Arianna Huffington is no stranger to political change. A member of the Republican party until 12 years ago, she became an outspoken Democrat and is now a verbal supporter of Barack Obama.
Described as a political pundit, she is the author of 12 books, her newest called Right Is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe. She founded the Huffington Post, an online blog and news site, in 2005. It currently relies on 2,000 contributors and receives 90 million page views each month.
Huffington explained that her jump from conservatism stemmed from the Republican party not living up to it's responsibility to fund important social functions, like homeless shelters, from the private sector-- although it could still fund art museums. It was here that she thought government appropriations for such programs would be beneficial.
Huffington also has a history of championing for the unspoken. In 2000, she hosted the Shadow Conventions, public panel discussions that took place around the Democratic and Republican National Conventions and revolved around what she deemed as issues overlooked by both Democrats and Republicans. The issues of the 2000 conventions included poverty in America, campaign finance reform, and the rising prison population and the war on drugs.
She began the night by quoting a blog post by Larry David that summarized her feelings on the impending election.
She read, "I can't take much more of this. Two weeks to go, and I'm at the end of my rope. This is like waiting for the results of a biopsy. Actually, it's worse. Biopsies only take a few days, maybe a week at the most, and if the biopsy comes back positive, there's still a potential cure. With this, there's no cure. The result is final. Like death." Huffington then offered three tips of advice to negate tense feelings.
First, she warned audience members to take the polls with a grain of salt. She urged reflection upon the fact that the media is spending the last crucial days of the election discussing warped poll results rather than discussing actual topics that affect America.
Secondly, she explained that America is at its end of Carl Rove politics. This is due by and large to the internet's boom since the 2004 election. During that election YouTube didn't exist yet, and when misinformation was spread by a political campaign, the mainstream media wasn't focused enough to correct everything and keep on it. With the boom of the blogosphere, and its obsessive tendencies, every fact will be checked, and the bloggers will hold a politician responsible for every word they say.
Finally, she stated that fear mongering on the half of the John McCain campaign isn't working. Huffington believes that since September 11, national security will always be the top issue. The McCain campaign is banking on an appeal to the emotional side of people's psyche, but with America facing a tangible economic crisis, the appeal to the theoretical just isn't doing it.
Huffington then went on to elaborate that the most tragic thing about this election is what she sees as the downfall of McCain as a respectable politician. Huffington used to be friendly with the formerly moderate senator, even after her switch from a conservative to a liberal. She called his recent moves a Shakespearian tragedy because she believes he was a good man that fell, was taken in by the tight wing, and sold his soul to get to the White House.
Reaching the topic of Sarah Palin, she described her nomination as Vice President as a "hail Mary" pass that McCain gambled on and failed. Palin was able to revitalize the conservative base, but now many moderate conservatives are voting for Obama soley ecause they refuse to vote for Sarah Palin. Huffington speculated that Palin was supposed to be a magnet to draw women upset about Hillary Clinton's loss, but instead has a low approval rating from women voters. She advised McCain to just try and save his reputation and stop robocalls.
If Barack Obama is elected president, as Huffington predicts, she will remind people that government is not magic. He would be becoming president at one of the worst times in American history, amidst an economic crisis and two wars. She suggested Obama could transform his rabid fan base into an influential group akin to lobbyists. She also warned Obama not to appoint anyone from Wall Street to the Secretary of the Treasury.
When asked if it was unwise of Obama to pick Biden over Clinton as a vice presidential candidate, Huffington said she wouldn't mess with success. She continued that Clinton wouldn't have been a bad choice, but having Bill Clinton-- who hasn't dealt with his demons as well as Obama has-- on the campaign trail would have been a risk.