August 3, 2008

About McCain

Marc Comtois

Some of you asked for it, so what the heck. Herewith are the "good things about McCain" list from a conservative perspective, gathered by your intrepid parrot of the right wing machine. Also with new and improved suggestions!

1) Judges -- is an explanation needed? Sure, there could be a Souter lurking there, but we know what kind of judge Obama will put up.
2) Pro-life -- Obama isn't and radically so.
3) Taxes--much better (though not perfect) than Obama. Needs to focus on helping the middle-class more dramatically. Reducing payroll (instead of income) taxes, via a child tax credit is one thought out there.
4) Supports domestic oil drilling and nuclear power--Obama only just came out for the former in a qualified way. No chance he'll support the latter.
5) Fight on Terror and "right" about the surge in Iraq. Tough but willing to work with Iran. Obama World Tours notwithstanding, McCain holds the edge and experience in the minds of the public. That won't change. Only question is if foreign matters are as important as domestic.
6) His health plan is all about portability and more options, making it more affordable. Tapping Mitt Romney--who can point to Massachusett's state health plan--could help McCain.

Finally, regardless of the above, McCain needs to tap into the domestic mood and strike the right tone. People are ticked and, like it or not, want "change." The thing is, Obama (he's new!) and McCain (he's a Maverick!) both meet that mark. The difference will be if we go with the untried-but-cool or the old-and-boring-but-solid.

Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru explain in a recent National Review that McCain should call upon his pedigree as a "fighter" to help bolster his campaign:

The fighter theme would work on multiple levels. It would tap into the public mood of disenchantment with Washington and politics. It would suit McCain, who is at his best when expressing an outraged irascibility (getting angry is not something he usually has trouble doing) and whose sense of honor is genuinely offended by many Washington practices. It would be in keeping with an aggressive anti-Obama campaign. It would communicate a certain vigor, perhaps mitigating concerns about his age. It would excite conservatives because — much of the time — McCain would be fighting against a confirmed liberal with an adoring media, while the populism and the anti-Washington cast of the message would appeal to independents as well.

The McCain campaign shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the narrowness of Obama’s lead. It may be that the best analogy is not 1976 — when the upstart challenger Jimmy Carter opened a huge lead over President Ford that steadily diminished over the fall — but 1980. That race was close until the end, when voters decided they were comfortable with Ronald Reagan, allowing him to blow out President Carter. If that’s the case, McCain helps Obama every day he fails to define and challenge him, as the public slowly gets used to the idea of the Democrat as a national leader.

The environment is so tough for Republicans that McCain won’t be able to win just on points. If it’s even a close call whether Obama is acceptable, Obama probably wins. McCain needs to fight, and time’s a-wastin’.

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How about gun control?Obama wanted to ban virtually any means of defense for the average taxpayer.He seems to want a world where Steven Brown will define what you may and may not say.You probably think I'm tripping,but I'm not.
A disarmed citizenry is one with its head bowed in subservience to tyrrany.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 3, 2008 11:44 PM

Though not related to the main point(s); Romney's MA socialized health plan is turning into a fiscal disaster (entirely predictable). It'll hurt McCain.

As for superiority on the "War on Terror" - ultimately it is a tragic PR scam, costing the lives our brave men and women in uniform. Bush / McCain and the Democrats have all refused, and will continue to refuse, to secure our southern border. So al Qaeda operatives can walk into the U.S. at their leisure, with components for WMD's in their backpacks, should they so decide. Because of this grim reality, isn't what we're doing in Iraq and Afghanistan ultimately pointless????

Turning to McCain, I'll here stipulate that he is the quintessential "lesser of two evils" as compared to Obama, who is an outright Marxist.

So we have a choice between "terrible" (McCain) and disastrous (Obama).

