Archive for February, 2008
Oh yeah, you want one.
I especially loved this line from the designers: “Finger painting is fun — when you’re four,” Haas said. “I’m not going to be selling to the same people who are buying an iPhone.”
In other words, they have zero angst about the forthcoming, official Apple™ Tablet Mac that is coming out sometime soon.
Thank you, Mr. Haas, for helping me one-up ol’ Mr. Tablet PC and his cool scrawly email messages. At least in theory, because I probably won’t own one for a while. Remember? I just got on Facebook? “Early adopter” in my house means that we just bought a cast-iron skillet.
February 28th, 2008
A new and tremulous day has dawned in my life as of late, and like Bambi getting up for the first time before trying to walk, I’m a bit wobbly. Yup, I’ve signed up for the Facebook™ experiment, that paragon of social networking in the Web 2.0 world. Facebook is excited that I am telling you this right now. Facebook is monitoring all outgoing transmissions.
I was fairly cool, to say the least, to the whole “social networking” scene - and oh, there is quite a scene - being the late adopter that I am with things of this nature. I cooled down even greater when news began to emerge about Facebook’s tendency to keep your personal information regardless of your desire for them to possess it. Stories abound of those who have tried (and failed) to have all of their personal information, journal entries, contacts, pictures, and other “helpful to figure out what you’d like to buy”-type info from their site upon cancellation. Knowledge is power, and contact info is worth more than fine gold. Trying to understand the purchasing habits of youth and young adults today is a billion-dollar cottage industry, as a recent Frontline report documented (it’s called, “The Merchants of Cool” and I highly recommend you catch a minute or two).
Me No Likey Myspace
So, as you can tell, I was more than hesitant to sign up when prompted. To make matters more complicated (as I am skilled at doing), I have been openly and publicly decrying the horrors of Myspace™ to anyone willing to listen to my tirade. (Facebook is pleased) Beyond the manner in which it serves as a portal to ungodly grossness and the silly ways that hip marketers attempt to remain relevant to teenager’s wallets, I’ve found that Myspace functions as a cruel haven for the lonely, happy to provide the illusion of real connections, substantive conversations, and numerous comrades. I have found that space, in general, to be a jumbly, chaotic mess of pseudo-hip sappiness filled with trite, pithy phrases of empty vanity. Yup, I haven’t been a big fan of Myspace.
I also have been horrified as a shepherd, and one who cares about youth and young adults, at the massive time-drain that Myspace (and many other places on the internet in general) has become for a generation of computer-addicted, lonely, bored people. So, I’ve voiced my concern. I’ve preached the sermons. I’ve heard, all the while, that Facebook was the cleaner, safer version of Myspace. I mostly grunted and moved on with my life.
The Toe is in the Water
Then, a month ago, on a quiet Saturday morning, I signed up for Facebook. Why? Simple. People were having conversations about subjects I wanted to eavesdrop on. I’m nosy, and I’m a rabid researcher and curious analyst. The problem, I found, is that I had to listen to Facebook conversations on Facebook’s terms. I had to register. Swallowing hard, I took the plunge. I quickly gathered my intelligence, then quietly snuck away - giving my morning activities no more thought or time. I forgot that I even signed up.
Then, one morning, it came.
The “friend” request.
I can’t even tell you how it works. I have no clue how anyone found me, or discovered that my name was tagged to a Facebook profile. I barely know how to run a VCR. Someone else is typing these words right now. Yet somehow, magically, the requests began to trickle in. A few messages. Like a pesky younger brother, or an insistent thirsty child, the emails excitedly reported the news. The Facebook Team needed to confirm that I was actually friends with the people that were saying that they wanted to be my friend. Huh. Am I?
