I was never very good about keeping it clean or waxed. I didn't change the oil as often as I should. I didn't give it a name or think of it as "she." It was just "my car." "The Mercedes." Sometimes, "the Benz."
2002 S-500. Black, of course. What other color could it be? So big. So agile despite its great size. So damned fast. How many Priuses have I terrorized? How often have I blown the doors off some Subaru? How many times have I schooled some NASCAR wanna-be who thought his pick-up had pick-up?
Good times. Good times.
But it's just too much for Italian roads. So today I traded in the Benz for a Toyota RAV 4. Red. I'll ship the RAV to Italy, cheaper than buying a car with Euros. I'm sure it's a fine, little car. I got the V-6 and hey, it's quick.
I actually teared up today at the dealership. My wife's face was a study in sympathy. Okay, not sympathy. More like contempt mixed with disbelief. There were hurtful, sexist remarks about "boys."
But the truth is I doubt I will ever have another human-car relationship quite as intense as the one I've had since 2001 with my beautiful, black Mercedes. God damn, I love that car.
John McCain is in a trap. His past is what makes him so attractive to people like me. But an ad campaign that's about the past is a very serious problem, especially with an aged candidate. He's running on Vietnam, and although it pains people of my generation to admit it, Vietnam might as well be the Spanish-American War for a lot of voters.
I'm reading blogs and comments suggesting that Obama can't win against McCain. Folks, after being shit-hammered for two weeks, Obama is within the margin of error in head-to-heads against McCain.
The GOP will use the Reverend Wright to hammer Obama. Obama will use Bush to hammer McCain. Reverend Wright means nothing to the vast majority of Americans. He's just the excuse Republicans who were never going to vote for Obama use to explain voting against him after a brief and insincere flirtation. But Bush is very real. And that picture of McCain embracing Bush will be seen again and again.
Either things are improving in Iraq, in which case McCain's signature issue is in the national rearview mirror. Or it's getting worse, in which case McCain will be hit for his continuing support of the war. In either case, this is looking like another Stupid Economy election year. And McCain has nothing on the economy.
Obama's been roughed up. But I still think he'll beat McCain.
Watch that ad. It'll make you admire McCain. For what he's done. For who he's been. It'd be a great ad, if we were electing the president of 20 years ago.
You thought you had me, didn't you, Reynolds? You thought you were rid of me. Hah! You great, stupid oaf. You dare to match wits with me? With ME?
Lufthansa! There, I've said it! And I will say it again, and may my poop-fumed drool spray onto your face (okay, ankles,) as I bark it in wild triumph: Lufthansa! Lufthansa! Lufthansa!
You think because you tower above me, a lumbering, stumbling Tyrannosaurus to my fleet-footed pot-bellied pig, that you will have your way with me? That was your dream, wasn't it? To be rid of me. To see me in your rear-view mirror. To push me out of your life, abandon me, and forget me -- aside from daily prayers for my swift and painful death. Admit it! You hate me and plotted against me!
Well, guess again, human. You may look like Lex Luthor, but I am your Superdog! I will foil your nefarious plans every time. You don't have the kryptonite to take me on, big boy.
"Sorry, babe," you said to the mistress, with faux sympathy that wouldn't have fooled a cat. "It looks like there aren't any airlines that allow dogs in the cabin going over the Atlantic."
"Sorry," you lied, you bastard. "No way we could squeeze his fat, foul-smelling sausage body into a sherpa bag, anyway."
"Of course, you could put him in the hold," you said, half-sneering, half-gleeful. "Just because they say it's risky for short-nosed, mutant, inbred, DNA-damaged, freakishly ugly, snorting, snoring, gasping, wheezing, half-toad, pissing-on-every-vertical-object, dogs, it's probably not a very big risk. He'd probably make it."
"There's only a small chance that he would die gasping for breath in the belly of a 747," you said, rubbing your hands in fiendish glee at the very thought of it.
Come here, Giant Shoes, come down here where I can whisper into you ear. Listen close: "Lufthansa, bitch! Ah hah hah hah!"
"Lufthansa! I'm flying, asshole! I'm flying to Germany on Luft-freaking-hansa! And then . . . oh, this part is so sweet . . . you, Reynolds, you will drive me to Florence. And will I howl, howl, howl the entire way, all the way through Germany, through Switzerland, through the northern half of Italy? Will I howl until you lose your mind? Will I howl till you are ready to take your own life? Yes! Oh, God, yes!
Game, set and match, human. I'm going to Italy. You will haul me through airports. You will place me under the seat in front of you during take-off and landing. Then you will be my chauffeur. Serve me! Serve MEEEEE!
And I will never, never forgive or forget your efforts to dump me. Everything you hold dear will feel the warm trickle of my urine. Prepare to see yellow, my friend. Mmmm, I already feel my bladder swelling.
I seem not to be writing much that's political lately. Perhaps you've noticed.
In part this is because after all sorts of primary intensity we're in a lull before Pennsylvania. And what I need to know from the political universe involves waiting and seeing. I need to know whether Obama has been badly hurt. I need to know whether the Democratic Party has the will and capacity to shove Hillary aside. I need to know how McCain will handle being the actual candidate instead of the insurgent.
It's a lot of breath-holding. Iraq, as well: who will win in Basra? Can Maliki discipline Sadr, or with it be Sadr schooling Maliki? If the answer is "a" then we might really have something. If it's "b" we might as well just pack up and leave because we're wasting our time.
