Three years

Judging by the old posts dredged up by my new WordPress plugin, Room 34 presents On This Day*, it was three years ago today that President Obama was inaugurated.

It’s been a strange three years. The president has probably failed to live up to the (unreasonable) expectations a lot of his supporters put in him, and he’s been too willing to contort himself in vain efforts at compromise, but I think he’s still accomplished a lot, and he’s certainly better than his predecessor (although that’s damning with faint praise).

I’m supporting the president’s re-election, if less enthusiastically than in 2008. And if for no other reason than what last night’s (yet another) Republican debate proved**… they’re a sorry lot indeed.

* Yes, that’s kind of a douchey name for the plugin. I wanted to just call it “On This Day,” but there’s already another plugin (which does basically the same thing, but appears to have been abandoned by its developer) in the repository with that name. This was the best I could come up with, because I think “On This Day” is the best possible name for a plugin that does what it does.

** I’m basing my opinion of last night’s debate, like all of the others, on what I’ve gleaned from Twitter. I would never subject myself directly to watching one of these debates, because a) I already know there is no possible way I’d ever vote for any of these candidates, except possibly under extreme duress, and b) I value my sanity.

Does Minnesota really need two crazies in the House of Representatives?

We’re all used to Michele Bachmann’s paranoid/delusional rhetoric by now, but is it not enough to have one raving nutcase represent our fine state in the House of Representatives?

Apparently not, since Rep. John Kline is afraid President Obama is going to brainwash schoolkids to embrace socialism when he gives a back-to-school address to kids next week.

Give. Me. A. Break.

He’s the president, folks. You may not agree with his policies, but he’s the freaking president. I think Dave Thul (yes, a conservative) gets it right:

In the midst of the recession, a war in Afghanistan, fears over terrorism and H1N1, isn’t it at least possible that Obama may inspire kids to study hard and stay in school, and above all to keep dreaming about what they might be or do someday? If the president uses the speech as a political tool, asking kids to help him pass health care reform or save the earth by passing cap and trade, then yes, we will have a right to be upset. But give Obama the chance to speak before you decide to take offense to his words.

I personally would not be upset if he discussed those things, but I can understand why someone who disagreed would. But I think we can reasonably assume that our president is going to eschew the hot political topics of the day and focus on promoting the value of education, hard work and ambition. Then again, maybe those values are part of a liberal/socialist agenda, too. Are they?

Update: Moments after I posted this, a link to this media resources page appeared on the White House Facebook feed. Coincidence? You be the judge. (Answer: yes.)

What’s really going on in this election?

obamacheesehead.jpgIt looks like my candidate of choice, Barack Obama, sailed to an easy victory over Hillary Clinton tonight in the Wisconsin primary. That’s good news, as far as I’m concerned. I’m also glad to see John McCain taking a decisive victory over Mike Huckabee (sorry, I refuse to provide a link), even though I still find it disturbing that 37% of the voters in the Republican primary were willing to support a candidate who proudly professes his disbelief in evolution. I don’t really want McCain to win the general election, and I know he’ll pose a much tougher challenge to the Democratic nominee than any of the other Republicans could hope to, but I can live with a McCain presidency. If someone as willfully ignorant as Huckabee won, though, I might just have to move to Canada. (And that’s a promise I couldn’t even keep when Bush got re-elected.)

When I saw that Huckabee 37% number, I also noticed the stunning disparity in total number of Democratic vs. Republican voters in said primary:

Wisconsin primary results, 2/19/2008
Source: MSNBC

I know Democrats have been turning out in higher numbers than Republicans this year, and that Wisconsin, although generally considered a “battleground” state, has tended to lean ever-so-slightly left or, if you must, “blue.” But still, this is a huge difference: Hillary Clinton, the decisive loser in the Democratic race, garnered more than twice the number of votes as the winner of the Republican race.

Tally up the total number of votes (with 92% of precincts reporting), and the Democrats had nearly 1,000,000 votes, while the Republicans just scraped above 370,000.

Again, I’m sure there are several contributing factors that increased this year’s Democratic turnout (and decreased Republican turnout), but I think we should not gloss over the fact that the electorate is skewing this strongly to the Democrats. I would have to do some research on how primary voting has split between the parties in past elections before coming to any grandiose (or paranoid) conclusions about all of this, but for now I will just make a mental note of the state of affairs here in February, and compare results come November.