The problem is that McCain and his ilk, in the interest of their own political ambitions, are destroying the Republican Party. They seek to "big tent" it into a proxy of the Democrat Party. Well, the GOP has been doing that for years here in the Northeast, and the result is that we don't have a "real" Republican presence in the Northeast, and an increasingly shrinking "moderate" presence as well (as the voters quite reasonably conclude that there isn't much difference between "Republican" moderate policies and Democrat ones, so might as well vote for the genuine article (e.g, Chafee v. Whitehouse). This leads to the effective extinction of the Republican Party.

The legacy of just four years of McCain will be an even weaker Republican Party, a VP discredited because of association with McCain (which is why it doesn't matter if he picks a "conservative acceptable" VP - that person will become a Hubert Humphrey to the McCain LBJ effect).

Also, anyone who believes that McCain as President will govern as he's campaigning, instead of how he's actually conducted himself for the past ten years as Senator, is dreaming. He will stab conservatives (and thus the real Republican Party) in the back whenever and wherever it strikes his fancy or his advances what he perceives to be his personal political interests.

So the dilemma facing conservatives is a Hobson's Choice between what is best in the short run vs. best in the long run.

To conclude that Comrade Obama would be such a disaster that we have to hold our noses and vote for McCain is a legitimate position to take.

Others of us (e.g., me) believe that no matter what, as to the next four years, they are going to be a disaster - we already lost when the nominations were determined. And further that the resurgent, unified and determined Democrat Party, which has been taken over by the student radicals of the 1960's, can only be effectively countered by a united and determined Republican Party ... one that, as the Democrats have already done, has purged the "moderates" who cause the party to be distracted (and ultimately defeated) due to internal struggles for direction.

A McCain presidency will only further delay the purging and rebuilding that the GOP so desperately means. So to refuse to support McCain for the long term good of the Republican Party, which also means for the long term good of the country, is also a legitimate position to take.

And a vote for McCain is a vote for open borders and amnesty and "family reunification" and the importation of tens of millions of additional welfare recipients (and reliable Democrat voters). Yes, those are now inevitable with either candidate, but I just can't bring myself to take the affirmative step of actually voting for it.

Unfortunately this is at our own hand. Had the GOP not increasingly lost its way becoming "more moderate" over the years we would not be faced with the dilemma of voting for a de facto Democrat (who almost ran with Kerry) to avoid a Marxist. A vote for McCain is a vote for the GOP to slide even farther down the slope.

As William F. Buckley so famously said, conservatives need to "stand athwart history and yell stop" (or something to that effect). This conservative intends to send a message to the GOP at the voting both by refusing to vote for McCain, my way a yelling "stop" to the "moderates" who want to turn the national GOP into the same type of impotent moderate joke that the RIGOP is (with the exception of Don Carcieri, whose showing some welcome fighting spirit these days).

Posted by: Tom W at August 3, 2008 11:55 PM

tom w-don't forget Joe Trillo-he hasn't wavered

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 4, 2008 12:31 AM

-don't forget Joe Trillo-he hasn't wavered

I'm not that familiar with his record, but from what I've heard and seen I would not disagree. Point taken.

Posted by: Tom W at August 4, 2008 8:37 AM

umm...what Tom said.

A failed McCain presidency will be the final nail in the coffin for the resistence to socialist/communist America.

But then, Obama already has his sights beyond America and to a communist world with S.2433 - the Global Poverty Act...

Posted by: JP at August 4, 2008 9:07 AM


There is a school of thought that we're "safer" in our resistance with Obama in the White House than with McCain.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but the premise is that Obama is so far left that he will overreach and go too far even for some "blue dog" Democrats, and what Republicans remain in Congress will only be too happy to oppose the best they can (e.g., like last week's performance over oil drilling).

Conversely, under this school of thought, McCain will likely huddle with "my friends" in the Democrat leadership - as he always has done in the Senate - and effectively freeze-out Congressional Republicans, and collaborate with the Democrats on a "bipartisan" agenda (i.e., Democrat bills such as McCain-Feingold; McCain-Kennedy). Meanwhile many (if not most) Republicans will be reticent to oppose "their" own "Republican" President (and/or gag themselves, fearful of retaliation by McCain and his notorious reputation for holding grudges).

