The Real McCain

Andrew Sullivan dishes on the Republican Candidate’s true nature:

Mickey, of course, is obsessed with immigration and believes that McCain would actually support a Bush-style immigration law were he to win next week. Really? Really? You see: what I’ve learned from watching McCain these past two months is that there’s nothing he wouldn’t do if it could get him a small bump in a news cycle, polarize the electorate, and appeal to a rabid base that is now his only source of power.

In my view, McCain would clearly be prepared to veto such a bill if it helped bring his party base behind him. He would also have a veep who is running from Day One to succeed him and eager to play the most revanchist elements in her base against her boss.


As for McCain, we have seen how he deals with what were once his principles. Balancing the budget? He caved to Bush’s tax cuts and proposes to increase the deficit more than a liberal Democrat in his first term. Torture? He agreed to the 2006 Military Commissions Act, thereby legalizing the very torture techniques that were once used against him. Climate change? He picked a veep who doesn’t believe it’s man-made. When people talk about this man’s honor, they need to grapple with these facts. If McCain is prepared to authorize the torture of other human beings, to do to others what was once done to him in order to help Karl Rove’s 2006 election strategy, there is nothing deep down inside him but a desire for power, no line he won’t cross.

This is the real reason I could never vote for McCain based on his “pro-life” stance, despite the Conservative assertion that Christians should. I would find it very difficult to elect someone who has as voted so clearly in favour of abortion without restriction as Obama has. But I would find it even harder to vote for someone whose stance on abortion is based purely on political aspirations.

Palin I trust when it comes to the pro-life issue. But of course, she’s proven that she’s willing to go even further than McCain regarding political backstabs. Still, considering my assertion that a foetus is a human being, I also believe that thousands of deaths a week would constitute a huge crime toll. If it weren’t for the fact that I believe laws aren’t sufficient to stop abortion from occurring, I would be a lot more conflicted over a battle between Palin and Obama. At least it’s relatively certain she would attempt something to reduce the abortion count.

As it is, McCain, not Palin, is the one who concerns me when it comes to an issue which is a lot more than political, if one accepts the conservative Christian perspective. If we’re really worried about millions of lives being lost, why do so many Christians back someone who has only made this a key issue relatively recently, once it became clear that he needed to win key votes back in the Evangelical base?

An Obama-Biden ticket is superior in many ways to the Republican pair. Conservatives would attempt to make this into a one-issue vote. But if McCain can’t be relied upon for anything else, I’m not convinced we should be making abortion the key talking point… because that’s all it is: Talk.

Prime time Obama

The blogosphere isn’t showing much interest in Obama’s thirty-minute, prime time commercial. For example, Andrew Sullivan hasn’t reviewed it. And Talking Points Memo mocks it as a way to spend all the money the campaign has raised, before the election is over.

Obama’s supporters are now holding their breath, wanting this thing to be over. Obama is ahead in the polls:  he doesn’t need to change the dynamic of this campaign. He took a risk running the commercial:  what if he misstepped, and gave John McCain an opening to turn his campaign around at the eleventh hour?

Publius worried about it all day yesterday … and so did I.

But then I actually watched the commercial. Like Publius, I thought it was pitch-perfect.

I think it will play to its intended audience:  voters. Obama doesn’t care what the talking heads think of it. Not even the Talking Points Memo heads.

The ad responded, indirectly, to McCain’s attack ads and ubiquitous robocalls. For example, the opening sequence was movingly patriotic, from a candidate who has been accused of palling around with domestic terrorists. And Obama responded to McCain’s “socialist” charge when he explained how he will use the presidency to address the economic crisis. He said (I paraphrase from memory), “These measures won’t grow the size of government” — i.e., “I’m not a socialist.” But, as Obama explained, those measures will help small businesses, for example, to create jobs.

Obama sidestepped the “celebrity” tag by making the commercial about everyday Americans. Over and over again, we heard true life stories:  e.g. of a retiree whose pension is less than half of what he expected; and of a 72-year-old man who has come out of retirement to work at Walmart, in order to cover his wife’s health care expenses.

