Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Earthling Card

Wow. Is Alan Keyes from around here? The Illinois senate race visits strange new worlds...

In the Illinois Senate race, Barack Obama leads Alan Keyes by a margin so wide (over 50 points, according to one poll) that a debate between the candidates must--almost as a matter of science--help narrow the campaign. But that would be to underestimate Alan Keyes. As people know, Keyes is candid, eloquent, and intellectually consistent. He argues rather than spins, allowing his logic to take him where it will. He panders to no (earthly) constituency. And he may well have pulled off the impossible last night: lowering his poll numbers even more. Obama is an unconventionally gifted politician, but even an incompetent one--let's go farther, actually: even a dolphin or trained seal--could have done better last night than Alan Keyes. All Obama had to do yesterday was play the Earthling card; Keyes took care of the rest.


When Obama asked Keyes to defend his call to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment, Keyes began his response with a happy lack of politesse: "I think that the question actually illustrates the ignorance that I've noticed of your understanding of the American Constitution and its background," he explained, before going on for a while about "more and more important issues ... being more and more decided by distant bureaucrats." This allowed Obama to note that, actually, he teaches a class in Constitutional law.

Before the debate was over, viewers had heard the following snippets and phrases from one of the two candidates: "the persecution of our Christian citizens," "social self-destruction," "the use of the body in this way is ... an abomination," "no one has the information necessary to avoid incest," and "gun-control mentality is ruth-less-ly absurd." Guess which one.

This is, of course, why Keyes loses votes every time he speaks. It's obvious. But Keyes is also a vital contributor to social cohesion in America, because, somehow, he makes us realize we are all--regardless of our political beliefs--Obama.

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