Thus more Democrat legislation might get passed under McCain than under Obama.

While one cannot predict the future, one cannot dismiss this scenario out of hand.

Similarly, those counting on John ("Gang of 14") McCain nominating true conservatives judges instead of Souters must not only count on McCain nominating conservatives in the first place, but also being prepared to go toe-to-toe with "my friends" and allies Pat Leahy and Ted Kennedy - who will smell blood at the prospect of altering the Supreme Court for a generation, and will inevitably dust off the Bork playbook, at a minimum.

I pray that I'm wrong, but I just can't imagine Gang of 14 John battling "my friends" on the Democrat controlled Judiciary Committee, especially since fellow "moderate" Arlen Specter certainly isn't going to provide any backup.

So I believe that the Supreme Court is already lost, thanks to the big tent moderates.

Which is why I've concluded - perhaps in error, but without a crystal ball it's my decision - that at this point the "lesser of two evils" is for the GOP to incur the bloodbath that it's (unfortunately) earned and lose, driving much of the current RNC / GOP leadership into the unemployment line, and creating an opening for restoring the GOP for 2012 (or, more likely, 2016).

In the interim, I fear that we are on the cusp of 4-8 years that are going to make the Jimmy Carter years seems like a cakewalk, and unlike then we don't have any apparent Ronald Reagan like GOP leader waiting in the wings.

This country is in deep, deep trouble. To borrow a Peggy Noonan phrase, we're in for some "hard history."

Posted by: Tom W at August 4, 2008 9:51 AM

I see much merit in the analogy to the 1980 Reagan/Carter contest.

For much of that year, for many voters the idea of electing Reagan was unthinkable, but as the race wore on the doubts began to fall away.

Remember that Carter held off on agreeing to a debate until the last minute -- the Sunday before the election.

It was in that debate where Reagan posed his famous "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" question.

Enough voters answered that question "no," to give Reagan an electoral vote landslide.

The analogy -- like all analogies -- is imperfect, of course. Reagan had a long history on the national scene and substantial experience in governing; Sen. Obama has neither.

And Reagan had an incumbent to run against, Sen. Obama does not. My sense is that in 1980 the voters' desire to say "no" to Jimmy Carter was what opened them up to considering saying "yes" to Ronald Reagan.

Although Sen. McCain may carry some baggage from Pres. Bush's high negatives, McCain is not burdened by high personal negatives as Jimmy Carter was.

Posted by: brassband at August 4, 2008 9:52 AM

IMHO, the better analogy this year is 1972. Nixon wasn't beloved by real Republicans either (though arguably he wasn't as much a backstabber as McCain), and many Republicans supported him only to avoid capitulation / defeat in Vietnam, much as many Republicans this cycle will reluctantly support McCain to avoid capitulation / defeat in the "War on Terror").

The swing came with blue collar "mainstream" Democrats, who came to recognize that McGovern - the darling of the then-New Left which was angling to takeover the Party (and since has) - was just way too far left for their taste and defaulted to Nixon. A preview of what came to be known as "Reagan Democrats."

(If McGovern had won in 1972 we likely would have had President Reagan in 1976 instead of having to wait until 1980, and bypassed the horrible Carter years altogether.)

The same may well happen this cycle once the mainstream Democrat / independent electorate starts paying attention and realizes just how radically left Obama really is, and may well default to McCain.

Because of this, I believe that there's a very real possibility, indeed likelihood, that McCain will win. Obama's relatively "moderate" lead in the polls in spite of it being a terrible cycle for Republicans is a precursor of this.

