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Whither the BOW Award?

It's Saturday again, the day on which I usually post a new BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award entry.  We've just come through twenty-two months of campaigning and one of the most extraordinary Presidential races this nation has ever seen, culminating in the election of Barack Obama.  If you had told me two years ago that American voters would elect as President a biracial man with a Kenyan name, I would have told you that you were out of your mind.  But just as this was an election for the ages, Obama ran a campaign for the ages.  It was virtually gaffe-free, it was more disciplined than any Democratic campaign I've ever seen, and it offered a clear, consistent, and powerful message.

Amid all of this, of course, we witnessed acts of buffoonery that boggled the mind and tickled the imagination.  I tried to point out as many of these as I could, and to do so with a suitable blend of humor and righteous indignation.  I'm sure that along the way I ticked off some of you -- sorry for that.

We've already seen this week that the end of a campaign in no way means the end of acts of conspicuous political or journalistic stupidity.  I received a nomination earlier this week from a friend who had seen Ralph Nader's unfortunate comments on Fox News the night of the election.  For those of you who missed it, Nader questioned whether Obama would be "Uncle Sam for the people of this country, or Uncle Tom for the giant corporations."  Amazingly, many on the left have been defending Nader's remark, basically saying that he was making a legitimate point about corporate access to the political process and implying that Obama ought to be held to a higher standard on such issues, since he campaigned, in part, against lobbyists and special interest influence.  All of that might be true, but his choice of words was at best unfortunate.  I found it deeply offensive.  And before you argue, ask yourself this:  Would Nader have used the same turn of phrase had the election winner been a white liberal Democrat?  I think it's obvious that he wouldn't have.  He wanted to make a point.  He wanted to do so in as inflammatory a manner as possible, in order to garner the most attention for himself.  There was a time when I respected, even admired Ralph Nader.  He was once a terrifically effective advocate for consumer safety.  But he has become a pathetic figure, an electoral afterthought whose political posturing over the past decade has done enough harm to the causes he once championed to negate the successes of his early career.  At this point he is reduced to going on Fox News on election night and throwing around racial epithets to get himself noticed.  It's sad, really.

I think a nomination is also in order for those in the McCain campaign who have been savaging Sarah Palin in the press since election night with anonymous quotes and anecdotes.  Now let me by clear.  I have precious little respect for Sarah Palin.  I think she is provincial, incurious, and overly ideological.  I think she lowered the level of discourse in this campaign with unconscionable attacks on Barack Obama that dangerously incited the crowds listening to her.  And I believe that she did not deserve to be a major party candidate for vice president -- her resume was too thin, her intellect too weak.  But by the same token, she's not the reason John McCain lost the election.  John McCain is.  To the extent that Sarah Palin's presence on the ticket hurt him, he is to blame for choosing her without first properly vetting her and making certain that she was prepared for a vigorous national debate on complex issues.  To the extent that McCain's campaign aides are going after her now in order deflect blame for Tuesday's result from themselves and their candidate, they are doing McCain, the Republican party, and the American people a disservice.  Sarah Palin was a symptom, not a cause.

So there are a couple of nominees, but the truth is I'm not sure that I want to give a BOW Award this week.  I'm not sure I want to continue doing the BOW Award on a regular basis.  I was thinking of doing a BOW of BOWs this week -- kind of a greatest hits post in which I'd choose the biggest buffoon of the election season (and at some point I still might), but I'm not even sure I want to do that.  I've enjoyed the BOW Award, but I'm tired.  I'm ready to focus on topics unrelated to partisan politics.  And perhaps more to the point, I think that we as a people need to stop focusing on the political wars of the last two years.  The BOW Award is fun, but I'll be the first to admit that it doesn't exactly elevate the level of political discourse.

So this week I choose to give no BOW Award.  Let's all take a deep breath and enjoy a weekend without polls and partisan bickering.  Let's celebrate the fact that a country only 140 years removed from the end of slavery and less than half a century removed from the end of Jim Crow has elected a man of African descent to the White House.  Let's marvel at our political system, which allows for the peaceful  and near seamless transfer of power from one political party to its rival.  There'll be plenty of time to point out acts of buffoonery.  But not this week.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 11th, 2008 04:00 pm (UTC)

Thanks, Alis.
Nov. 9th, 2008 12:03 am (UTC)
No more BOW awards? What will I do on Saturdays??? :)

Nader: I haven't seen anything from the left in favor of Nader for years. Can't imagine they would stick up for him now. You must have seen it, but that doesn't sound like anyone I know or read from the left.

