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Monday Morning Quarterbacks

Oklahoman Published: October 20, 2008
Oklahoma and Oregon have something in common. Both states have closed primary races that keep independent voters out of the mix until a general election, assuming there are candidates from both major parties. The Oregonian is lobbying for more open primaries, and voters will get their say next month. "Oregon remains stubbornly closed — not because voters want it that way, but because the parties like it that way,” the newspaper said in an editorial. "This closed system means that more than one out of five registered voters is frozen out of partisan primary races. The only way these 400,000-plus independent voters can participate is to join a party. In other words, there’s a litmus test. In order to help winnow the candidates who will run the state, voters must make a forced association with a political club — and get stuck on that party’s mailing lists and call lists.”

Writing for Commentary magazine’s blog (, Abe Greenwald takes issue with a recent analysis in the Financial Times suggesting Osama bin Laden fears a Barack Obama presidency and might launch an attack on the U.S. to tip things in John McCain’s favor. Contrary to the Times’ formulation, Greenwald argues Obama’s commitment to "soft power” is nothing bin Laden fears. "Couple Obama’s eagerness to exit Iraq with his blanket promise to chat up enemies, and bin Laden could hardly hope for a more accommodating American administration,” Greenwald writes.

More than one candidate for political office has noted that the economic crisis is at least one explanation for why the war in Iraq has taken a tumble on voters’ priority lists. Yet Americans are reminded of it every time a hometown soldier is killed or injured, or in the more joyful news that soldiers have returned home safely. "While Barack Obama and John McCain debate the reasons for going to war and who might end it best, soldiers continue to die there and their families bear the ultimate burden for a conflict that has diminished U.S. standing in the world, depleted the country’s finances and killed or maimed thousands of young men and women,” the Baltimore Sun reminded readers recently. For family members of service members, the newspaper said, "there is only one way for this war to end — with the safe return of their loved ones.”

The Left Wing is playing for keeps this election cycle. The king of liberal/progressive blogging, Markos Moulitsas rallies the troops at with his own adaptation of Knute Rockne. Libs must "do everything necessary allowable under the law to win because elections have consequences,” he writes. "This isn’t about who is most pure, but about taking the fight to the enemy ... and fighting fire with fire.” Later Kos writes about having the "killer instinct,” rubbing salt in conservatives’ wounds and forcing them to go into debt.

Obama’s current success is not enjoyable for conservatives. But this does not make McCain an incompetent. Maybe he is a great man running at the most difficult of times.
Michael Gerson
Nationally syndicated columnist


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