When I donated 250 bucks to the Obama for President campaign in the spring of 2008, I was about as excited as any cynic can be. I had soured on the Democrats for, what I thought was, forever after eight years of Clinton corporatism, welfare reform and Tipper Gore's attacks on rock 'n roll. I resolved never again to vote for another Democrat for president, and certainly to never vote for another southern white guy regardless of his political persuasion. I gladly voted for Nader in 2000 and I'd do it again. Remember, Al Lieberman was Mr. Gore's running mate.
In the spring of 2008 Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton were running neck and neck and, while I did understand that Hillary was a different person than her husband, I felt she would bring back all the good ol' boys like Larry Summers and Robert Rubin. On the other side John McCain was emerging as the Republican nominee. Of course, he was (and is) a stark-raving lunatic bent on the nuclear destruction of the human race.
Obama seemed to be different--fresh--so I donated to his campaign.
In August 2008, I got a call from the Obama campaign to re-up. The earnest young man on the phone explained that the campaign was going to be tough and that Barack needed my support.
"Look," I said, "I donated to Obama's campaign because I thought he was almost as liberal as Richard Nixon, now I'm not so sure." The kid started to cackle. "Mr. Batty, wait a minute, I want you to say that again. I'm going to put you on speaker."
I admit it, I'm a ham, so when the kid told me I was speaking to a room full of campaign workers, I repeated myself, "I donated to the Obama campaign because I thought he was almost as liberal as Richard Nixon." The whole room went off like I was performing in a comedy club.
"You know, they're both smokers with vague religious beliefs...hell, Nixon claimed to be a Quaker...Nixon signed the EPA into law and Obama sort of supports it..." More laughter. Were these guys drunk? "But in the other night's interview with Rick Warren, your guy says, 'When I find myself taking the wrong step, I think a lot of times it's because I'm trying to protect myself instead of trying to do god's work.' God's work?...Nixon would never have said that...What the fuck?" The room exploded again.
The kid took me off speaker and delivered the old saw the alternative future if McCain was elected, blah, blah, blah. I told him that I would probably vote for Obama but that I was reluctant to donate again. He didn't press the issue and chuckled a little more as he hung up.
At the time, I thought that I detected some savvy among the Obama campaign staff that might keep him honest. Ha! It was more likely that I received the call from some Goldman Sachs-style boiler room, filled with weary pols, all too eager to receive some comic relief from one of the muppets.