Well, sure! I mean, these were my friends, from back east before I moved to Kansas City. I had not heard from them in quite some time. I was genuinely excited to hear from them, and see that they were doing well. Still, my pride and my stubborness demanded that I ignore their request for friendship. So, for a week or so I resisted their brazen pleas. Bah, and humbug! Yet, over time, the emotional hold of their impact on my life tugged away at my calloused heart-strings. Garrr! The power of Facebook! Who is able to make war with them? So I gave in. I “approved” of our budding friendships, re-kindled again by my fondness of the actual humans on the other side of the requests. Thusly did my toe find its way into the social networking waters.
What Have I Gotten Myself Into?
It was like a mini-avalanche. More friend requests began to roll in - this time, from IHOP-KC folks and local teenagers, whom I love. A few from the Summer Teen Intensive. Then, complete strangers looking for friendship. Games and activities began to flow my way. Options galore! As I peeked at a few other pages, I was astonished at these clean little worlds of information and activities that unfolded before my eyes! As I said, I find Myspace a horribly unorganized disaster to look at - but Facebook! For a Mac-guy with a love of clean lines and lots of “white” in the background, making the words clear and easy to digest, I was more than entertained! As you can tell by my copious and generous use of exclamation points, I was surprised how easy it was for me to get sucked into this little orb.
Again, being horribly and tragically un-tech minded, I’m stumbling my way through it all. I don’t quite know yet how to respond to the salutations, greetings and welcomings. I don’t know the protocol, so I’m mostly brazenly advertising this website and my book. That’s probably bad social networking protocol. I’m figuring it out. For now, I’m keeping it simple, learning a little as I go. I even threw a few greetings on some other “walls”, though I’m not yet sold on that entire exercise. Why? Because I’m wondering where we go next, after the initial, “Hey! Wow! It’s you!” phase. From what I’ve observed initially, it’s not too promising.
On the other hand, there is something fun about “Hey! Wow! It’s you!” No doubt about it - you can’t beat being reunited with old friends and folks that you think about lots but don’t often get a chance to throw a “hey there” at. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the age to come will have lots of that kind of thing - happy reunions and joyful embraces. Facebook can’t compare to what’s coming, but it’s good practice. And, as an old youth guy who can throw a quick “hey” to different ones to make sure they’re keeping their noses clean, well, I do love that.
That will do, for now.
February 28th, 2008
…and it’s not because Nader is running again. I do find that stunning, but consistent (again, you would have to see the documentary). I would have been a bit disappointed if he wasn’t running - but to me, this simply means that he means what he says and, whether you agree with him or not, you can believe that he is sincere. Nope, I’m writing this one today because I tend to be unreasonable, particularly related to my little forum that I have established here. I’ll explain more at the end.
Just a quick response to a commenter whom I did not publish related to “Navigating Extravagance”:
1. I love that the post was so similar to one of Mike’s messages on Mary of Bethany. I had not heard that message, so that was kind of encouraging, actually. Thanks for the tip-off, I’m going to try to dig it up and listen to it.
2. The point about devotion flowing from understanding in a way that differentiated Mary from the disciples is that she, according to those same disciples, “anointed Jesus for burial.” That was a remarkable thing to do, since those who had worked closely with Jesus seemingly had no idea about what was around the corner. Mary, however, seemed to grasp what Jesus was about to do and thus felt compelled to minister to Him and bless Him in preparation for what lay ahead.
3. The question about “secret knowledge” was the tip-off that our “conversation” was probably either:
a. going to turn this conversation into an incredibly unproductive use of my time; or…
b. attract others like you that would turn this conversation into (you guessed it) an incredibly unproductive use of my time.
So, while I may answer the occasional odd comment every once in a while, I, being the unreasonable man that I am, will do so on my terms. Thankfully, I am under no obligation to do otherwise.
How do I believe that Mary grasped what lay ahead for Jesus when the disciples missed it? Um, probably because Jesus said it and she was paying attention. There was nothing “secret” about the cross and the manner in which Jesus was going to suffer and die; as I said (clearly, I had hoped) in the previous post, the disciples personal agendas may have clouded their ability to pay attention to what had to happen next. Mary seemed to have no agenda outside of loyal devotion to Jesus, which helped her hear clearly what Jesus was saying in a manner that the guys with ambition couldn’t catch.
