Gut Check Obamacans

So I was on the Laura Ingraham Radio Program this morning.

I’ve called two national radio shows in my life – the Laura Ingraham Show and the Michael Medved Show. Both times, I got through on my first try, and I was on the air within minutes. This morning, I was on the air about 30 seconds after my call. What’s that about? (The screener was insistent that I not wish Laura a “good morning,” presumably because the show is rebroadcast in the afternoon, and they want people to still think it’s on live. Suckers.)

Anyway, some guy had just gone on about why he was a Republican supporting Obama. He was less than convincing, but Laura asked if there were any other “Obamacans” out there. I realized, when she said that, that I was a budding Obamacan, but for reasons wholly unrelated to what the guy before had said. So, on a whim, I called when she gave out the number, and thirty seconds later, I was on the air.

“Let’s go to Jim in Salt Lake City,” she said. “Jim, are you an Obamacan?”

“Good morning!” I said back. “Lovely morning, isn’t it? The sun is shining bright, the birds are chirping…”

Oops. I didn’t say that. But wouldn’t it be cool if I had? No, what I said was “not really,” but that McCain freaked me out. I cited the 1964 presidential election, where Goldwater opponents played off the Goldwater slogan “In your heart, you know he’s right” with the counterslogan “In your gut, you know he’s nuts.” I said that in my gut, McCain scares the crap out of me. (I wonder if it’s a problem that I said “crap” on national radio.) I told her I was pretty much a Republican party hack, but Obama, in my gut, doesn’t scare me because he’s a decent human being. She didn’t really push back on that, and then she hung up on me as I continued talking. I didn’t realize it until I asked a question, and she didn’t answer back. Who’s the sucker now?

I don’t know if the GOP realizes how terrified they ought to be that I, who have worked for Republicans in Washington and in Utah, who is about as blinkered a partisan as they come, who teaches my young children to boo whenever Hillary Clinton’s name is mentioned, am considering voting for a Democrat for president. I knew, back in 2006, that the Republicans were doomed when I stopped caring about the election results. If I, Mr. Hack, had stopped caring, then what about the normal people who don’t have National Review Online and bookmarked and constantly refreshed throughout the day? If the Republicans lose me, they’ve pretty much lost everybody.

I’ve heard it said that ordinary people vote from the gut, but I’ve never had that experience. I wasn’t thrilled about George Bush I or Bob Dole, but I dutifully cast my ballot for them. I was more excited about George W., but the vote required no “gut check” on my part. We have a reasonable and decent Democrat as our congressman, but I’ve consistently voted for his Republican opponent out of party loyalty, and the fact that in the House of Representatives, it’s numbers that matter, not people.

But this time, I’m getting gut signals that I’m having a hard time ignoring. In my gut, I know McCain is nuts. And Barack ought to scare me – his proposals are loony, he’ll appoint Lefties to the courts – but he doesn’t scare me as much as McCain does. In fact, he doesn’t scare me at all, which sort of scares me. (Hillary, by the way, scares the bejeebers out of me. She’s history, though.)

People cite Barack’s vapid slogans and his lack of experience in order to induce a gut reaction, but it doesn’t work on me. I’m not transfixed by his speeches, but they’re no emptier than the sloganeering of candidates from either party. Plus, they’re primarily positive, unlike Hillary’s banshee laments. And ironically, his lack of experience is somehow reassuring. It means that in the office, he’ll have room to learn and grow, to question some of his liberal assumptions, and that maybe, just maybe, he’ll end up surprising us by doing the right thing.

This is not a persuasive intellectual argument. There is no indication that Obama is a closet conservative and every indication that he is not. But my gut says he’s probably the best choice in November. And this time, there’s no persuasive argument to counter the gut check – there are plenty of reasons why McCain would be a disaster.

Maybe the problem is that I have a more sizeable gut than I’d like.

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