Today I heard G. Weigel talk at the Boston College Law School about the 2008 election. It was a great talk and here are some of the points that he made. This is not exhaustive but some of the things that I noted.
1. He discussed how the "Bush Derangement Syndrome" (BDS) was behind the basic dynamics of the campaign. BDS started when the Supreme Court in 2000 decided in Bush's favor. The left was incensed over this and much of the hatred directed against Bush was rooted in their belief that he unfairly "won" the election.
But even before that, Weigel said, the impeachment process against Clinton in 1998-99 was a key factor. The real issue in that case was about the rule of law concerning perjury. The Republicans asked how could a man serve as chief executive when hundreds of other Americans were in jail for doing precisely what he had done. But Maureen Dowd in the NY Times and other liberal columnists successfully reframed the issue as a sexual one, instead of being about the rule of law. Those who supported the sexual revolution were not about to back away from their "gains" from the 1960s and came to the support of Clinton. They won. Clinton was acquitted. Still, it left them angry that Clinton had been impeached at all.
Also, the secular humanists among the anti-Bush cadre saw his evangelical Christianity as a threat to their worldview. They painted him as a bumbling idiot.
2. Post-modern rhetoric
In this interesting part of his talk, Weigel talked about the prevalent idea that there is no objective, real truth that is the same for all people. Instead, we talk about "your truth" and "my truth." This is relativism, rooted in epistemological skepticism--the idea that we can't know anything for sure. Pope Benedict has strongly opposed this form of relativism.
As a result of this, narrative is what dominates today. Weigel said our elections are like American Idol. Instead of debating substantive issues, people swoon over the most attractive candidate--who happened to be Obama. Narrative, not substance, is the order of the day.
3. The media in the tank for Obama
Weigel also said that the mainstream media were shamelessly promoting Obama instead of doing their job: to inform the American people about the candidates and the issues. Books could be written on this and probably will be. Obama has been presented as a sort of political messiah. The media, for example, did not seriously investigate Obama's ties with Bill Ayers and other radicals. But you can be sure that if McCain had had a similar relationship with a right-wing radical like Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma city bomber, the media would have been all over it. Or if McCain had had a relationship with a right-wing version of the Rev Jeremiah Wright, the media would not have given him a pass about it.
4. On the life issues, Weigel said that the efforts of some people to paint Obama as the pro-life candidate were "an exercise in sophistry that was breathtaking even by today's [lack of] standards." Weigel noted that these are serious issues and the radicalism on the left threatens the civil liberties of those who disagree with them on these issues. If you doubt that, think about what happened in California when Proposition 8 was defeated: the targeting of Mormon places of worship, violence against a little old lady holding a sign, blacklisting those who contributed to defeat Prop. 8, etc. But again, the mainstream media did not widely report these things.
In the question and answer session, Weigel added that the great tragedy of post-Roe political life has been the transformation of life issues into partisan issues. He was referring to the fact that the Democrat party is now identified with the pro-abortionists to such an extent that pro-life Democrats, though a few may exist, are an oxymoron.
Weigel also alluded to other factors involved in the election, such as the Iraq war, the race factor, Republican scandals, an electorate tired of the Bush administration, etc., etc., and of course, above all, the economy and McCain's fumbling response when that news broke.
The talk was not an attack on Obama but an effort to understand why the election turned out the way it did: a Senator with very little experience and a hard-left voting record is now President of a country that largely remains a center-right country.
Let's pray for our country. It is at a critical moment and we certainly need God's guidance.