Hope that helps clear things up. Feel free to read and comment away - but don’t take it personally if you never, ever see your comments posted here. This site was always meant to be a mostly devotional one. If it shifts fully into apologetics (which isn’t bad, is critical to our faith, and not what I want to do here but do in lots of other contexts); or devolves into useless “wranglings with words” that Paul counseled us to avoid, then I will probably move on. As, I am guessing, you already have. Be blessed as you do!
February 25th, 2008
I had to
delete temporarily remove my “About” page, as it got messed up by a hacker who messed with my site for reasons I can’t quite follow. So, I want to make sure I save the Martin Lloyd Jones quote I had stored there to keep me oriented rightly:
“The glory of the gospel is that when the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first. That is how revival comes. That must also be true of us as individuals. It should not be our ambition to be as much like everybody else as we can, though we happen to be Christian, but rather to be as different from everybody who is not a Christian as we can possibly be. Our ambition should be to be like Christ, the more like Him the better, and the more like Him we become, the more we shall be unlike everybody who is not a Christian”
- Martin Lloyd-Jones, Introduction to the Beatitudes
I love that quote, so I wanted to save it here. As “savable” as things are on a medium such as this one, I suppose.
UPDATE: Josh Hawkins, techie par excellence, restored my “About” page in all of it’s simple glory. I’m still saving this quote here, though, ’cause I like it so much.
February 24th, 2008
A couple of weeks back I posted some thoughts on “The High Cost of Extravagance“. In the comments section, Colin asked some helpful questions that I have been pondering for a bit. The answers did not seem to lend themselves to a comment - I wanted to extend the conversation here with the theme of his questions: how do we navigate extravagance? Here is his first question as he asked it:
“How should have the disciples reacted to Mary pouring the oil on Jesus’ head?”
In the original article, I simply presented the narrative as the gospels did - when, as the disciples were gathered together, Mary of Bethany came in and anointed Jesus for His burial. It was an act of devotion so costly that the disciples were offended with the seeming waste of resource and thus “criticized her sharply”, according to Mark. Why? Because it was most likely her inheritance that she broke and poured over Jesus’ head; the monetary value would have been somewhere around a year’s wages. One particular objection that the apostle John noted was that of Judas - his “concern” for the poor sparking a touch of irony from the beloved disciple as he reports the event.
So here is the pertinent and interesting question: how should the disciples have responded to Mary? We have a hint from Jesus Himself, who declares that the act of extravagance on the part of Mary would be made known “wherever the gospel is preached” as a memorial to extravagant love. John understood the root issue of the sharp criticism that sought to devalue the fragrant offering of Mary’s devotion: self-interest. In turning the issue and offering proper perspective, Jesus established a context for the “value” of Mary’s actions - she alone understood the gravity of the hour ahead and the costly nature of the road that Jesus was about to take. There would be, according to Jesus, plenty of opportunities to serve the poor in the days ahead. There would be only one opportunity to anoint Jesus for burial.
Analyzing what the disciples should have done, then, is a difficult exercise - simply because of the many factors that hindered them from truly grasping the implications of Mary’s act of love. Clearly, the proper response would have had to flow from something more than devotion, for in Mary’s case devotion flowed from understanding. She was giving Jesus all she had to serve Him in preparation for what was to come. It was a simple act, but momentous and powerful to Jesus - she was not interested in anything else (particularly the opinions of the disciples or her sister) but ministering to Him and blessing Him. The disciples, in their immaturity (as is the case with many, many young men) were often focused on themselves and their possible roles and positions (or, in Judas’ case, the monetary benefits) that came with being an “early adopter” of what the rest of Israel was slow to grasp related to the true identity of the Messiah.
