Convention zingers!

I thoroughly enjoyed watching successive Democrats take a whack at John McCain at the Democratic convention.

There’s a double standard at work in the campaign that’s hard to take. It seems that it’s OK to criticize Obama, but it’s not OK to criticize McCain.

The media are soft on McCain because of his (genuinely heroic) history as a tortured prisoner of war in Vietnam. Meanwhile, McCain is engaging in ad hominem slurs on Obama that have nothing to do with competing policies.

But McCain’s POW past is not a reason to exempt him from criticism:  not when he is running to be the President of the United States of America. For the past eight years, America’s President and Vice President have been unaccountable to the American people. In this change election, that’s one of the things that must change.

So I richly enjoyed watching the Democrats hold McCain’s feet to the fire. Here are some of the highlights.

Brian Schweitzer (Tue. evening):

John McCain has taken more than a million dollars in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry. Now he wants to give the oil companies another 4 billion dollars in tax breaks.

Four billion in tax breaks for big oil? That’s a lot of change, but it’s not the change we need. …

We simply can’t drill our way to energy independence, even if you drilled in all of John McCain’s backyards, including the ones he can’t even remember. That single-answer proposition is a dry well.

Hillary Clinton (Tue. evening):

We don’t need four more years — of the last eight years. …

It makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities. Because these days they’re awfully hard to tell apart.

Bill Clinton (Wed. evening):

The choice is clear. … [John McCain] still embraces the extreme philosophy which has defined his party for more than 25 years, a philosophy we never had a real chance to see in action until 2001, when the Republicans finally gained control of both the White House and Congress. Then we saw what would happen to America if the policies they had talked about for decades were implemented.

They took us from record surpluses to an exploding national debt; from over 22 million new jobs down to 5 million; from an increase in working family incomes of $7,500 to a decline of more than $2,000; from almost 8 million Americans moving out of poverty to more than 5 and a half million falling into poverty — and millions more losing their health insurance.

Now, in spite of all the evidence, their candidate is promising more of the same. …

They actually want us to reward them for the last eight years by giving them four more. Let’s send them a message that will echo from the Rockies all across America: Thanks, but no thanks. In this case, the third time is not the charm.

John Kerry (Wed. evening):

To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician, I say, let’s compare Senator McCain to candidate McCain.

Candidate McCain now supports the wartime tax cuts that Senator McCain once denounced as immoral. Candidate McCain criticizes Senator McCain’s own climate change bill. Candidate McCain says he would now vote against the immigration bill that Senator McCain wrote. Are you kidding? Talk about being for it before you’re against it.

Let me tell you, before he ever debates Barack Obama, John McCain should finish the debate with himself.

Joe Biden (Wed. evening):

Despite being complicit in [the Bush Administration’s] catastrophic foreign policy, John McCain says Barack Obama isn’t ready to protect our national security. Now, let me ask you:  whose judgment should we trust?

Should we trust John McCain’s judgment when he said only three years ago, “Afghanistan — we don’t read about it anymore because it’s succeeded”? Or should we trust Barack Obama, who more than a year ago called for sending two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan?

The fact is, al-Qaida and the Taliban — the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 — have regrouped in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and are plotting new attacks. And the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff echoed Barack’s call for more troops.

John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.

Should we trust John McCain’s judgment when he rejected talking with Iran and then asked: What is there to talk about? Or Barack Obama, who said we must talk and make it clear to Iran that its conduct must change.

Now, after seven years of denial, even the Bush administration recognizes that we should talk to Iran, because that’s the best way to advance our security.

Again, John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.

Should we trust John McCain’s judgment when he says there can be no timelines to draw down our troops from Iraq — that we must stay indefinitely? Or should we listen to Barack Obama, who says shift responsibility to the Iraqis and set a time to bring our combat troops home?

Now, after six long years, the Bush administration and the Iraqi government are on the verge of setting a date to bring our troops home. …

Again and again, on the most important national security issues of our time, John McCain was wrong, and Barack Obama was proven right.

Bill Richardson (Thu. evening):

Let’s be honest America:  John McCain may pay hundreds of dollars for his shoes, but we’re the ones who pay for his flip-flops.

Al Gore (Thu. evening):

John McCain, a man who has earned our respect on many levels, is now openly endorsing the policies of the Bush-Cheney White House and promising to actually continue them. The same policies all over again?

Hey, I believe in recycling, but that’s ridiculous. …

The carbon fuels industry — big oil and coal — have a 50-year lease on the Republican Party and they are drilling it for everything it’s worth.

Barack Obama (Thu. evening):

Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a ten percent chance on change. …

Washington’s been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. In that time, he’s said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office. …

John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell — but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives. …

The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America — they have served the United States of America.

So I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first. …

If you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

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