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Posted by on Aug 12, 2008 in Politics | 21 comments

Yes, I’m a Fence Sitter

It’s official. Andrew Sullivan is no longer just an Obama supporter, he’s now a McCain detractor, dinging the Senator from Arizona in three posts in three hours and fifteen minutes yesterday, here, here, and here.

I’m not entirely surprised. For some time now, Sullivan has been dropping hints (subtle and not so) that he was headed in this direction. Hell, for all I know, he already outright acknowledged the shift, somewhere in the recent past, and I missed the confession.

Nor can I blame him. My support for McCain has been waffling of late, too, and for many of the same reasons. In fact, I’m probably at the point where a vote for McCain would be less about either McCain or Obama, and more about checking a Democratic-controlled Congress. I saw what happened during six-years of total R control of both Chambers and the White House. Face it: Power concentrated is power corrupted.

Net: For this writer, the presidential decision remains as variable and statistically close as the national polls suggest it is for millions of other Americans. In fact, the chances are quite good that I’ll waffle my way all the way up to the voting booth on November 4.

Living with such indecision is, at once, unfamiliar and uncomfortable — and I would pay dearly for the clarity of vision certain TMV readers and authors have achieved.

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  • Gichin13

    I had assumed he was pro-Obama for some time. He has been generally complimentary of Obama’s foreign policy and dipolomacy approach, although understandably concerned regarding the budget side of things. He definitely stated that clearly yesterday though.

    He has also been just ripping into McCain since he got back from vacation on the negative ads and spin, parallels to Rove, et c.

  • I would say the turning point for Sullivan was when McCain said this:

    This is a clear choice that the American people have. I had the courage and the judgment to say I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.

    That’s when Sullivan realized that McCain’s promise of a respectful, issue-oriented campaign was simply a lie.

  • CStanley

    I’m probably at the point where a vote for McCain would be less about either McCain or Obama, and more about checking a Democratic-controlled Congress. I saw what happened during six-years of total R control of both Chambers and the White House. Face it: Power concentrated is power corrupted.

    I don’t know how you can get more clarity than that, Pete.

  • I’m probably at the point where a vote for McCain would be less about either McCain or Obama, and more about checking a Democratic-controlled Congress.

    Pete,
    As Sullivan notes, McCain subscribes to the Bush/Cheney view of unlimited executive power. A President McCain might be able to check a Democratic Congress, but a Democratic Congress won’t be able to check a President McCain.

  • Ricorun

    In fact, I’m probably at the point where a vote for McCain would be less about either McCain or Obama, and more about checking a Democratic-controlled Congress.

    I’m pretty much at that point, too. And I’ve thought about it quite a bit. Indeed, there have been times when a divided government has worked rather well. Then again, there have been times when a divided government has been terrible. I’d put the last couple of years in that category. 94-96 too. And 90-92. So it’s not a foregone conclusion. Additionally, congressional elections occur every 2 years. We’re stuck with a president for at least 4.

    Then there’s the issue of the Supreme Court. McCain’s embrace of corporations and corporate lobbyists concerns me in that regard.

    Many pundits claim that this election is “all about Obama”. For me it’s more the opposite. I don’t think I’ll ever get comfortable with Obama. He’s too much of an unknown quantity. He could be a great president or he could be a lousy one. I don’t know if there is any way to really tell unless he gets the chance. With McCain you get more of a known quantity. Unfortunately, I’m getting more and more uncomfortable with what I know about him.

  • Jim_Satterfield

    The reason we can’t have a McCain presidency is very simple. The Supreme Court. Here’s how the scenario plays out. McCain wins. As seems inevitable given the age of the current justices we have two openings come up on the bench of the SC. A carefully coached conservative along the lines of Scalia or Thomas lies his way through the hearings, giving the political cover necessary to be able to attack the Democrats if they stop the appointment so they have basically no choice but to let McCain get his justice. Then the country is hosed for decades to come.

    In addition those who argue for divided government should pay attention to all the damage Bush has done in just with the kind of people he appoints to head agencies. Heck of a job, Bushie. Do you really want 4 more years that won’t be that different from the last 8?

  • Jim_Satterfield

    Oh, and as far as that Democratic controlled congress, spare me. In case you haven’t noticed it isn’t really going to be what you mean by that phrase unless they get 60+ seats in the Senate.

  • In addition those who argue for divided government should pay attention to all the damage Bush has done in just with the kind of people he appoints to head agencies.

    That is a crucial point.

  • Breschau

    Let me make sure I get this straight:

    McCain’s campaign attacks Obama. Sullivan then points out those attacks, and attacks McCain’s campaign back.