This understanding was noteworthy in that, by identifying with this Messiah, they were taking a great risk to be associated with Him and thus had much to lose if Mary’s suspicions about the coming Passover and the fate of Jesus were in fact true. Jesus Himself had been hinting about what was to come, but they either could not grasp the truth of it or did not want to. So any analysis of possible right responses has to bear in mind the paradigm that the disciples were operating with related to the Messianic role of the deliverance of Israel and their reward for serving and associating with the Messiah while the spiritual leadership of Israel had soundly rejected Him. In their constant jostling for position mixed in with their genuine devotion and affection for Jesus and His often confusing leadership, Mary’s act had mostly negative implications for each of them related to their own pride and self-interest.
So, to the question: how should they have reacted? It is nearly impossible to speculate. To respond rightly, as I have said, would have involved coming to terms with the journey that Jesus had to take related to the grave and beyond. Mary, because of what had recently transpired with her brother, now understood both aspects of the fate of Jesus: that He would be allowed by the Father to suffer and die, yet would be resurrected, as He had spoken to Martha (John 11:25). If they understood the implications of what had to happen, they would have, possibly, begun to weep and anoint Him with their tears. If they could have laid aside their self-interest and pride that was provoked by the costly offering of Mary, perhaps they could have found their own personally suitable way to minister to Jesus in that moment. The right answer, I think, is found in the place of abandonment and the consuming desire to bless the heart of Jesus, and to do the thing that ministers to His “need”, if one can use that kind of language.
Who thinks this way? How many, to this very day, approach Jesus cloaked in self-interest in the hope that the Messiah will bless them, help them, serve them, and give to them extravagantly? Is this a wrong mindset? Not exactly - to have an expectation of favor and blessing upon a life lived according to the scriptural pattern given to us by God is actually a right mindset. Yet who can live in such a manner, understanding that it is in the heart of Jesus to love extravagantly, while being subsequently consumed with blessing and ministering to Him as well? The fullness of what John called “perfected love” in 1 John 4:17 is the place in which we become consumed and wholly focused on Him and abandoned to self. This is how He loves us, and has loved us, and has offered us the grace to love Him this way in return.
Tomorrow: “How do you now react to people displaying extravagant fervency?”
February 19th, 2008
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
—George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman
I wanted to follow up on a few comments I made yesterday related to Ralph Nader. Honestly, Nader has been an unfortunate afterthought for me, as I often have other things on my mind (see: the title of this website). Atlantic Monthly recently named him one of their “100 Most Influential Americans (ever)”, and he is one of only two living americans to make that list (Bill Gates being the other). You can view the list here - it’s actually quite impressive. Margaret Sanger made me cringe, but the inclusion of Jonathan Edwards made me smile.
A few months ago, I accidentally stumbled onto a documentary that profiled Nader on PBS (and their “Independent Lens” series) called “An Unreasonable Man”. As you can imagine, I loved the title - and enjoyed the George Bernard Shaw quote. Being an unreasonable man happens to be one of my life aspirations - I am convinced that any true intercessor is by nature unreasonable related to the issues of injustice and unrighteousness that characterize this fallen world and the deep darkness that threatens to cover it. Only unreasonable men would set themselves on a night and day pursuit towards speedy justice breaking in over the night sky at the end of the age. What we do seems completely unreasonable at times, and the nobility of our unceasing pursuit seems futile or foolish to some.
I think that’s why I felt a wave of kinship and affection for Ralph Nader as I watched the documentary.
I can’t recommend it highly enough - not because I agree with Nader’s politics or found the documentary enjoyable (though I did), I rarely if ever recommend movies. This particular entry into the Sundance Festival, however, had my attention all the way through. There were two things in particular that I enjoyed about this doc: how mystified and disillusioned Nader’s friends and co-laborers over the years were at his decision to run in 2000 and then run again in 2004; and how angry the right people got at him both times. It’s a fascinating story - and Nader’s convictions are intense.
