Obama wins the first state of the night...though by a smaller margin than the exit polls first predicted. This isn’t much of a surprise, but, damn, that was fast.
Thoughts on whether this means anything? And if so, what?
Anthony Infanti at Feminist Law Profs has got a great post up about the decision of the President of San Jose State University to ban blood drives on campus. Why? Because the FDA’s refusal to accept the blood of any man who has sex with a man since 1977 violates the school’s antidiscrimination policy.
In his post, Infanti picks apart the language of the FDA rule and finds it’s vague and that it traffics in stereotypes (obvs). What I find interesting, though, is how this decision meshes (or doesn’t) with the Supreme Court’s decision a couple of years ago holding that law schools that receive federal funds do not have a First Amendment right to exclude JAG recruiters even though JAG’s (and the rest of the military’s) Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy violates the schools’ antidiscrimination policies. Clearly, this is different since, among other reasons, the organizations running the blood drives are not, as far as I know, government entities.
And, well, blood drives are good. DADT is bad. I agree 100% with law schools that DADT is discriminatory and that law schools should not be forced to be complicit in it (given that virtually every American law school receives federal funds, virtually every law school is implicated). And I agree that it’s ridiculous to preclude gay men from donating blood based on assumptions that, especially with the rise of HIV among heterosexual women, are now shaky at best and baseless at worst. But I can’t help thinking that maybe this isn’t where we should be drawing the line in terms of antidiscrimination policies. Or maybe we should force blood drives just off campus, as law schools sought to do with JAG recruiters.
At the end of the day, I can’t think of too many compelling reasons not to prefer Obama over Clinton, but this shocking revelation doesn’t make the choice any easier. Then again, it can’t be easy to secure the allegiance of voters who enjoy seven-hour concerts and ponderous, noodling guitar solos.
As my preference for Obama isn’t nearly as strong as Scott’s, I have no problem conceptualizing this evening as almost pure entertainment. It’s so much better than the actual election, in that even if my candidate loses I’m unlikely to be subjected to days of crushing depression, ameliorated only by heavy drinking and repeated viewings of the Godfather Part II.
Like Publius, I love a good primary:
But what’s less obvious is how interesting they are from a purely aesthetic perspective. The horse race we’re witnessing is drama of the highest order – pure political theater. And while emotions will surely run high in the weeks to come, political junkies in particular should take a step back and enjoy the beauty of it. Not beauty in the sense of flowers and butterflies, but in a higher, more human, aesthetic sense…..
Aesthetically, it reminded me of boxing at its best. The classic boxing fights (e.g., Ali’s classics) pit two freakishly talented athletes against each other to fight it out in mankind’s oldest sport. Some think it’s barbaric, and they may be right. But from an amoral aesthetic perspective, it’s a thing of beauty. And the better the athletes, and the higher the stakes, the more true this becomes. And that’s how I felt about the debate. I watched two freakishly gifted candidates with professional, efficient, hardened campaign organizations fighting it out one-on-one for the most powerful prize in the world (and maybe in world history).
At this point, I suspect some of you are annoyed that I’m focusing more on surface than substance. What we should be doing is focusing on policy, and ignoring these silly horse race/schoolyard fight dimensions. At the very least, we shouldn’t be romanticizing them the way I’ve done – i.e., reducing important political fights into narcissistic entertainment.
My response, though, is that I’m not ignoring substance when I admire the aesthetics. I completely agree that the stakes are high and that substantive policy disputes are at issue. But to me, the substance feeds the aesthetic. On some level, this is a fight. Try as we may, we can’t avoid conceptualizing it (at least partially) in those terms. But if it’s a fight, it’s a fight with enormous, world-historical consequences. And it’s the underlying significance of the fight that makes the aesthetic so powerful.
Attaturk provides a useful reminder for why I have less than no use for Colin Powell’s attempt to exculpate himself from the Iraq disaster. [via] Admittedly, not everyone thinks that Powell disgracing himself by going before the U.N. with reams of bullshit to sell a catastrophic war has diminished his credibility; apparently Machiavellian street fighter Hillary Clinton thinks it would be helpful to use him as means of increasing American prestige in the world. Maybe she should find an adviser who actually opposed the war to explain why this is unlikely to work very well…
On the Democratic side, it’s probably not too useful to try to predict winners; it’s too inconclusive. My guess would be a narrow Clinton win in delegates, but who knows. It will be fun for political junkies; I just wish I was one of the many people without a strong preference.
Meanwhile, in the “daydream believing” category BTD argues that “[m]aybe reports of [Romney's] political death are greatly exaggerated” based on some polls showing a close race in CA and the fact that we won the non-binding caucuses in Maine. I’d like this to be true, but please. The Maine win is marginally more relevant that Clinton’s “victory” in the uncontested Florida non-primary, but not much. As for California, 1)the rules make it unlikely that Romney will win a majority of delegates with a small majority of the popular vote, and 2)even if he does somehow win a bare majority of delegates in California, so what? All indications are that McCain is going to overwhelmingly win delegates, votes and states overall, and if you think most of the media is going to spin a blowout victory against St. Maverick McStraightTalk because Romney gets a narrow win in California I have a crate of 19-0: The Historic Championship Season of New England’s Unbeatable Patriots books to sell you. The Republican race is over; I don’t like it either but it’s time to admit it.
Gearing up to head to the polls on way over to school, I’m struck (as I usually am on election day) by how ridiculous it is that we vote on a weekday that is not a national holiday. Talk about disenfranchising specific subsets of voters.
The Russians seem desperate for attention. Alex:
Russian air force out again, in some strength; and exercising a whole range of types, including the White Swan…sorry…Tu-160 BLACKJACK, BEAR, BACKFIRE, and MiG31 and Su27 fighters into the bargain, to say nothing of jet tankers. For people who aren’t making a political point, they certainly look like it.
And this, via Defense Tech, is an awesome picture:
That’s the kind of progress $200-plus million unit flyaway cost buys you. That’s how DoD rolls, baby!
And that Stealth technology sure comes in handy during an escort, don’t it? Here’s hoping the Russians don’t look out the window.