€”isnâ€™t isolated and wonâ€™t subside unless Obama, to quote a Matt Drudge headline, â€œgets his groove back.â€
I have no clue if or when that could happen, but I do have an opinion of what will follow in this country if McCain pulls off what so recently seemed the miraculous feat of becoming the countryâ€™s 44th president. Voter fraud, conspiracy, â€œsleazevertisementsâ€ (the preferred term of many left-wing bloggers), disenfranchised voters, the return of redneck chic; those will be the immediate cries of Democrats who thought the election was in the bag. Once again, scores of celebrities will claim theyâ€™re moving abroad (and inevitably wonâ€™t). And then the depression will kick in hard.
New York magazine columnist Kurt Andersen, one of the few Beltway-Boston pundits who bashed Hillary Clinton a year ago, when her nomination appeared inevitable, was unstinting in his speculation of the fallout should Obama lose. He emailed me: â€œEven without post-November 4th rumors of rigged voting machines and the like, an Obama loss will be a deeply, traumatically depressing event for Democrats and other Obama enthusiasts. (Whereas if McCain loses, who will be seriously bummed outside of the McCain household?) There will be so many facets of potential unhappiness. That an eloquent, inspiring, intelligent, subtle black candidate lostâ€”and if itâ€™s close, itâ€™ll be true that racism beat himâ€¦ That the rest of the world will be reaffirmed in their belief that America is the land of nincompoops (or worse). That a war with Iran looks a lot likelierâ€¦ That Sarah Palin won it for the Republicans, and gives a bad name to feminism and (terrifyingly) has a one-in-six (Russian roulette!) chance of becoming president before 2013.â€
Tom Bevan, co-founder of Real Clear Politics, was succinct: â€œTwo words: Hari Kari. The base of the [Democratic] party is so vested in its nomineeâ€¦that to lose in November would be one of the most demoralizingin the modern era.â€
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