But that doesn't explain all of my current lack of interest in writing about politics. Mostly its that I have other things going on. A lot of change here on the home front, hopefully all of it good, but it never is all good, is it? Writing, selling the house, moving to Italy, dealing with wife, kids, etcerera, it's a lot of detail, a lot of "if then. . . ."
So, here are my bad blogger excuses, the things that, right now, rate higher than politics on my priority list:
Must rewrite book #2.
Must trade Benz for Toyota RAV4 in order to comply with Italian rules against driving giant barges down tiny cobblestone streets.
Must accept that editor is quitting and may well be replaced by a ferret.
Must consider the possibility that unknown future editor reads this blog and resents being referred to as a possible ferret.
Must drive guinea pigs to Charlotte. No. I'm not kidding.
Must finish going through that shit in the attic.
Must avoid screaming fit where I rage, rage against the shit in the attic that I always said we didn't need. (Goddammit!)
Must avoid drowning my rage in carbohydrates.
Must figure out what the hell book #3 is going to be about. Unless my new editor is reading this, in which case I have it all totally planned out. No need to worry.
Must cope with the fact that I have a business idea that people think is crazy. Or possibly creepy. Certainly crass.
Must remain in crouch waiting for the blow of bad reviews. Not that I care. Except when they're good.
Must not publicly vow to destroy all who criticize me.
Must figure out how to kill the pug without anyone suspecting. (Suggestion: stop writing about it.)
Must figure out how we get prescriptions, braces for the kids, insurance, wills, voter registration, and eighteen million other soul-killing details, while in Italy.
Must learn to become fluent in Italian. I've heard it's a good idea to take a mistress who speaks the language. My wife has heard differently.
Must figure out how moving to Italy is directly related to my work so that I can deduct 100% of everything I spend while I'm there. Nyah hah hah hah! Nyah hah hah hahhhhh!
Must remember not to mention the above in any forum that might later be discovered by the IRS. Shhhh.
Must book air travel.
And car shipping.
Jesus, the dollar is Monopoly money.
Must wonder if anyone will buy my house. Can't do much about it, but I'm pretty sure I should spend lots of time obsessing.
Must crank up a second series or equivalent because what am I supposed to do with the half of the year I'm not writing my current series? Knit? Pay attention to my kids? Puh-leeze.
Must avoid boring the living shit out of my remaining six blog readers.
I hate it when I guess something is going to happen, but I'm too lazy to blog it so I get no "Toldja So," credit. On the other hand, sometimes that laziness pays off and I manage to skip some bonehead prediction.
In this case, I was right, but I can't prove it. And really, it is all about me and my giant ego, isn't it?
As expected, one of the two major Democratic candidates saw a downturn in the latest NBC/WSJ poll, but it's not the candidate that you think. Hillary Clinton is sporting the lowest personal ratings of the campaign. Moreover, her 37 percent positive rating is the lowest the NBC/WSJ poll has recorded since March 2001, two months after she was elected to the U.S. Senate from New York.
In a head-to-head against McCain, Hillary loses by two. Obama wins by two.
Yes. That's right. Feel the numbers wash over you. After Obama's worst week, the Week of Doom, the Week Of No Return, the Oh-My-God-He's-So-Fucked week, a week in which McCain sailed along with only a few glitches, Obama still beats McCain.
As for the damage this controversy did or didn't do to Obama, it's a mixed bag. Yes, Obama saw some of his numbers go down slightly among certain voting groups, most notably Republicans. But he's still much more competitive with independent voters when matched up against John McCain than Hillary Clinton is. And he still sports a net-positive personal rating of 49-32, which is down only slightly from two weeks ago, when it was 51-28. Again, the biggest shift in those negative numbers were among Republicans.
In other words, people who were never going to vote for Obama became a little more convinced that they were never going to vote for Obama.
On one of the most critical questions we've been tracking for a few months, Obama showed resilience. When asked if the three presidential candidates could be successful in uniting the country if they were elected president, 60 percent of all voters believed Obama could be successful at doing this, 58 percent of all voters said McCain could unite the country while only 46 percent of voters said the same about Clinton. All three candidates saw dips on this issue, by the way. In January, 67 percent thought Obama could unite the country; 68 percent thought McCain could do it; and 55 percent said Clinton would be able to pull it off.
I have an intuition about one of the three candidates, Hillary, Obama and McCain. It's something that I think will become increasingly clear over time. But I'm torn between my egotistical desire to be able to say, "See? I told you so," on the one hand, and my reluctance to say something cruel and quite possibly wrong.
So, here's my solution. I'm emailing it to Annie Gottlieb. If I'm right, I get my "toldja so." If I'm wrong -- and one of you reminds me -- I'll 'fess up.
I love the show. It's quick, well-constructed, witty. And much of the time Keith Olbermann is all those things, too. But at some point -- I think it was around the third time he did it -- I simply stopped listening to his "special comments." They weren't quick. They weren't well-constructed. They weren't witty. They were long, long, long and boring, boring, boring and so tiresomely, forcedly angry, angry, angry.
So very long. And boring. And angry.
And now, Olbermann is letting his "special" persona bleed more and more into the rest of the show. Witty Keith is being slowly absorbed by angry Keith. And the result is a liberal Limbaugh.
It's a shame. I miss witty Keith. I liked witty Keith. But angry Keith is just Markos Moulitsas. And that's just boring. Not as boring as CNN -- what could be? Nor is it quite as stupid -- yet -- as Fox News. What could be? But it's not good anymore. And the guy who made it good is the guy who is now making it suck.