    And your problem is… only with Sullivan? Because you didn’t mention one word about the issues that caused those posts from Sullivan in the first place.

    Also, was anything that Sullivan wrote not true? Or does the truth simply not matter?

    • Guest

      Breschau — if your question is directed to the author of the post (me) — I don’t have a problem with what Sullivan wrote. In fact, I started the third and central paragraph of my post thus, with parenthetical clarifiers added here: “Nor can I blame him (Sullivan). My support for McCain has been waffling of late, too, and for many of the same reasons (as Sullivan’s).” Hope that helps.

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  • Silhouette

    Yes, even superdelegates are adopting the self-described “fence sitter” term after having be “pledged” this way or that back in June… ; )

    Should be interesting to see how things pan out. Since June there’s been so much to look at with both candidates and their potential to win…the superdelegates’ bottom-line..

    • Gichin13

      “Yes, even superdelegates are adopting the self-described “fence sitter” term after having be “pledged” this way or that back in June… ; )”

      Not sure how anyone could think this goes to a convention with superdelegates voting for Clinton. Just listen to the pushback from folks like Rendell, Corzine, Wasserman-Schultz (sp?) — they are firmly squelching that, and they were loud pro-Clinton talking heads. Not going to happen, PUMA nuts notwithstanding.

  • Gichin13

    For those, including the original writer, who are concerned with solid D control, I am too. Like some others, I am more concerned that McCain’s entire focus seems to be on excessively quick and aggresive turning to force (with perhaps a slippery grasp of facts? maybe not? that clip of Lieberman talking in his ear was really damning for me). Then again, if McCain had not flipped on immigration, his reaction to the original tax cuts, and his refusal to bow to the temple of Falwell, I probably would have been a solid supporter.

    I also worry that the center on the Court evaporates with McCain as President. The thought that we have swung from a Brennan center to Kennedy in the space of my life is sort of awe-inspiring, but that is enough for me. The Court had to swing back, but this activist Court mantra with 7 justices picked by Republicans and Kennedy criticized as a left wing activist judge by some is just nuts. 4 Scalia clones is enough for my taste (mind you, I kind of like Roberts, but O’Connor as the middle worked for me).

    Final note, perfect world for me is a split Congress with Dems controlling the Senate, but Delay and crew blew that with their profligate spending and other issues …

  • GeorgeSorwell

    Republicans performed poorly when had control of the legislative branch. In recognition of their poor performance, they were punished by losing control of the legislative branch.

    Republicans have performed poorly (and who will defend their performance?) in control of the executive branch.

    Should Republicans be rewarded for their poor performance in control of the executive branch?

  • DLS

    “The reason we can’t have a McCain presidency is very simple. The Supreme Court”

    You are 100% wrong, J-Sat. In this regard McCain is a relief to Americans, while Obama introduces the risk of additional measures in support of illegitimate liberal judicial activism which has been a stain and stench on the judiciary in particular since the Warren Court.

    Issue corrected.

  • DLS

    “Republicans performed poorly when had control of the legislative branch. In recognition of their poor performance, they were punished by losing control of the legislative branch.”

    That’s the issue. Despite what Shaun Mullen, for example might have you try to believe, it’s not all and only about the Bush administration, its misconduct, and the problem-ridden occupation of Iraq. “Democrats are soft on crime and on terrorism!” Yet, what were the election results in 2006? (A foreshock of 2008.)

  • DLS

    “it isn’t really going to be what you mean by that phrase unless they get 60+ seats in the Senate”

    But do you realize that it’s definitely possible and even probable (>50%) it will be so?

  • DLS

    “I’m probably at the point where a vote for McCain would be less about either McCain or Obama, and more about checking a Democratic-controlled Congress.”

    That’s what it’s all about, given that McCain isn’t a real conservative or real (partisan or traditional) Republican, anyway. It really is in his case holding your nose and voting for the lesser of two evils.

    Meanwhile, Obama is, to non-liberals, an even better protest vote than Perot was in 1992. (And a multi-year strategic throw-problems-on-the-Dems vote, even though that is a risky undertaking.)

  • I know Sullivan’s public switch has been coming for a couple weeks, but I think it really came when he wrote this in an entry on August 10th:

    “To vote for the party that gave us the past eight years is not optimism. It’s clinical denial.”

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/08/optimism-and-am.html

    I’m certainly not a McCain cheerleader (nor an Obama cheerleader), but my interpretation of that was “John McCain is George Bush’s third term.” Even with any of McCain’s flaws, I can’t tell you how much I despise that characterization.

    I’m in favor of split government as well, Pete.

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