Welcome to another edition of Ask Boomer With Attitude, live from Charlotte, N.C., where a sucker punch thrown by a spoiled, overpaid jock can command a week's worth of news coverage. Let's get on with the show.
Dear BWA: A few months ago you wrote that Barack Obama couldn't win the election because of white racial prejudice. How do you feel now that he's favored to beat John McCain? -- Richard J. Samuels
Dear Richard: First things first: I hope Obama wins, even though he lacks experience (as did some of our best Presidents, including Lincoln and Kennedy). With that said, this is America; wrangling with the issue of race is one of our nation's basic, defining features, so there's no way that the first U.S. presidential election to include an African-American as one of the two major candidates won't be racially tinged. I don't think racial prejudice will inevitably sink Obama's candidacy anymore, however. If Republicans weren't burdened with the Bush administration's appalling record, I doubt Obama could win; but the GOP is stuck with Bush and voters are desperate for change, meaning that Obama could pull it off despite racists' opposition (which will be increasingly pronounced as November approaches).
Polls have been very unreliable this year, so the day-to-day national tracking polls are almost worthless, particularly because of our archaic Electoral College system, which can hand the presidency to the candidate with fewer votes a la Gore-Bush. The only reliable polling outfit during the primaries -- in fact, the only one that even came close most of the time -- was SurveyUSA. The group's recent polls in all 50 states showed Obama with more than enough Electoral College votes to win outright, even with 11 states still rated as "toss-ups." Other surveys show that Obama could win big if he hammers relentlessly on the drooping economy, jobs, and health care.
Three big problems loom for Obama, however. First, since the end of the primary season, Obama has been playing it safe, as if hoping to hold on to his early lead without pushing too hard against McCain. That will have to change if he's to have any hope of beating back the GOP slime machine that eviscerated Al Gore and John Kerry.
Second, McCain's campaign, now being run by Karl Rove disciples, intend to attack Obama nonstop, every day until November, trivializing his positions and trying to paint the Illinois senator as some sort of alien presence.
Third, for all the talk of the media "loving" Obama, pundits have generally fallen in line with McCain's strategy. Think of the aftermath of Obama's major speech on energy policy, the main thrust of which was a call for America to wean itself from its oil dependence within a decade. McCain immediately claimed that Obama's entire proposal could be summed up in "Americans need to inflate their tires," and the media went along with it, ignoring the massive programs and smart ideas Obama had proposed. It's uncertain whether the media will continue to push McCain's campaign, but they certainly looked like lapdogs last week when they essentially laughed off McCain's offer of his wife Cindy for a biker rally "beauty pageant," which turned out to be a topless contest. Imagine if it had been Barack and Michelle; Obama's campaign would be dead in the water.
Dear BWA: I agree with you that offshore drilling is a terrible idea, especially since we have our beautiful Outer Banks to think of in N.C., but you weren't thorough in your answer to "Liberals Are Dumbasses" (Boomer With Attitude: July 9). There are lots of reasons to keep the ban on offshore drilling. -- Conservatives Are Dipshits
Dear Conservatives Are Dipshits: I apologize for not turning my column into a doctoral thesis on the oil industry and the environment, but yes, you're right -- there are more reasons than the ones I mentioned earlier (which were, briefly: offshore drilling won't reduce the price of gasoline; oil spills are inevitable; the tourism industry would suffer; and drilling supporters have no vision other than "more oil"). Here are three more solid reasons: 1. Oil companies already have oil and gas leases on over 30 million acres of public land outside Alaska (including some offshore sites) which they're not using now; 2. Opening up new public lands to drilling usually takes more than 10 years to produce oil; and 3. The oil taken from new offshore drilling will belong to the international corporation that pumps it out, not to the United States, and that company will sell it to whoever it wants, not necessarily the U.S.