We here at OffTheBus receive an incredible volume of Op-Ed submissions. We have a team of editors that comb through the more than 100 email submissions sent each day to the CampaignTrail inbox, looking for the best citizen-generated pieces to share with the OTB reading community.
Unfortunately, this leaves many pieces that many people toiled on for many collective hours unseen by the world. What I have noticed while editing is that these pieces, taken together, represent a fascinating window into what the politically active public are thinking -- the Huffington Post -- reading public, at any rate.
With that notion in mind, we present The Weekly Roundup -- a collection of musings from the vast expanse of our submission pool as a window into what your peers have been thinking over the past week of the election cycle.
In defense of recent allegations from the McCain campaign that America does not know who Barack Obama is, the Illinois senator and his wife Michelle have appeared on several programs to reiterate that they have been campaigning for 20 months, putting themselves out there for the world to see.
Twenty. That's roughly 600 days, or 14,400 hours, or 864,000 minutes.
All of this time, all of the hype, all of the frenzy around the primaries and now the general election and especially around the debates, and guess what? People are finally tired.
"Commentators, including me, have been inclined to decry the extraordinary length of the 2008 Presidential election campaign," says Dr. Gordon S. Black. "As it moves on, seemingly endlessly, for up to two years, we all become fatigued by the sheer repetitiveness of listening to the same candidates say the same things, over and again."
"I just want it all to be over," says Craig Krueger. "I was a hard charging McCain supporter," Krueger says. "I am still a supporter of John McCain, but I am not nearly as hard charging as before."
But why, Craig?
"I am tired of being asked to make this decision out of fear for the 'other guy.' I long to make this decision out of trust in one of them."
A-ha! The brow-beating is taking its toll on both sides of the purple fence. As one candidate retreats into running down the shot clock and taking errant jump-shots and the other relies increasingly on the Hack-a-Barack and other cheap tactics to make up a widening gap, the fans are headed for the exits, suddenly uninterested in the winner of a quadruple overtime thriller.
This isn't to say that interest is waning everywhere, but there is a decided shift in citizen rhetoric this week centered around Tuesday's debate and the decision by the McCain campaign to fully submerge itself in the gutter. The Pavlovian spate of panic on the part of Democrats in the face of the usual Atwater/Rove bred muckraking is mitigated only by the leaps and bounds Obambi has made in the polls. Interestingly, with a comfortable padding, OTB readers are more inclined to offer criticism of Obama as well.
"I feel that there isn't enough critical attention being paid, by the left, to Obama," says Jesse Helmes. "Attacking our general seems like the last thing you would want to do in a war," but "the only criticism he seems to get is ridiculous accusation and partisan attacks from the right," while "there is no discussion from the left about his FISA support, his Patriot Act support, and what i think is even worse, his bailout participation."
With Obama playing it generically safe, it's not surprising to see him lose a bit of luster with the base that swooned under his serenade during the primaries. But for every one submission probing a chink in Obama's rhetorical armor, there are 30 blasting McCain with gleeful irreverence as his campaign apparently enters its death throes.
"Seventy-two years old and based in the Southwest, with a penchant for running ads so vile and baseless that you can believe he hired his own feces as a consultant, McCain certainly seems to have a lot in common with Old Man Coyote." - David Sklar
Sticking with the folklore theme: "In 2008, Rumplestiltskin has returned to spin straw into gold under the guise of country first. This time it's not about beer, cake, and stealing babies. No, this time he wants to take over the entire kingdom and will stop at nothing to get what he wants." - Carrie Dennison
The Culture War is in full swing as the negativity mounts, with contributors bringing countless examples from all corners of the internet to our attention. From YouTube videos of McCain-Palin supporters taking the terrorist bait, to death threats from comments on Bill Ayers' blog, and of course, the many makeshift appropriations of "that one" into Obama campaign sloganeering.
Our very own Off The Bus resident poet Leon Freilich sums the spectrum up succinctly in his ever-whimsical style:
In calling Obama "that one,"
A vile and insolent bash,
McCain gives vocal proof
He's palin' around with white trash.
Obama's more lama than caller of names
A definite political quirk
Which explains why he hasn't lashed out yet,
Against the Perk and the Jerk.
Speaking of Sarah Palin, this seemed to be the first week since her selection as McCain's running mate that the inbox hasn't been dominated with vehement cries for a national Palinoscopy.
But if Sarah Palin has receded ever so slightly from the spotlight thanks to a semi-coherent debate performance, there is almost no attention being paid the current president: "Poor old Dubya sits in the Oval office every day waiting for the phone to ring so he can be the Decider once again, but all he hears is crickets." - Bill Devol
And of course, no Roundup would be complete without your weekly dose of Fringe Wisdom:
MY FRIENDS, MY NAME IS, JOHN McCAIN, NO, DON'T RUN AWAY, IT'S NOT CATCHING. MY FRIENDS, I AM AN OLD MAN, A VERY OLD MAN, I REMEMBER JUMPING OFF THE MAYFLOWER, JUST A YOUNG MAN IN HIS EARLY 20's AND SAYING, "MY FRIENDS, THIS IS A LAND OF PLENTY AND I AM SURE I GET PLENTY BY HOOK OR BY CROOK. (BUT THE PRESIDENT IS NOT A CROOK) I WAS SITTING AT HOME LAST NIGHT, CUTTING OUT COUPONS AND I SAID TO MY WIFE, AH, WHAT'S HER NAME? LINDY, MINDY, BINDY, SOMETHING LIKE THAT. "MY FRIEND" I SAID, "THAT BOY OBAMA IS GETTING UPPITY, WHAT SHOULD I DO, MY FRIEND?" AND MY VERY BLONDE WIFE SAID, "YOU KICK HIS ASS JOHN, YOU KICK HIS ASS, 'TILL HE DON'T KNOW SUNDAY FROM PANCAKE TUESDAY" SO MY-FRIENDS, THAT'S WHAT I'M GOING TO DO, OLD JOHN IS GOING, NO-NOT DO-LALLY, OLD JOHN IS GOING NEGETIVE. I AM GOING TO ASK "THAT ONE" JUST WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION WITH AYRES ROCK? WAS IT YOU WHO STOLE THE BABY AND BLAMED IT ON THE DINGO? THAT'S WHAT THEY DO YOU KNOW, SO-FRIENDS, IF OVER THE COMING WEEKS, I APPEAR TO BE A LITTLE-ANGRY, A LITTLE-HARSH, A LITTLE-NUTS, JUST REMEMBER FRIENDS, THAT ITS JUST OLD JOHN GOING NEGITIVE. BUT REMEMBER-FRIENDS, THAT UNDERNEATH THE BLUSTER< THE DECEIT AND THE BARE FACED LIES, I'M STILL OLD JOHN MCAIN,A WARM, KIND HEARTED MAVERICK. MY NAME IS, AH, AH, OH YES, THAT'S RIGHT, MY NAME IS JOHN MCAIN MY FRIENDS AND I APPROVE THIS MESSAGE. - John McMenamin