At the end of the day, his story can be summed up thusly: he’s a man who has discovered that something is not right with our political system, and he decided that he was going to do what he could to effect change. As he began to mov forward with his plans, he became over time rather “unreasonable” in his pursuit of justice. What his friends and former allies could not reconcile is that the same doggedness that served him when he took on General Motors in the sixties (despite the best attempts of the auto maker at the time to expose him, discredit him, and trash his reputation), the same Nader that has taken on so many public safety and health causes over the decades, is the same Nader that attacked this last great cause with equally dogged and stubborn fervor.
Suddenly, however, the Democrats that idealized him related to his social activism suddenly reviled him for his political activism. And he lost most of his friends, allies, and financing in the process. Thus his friends and co-laborers still involved in Democratically-financed organizations built by Nader watched helplessly as all of their funding dried up in vain attempts to buy Nader’s inactivity. Democratic supporters and businessmen openly tried to buy his “non-candidacy”, promising lavish funding if he would simply drop out of the race.
He didn’t. It cost Gore the election.
Enraged, his whole life shifted and friends bailed. Nader insisted to the documentarians that they interview the men and women that opposed him and despise him (I love that). In other words, Nader didn’t care. He was unmoved and dead set on bringing change to what he considered a “one-party system” too heavily influenced by corporations that were unconcerned with the good of most Americans. I happen to agree with his point, and I don’t have a fraction of the information he has on the subject. Not only did Nader shrug off the massive amounts of venom that was spewed at him in liberal publications and broadcasts, he did the unthinkable in 2004:
He ran again.
As you can tell, I really enjoyed the story of those two presidential campaigns and what it cost Nader to run (he actually ran four times, but it was the 2000 election that earned him the most notoriety). I enjoyed some of the baseless and foolish accusations against him, and the way in which liberal rage translated into smart guys being incredibly illogical and well, unreasonable in their anger at Nader. The documentary is worth your time. It was worth mine, for as I want to reiterate, I aspire to be an unreasonable man in my own right.
February 12th, 2008
In High School, some would be relieved to see that number next to their name. I would have been unhappy, of course - because in most grading systems a “65″ constitutes a passing grade by the proverbial skin of the tooth. My parents would have been duly disappointed, of course - they would have rightly expected more from me related to my capacities and abilities. It’s hard to put any kind of a shine on 65%, unless it’s your vote count in an election or your completion percentage as a pro quarterback.
Thus John McCain finds himself in a strange dilemma. The last week conservatives watched McCain emerge, seemingly victorious, from his earlier scrap heap of a campaign that saw him completely restructure his team and his strategy mid-stream and attempt the impossible. Does anyone remember the Iraq debacle at this stage of the race? For the short of memory, this was the nightmare photo-op of the decade, involving a seemingly clueless McCain strolling down the streets of Baghdad, intending to prove to all how safe the conditions were while sporting the thickest flack jacket in military history. He wore his sunglasses and tried his best to project his best “Mission Accomplished” face without any hint of irony. These are the kinds of blunders that can kill campaigns. Yet even that event couldn’t compete with his complete inability to raise funds a few months back. He was broke and seemingly at the end of a long road. I expect many will try to trumpet his “comeback” story over the next few months. If there is one thing that McCain has done well, it has been to project the against-all-odds, maverick independent persona.
His dilemma thus stems from the catch-22 that comes from such a persona - and the reality of his voting record that has helped shape that image. The “65″ that I’m referencing, of course, comes from his rating by the American Conservative Union in 2006. The rating is reflective of how McCain voted in the Senate over that year. As one looks at McCain’s voting record over the seven years prior, when McCain began pursuing the presidency, one would find that his voting record in 2006 is hardly an anomaly. In 1998 and 2001, McCain scored a 68 related to his voting record in those years; in 2002 and 2004 he scored a 72. These scores are a stark contrast to the solid conservative voting record he tallied from 1990 - 1996 (from 1994-1996, for example, McCain averaged a 94) .