Palin: "she's not the reason John McCain lost the election. John McCain is" Let's not forget Obama and Bush and the American People. McCain ran a shoddy campaign, surrounded himself with disgusting people that trashed him personally in 2000, and lost. Yes, he is ultimately responsible, but the deftness of the Obama campaign and the last 8 years of GOP rule had something to do with it as well. Thanks for my 401k, George.

I don't find the BOW Awards on the level of partisanship of, say, a Hannity whose very existence requires strife and political caricatures. I'm guessing a semi-regular one is in our future. You're just in the post-election after-glow at the moment. :) Once Boehner or Cantor or Bachmann or Schmidt steps up to a podium...you'll be back. ;)
Nov. 11th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
I'm not saying no more BOW Awards forever. Just not every week and just for a while. Nader: Yeah, I couldn't believe anyone was defending him. But they were. Palin: You're absolutely right: Obama ran an outstanding campaign and Dems had a lot to run against this time around. But the attacks on Palin from within the GOP seemed to me to be unfair. McCain's campaign was deeply flawed; Palin contributed to but didn't cause their defeat. And yes, I will absolutely be back.
Nov. 9th, 2008 02:41 am (UTC)
Here's to a brighter future for us all! *clink*
Nov. 11th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
Nov. 9th, 2008 03:18 am (UTC)
I'd have given it to Nader. He still gets the BOC award for running in 2000.
Nov. 11th, 2008 04:04 pm (UTC)
Buffoon of the Century! I love it!
Nov. 9th, 2008 02:59 pm (UTC)
BOW on! I am particularly fond of the BOW Awards. How else will be made aware of our fellow humans' silliness?

And silliness abounds. For example: those folks who are absolutely sure that our president-elect is going to ban guns and subsequently made for their local gun shop to stock up on firearms and ammo (thereby stimulating at least one part of our economy). Not even the NRA could get these folks to calm down. Of all the challenges Mr. Obama faces the last thing he wants to do is mess with the 2nd Amendment. Common sense, however, remains sadly lacking in some quarters. As always. Which is why the BOW Awards must go on, though perhaps not on such a regular basis so as to allow you some respite.
Nov. 11th, 2008 04:04 pm (UTC)
They will go on, but yes, I need my Saturdays back. Thanks, Jana.
Nov. 9th, 2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
Okay, buster, let's get one thing straight. My life is empty without the BOW Award. You're going to have to suck it up and find new nominees so I will have justification for living. Yep, it's that simple.

Now, young man, you find me a BOW Award Nominee next week or I'm going to hold my breath until I pass out....which, you know, probably wouldn't be a bad thing, either. :D
Nov. 11th, 2008 04:05 pm (UTC)
So you don't believe that we're now living in a post-Buffoonery society?
Nov. 10th, 2008 11:36 am (UTC)
No more BOWs? Who am I supposed to correct every Sunday night now? ;)

But in reality, I can understand the Political weariness, especially after the latest election. Take a Bow breather and then come back soon!

P.S. - Palin is an awsome canidate. If any drag on campaign happened it was the GOP handlers who goofed up both McCain AND Palin. They tried to make McCain a conservative (which he isn't) and they tried to make Palin a moderate (which she isn't). So I say Palin in 2012! (if that doesn't get your BOW energies flowing again, I don't know what will. *haha*)
Nov. 11th, 2008 04:10 pm (UTC)
"if that doesn't get your BOW energies flowing again, I don't know what will."


The BOWs will return, but I need a bit of a break I think.

Did you see that one of the networks already ran a poll on 2012 GOP Presidential contenders? It ran just a day or two after the election and only sought the opinions of Republican voters. Palin was a third behind Romney and Huckabee, this after being the rock star of GOP politics for the last two months. I'm not sure she's ever going to be on another national ticket. Fairly or not, her reputation has been tarnished by this experience, not by the press, but by GOP operatives and conservative commentators who turned on her after the initial excitement of the convention (Noonan, Parker, Murphy, Brooks, Frum). Those who like her LOVE her, but most people in both parties don't like her.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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David B. Coe

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