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Posted by on Aug 9, 2008 in Politics | 15 comments

WSJ Market Watch Lists Reasons Why McCain Would Make a Mediocre President

The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch points out that the McCain meme “Is he ready to lead?” begs the question whether McCain is. Rex Nuttimg lists several reasons McCain would be a mediocre president. The quoted material which follows is all extracted from the Nutting piece, which provides quite the brutal reframing of McCain’s career. As Ron Beasley says at Newshoggers, it’s a sort of nutshell version of McCain. I’ve extracted the morsels that most interested me. Nutting’s conclusion:

His major accomplishment, in Vietnam and in the Senate, has been merely to survive…Just surviving doesn’t make you’re a hero, or a decent president. America needs to do more than survive the next four years.(MW)

His major accomplishment, in Vietnam and in the Senate, has been merely to survive…Just surviving doesn’t make you’re a hero, or a decent president. America needs to do more than survive the next four years.(MW)

Mark Kleiman points out that this isn’t quite fair. “[Nutting] neglects McCain’s really heroic work with John Kerry in bringing about reconciliation with Vietnam (taking on the powerful POW/MIA racket in the process).” I definitely agree with this—it’s one of the reasons I used to think I might be able to stomach a McCain presidency.

Nutting charges that McCain has accomplished comparatively little in the Senate given the length of his tenure—and the reason you don’t hear about the things he did accomplish is that those accomplishments angered Republicans. (Of course, those unmentionable accomplishments/endeavors are exactly the reasons I sort of liked him.)
There’s also the matter of missed votes.

Every senator who runs for president misses votes back in Washington, so it’s no surprise that McCain and all the others who ran in the primaries have missed a lot of votes in the past year. But between the beginning of 2005 and mid-2007, no senator missed more roll-call votes than McCain did, except Tim Johnson, who was recovering from a near-fatal brain aneurysm.(MW)

The reason I used to think I could deal with a McCain presidency if I had to is that McCain used to seem rather a moderate Republican. Nutting criticizes McCain’s lack of any firm principle, including his changed stance on virtually every issue.(MW) As I commented elsewhere, he hasn’t just modified his positions; he’s changed his entire posture. Steve Benen lists reversals here and Bill W. has a concise summary here.

Arguing that McCain is shallow (or is running a shallow campaign), Nutting writes:

McCain has not articulated any lofty goals. So far, his campaign theme has mostly been “McCain: He’s None of the Above.”

In the primaries, he campaigned on “I’m not that robotic businessman, I’m not that sanctimonious hick, I’m not that crazy libertarian, I’m not that washed-up actor, I’m not that delusional 9/11 guy.” In the general election, he’s emphasized that he’s not that treasonous dreamer. (MW)

It’s true: there’s no real theme to his campaign. I thought—since moderates clearly selected him—he’d play to moderates, but so far the message (never clearly articulated) implied is that he intends to do what Bush did, only more so.

Nutting points out that even during McCain’s “maverick days” (which I personally lament), he’s simply not had the “leadership” to bring “more than a handful of Republicans along with him on issues such as campaign finance reform or immigration.”(MW) And Democrats have worked with him without ever “warming to him.”(MW)

Nutting also takes a hit at his much-touted military accomplishments:

[Despite poor performance at Annapolis], he was commissioned as a pilot, where he performed poorly, crashing three planes before he failed to evade a North Vietnamese missile that destroyed his plane. McCain spent more than five years in a prison camp. (MW)

Furthermore, Nutting charges that McCain didn’t actually learn the lessons of Vietnam:

McCain is fighting an imaginary Vietnam War, where a sure victory could have been achieved with just a little more bombing, just a little more “pacification,” just a little more will to win at home. This fantasy clouds McCain’s judgment on foreign policy. Most of the other high-profile politicians who fought in Vietnam — Colin Powell, Chuck Hagel, John Kerry, and Jim Webb — aren’t stuck in the past, and they don’t view the Iraq War as a chance to get Vietnam right.(MW)

As Bob Fertik says, it’s kind of “the ultimate McCain smackdown.”

Ron Beasley comments:

Remind me again – who isn’t fit to lead? A reporter working for Rupert Murdoch has come up with a better campaign ad than anyone in the Democratic Party. (emphasis added)

Kleiman says, “I think Nutting sees McCain more clearly than the worshippers on McCain’s press plane.”

Amen to that.

Nobody, including Nutting, ever mentions Keating 5. Why? I’ll mention it now: Keating 5. Why should it be off limits? It was a real, honest-to-God scandal and something that happened. Even if he redeemed himself (as some say), still: Keating 5. I know lots of people who haven’t forgotten it, starting with my mom, who—though she’s always voted Republican—says she can’t bring herself to vote for either candidate.

