All right everybody, let’s take a deep, calming breath.  Sure the failing global economy is grinding modern society to a halt like a rusty overheated engine, but the real world impact of that is in the months and years ahead, so really what we’re all freaked about is that 2009 will forever be known as The Year the Shit Hit the Fan. Here in 2008 it’s still The Year of the Most Important Election That Anyone Can Remember Ever, even moreso in light of the newly grim imminent future (grimminent?). So let’s take a moment of meditative reflection to appreciate that the smart, inspiring, forward-thinking candidate is finally crushing his Gollum-esque rival.

We’re still three-and-a-half weeks away, but the only major event remaining in the scripted portion of the campaign narrative is the final debate on Wednesday. Obama has opened up such a solid lead that Pollster projects an electoral victory of 320 (270 to win), and 538 projects 345.  Right-leaning RCP also projects an Obama win at 277 (364 with no toss-up states).  It almost seems too easy.

Well, not if John McCain and Sarah Palin can help it.  They would prefer this process be as painful as possible, thank you.  Admitting freely that it cannot win this campaign on the issues, the McCain camp has given itself over completely to ‘negative advertising.’  And in this case, negative advertising means suggesting that Obama might maybe probably not but could be possibly a terrorist. The resulting “angry mob” mentality of McCain-Palin rallies is already being picked up by the press corps, even Fox News.  Chants of “traitor” “terrorist” and even death threats are becoming commonplace at Republican political events.  Yesterday, in an interview with Charles Gibson, Obama basically dared McCain to say it to his face at the final debate. Now that would be a good ol’ fashioned TV showdown.

I personally suspect that this will come up on Wednesday’s finale whether McCain acts like a lily-livered coward or not.  Obama has repeatedly turned his opponents’ bile into ammo against them.  Every time people freak out that Obama isn’t hitting back hard enough he makes some tactical adjustments to increase confidence, but his overall strategy has consistently been to let the competitition self-destruct into a crater of corrupt desperation and then just point out that the emperor has no clothes on his way to impressive electoral victories (see: Clinton, Hillary).

Basically, John McCain can’t win by playing this card. There aren’t enough people that ignorant and crazy. The fact that he’s allowing his campaign to smear Obama this way is a clear sign of the desperate death throes of a failed enterprise.  The sheer moral negligence of agitating racism and xenophobia in our society is all the more reprehensible for being a losing strategy.  All it does is reinforce Obama’s arguments about the GOP’s inability to bring anything constructive to the table. And since he can’t win on the issues and he can’t win by feeding toxic misinformation to idiots and loose cannons, he’s gonna lose.

So for me, the remaining narrative question in this election soap opera is, how will John McCain handle the implosion of his lifelong dream?  If it gets called out at the debate and/or public opinion of him collapses like Bush’s career approval ratings condensed into one election season, will he recant the worst of his terror-baiting before the election and reclaim some degree of decency, or will he burrow deeper into his ditch of denial and projection until November 4th when the crowd at the most awkward concession speech ever goes all Altamont / Woodstock ’99 on him for giving in to some terrorist for’ner?  When the chips are down, does McCain pull an Anakin Skywalker or a Dr. Strangelove?

Based on how valorous he’s acted recently and the unflattering character protrait in the new Rolling Stone, I put my money on him riding the bomb to the ground like Slim Pickens, but I’m not gonna deny him the possibility of redeeming himself a little bit at the last minute. Either way, methinks we’ll know after the last debate if he’s got any spine left in him.

Look, sorry about killing your mentor and cutting off your hand and annihilating that planet that time. I guess Ive been kind of a dick... we cool?

"Look, sorry about killing your mentor and cutting off your hand and annihilating that planet that time. I guess I've been kind of a dick... we cool?"


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