Saturday, October 27, 2012

Undecided Voter Again, Part II

So this is what it feels like to be an undecided voter this late in the game. Maybe I've done this to myself by making an obvious vote for one candidate over the other into such sturm und drang. Just one vote.

When I last considered my vote in the 2012 election two weeks ago, I talked myself into taking a pass on voting for President for the first time in my life.
Now I am having second thoughts.
Using my poker metaphor, I checked on the flop. But there were still 2 more cards to be revealed. So now 10 days out - and not 21 - let's say the turn card has been revealed.
In other words, I realize I am still in the game. I am still undecided. And I might be up to the moment I am in the ballot box.
The need to take a stand against the Republican agenda on the executive level is a very compelling argument. Mitt Romney is a moderate Republican of intelligence and stature. However, if Romney wins the White House, there will be besides him one and possibly 2 branches of government to promote the anti-scientific, pro-business, pro-defense, intolerant agenda of a sizable segment of the GOP. The more conservative elements of the Republican party would have a field day.
Weak as Obama is, as hapless a leader, his White House has sometimes provided effective push-back against the most nonsensical components of the Republican manifesto. Oh, did I mention I am enraged by the Obama administration's support of the Patriot Act, and Holder's enforcement of federal marijuana laws? 
Where does that leave me?
Today? Leaning Obama.
Let's see the river.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

US Elections: Two Weeks Out

So every morning, like many of you, I wake up to scour RealClearPolitics and Fivethirtyeight. And what I have tried to figure out (because I am trying to handicap my bet) is who will win. I'm going with a simple formula: if Nate Silver determines that one candidate has a 70% chance or better to win a given state, I credit that state to the candidate. So as of this morning, my methodology gives 271 electoral college votes to Obama vs. 206 electoral college votes for Romney, with 61 votes too close to call.
But two big changes are in the offing: Ohio is about to slip below 70% likelihood for Obama; and Florida, which I currently list as toss-up, is poised to go above 70% for Romney. The first change turns the election back into a toss-up; the second merely closes the gap for Romney.
Admittedly, the 70% threshold is an advantageous and generous one for either candidate. But I am looking for certainty, not prophecy.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Undecided No Longer

It shouldn't have been this hard. I am a lifelong liberal Democrat who has voted Democratic across the board from the very first time I had the honor to vote for George McGovern in 1972. Four years ago I made up my mind in early September; this time around it's taken me to early October to come up with a plan. But I've finally figured out what I'm gonna do once I get to my ballot sheet.
I'm exasperated by President Barack Obama. I never had high expectations for him. He struck me 4 years ago as an overreaching cypher, a junior senator from Illinois with less than 2 years experience in the Senate,  the author of two amorphous books which didn't give me a clue as to what made him tick, a former state legislator who voted "present" over a hundred times rather than take a position. But there was no way I was going to vote for a team that included Sarah Palin. Period.
So then came the Obama administration. For me, there were exactly three high points during the first term of Barack Obama.
The first high point of Obama's presidency came the weekend of April 30 & May 1 of 2011. On that Saturday night he wowed the White House Press Corps dinner with a hilarious stand up routine, even as he had set in motion a daring and risky assault on Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad. The next night he announced the successful conclusion to that attack. I was impressed.
The second high point of Obama's presidency came a year later, when he backed up his Vice President and became the first sitting President to support the right of gay couples to seek same-sex marriage. A brave pronouncement that had no practical policy implications, it was more symbolic than practical. Typical.
The third high point came in August of 2012, when I successfully refinanced my under water home mortgage (after failing a year earlier), thanks to the TARP II regulations negotiated by the Obama administration with the banking mortgage industry. $3,000 a year of savings to my pocketbook - I'll be forever grateful for that.
Other than that, this presidency has been a serial, meandering mess. No one said it better than then-economic adviser Larry Summers when he complained in 2009 to then-budget director Peter Orzsag about Obama's stewardship of the economic recovery: "‘We’re home alone. There’s no adult in charge. Clinton would never have made these mistakes."
So I don't suffer from buyer's remorse, because I never expected all that much. And my very low expectations have been confirmed and reconfirmed each and every day of this bumbling presidency. No political engagement, no willingness to engage in the hardball politicking it takes to bring about true change, this presidency has been marked by half-measures and listlessness. Obama hasn't been a great President, he hasn't been a good President, he's just been President.
But my low regard for the Obama presidency doesn't drive me into the arms of Mitt Romney. I grant that Romney is the least unpalatable of the Republican joke-candidates who graced our screens during the primary silly season ("9-9-9"; "colony on the moon"; "three departments I would me here"). But a vote for Romney is a vote for a whole range of backwards conservative social and economic policies to which I can never accede. I can hardly believe I even toyed with the idea - but that is now a closed door.
So I am going to take to heart this routine by George Carlin (may his memory be a blessing), from an election season past:
I will vote in every other race on my ballot. As usual, I will vote straight Democratic as I have always done. But for the first time in my life, I am going to skip the Presidential vote. They both suck, and I won't be party to the outcome.
Undecided no longer. As we say in poker: "Check."
Update: Oct. 27: now there is Part II.