It's been over 8 months since I last set foot in a classroom, thanks to a sabbatical piled on to a summer break. I've read a few books, written part of a new one, shepherded the editing of another, and researched for a third. I've visited Israel once and Minnesota 3 times. I've had my bathroom remodeled and I actually did all the painting of its walls. Much more productive than my last time on sabbatical. Well done.
During these last 8 months, I watched from Tel Aviv (oftentimes on a primary Tuesday at 4 am, so I could see coverage in real time), and then here in CT, an exhausting presidential campaign that still isn't over; in fact, it is only now ready to really begin. I've written an article which was generated by the comings and goings of the campaign, and now 2 months later, I still stand by it.
To put it simply, I can't vote for Barack Obama. Timing it to coincide with the Democratic convention, I've almost finished reading Obama's first memoir, Dreams from My Father, and still have still not encountered a single insight which would cause me to alter my original judgment of his candidacy, which I blogged back in January, 2008:
"I cannot vote for a vague, inexperienced 1st-term senator, however energizing the symbolism of his candidacy might be. Four years ago, he was nothing more than an Illinois state senator who voted "present" more than a hundred times on legislation, a few times which required a leader to take a stand. He was a US Senator for less than a year before he launched his campaign. There is simply nothing there, other than a symbol of youthfulness and racial amity. That for me is not enough."
I also blogged in January about Hilary Clinton, Obama, and the now discredited John Edwards:
"It looks like for the third straight time in a row, the Democratic party is going to nominate a candidate for President who will lose in November to a beatable Republican. None of the current Republicans look particularly impressive, and the Republican Party is in disarray, but the lemming-like death march of the Democratic Party towards a) a despised one-term senator with a ton of baggage; b) a neophyte senator who has cloaked himself in messianic pretensions (it is easy to imagine him saying "there is a mighty wind blowing"); or c) a one-term retired senator masquerading as William Jennings Bryan, will certainly result in a Republican victory."
I am a lifelong Democrat, whose only deviation from that record was my mistaken and misguided vote for Joe Lieberman in 2006. I consider voting a civic obligation and have never missed voting in any election cycle. I am a liberal, who has contributed money for the first time in my life to Al Franken's senate campaign in Minnesota. I cannot vote for John McCain under any circumstances, and I still think he is going to win. But the more I research about Obama, the more I am repelled. Obama spent some time as an academic at the University of Chicago; the more I read his memoir, the more I am convinced I would not want such a man as a colleague. Too po-mo; too trendy leftist in the worst sense of the word; too conflicted by internal rifts. I certainly think that a dispassionate intellectual advised by similar types within the Democratic fold would not make for a successful presidency.
So I am turning to George Carlin, who passed away during these past 8 months:
"I don't vote. Because I believe if you vote, you have no right to complain. People like to twist that around. They say, 'If you don't vote, you have no right to complain', but where's the logic in that? If you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent people, and they get into office and screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain.
"I, on the other hand, who did not vote -- who, in fact, did not even leave the house on Election Day -- am in no way responsible for what these people have done and have every right to complain as loud as I want about the mess that you created that I had nothing to do with."
This year, I am gonna take a pass.