CROSS-POSTED AT BUCK NAKED POLITICS (slightly different form)

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  • Loviatar


    Oh my God that was beautiful, succinct and highlighting every so called MCCain strength for what it is, pandering survival at its best.

    As with you, I would have liked to see the Keating 5 mentioned and more made of his affair and abandonment of his first wife (seeing as how the Edward’s story is the story du jour and must be mentioned at all times).

    Are you sure that was written in the WSJ? :>)

  • superdestroyer

    McCAin is too stupid to realize that open borders and unlimited immigraiton make conservative politics and politicians irrelevant in the U.S. He has on many occassions refused to face reality because it contrdicted his person beliefs.

    McCAin is unfit to the the president. He has no ability to see the impacts of his actions, no apparent leadership skills, and no ability to manage.

  • Neocon

    So that begs the question. If McCain has done nothing then what has Obama done??

  • MichaelGS

    I think the general assesment about McCain and survival is true. He sees a man (himself), an institution (the military), a movement (Conervatism), and a nation (the US) on the brink of extinction as he knows it. He is the guy “athwart history” as Buckley put it; a conservative’s conservative. Through all those years, he never actually got off that cot in Hanoi.

  • I’m sorry but McCain is being shoved down our throats and many are trying to do something about it. just visit 2 sites out of many:


    Our irreverent comments on the issue are second to few if any.

  • Jim_Satterfield

    And don’t forget the constant refrain from McCain of “I know how to win a war!”. Umm…could we see some proof of that? Especially since I just saw the 24th showing of a McCain attack ad during today’s Olympic broadcast?

    • How many planes did McCain “crash” lol… see:


      InService, Vets, Families & Friends working to see his defeat. period. We need to unite around a neutral from established candidate – put him in office and
      turn the same/same demo/repub apple cart over. We no longer have a voice with them, it’s only an illusion.

  • Piece written by:: Gerald ‘Beak’ Atkinson, CDR USN (Ret.)

    John McCain ‘Sang Like a Canary’ to the North Vietnamese©
    Material Supplied by Colonel Ted Guy
    John McCain’s SRO at the Plantation
    Dedicated to the Memory of Ted Guy
    15 April 2008
    Within the first four days of his capture, while in his initial interrogation (26-30 October 1967) at the Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi, and while recovering from his shootdown wounds in the North Vietnamese military hospital (31 October 1967 through mid-December 1967), John McCain provided military information far beyond that which the Code of Conduct – and that which other POWs, while undergoing extreme torture – refused to divulge to the enemy. Colonel Ted Guy, McCain’s Senior Ranking Officer (SRO) while they were both imprisoned at the Plantation prison complex in Hanoi, gathered information from various sources after the POWs were released in March 1973.

  • Check out these movies.. pay attention to where he assaults a PoW/MIA family member..

    There are many movies there – but be assured not all that should be that give a brief microscopic view of McCain.

  • “As with you, I would have liked to see the Keating 5 mentioned and more made of his affair and abandonment of his first wife (seeing as how the Edward’s story is the story du jour and must be mentioned at all times).”

    Ain’t that the truth…

  • PacificGatePost


    The world has shrunk in the past twenty years, and new doors will open for democracy.

  • StockBoySF

    Jim S- about McCain knowing how to win a war… yeah, I agree with you- it’s a bunch of baloney. He got us into Iraq, which just shows us he knows how to START a war. The last thing I want is a president who has experience starting wars but unable to win them within a reasonable time frame- I mean Iraq has gone on longer than WWII. Nor does McCain have any plan, even a withdrawal plan, on Iraq.

  • rudi

    So that begs the question. If McCain has done nothing then what has Obama done??

    Obama didn’t need his family legacy to be a poor student. Obama stayed with his first(only) wife, didn’t marry for money or political power. Obama’s resume , while short is very impressive, while McClown is just a mediocre son of admirals. Obama could be the next Lincoln or Carter, but he’s earned everything on his own, not because his daddy’s connection set him up to fail in multiple buissiness ventures.

  • Obama lied to all about his birth certificate.. and heritage. We will be posting a copy of that certificate online at some point.

    Obama’s name till he changed his (Sir Name) SOETERO…

    you will hear more about all this in the news as election fever spreads..

    also note:

    Barack and Michelle Obama’s voters registration. Are the records wrong that
    shows the last time they voted was 1998? Ask Chicago Board of Elections Chairman Langdon D. Neal at 312-641-7144 or [email protected]

    • StockBoySF

      Ok, I bite… so why do you feel that Obama lied about his birth certificate and his heritage? And I don’t know what Soetero has to do with it…. His mother married Soetero after Obama’s father left them.

      As far as Obama not voting since 1998… I really find that hard to believe… he’s in public office and neither he nor his wife don’t even bother to vote for him?

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