McCain seemed to learn in the late 90’s the lessons Bill Clinton taught every politician seeking the presidency: the people want moderate leaders with positions that favor consensus thinking. Thus McCain began to position himself as an independent thinker on issues that wouldn’t seem too costly at first glance: campaign finance reform (his signature issue for a while) taxes, the environment, and immigration. He remained conservative (related to his voting record) on social issues such as abortion. In other words, McCain didn’t necessarily become a “liberal” as many have charged him with recently - he has simply played it as safe as one can play it in the political realm. He has taken a pragmatic route that in many ways reflects our current president - and our last one. This was the lament of Ralph Nader a few years back that went largely unheeded - Nader’s “voice crying in the wilderness” of a campaign that mostly bugged the right people (in my opinion) was one decrying the current political crisis of “no choice”.
Modern politics, on a national level, is largely about winning and staying in power. To win one must by necessity adopt a “centrist” reputation. Do so and America - particularly the coveted independent voter, the sacred “undecided” - will sanction your candidacy. For a centrist in our times seems reasonable, rational, able to work with different viewpoints and come to solutions that benefit everyone. Nader’s problem was that “centrist” also stood for few convictions, moldable policies, little substance or ideas outside of those fueled by polls and special interests with financial backing, and a one-party reality with the rhetoric of two. While I disagree with, well, pretty much all of Nader’s politics, there are few men in that arena I respect more than our modern Don Quixote, charging at the windmills of our meandering system filled with flash, style, and speech but little conviction or fortitude of heart.
In that light, a 65 may be as good as it gets for conservatives. For the flow of modern politics on a presidential level seems to favor the “50 percenter”. Today, McCain has carefully crafted a voting record that may well secure him the nomination - but even as the new overwhelming favorite he finds himself in the fight of his life against a candidate with nothing to lose and a groundswell of momentum, riding a wave of evangelical dissatisfaction. For the next three months he will have to prove to his party that he is, ideologically, a true conservative. Then he will have to spend the next three months after that proving to the nation that he is a pragmatic centrist. Since both cannot be right, he will most likely find himself, in the end, conceding the race to the most liberal candidate to ever sit in the oval office.
As badly Republicans crave the presidency, trying to rally your party against a candidate you despise is never as effective as rallying your party to support a candidate you are truly for. Ask John Kerry about the effectiveness of Democratic rage against the other guy. No matter how badly the Democrats wanted George Bush out of office, their zeal could not overcome their own dissatisfaction with the “best” candidate they could produce for the 2004 election. It is shaping up to be an unhappy November for the Republican party.
I just might vote Nader.
February 11th, 2008
This one was sent by my wife earlier in the week, straight from IHOP’s “Malachi 4:6″ prayer meeting (led by IHOP kids):
I have been reminding him over and over again today that we are here to pray and worship. He is trying really hard to not play. So he was starting to climb under some chairs. So I got him up and asked him ,”Remember we are here to pray and worship. ” So he nods gets this focused look, almost a scowl on his face and gets right back on the floor to crawl under the chairs again. So then I get him up again and I ask him, “so how does that have to do with prayer or worship?” he says, “I was getting in my prayer cave. “
February 8th, 2008
A few of you, and really, it was only a few - maybe even one of you - that’s how unpopular my random sports posts were a few weeks back - asked about my thoughts on the Super Bowl. What you didn’t know is that I wrote that post, under the pseudonym “Joe Posnanski”. You can find my thoughts on that epic final minute (the other 59 minutes weren’t that epic or engaging) here.
February 7th, 2008
The Kansas City Star’s front page had an interesting graphic this morning (the .pdf file can be linked from this page). It gave a visual representation of “who” voted for what candidate where. In other words, the graphic had circles around the different counties of Missouri to show a candidate’s popularity based on his vote tally. So, for example, Barack Obama had ridiculously large circles over St. Louis city and St. Louis County, which ended up being the difference for him during his close race with Hillary Clinton here. It was Obama’s dominance of Clinton in the two metropolitan areas of Missouri - Kansas City and St. Louis - that turned the tide in his favor long after some news services called Missouri in Clinton’s favor around the nation. This matters to many observers around the nation because the state of Missouri serves as a template for political experts to study as an indicator of how the nation will vote. For the uninitiated, it’s why everyone calls Missouri a “bellwether state”.
