Postmortem: POTUS '08

It is finally done. There were no real surprises from a political standpoint. All of the surprises are related to the entire process in general. The manner in which this race has evolved over the past two years is unconventional, to say the least. Every campaign cycle, pundits and media commentators talk about how this one is different and will be like never before, and then when it’s all said and done, it’s the same as always. This time, however, it really was different in a variety of ways. Here’s a brief look back, but more importantly, it’s time to look forward.

First of all, this election represented many firsts. Of course, it was the first African-American candidate, the first female Republican VP candidate, etc. I’m not really concerned about all that, because I, like most of the country, don’t care about the race or sex of the candidates – I voted for the person and what they stand for.

But there were other firsts too. For instance, Barrack Obama and the Democrats will have raised over $1 billion in this race when it’s all said and done. That is not only historical, but it blows all previous fundraising records out of the water. There’s no comparison. All the while, Obama raised this money after turning down campaign public financing, to which he had original agreed he would abide by.

This is also the first time that a President will be elected that has no military service. This issue has gone through significant evolution just in my lifetime. When I was young, it would have been unheard of to have a Commander in Chief that did not serve in the military. Even Bill Clinton exhibited limited military service, albeit, not very impressive when he chose to dodge the draft.

The issue of Obama’s lack of military service was not highlighted very much in the campaign, primarily because it was almost a joke to try and compare his limited service with John McCain who’s longest residence before being elected to Congress in Arizona was in a Hanoi prison as a prisoner of war. This issue has not seemed to concern many voters, especially young ones, such as those in my generation, most of whom also don’t have military service. You see, the previous two generations before us had young experiences that were very different from the typical experience of my generation. Many of these people had to serve and they served in time of war. The Greatest Generation was molded and crafted by their experiences in WWII. Indeed, that experience was one of the things that framed the future growth of this country. We don’t have that anymore.

It seems that many people have forgotten what it means to be attacked and that we’re in the middle of a war. Yes, people want out of that war, but that doesn’t mean we can just pack up and go home. We still need leadership; we need tactics and strategy; we need resolve. How can we expect the most senior of our leaders to guide us through this war and resolve it when he doesn’t have one day leading troops or serving in that capacity? If we weren’t in a war, perhaps it wouldn’t be such a concern. Yet, we are, and I still haven’t heard how a President Obama would resolve the situation in a manner that completes the job we set out to do and maintains the strengh of the nation in the global community. The fact is, he won’t, and that is scary. Indeed, the costs are too high.

This is a slap in the face of our servicemen and women. If you look at the support from our military, there was overwhelming support for John McCain. Heck, this is perhaps the last bastion of support for George W. Bush; not because these people love W. or even love McCain, but they know how important their job is and how they want to make it home after completing their jobs. They know firsthand what it takes and it is a dishonor to them to put an inexperienced, inadequate leader guiding them into battle.

Are there other issues out there that are important? Of course. But you know what, the economy will recover, whether the President does anything or not. Healthcare will live on, regardless of the candidates’ agendas. Taxes will remain, whether they are raised or lowered. But, the only thing that really matters for the President right now is that American lives are protected. If he cannot do that, then he is unfit to serve. Obama is unfit and I am fearful as to what the costs will be of this.

How will this play out? We will see. Quite frankly, I don’t necessary think the President had to serve in the military. I think there are a number of ways one can serve their country, whether it be in the military, a civil servent, diplomat, in the intelligence community, etc. But, this leads in to the issue about us electing one of the most inexperienced presidential candidates in history.

This has been discussed ad nauseum throughout this race, but I find it amazing that voters ignored the fact that Obama served two years in the US Senate. That’s it. That’s his experience. Yes, he was a local politician prior to going to Washington, but his experience hardly qualifies him to run for President. Yet, the majority of voters and the electoral college disagreed. So, what does this mean for the country? Well, to answer that, we’d have to do quite a bit of speculating, which has been done plenty over the past couple of years. I don’t know. Personally, I’d like to give Obama a chance, but I’m also afraid that the costs of allowing him to try and fail are just too high.