Moreover, the ad presents the Obama campaign in a favourable light, by comparison to the McCain campaign. Senator McCain was on Larry King Live last night, performing his usual schtick:  “If Mr. Obama had agreed to a series of town hall meetings, the tone of this campaign would be very different.” In other words, it’s Obama’s fault that McCain has steered his campaign into the gutter.

Meanwhile, Obama was reminding voters, six days before the election, that he’s all about the issues. Education, health care, the mortgage crisis, lost jobs. And his original message of bi-partisan cooperation:  “We must all work together to solve the problems Americans care about” (again, a loose paraphrase from memory).

In my view, the ad was another noteable success in a campaign that has been nearly flawless. If Obama governs half as well as he campaigns, Americans are going to experience a remarkable turn around in the next four years.

Bitin’ the hand that feeds ya

As Benjamin pointed out a couple of days ago, Sarah Palin now seems to be running a campaign against John McCain.

It turns out that this is a pattern with Palin. Jake Tapper summarizes the shameful history at Political Punch.

Sarah PalinOf particular note, Palin became a mayor after turning against the incumbent mayor of Wasilla, who had mentored her. She didn’t just run against the mayor, she smeared him with some very ugly, personal attacks.

Then Palin became a governor after turning against the incumbent governor of Alaska, Frank Murkowski — a fellow Republican. The following facts are clear:  (a) Governor Murkowski didn’t appoint Palin to the Senate as she wanted; (b) on the other hand, he give her a prestigious job as chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission; (c) but in due course, she ran against Murkowski and defeated him to become governor.

Now she’s running on a presidential ticket, and she appears to be turning against McCain. Tapper lists several other associates that Palin used and then betrayed in her rise to the top.

It’s quite a record.

I suppose men are sometimes admired for a similar display of ruthless ambition. For the record, that isn’t a quality I admire in anyone, male or female.

The party of poorer voters

Fifty-nine percent of registered voters think McCain’s economics would favor the wealthy. That’s the finding of a CBS/New York Times poll conducted October 19-22.

(poll of registered voters)
Obama McCain
Rich 8% 59%
Middle class 38% 11%
Poor 22% 3%
Treat all same 24% 21%

Nate Silver thinks this poll is the key to understanding Barack Obama’s lead in the polls.

I’m gratified to see that Obama has won this argument so decisively. It makes no sense that middle class and poorer voters consistently support right-wing political parties.

I know, it’s because right-wing parties are socially conservative as well as fiscally conservative. Pro-religion, pro-life, tough on crime:  basically, enforce morals with an iron fist.

Somehow “morals” don’t include a redistribution of wealth of the sort advocated in the Bible. I’m thinking, in particular, of 2 Corinthians 8:9-15, where St. Paul encourages Christians in Corinth to take up a collection for the relief of Christians in Judea:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. …

For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.” [here quoting from the Hebrew scriptures, Exodus 16:18]

Left-wing tax policies conform to St. Paul’s moral framework, by setting out to level the economic playing field.

Right-wing tax policies favour the wealthy. More precisely, right wing economic policies favour the status quo:  they are designed to keep the rich, rich (or even increase their wealth) while keeping the poor, poor.

Wealthy people can afford the best houses, the best schools for their children, the best health care, etc., and still have plenty of disposable income left over. Lower middle class voters can barely make their mortgage payments. And (in the USA) a serious health crisis will drive them into bankruptcy.

But in election after election, those who are economically disadvantaged harm themselves by voting for right-wing candidates.

So yes, I’m gratified to see that Obama has gotten the message across. In Nate Silver’s words,

It is not as though Obama was Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney — someone who was seen coming into this crisis as an economic savant. But the basic message that a robust middle class is the foundation of economic growth is exactly the right one in troubled times like these, and Obama has delivered it with discipline and grace.