Missouri has correctly voted for the winner in every U.S. Presidential election since 1904 (with one lone exception: 1956, when the state inexplicably went with Adlai Stevenson over Dwight Eisenhower.) John Kerry should have known better when he pulled out all of his resources from Missouri in 2004 to focus on areas where he felt he had a better shot at winning. He didn’t poll well here, as Missouri voters couldn’t connect with his preppy parasailing personality. Of course, he should have deduced that if the average Midwesterner didn’t like him much, it served as a solid indication of how the average American felt about him (hint: not great). Missouri has served as a national temperature gauge for candidates and issues, giving politicians clues about stem-cell research (pro) and same-sex marriage (con). Right now pollsters are focusing on how the average Missourian feels about the current state of the economy (about the same as they felt about John Kerry).
So, while Clinton has to feel good about her slight lead in delegates with 75 days left until the Democratic convention, her team can’t be encouraged about how things went for her in Missouri. The Obama win here, as well as the enthusiasm that has Kansas Democrats thinking that their state could vote for a Democrat for the first time since 1964, could be the beginning of the end for the Clinton candidacy. Kansas has voted for a Democrat five times over the last 100 years - and four of those times it was for Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt. So if the Democrats could produce a candidate that could conceivably carry, of all places, Kansas, why wouldn’t they? I think they will, as Bill Clinton’s recent posturing about a co-presidency can’t be an exciting prospect for many Democratic leaders who are getting near-desperate for a win in November. Many noticed how conspicuously quiet Mr. Clinton was on Tuesday night.
I thought the most interesting phenomenon, however, is found in returning to our little map from earlier. As you look at the Republican candidates - who I think will regret how early the momentum is shifting McCain’s way (back to this point in a moment) - you find that the circles are much smaller as the malaise about their candidates is greater. Yet, you find an interesting anomaly when you look closely enough. In the Kansas City Metro area, specifically Jackson County, you find an unusually large circle for a particular candidate - a former Baptist pastor and governor of Arkansas. I’m wondering if the political experts that are now breaking down the data with a fine tooth comb as we speak have even noticed this little blip on the screen.
The Republican race, has, in essence, become a two-man race - despite Romney’s protestations. As you may have guessed, Romney reminds Missourians of a certain preppy parasailer from New England. Midwesterners in general aren’t fond of northeastern politicians who waver on certain positions. Thus, Romney’s third-place finish here, regardless of how he did elsewhere, is the key indicator for most observers of how the rest of his campaign will go. Who are we left with? Two candidates that Republican mouthpieces can’t stand. Thus, the Republican party is faced with an interesting dilemma over the next 75 days:
1. They aren’t excited about the two choices that seem to be emerging;
2. One of those choices has a sizable, and seemingly insurmountable lead.
Thus the dilemma is this: what little press the Republican side of the ticket will receive over the next 75 days, compared to the compelling race on the other side of the fence that will dominate the national conversation, will be about how little enthusiasm the Republicans have about their guy. If you’re a Republican, then, you have only one response to that analysis:
UPDATE: Actually you know the update already. This update is for the record - mostly because I don’t want to take credit for being prescient. Any and every political analyst on the planet could see the writing on the wall for Romney, and again, it was mostly (in my opinion) because of that third place finish in Missouri. It’s a two-man race now, in the way that the ‘85 Super Bowl had two teams in it.
Not to be a doomsayer for the faithful, but this one’s all but done. Which, as I said above, is actually a mixed bag of bad news (the Democratic party will now capture the attention of the nation with their true 2 person race) and good news (McCain has time to raise funds, consensus support, and plan his campaign strategy while the other team is slugging it out and dividing themselves bitterly).
February 7th, 2008