October 19th, 2008

Route 66

I have really enjoyed my time in Albuquerque. It has been a while since I attended the American Studies Association's annual convention. From what I could tell, there is more interest in the sort of cultural studies I wish to practice than was the case for a while. That's an encouraging sign. Even more hopeful, though, was the sense of a support network that I got while I was here. More soon.

Fountain of Youth

I spent far too much time on my drive to Albuquerque and back listening to right-wing talk radio. I know there are smart conservatives. But it's easy to forget when listening to hosts who repeat the same talking point hundreds of times in an hour and still can't keep their supposedly like-minded callers from free associating in ways that make Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric sound like the Gettysburg Address.

Today's topic, naturally, was Colin Powell's decision to endorse Barack Obama. Although no one called Powell a traitor, some individuals came extremely close. More interesting to me were the many variations on a theme that had a through-the-looking-glass quality: "When Colin Powell was fighting in Vietnam and John McCain was a prisoner of war, Barak Hussein Obama's friends were bombing the Pentagon. How can Powell forget that?"

Sometimes, this argument repeated the implication of Sarah Palin's soundbite about Obama "palling around with terrorists." That got me thinking. Since Obama's oft-repeated comeback to the criticism of his association with former members of the Weather Underground is that he was eight at the time, I wonder whether his campaign might, deep down, be welcoming this line of attack, no matter how brutal it seems on the surface.

You see, in a campaign where age differences matter greatly, the fact that Obama can remind people he was eight at the height of the Vietnam War might prove a bigger advantage than Colin Powell's endorsement, even, particularly among younger voters. Then again, Sarah Palin can make the same point, to which Obama might consider responding that she was, "palling around with moose butchers."