Barack Obama has turned into Michael Dukakis, John Kerry and Al Gore. Sarah Palin has turned into Ronald Reagan.
Thus the electoral map looks fairly typically red where it counts and blue where it doesn’t.
Ohio and Florida show up red, which, unless Colorado and Nevada and New Mexico flip en masse from red to blue and are bigger than I think, pretty much means the old ball game.
Democrats win the cities. John McCain and the moose-hunter take all that space in between.
For all the talk of newness and history-making, we’ve seen this presidential race before.
Democrats are burdened with a mealy-mouthed, message-conflicted, reactive, apologizing, conflict-averse nominee. He goes into a prevent defense on Labor Day, at which point the Republicans commence traipsing up and down the field hitting wide-open receivers.
For their part, Republicans suddenly are all fired up again about those supposedly outsider and right-wing reforms they incessantly talk about but never actually get done, such as fiscal responsibility and an end to abortion and the deployment of military that makes quick work of any and all adversaries.
As things appear today, Palin, of whom we’d heard nothing two weeks ago, stands to be a septuagenarian heartbeat from the Oval Office.
Let’s start with Obama’s ineptitude, so profound lately that we can surely look for him to show up any minute helmeted in a tank or wind-surfing or smother-kissing his spine-crushed wife.
One thing Democrats stand for — or so we thought — is raising taxes on those relatively few persons with extreme high incomes. After all, these wealthy elite reaped inordinate personal benefits from the across-the-board Republican tax cuts, which, in turn, have exploded the deficit that Bill Clinton erased and replaced with a surplus.
So now Obama says he may not immediately let those high-income tax cuts expire, owing to the troubled economy and all.
One thing Democrats stand for — or we thought — is ending the war in Iraq. So now Obama says the surge is working.
One thing Democrats stand for — or so we thought — was a well-articulated position to protect a woman’s right to choose abortion. So now Obama says the morality of the abortion issue is “above my pay grade.” Then he says he doesn’t like the way he put that.
Please, somebody send for Hillary — quick.
On the Republican side comes this vice presidential nominee who, excepting two years as governor of a remote, sparsely populated state, owes her political experience to rezoning issues as mayor of an Alaskan village of fewer than 10,000.
Remarkably, she has, in those two weeks, single-handedly re-assembled the decisive Reagan coalition.
That conservative coalition forged under Reagan had been destroyed by the blundering of George W. Bush. Fiscal conservatives didn’t like the exploding deficits and the wasteful spending.
Religious conservatives liked the Supreme Court nominees, but doubted whether George W. and Karl Rove were altogether genuine. Defense conservatives couldn’t much cotton to a woefully misbegotten invasion of Iraq.
Thus dissipated, the conservative movement found itself forced to live with the Republican presidential nomination, in McCain, of a moderate and maverick who’d never been one of them. Republicans were disconnected, uninspired, depressed, bound for defeat, maybe even irrelevance.
Then McCain chose as his running mate a tough-talking Assembly of God woman from Alaska who shoots guns and asserts, albeit dishonestly, that she has opposed wasteful pork-barrel spending in her state.
Conservatives thought they were dead. Now they’ve been brought back to life by what looks and acts like Reagan’s daughter, or, actually, granddaughter.
John Brummett is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.