That said, I believe that like Nixon, McCain is going to be an unmitigated disaster for the GOP. Not for Watergate like wiretapping or dirty tricks, but because (like Schwarzeneggar is doing in California) he will so destroy the Republican brand and so divide and demoralize the "Republican base" that the party will be rendered impotent for years to come.

To repeat my observation about VP selection, I believe that McCain's hoped-for selection of a "conservative acceptable" VP is a red-herring. That VP will be the presumptive GOP nominee in 2012 or 2016, yet by custom and expectation won't be able to distance him or herself from McCain's de facto Democrat agenda, and so will be tarred with it. In turn, the base will become distrustful of that VP (if not worse) and so will be demoralized for that election cycle and will have no alternative for it is rare for a VP candidate to be challenged in a primary for a party's nomination.

Posted by: Tom W at August 4, 2008 10:31 AM

4-8 years?I'm not sure we'll be around in the same format with that period of time under an Obama presidency.I think he would get into serious trouble dealing with a nuclear armed rogue state and/or their terrorist allies and then try to play make up with a hastily conceived response that might lead to a nuclear "event"or series of them.Like comparing Reagan and Carter-the world is safer if the bad guys actually think you might nuke them,than if they believe they can roll over you,and then you DO have to nuke them.I am no alarmist,but if you think our borders ar porous now,just wait for Mr.One Happy World to take power.Between him and those leftist idiots who don't really believe there are LOTS of people who want to incinerate this country we will be operating from a defensive catch-up stance non-stop.Did a boxer ever win a fight that way?
If anybody thinks the terrorists don't have the capability to smuggle a 20 kiloton or so device into this country,or a biological weapon,they are crazy.Actually,chemicals and biologicals can be made at home.
If our intelligence resources are dismantled(it's happened before)woe betide America.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 4, 2008 10:32 AM

Joe B. --

You make an absolutely correct observation:

the world is safer if the bad guys actually think you might nuke them,than if they believe they can roll over you,and then you DO have to nuke them.

The very best example of this is Jan. 20, 1981, when the Iranians released the hostages within minutes of Pres. Reagan's inauguration.

What our lefty friends overlook about Sen. Obama -- and what you correctly point out -- is that his "We are the World" foreign policy will almost certainly make our enemies want to test him.

How will Sen. Obama respond to such a test? I pray that we never find out.

I agree that there is some merit in the 1972 analogy, in that Sen. Obama, like Sen. McGovern, seems much weaker in the general than the expected front runner in their respective years (Muskie in 1972; Clinton this year).

I don't see much chance, though, of a blowout of 1972 proportions . . . you may be showing some "audacity" with that "hope!"

Posted by: brassband at August 4, 2008 10:49 AM

>>I don't see much chance, though, of a blowout of 1972 proportions . . . you may be showing some "audacity" with that "hope!"

I don't expect a blowout, just that there is an unacknowledged by the "mainstream media" possibility that McCain will beat the Third Coming.

I'm not "hoping" for a McCain victory; I'm "standing down" this cycle and am looking ahead to 2012 / 2016.

Posted by: Tom W at August 4, 2008 12:05 PM

Who's Raising Race?
The Messages Loaded Into a McCain Surrogate's Words

By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, August 5, 2008; A19

I'm confident that Sen. Lindsey Graham and the rest of John McCain's front-line surrogates know full well what messages they're sending about Barack Obama and race. On the off chance that they -- or, more likely, some of the white voters they're trying to reach -- don't know text from subtext from context, here's a deconstruction.

On Sunday, the exceedingly thin-skinned Graham was still shocked, saddened and outraged over Obama's throwaway line, spoken days earlier, about not looking like previous presidents. Graham said on "Fox News Sunday" that "there's no doubt in my mind that what Senator Obama is trying to suggest -- that he's a victim of something." Graham later added: "We're not going to run a campaign like he did in the primary. Every time somebody brings up a challenge to who you are and what you believe, 'You're a racist.' That's not going to happen in this campaign."

