Monday, October 06, 2008

John McCain, Without Honor

"Overheated rhetoric and personal attacks on our opponents distract from the big differences between John McCain's vision for the future of our nation and the Democrats'." – McCain campaign manager Rick Davis, 3/11/08

"Let us exercise our responsibilities as free people. But let us remember we are not enemies." – John McCain, 4/5/08

It has been months since John McCain has honored his now-laughable promise to run a "respectful campaign". Since the time he started running ads mocking Obama’s popularity, McCain has been willing to let his campaign do whatever his Rovian henchmen thought was necessary to save his doomed electoral fate.

From the wildly irresponsible selection of Sarah Palin as the heartbeat-away running mate for the melanoma-damaged 72 year-old to the wacky attempt to duck the first debate, McCain’s hired guns have been throwing Hail Marys since they attained the Republican nomination by default in April. They’ve known since the beginning that their goose was cooked under the intense flames of the Bush disasters and their own candidate’s severe rhetorical and personal limitations.

Now, wilting under the perfect storm of near economic catastrophe, the McCain campaign is reduced to throwing bombs about Obama’s thin association with William Ayers in one last attempt to win through Fear. But the flop-sweat dripping through McCain’s thick and expensive make-up tells the tale of desperation. And, now that Americans are increasingly settling on Obama and becoming comfortable with the entirely safe, nice, competent guy that he is, who is McCain to tell them they are wrong, at this late date?

Leading the Charge of the Light-Headed Brigade in this war of words is, appropriately, Sarah Palin; she of the winks, the smirks and the unresponsive answers to easy questions. Palin was rated a survivor of last week’s debate (as opposed to the winner, who all surveys said was Joe Biden) by simply showing up and not tripping over her tongue. The giant team that hunkered her down for a week at one of Cindy McCain’s palatial estates had the perfect plan for the clueless Palin that could only have come from a campaign with the requisite contempt for democracy generally and the debate program specifically.

They cleverly decided that she would ignore all direct questions and just recite the greatest hits from her convention speech or whatever other tripe they had drilled into her empty head. As Jon Stewart put it tonight: "It’s not what you want to know; it’s what I want to say." The former teleprompter-reading sportscaster came through like a pro, trotting out her phony folkyisms and spewing nonsense with a cringe-inducing perkiness that gave attractive professional women a bad name. She was rewarded with a pass by the too-easy-to-please national press corps who failed to call her on her machinations, happy to proclaim her rehabilitated, if no more qualified.

So, it’s the newly-rejuvenated SAY-rah who comes bounding back out on the trail this week, talking about Obama’s "dangerous" past association with "domestic terrorist" Bill Ayers and darkly ruminating with forever-wrong greed-head Bill Kristol (who, as the former chief of staff to national embarrassment Dan Quayle, should know a thing or two about bad VP choices) about how the specter of Jeremiah Wright should be "discussed more". "I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring that up," she said, bringing it up, while McCain’s aides, according to Kristol, audibly shushed her in the background.

Well, we knew this was coming, didn’t we? Not necessarily from the grating nasal voice of who-is-she-to-talk-about-anything Palin, but the desperation of the smear was always in the McCainiac arsenal, even if they are replaying crap from the spring. I always thought the GOP was making a mistake when they sicced their radio and other clowns on the Wright and Ayers "stories" as soon as it became clear that Obama had passed Clinton for the nomination. They shot their "best" shots trying to define Obama negatively, after talking him up when they thought Clinton was inevitable. If I were the type of devious, democracy-hating people they are, I would have kept those loony "stories" in my back pocket for just such a time as this – thus to spring an October surprise. Now, there is no surprise; people have made up their minds knowing full well about the Wright and Ayers distraction, and they are voting for Obama anyway.

The Republicans thought they had it all figured out, and they had the MSM commentariat playing along – this election would be a referendum on Obama. But then, some funny things happened. First, they created the Sarah Palin circus – now there was someone else to look at and wonder if she was qualified – it turned out to be a much better question (and easier to answer in the negative). Then McCain stepped forward, making a complete ass of himself in the middle of the bailout fiasco, proclaiming himself essential to the process, trying to back out of the first debate (then caving before anything was settled), saying nothing at the incendiary White House meeting where Obama took the Democratic lead, not even speaking from the Senate floor before the final vote was taken. At the first debate, he was surly, condescending and cowardly, refusing to face Obama or his own failures. For the past two weeks, John MCain has looked like a desperate fool.

Now, the election is a referendum on McCain. And Americans don’t like what they see. They compare McCain’s erratic flailing to Obama’s cool under pressure. They hear the echoes of McCain’s promise to run a "respectful campaign" as he wallows in the mud like a pig. They wonder what happened to that guy they liked from late-night talk shows, who was so funny and so honorable from his noble service and long sacrifice back in Vietnam. They can’t believe he has given all that up for a fading chance at a White House that, in the end, he never had the talent or the temperament for.

