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Posted by on Oct 13, 2008 in At TMV | 15 comments

Will The Real John McCain Please Stand Up?


Is John McCain “walking it back” in his campaign’s attacks on Barack Obama? Will his remonstrations to the pitchfork brigade to chill-out continue? Do he and Sarah Palin disagree on tactics? Is he abandoning the low road? Is he trying to go out on a positive note? Which McCain will be on the stump from here on out? Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?

As far as turning around the most ethically challenged and ineptly run presidential campaign in recent memory is concerned, it hardly matters.

The only question will be the margin of Barack Obama’s victory. This I anticipate will be somewhere between the popular vote squeaker being predicted by some pundits and the Electoral College landslide being predicted by others as the race inevitably tightens in the home stretch and the racists whom the polls reliably miss crawl out of their caves and drag their knuckles to their local polling station. (A big Election Night story may well be how many conservative Republicans stayed home after being betrayed by George Bush and played for fools by McCain.)

The conventional wisdom over the weekend jelled around the comments of Republican anonymooses said to be close to the campaign who are whispering in reporters’ ears that McCain still has a fighting chance if he can get his message out, or at least , make his attacks more meaningful, and who in the end would rather suffer an honorable defeat, but that Palin has the taste of blood in her mouth and doesn’t want to let go of the tactics that have made her so popular at campaign rallies while her approval ratings tank nationally.

Under this scenario, McCain would go out a loser but a winner. Palin would go out a loser who dragged down the ticket but a winner because she can now look forward to a post-political career as a Fox News analyst. Or something.

Well, I’m not buying. For one thing, this scenario is too convenient and then some.

While I have written early and often about McCain’s serial befuddlement, he is a complex person who has an uncanny habit of having more than one position on the same issue. He’s also a lousy liar. It is quite possible that he will take both the high and low roads from here on out, but the problem is that while his campaign has had plenty of attack lines — the culture wars being a favorite — it never has had a message.

Palin, by contrast, is the quickest study that I have seen on the stump in the nine presidential elections that I have covered, and makes Dan Quayle seem deep by comparison. Sounding like she knew what she was talking about even on Fox would be a stretch for her.

For another thing, 2008 is unlike any other year since 1932 with the added bonus of not just meltdowns on Main Street and Wall Street, but two never-ending wars that were sucking chest wounds on the Treasury even before the frenzy of taxpayer-funded bailouts.

Bush has made such a hash of his presidency, the coup de grâce an implosion in the financial industry that in retrospect was inevitable, that it would have been difficult for even the most able Republican nominee (think Romney or Huckabee) to run for the party and against Bush and succeed.

How extraordinary it is — no, how profoundly extraordinary it is — that an African-American long-shot, a near unknown with a gruel-thin resume, is viewed as being more trustworthy by more voters than a war hero career politician who built his rep on being a maverick. Even Chance, the simpleton gardener in the movie Being There, could have given the addled septuagenarian a run for his money.

So, in the end it doesn’t really matter whether McCain channels Jekyll or Hyde in the next three weeks. Although it will be mildly interesting, and not a little sad, to watch him flip-flop into the sunset.

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Copyright 2008 The Moderate Voice
  • DLS

    Same photo, two threads, two, ahem, mindsets. [chuckle]

    McCain could always become Obama’s Secretary of Defense. [grin]

  • DLS

    Quick photo work, Shaun. heh

  • superdestroyer


    Why the obsession with the McCain campaign. I guess that comes from living in a one party state where the Republicans are irrelevant in local elections. HOwever, in the real story in 2008 will not be the loss of McCain when any rational person would realize that he is totally unfit to be President. The real story is how the Democrats will more than likely win 60 seats in the Senate. The predicitable failure of the McCain campaign is just going to make it easier.

    Maybe people should begin to speculate how Congress will operate when it is dominate by one party. My first guess is that there be fewer committee hearings and much more of the backroom dealing such as was seen in the Wall Street bailout package. Why will Democratic SEnators and Congressman want to take resposnbility whne responsibility can be avoided.

    A second trend is that Congress will become much more liberal while actually looking less liberal. Modarate acting SEnators can vote for closure on unpopular bills and then vote against the actual bill knowing that there are 50 safe Democratic seats that can support it. Close LIberal SEnators such as Jim Webb can appear to be moderate while helping to implement a very leftist agenda.

    The third point is whether the Democrats will keep fighting old battles to avoid taking on new problems. Will Congress spend its time on amnesty for illegal immigrants, a new Fairness Doctrine, new campaign finance reform in order to harm a Republican Party that will be irrelevant to politics.

    • timr

      SD, I think that the metric will be what happened when you had both a dem pres and a dem majority congress before. LBJ and Carter spring to mind. In both cases-I, being 58 yrs old, lived thru them-the congress did not go along with the prez like the rep congress and gwb got along together. There were(if I recall correctly) many hearings about all kinds of things-the kinds of things that the reps swept under the rug 2000-2006-and made quite sure that the home folks knew that they were doing the job that they were elected to do. I also remember that many times the congress and the prez were in contention, IOW the congress acted like a co equal branch of govt rather than the doormat we have seen since 2000. Neither LBJ or Carter would have gotten away with the stuff that gwb pulled on his rep congress. Now if the dems select new leaders, then we will have a new and better outcome. I do not believe that all the dems are-to use the new pejorative term “liberal”-simply because the reps have made “liberal” a dirty word. You have forgotten about the dem “blue dogs”. There are conservative dems in congress just as there are liberal dems in congress, so they offset each other and become centrist-which is what the country wants anyway. BTW, Jim Webb is just about as far from being a “leftist liberal” as Tom DeLay was from being a moderate rep. Jim Webb, in case you forgot served as a rep in the Regan admin. History, look at history. You make yourself look the fool when you just repeat rep talking points without actually checking to see if they are in fact factually true

  • kritt11

    SD- ALL politicians avoid taking responsibility for failure or wrongdoing, but never fail to be around when credit is being handed out!