The Democrats ought to be the party of poorer voters. And in this election, they are.

The Final Straw?

Not only is McCain’s decision to choose Palin losing him support, as was noted by my Dad two days ago, but a new monster has begun rearing its head. This time, it may very well be the end of the Republican chances… if that tipping point hadn’t already been reached.

When choosing Palin as a running mate, McCain surely had heard good reports about the ambitious young Alaskan governor. What he surely didn’t anticipate was that she would be this ambitious:

“These people are going to try and shred her after the campaign to divert blame from themselves,” a campaign insider told the website Politico on Saturday.

To counter that possibility, she is presenting herself to the public with an eye to her own long-term political career and a possible presidential bid in four years.


And on Saturday, Politico’s Ben Smith wrote of an emerging “Palin insurgency,” quoting four unnamed Republican insiders who said Ms. Palin blames McCain handlers for her negative image and has “gone rogue.”

“Recently, she’s gone from relying on McCain advisers who were assigned to her to relying on her own instincts,” one said.

Yes, that’s right: in what is surely a first, the Republican vice presidential nominee is running against the presidential nominee!

The only thing that would make this situation more comical is if she decided to literally push for her name to be on the ballot instead of McCain’s! As it is, Palin is now attempting to slaughter her running mate in order to build up her chances of winning down the road. Rather than accidentally destroying the Republican bid, she’s actively doing it!

And who could object to her chances of winning? With a record like this:

She publicly disagreed with the campaign’s decision to pull its resources out of Michigan, and defended her ongoing allusions to Mr. Obama’s tenuous connection with former Weatherman member William Ayers, even after Mr. McCain said he does not care about “washed-up old terrorists.”

She has described the Republican Party’s automated calls robocalls to voters as irritating and outdated, although the campaign has defended their use; and she has disagreed with the decision not to raise the issue of Mr. Obama’s controversial pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

it’s clear that she’s ready for the big-times!

So if you’re ready for Palin to out-tough McCain, out-folksy Bush, and dog-gonnit, take this entire show into her hands, be sure to show your support for a Palin-Palin ticket in 2012!

Fatal decisions

John McCain has made a lot of mistakes during this election campaign, including some poor policy decisions:

The notion that a capital gains tax cut would be persuasive to middle class families was naive.

But two of McCain’s decisions, above all others, have sunk his battleship.

One was the rash decision — on the day of the first presidential debate — to “suspend” the campaign in order to fix the economic crisis.

Obama instinctively understood that McCain was raising expectations he couldn’t deliver on. Candidates for president don’t have that kind of clout. Joe Klein captures the moment:

When he was told about McCain’s maneuvers, Obama’s first reaction — according to an aide — was, “You gotta be kidding. I’m going to debate. A President has to be able to do more than one thing at a time.”

But there was a storm brewing among Obama’s supporters in Congress and the Beltway establishment. “My BlackBerry was exploding,” said an Obama aide. “They were saying we had to suspend. McCain was going to look more like a statesman, above the fray.”

“I didn’t believe it,” Obama told me. “I have to tell you, one of the benefits of running this 22-month gauntlet is that … you start realizing that what seems important or clever or in need of some dramatic moment a lot of times just needs reflection and care. And I think that was an example of where my style at least worked.”

Obama realized that he and McCain could be little more than creative bystanders — and one prominent Republican told me that McCain was “the least creative person in the room at the President’s White House meeting. He simply had no ideas. He didn’t even have any good questions.” Obama had questions for the Treasury Secretary and the Fed chairman, but he was under no illusions:  he didn’t have the power to influence the final outcome, so it was best to stay calm and not oversell his role.

Klein sums it up:  “It was Obama’s gut steadiness that won the public’s trust, and quite possibly the election.”

But there was one other equally fateful decision:  McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Newspaper endorsements have favoured Obama over McCain 134-52. Over and over again, those endorsements have cited the Palin nomination as a key factor in their decision. For example, here’s the Chicago Tribune:

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