After George W. Bush’s reelection four years ago, I had this nice feeling which lingered for several weeks.Â Peggy Noonan couldn’t stop being happy about the election result. Bearing this in mind in the campaign’s final days, I resolved that should our guy lose, I would refrain from bringing the election up with my liberal friends, at least until the president-elect started selecting his cabinet.
Now that their guy has won, I try not to bring it up. I wish for them to enjoy the nice feeling I so enjoyed back in 2004. We had our chance to be happy about an election. Now, it’s their turn. Let them celebrate without experiencing our sadness.
Yet, I will note that all too many bring it up. Yesterday, at a brunch for my college alumni association to honor a representative of the alumni office visiting the City of Angels, I as the only (open) Republican at the event, found myself questioned by others there about my take on the election. I was delighted at how civil were the exchanges, but disturbed at how little most people knew about Sarah Palin, with one very smart guy taking at face value any charge leveled against her. As if Newsweek were a reliable source on Republicans.
There is another reason I don’t want to bring up the election with my political adversaries. I am surprised at how sad the result has made me. I attribute part of my sadness to the failure of our side to promote a conservative economic message in a campaign in which the economy was the primary issue. While some claim our ideas were defeated at the ballot box, I note that they weren’t even presented.
At least on economic issues, this campaign did not provide a vehicle for our ideas nor a solid defense against those blaming the economic crisis on conservatism.
The other thing that makes me sad is that, in the course of the campaign, I really grew to respect John McCain the man. I watched his classy performance at the Al Smith dinner, delighted in his self-deprecating humor on Saturday Night Live, revisited the story of his integrity and courage when captured by the North Vietnamese, and really, **REALLY** appreciated the love he felt for our country, a love that was made particularly manifest in that most gracious of concession speeches.
And I wish someone who recognized his merit as a human being had told the Arizona Senator that to win the office of which he is surely worthy, he need articulate a better economic message and make that message the theme of his campaign.
It’s almost as if John McCain were the right man for the job, but was running at the wrong time.