    Its endemic to the nature of the breed.

  • kritt11

    It is possible the new Congress will be more liberal. But, the fears of the right about the leadership under Pelosi/Reid failed to materialize– partly because the majority was too small- but also because Democrats do not vote as a unit. Rahm Emmanuel recruited Democrats of all ideological stripes in ’06, and I think the pattern is continuing.

    If the GOP wants to survive- it should do the same instead of clinging to the same old mantras of cutting spending, tax cuts, smaller government etc. It hasn’t worked– and GOP legislators have shown us that they can spend with the best of them- they just believe in deficit spending instead of raising taxes.

  • kritt11

    I do agree with the part of your post that states that Palin is getting pumped up by using negative attacks at her rallies– she has not had to run a national campaign- so she is not used to having to appeal to a national audience.

    Palin seems not to understand that most Americans hardly care about Obama and Ayers– they want reassurance that their kids will still go to college or that they’ll be able to retire like their parents did.

  • superdestroyer


    Pelosi basically decided to wait until 2009, (correctly) believing that the Democratic majorities would grow. In the two years that Pelosi was speaker, he has failed to even pass budgets and the federal government is under continuing resolution until March 2009. Pelosi decided to push problems into the future and the netroots have been silent on the issues.

    Once the Democrats get 60 seats in the Senate, they will not have to wait. And with an Obama Adminstration acting as an enablers instead of a limiters, the Democrats will be trying to make up for 14 years of now being the one, dominate party.

    Bush believed that being a big spending, big conservative comparisonate conservative would help the Republican Party. Bush also believed that pandering to Hispanics would help the Republicans. Every attempt of the Repulbicans to become moderate has been meant with both political and policy failures. Why wold they continue that? Becoming me-too Democrats would be political suicide instead of waiting for the chronic problems of demographics to end the Republican Party.

  • kritt11

    Pelosi could not work with Republicans who continously filibustered, and a president who suddenly became a fiscal conservative after years of signing every pork-laden budget sent to him by the GOP-led Congress!

  • timr

    Shaun. Lets not as the saying goes put the cart before the horse. There are still 3 weeks to Nov 4. Much can happen in 3 weeks that could totally turn the race around. Counting on a victory, before the final vote is cast, is the best way in the world to LOSE. Keep your eye on the prize and keep your nose to the grindstone. The McCain campaign will not hesitate to call on voter rolls to be purged of new voters due to “fraud”. Be ever vigilant as the republicians will not hesitate to cry “voter fraud” and will use every dirty trick that exists to lower the ranks of voters because as they have said in the past, “the fewer the number of voters the better chance we have to win”. What do you think that the 93 AAGs have been working on doing. If only 7 got fired, that means that 86 were doing the bidding of the rove machine. Keep your eyes open for gutter tactics and outright voter intimidation esp in the so called “battle ground states”. I already voted, by absentee ballot, insure that you vote as early as possible and also help keep the voting places clean.

  • grizzlyfish

    Looks like McCain knows he’s doomed too.

    He tried to unwind recently by shooting hoops with some old friends:

    Senator John McCain took a few hours out of his busy campaign schedule to attend the annual basketball game that reunites “The Keating Five.”

    All four of the surviving five US senators who were implicated in the Savings and Loan Scandal of 1987 attended the match where they defeated the Georgetown University junior varsity team 21 to 16.

  • kritt11

    timr is correct- Carter’s biggest rival was Ted Kennedy and Johnson had a rough time with Southern Democrats over civil rights and the more liberal wing of his party who didn’t support everything he was doing in Viet Nam. The Democrats have never been as monolithic as the Pubs have been (since Gingrich’s infamous Contract.)Even in this session Pelosi faced opposition from the Blue Dogs almost as often as from the GOP.

  • superdestroyer


    The Democratic Party is more liberal than in the 1960’s. Remember when there used to be liberal Repulbicans. It was Nixon who imposed wage and price controls.

    Remember the studies about how the parties have become more rigid. Do you really think that some blue dog Democrat is going to give up the chance to be a chairman by defying Speaker Pelosi.

  • rudi

    SD Maybe you should go to the Blue dogs site and see where they stand. Look at the Blue Dog Dems vote on the first bailout.

  • kritt11

    SD the Blue Dogs have been defying Pelosi on war votes as well.

    Yes, I remember Nelson Rockefeller a liberal NY Republican. The Dems have become more liberal and the GOP more conservative, but the Dems still won’t rubber stamp Obama’s legislation the way the GOP rubberstamped Bush’s.

    The only major issues they did not support the WH on were the immigration bill and the bailout. By that time, Bush was a weak lame duck, and his neck was not on the line for ’08. The GOP did not want him to bring the party down with him. But, imo its far too little too late– they needed to be more independent-minded in ’01-’06.

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