Increasingly, Americans look at McCain and ask: "Why?" Increasingly, they look at Obama and say: "Why not?"


Anonymous said...

So Obama is running a respectable campaign? I suppose in your world, Mike, you believe that.

The media liked McCain and made him look good when McCain was busy being a huge thorn in the side of Bush and the GOP, the MSM ate that stuff up...but now he's their target since they have so much invested in an Obama victory (including Gwen Ifill).

Anonymous said...

Only 1 manic anonymous comment in 2 days? I guess even the trolls are jumping off the McCain ship.


Anonymous said...

Cool under pressure? When has Obama ever been under pressure? Why can't anyone name a stance Obama has taken that was contrary to his political future?

Name one time.....

Anonymous said...

I don't really know what you mean by "contrary to his political future" but his FISA vote should pissed off a lot of his base.

Does that suffice for you?


Mike Plaisted said...

When has Obama ever been under pressure? How about the last two debates, pressure under which McCain was almost cracking? How about during the recent bailout crisis, where he was cool, collected and thoughtful and McCain was verbally silent and politically was off his rocker?

And why is it important that he take stances "contrary to his political future"? McCain was off the tightly disciplined party line during the Bush years once in awhile, but not much and always because Bush was so wrong. Why should Obama take stances different from his party just for the sake of being different? Maybe his party is right about health care, about the war, about making sure the tax system stays progressive, about the environment. Why would he go contrary to any of that? What if him toeing his party's line (and, after he wins, it will be his party, after all) means he is right more often than not. What's wrong with that?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the Dems are always right. Figured you'd say that Mike, but I wonder what he would do if they were wrong--assuming such a thing were possible. As for the debate: I thought McCain was such a loser that he could barely stay awake, so where is the great pressure?

The reason I ask the question is that it would demonstrate leadership. Going along with your party is easy.

Of course, I suppose there is a lot of pressure on someone interviewing fof a job they are completely unqualified to hold--I get the point there.

Anonymous said...

The FISA vote came during the primary elections--if I remember correctly. He voted the way Hillary did. Where's the risk in that. To liberals who aren't interested in doing more than opposing Bush it was a wash.

Anonymous said...

The FISA vote took place on July 9th, after he had already secured the nomination (the last primaries were June 3rd) and it pissed a lot of the Dem base off. Visit any Liberal blog at the time and they were furious at him. Hell, google "Obama FISA Vote" and read for yourself.

And it wasn't just a matter of doing what Hillary did because he announced his support for it days before it came up in the Senate and before Hillary had said anything. He stuck his neck out and went against the base of a then-divided party. If that's not "contrary to his political future," then I don't know what is.


Anonymous said...

Oh, and I forgot to add, that Hillary actually voted against it.


Anonymous said...

I'd venture a guess and say that 95% of the voting public has no idea what FISA is.

Again, show me a a traditionally conservative stance that Obama has embraced or championed. As far as I can see, he's only taken the stance of his party and never stood up to party leadership.

Debate pressure? Really? Every headline I read prior to the debate was that this was McCain's "last chance" or "last stand" to prove himself or save his campaign. No mention of Obama at all. Heck, Obama could have said that he was friends with an unapologetic terrorist and he would have survived...oh wait.

Anonymous said...

1. When did the public's familiarity with the issue become part of the criteria?

2. The FISA bill was huge news at the time, so I reject your "95%" claim.

You, or the other guy, asked for an instance of when Obama took a stance contrary to his political future. FISA is exactly that.

You guys can try and twist what happened or make up some new set of conditions for why it doesn't count, but it doesn't change the fact that his FISA vote was a very public and clear break from his base.

You asked a question and got an answer. Deal with it.


Anonymous said...

No Evan, you deal with the fact that FISA is nowhere on the public's radar in this election. I haven't heard it yet in any speech or debate.

Tell you make you happy, let's just pretend like FISA is some hard-line conservative-republican stance where he bucked a vast majority of the democrat majority. FISA is all he has on his resume??? McCain, unfortunately, has a long list of his bi-partisanship while pissing off the rank-and-file republicans including and especially GWB.

Anonymous said...

Let me repeat Point #1 from above:

"1. When did the public's familiarity with the issue become part of the criteria?"

I was asked for 1 example of Obama taking stance "contrary to his political future" and FISA is just that. Now you say it doesn't count because you think it's too obscure. Sorry. I think warrantless wiretaps are a pretty big deal.

As for that being the only thing on his resume, I was never making the point that Obama has a long history of bucking his party. I was asked for 1 example and gave 1 example. That's all. You want to say McCain has pissed off his party more than Obama has, go right ahead. I don't really care. I fail to see how that's a qualification for the Presidency.

I'm more than satisfied with Obama's bi-partisan history (work with Lugar, Coburn, Hagel, etc...). You think it's insufficient? Okay, don't vote for him.


Anonymous said...

That's the thing Evan, Obama has no bi-partisan history yet he's trying to run like a centrist when the truth is that he's the furthest thing from it.