Sunday, November 2, 2008

McCain on SNL: politics as unusual

The words "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night" had barely left his mouth and I thought to myself. This John McCain is certainly a good sport. He may be trailing in the polls, but he isn't so stiff or incapable of self-deprecation that he can't enjoy a laugh with the rest of us, especially if it's at his own expense. It reminded me of when Richard Nixon appeared on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh In."(Sock it to me?") The idea was to soften Nixon's image before he ran for office in 1968 -- no matter how ridiculous he looked -- and it worked. While McCain did let the SNL writers weave a bit of their magic for him (the John McCain pork knives pitch was clever as was the allusion to McCain "fine gold"), I still had the feeling McCain had tarnished his presidential mantle and crown just a bit, but in doing so, had somehow made himself more like one of us. A man whose wife's family owns a brewery could probably never be a "Joe Six-Pack." Then again, it's nice to see him try to peel away some of the layers of his hard veneer and show the nation he's prepared to take a little flak as long as he can get his message to the people. Saturday Night Live's QVC John McCain sketch may go down in history as a comic anomaly of when truth and fiction merge in a quirky way. Sarah Palin managed to keep her name in the spotlight, but in an unfavorable way yesterday when it was revealed that she was the victim of a radio hoax by broadcasters who convinced her staff that it was French president Nicolas Sarcoczy on the phone. ("Palin Punk'd" read the headlines!) Meanwhile, McCain and Palin will be journeying across several key state battlegrounds as they try to pick up the requisite 270 electoral college votes needed for election. According to the pollsters, Obama has a significant lead and is in the driver's seat. But the headlines have two more days before the ink can dry on this matter. It is important that we all vote on Tuesday. It is our right and privilege and this year it means more than just whether we have a Democrat or a Republican in the White House. With the wars being waged in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economy in a shambles and lingering questions on the future of the nation still abounding, all of those undecided voters will be crucial in determining the course for America over the next four, and possibly, eight years.
A shout out to my friends in Cleveland, apparently one of the more heated electoral battlegrounds in the country and one that Obama and McCain seem intent on having in each other's camp. I wish I were up there now reporting on the seemingly endless appearances of the campaign principals, but the weather has been so pleasant in New Orleans these last several weeks that it's taken much of the sting out of my political jones. Besides, the odious task of electing New Orleans and Louisiana politicians has given me plenty to absorb as charges fly from one candidate to another. The four most hotly contested elections are that in the New Orleans District Attorney's office, the First and Second Congressional Districts and the race for the U.S. Senate seat presently held by Mary Landrieu. As to whom the next New Orleans D.A. will be, voters will be choosing between two former first city attorneys in criminal defense attorney Ralph Capitelli and former criminal court judge Leon Canizzaro. I'm going out on a limb here, but I predict that the next D.A. will be an Italian. In the First Congressional District race incumbent Steve Scalise, only elected about a year ago in another close race, is getting a significant challenge from newcomer Jim Harlan, a businessman and Scout leader. Former newscaster Helena Moreno is trying to unseat indicted Congressman William Jefferson in the Second Congressional District, but the polls suggest that he may have a walk of this race. Whether he will be as successful in the Virginia courts following the election remains to be seen. Senator Landrieu has pulled away from Republican challenger and State Treasurer John Kennedy in recent weeks, according to pollsters, but she never has had a large amount of support in north Louisiana. Even though Republican governor Bobby Jindal endorsed Kennedy in a show of party solidarity this past week, Landrieu is still expected to keep her Senate seat and become an even more powerful presence in the U. S. Senate.

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