This election boils down to the fact that we cannot let the country be led by someone who’s experience can be summed up as having campaigned for the Presidency for two years (as long as he’s been in national office), zero service in the military, and an economic neophyte. Basically, we’ve put a two years old child behind the wheel of a Mack truck. The only problem is that Americans won’t realize it until they are forced to ride in the truck with him on a dangerous highway.

How are we going to win a war against the myriad of enemies we face, or protect the country from the various threats posed against our people, or beat recession knocking on our doors, or deliver stability to households? How will this happen with a child in the driver’s seat?

A lot of my friends have said that Obama will depend on his advisors to meet these important responsibilities. Trust me, I understand the fact that the Presidency is an institution rather than an individual – I have lived around the world of politics my whole life and I have worked on a presidential campaign. I know these things firsthand. But, what most people don’t understand when making this argument is that all of the advisors in the world can’t do anything without a strong, sensible and qualified person at the helm who can ultimately drive the process and manage the various jobs put in front of that office. Without that piece, there’s nothing Warren Buffett or Colin Powell or anyone can do.

The saddest thing about this outcome relates to the motives behind the campaigns and the political Parties. You see, for the Democrats, this is all about politics. This is all about beating Big Bad George W. Bush and getting payback for ‘all of the horror those Republicans have delivered’ for years. Their rationale has always been based on the idea that they’re a better alternative than the current administration. But, they aren’t running against the current administration, and no matter how much you try to portray McCain as being like George Bush, he wasn’t. McCain has always been fundamentally, 100% different from Bush. That has been exhibited time after time. And, I’ve heard people say that George Bush lost this race for McCain, just like he beat him in 2000. This is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard, because this election has nothing to do with George Bush.

In the end, I know the GOP has lost a great deal of its roots. I had hoped we would pick ourselves back up after the debacle in 2006, but it appears that was just the beginning of our downfall. Then we let the Primaries kill us and the Party never did unite. Even after McCain had the nod, the Party didn’t rally for him like it did with W. Perhaps it was because everyone was just tired or maybe they felt burned by Bush, so they didn’t want to buy in completely. Perhaps the whole deal was a forgone conclusion or some sort of self-fulfilling scenario where the assumption Obama wasn’t beatable, thus there was never a real effort.

I don’t know, but I can tell you we brought it upon ourselves. I will give my Democratic friends that. We lost sight of what our values are and what our identity is going to be. We’re in a tough time, yes. There’s a war; the economy is struggling; the make-up of our population is changing drastically; and, we face a great deal of challenges in the years ahead. Were we too busy focusing on those things? Sure, but I don’t think that’s an adequate excuse.

But, again, this goes back to the fact that it isn’t about George Bush or even Republicans’ loss of identity. This isn’t about a political party or the country’s electoral make-up. This is about the fact that we have elected someone who is unfit to lead this country. And, this isn’t just about Obama being the most liberal person in the history of the US Senate. John F. Kennedy was a liberal and of questionable morals and ethics, but you couldn’t question his experience. He served; he sacrificed; and, he learned from the best. He was fit, and regardless of where he stood on social issues, he knew what had to be done and he knew he would do what it took to make it happen.

Obama is no John F. Kennedy … not by a long shot. He’s not even a Ted Kennedy. Or a John F. Kerry. Or even a Joe Biden, for that matter. He is a child. And now, American lives are in his hands. Our pocketbooks are in his hands. Our businesses and jobs are in his hands. Our children’s future is in his hands.

Ultimately, the people have gotten their wishes. Bush will be gone shortly and “change” (regardless of the direction of that change) will occur. The question now is what will the cost of that “change” be? What do we do when President Obama has ended up costing us more lives, more money and more challenges for this country?

You’ve criticized and lambasted George W. Bush for years, and regardless of whether or not it was warranted, you’ve gotten your wish now. The real question now is what will the cost of failure be when it strikes again?

[Note: this post was originally published on my blog at www.marktomarket.typepad.com]