The key words are "victim" and "racist" -- which Obama did not say. Graham puts them in Obama's mouth because of their power to alienate.

With the first loaded word, Graham is trying to tie Obama to a stereotype: the Great African American Victim. He's playing to the annoyance some whites feel at being reminded of racial sins committed long before they were born or even long before their families came to this country.

As Graham well knows, Obama has taken great pains to sanitize his campaign of even the faintest whiff of victimhood. Obama understands that in order to be elected president, he has to come off as the least-aggrieved black man in America.

Most of his supporters understand this, too. They know that he can't react with anger when his love of country is questioned over a flag pin. They see that he can't be seen to take offense when his self-confidence -- a quality shared by every U.S. senator I've ever met -- is portrayed as arrogance, as if he had somehow reached beyond his station by thinking he is worthy of being elected president.

As the kerfuffle of the past week indicates, it's apparently even problematic for Obama to attempt to describe the Republican Party's obvious game plan of defining him as different, exotic and risky.

Obama could note, however, that the tactic doesn't seem to be working. A new poll by The Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University shows him leading McCain by 10 points, 47 to 37 percent, among white low-income workers. These people have to be made to fear or distrust Obama, and in a hurry, or McCain loses.

The second of the bombshell words that Obama didn't say -- but that Graham would like you to think that he said -- is an even bigger canard. He called me a racist has become a popular and convenient refuge of scoundrels. It's the place, for example, where Geraldine Ferraro went to hide when she was challenged on her claim that Obama wouldn't be where he was if he weren't black. In fact, as far as I'm aware, nobody called Ferraro a racist; to do so would imply knowledge of her most private thoughts, as well as a reassessment of her long career in public life. Rather, what I and many others said was that her remarks were insulting and wrong -- with the focus on what she had said, not on what was in her soul.

There's an obvious difference, which Lindsey Graham surely understands. But on Sunday, when former senator -- and current Obama supporter -- Tom Daschle accurately reminded Graham that Obama "has never said that he believes that John McCain is a racist," Graham wouldn't acknowledge the point. As long as he doesn't, it's possible to create the false impression that Obama accuses his critics of being racists.

This battle over Obama's image as a black man is arguably the central front of the presidential campaign right now. Once-sharp lines between the candidates on issues such as withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq or allowing new offshore oil drilling are becoming blurred. The Democratic Party's structural advantages going into the election are formidable. It's hard to imagine how McCain could possibly win unless he generates doubt in voters' minds about Obama.

One way to do that would be to fabricate the impression that Obama is demanding special treatment and privilege because he is black -- in other words, turn a self-made man into a stereotypical beneficiary of affirmative action.

Posted by: Blue Beard at August 5, 2008 5:35 AM

It is so pathetic how every regular blogger at AR feels the need to turn EVERY subject into a paranoid jab at Sen. Obama. Running scared, eh? Poor John McCain, a decent guy way out of his league-- and now run by rabid handler who are making idiotic TV ads. Flyboy done fall down.

Op-Ed Columnist
McCain’s Green-Eyed Monster

Not since Iago and Othello obsessed on the comely Cassio, not since Richard of Gloucester killed his two nephews, not since Nixon and Johnson glowered at the glittering J.F.K., has there been such an unseemly outpouring of boy envy.

Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson and John Edwards have all been crazed with envy over the ascendance of the new “It” guy, Barack Obama.

Unlike his wife, Bill Clinton — the master of fake sincerity — still continues to openly begrudge his party’s betrothed.

Asked by Kate Snow of ABC News in Africa whether Obama was ready to be president, Clinton gave a classic Clintonian answer: “You could argue that no one’s ever ready to be president.”

As always, the Big Dog was more concerned with himself — asserting that he’s not a racist — than his party. Bill Clinton is not a racist. We can posit that. But he did play subtle racial politics in the primary. It’s way past time for him to accept the fact that there’s a new wunderkind in town.

Just as Bill Clinton looks at Obama and sees his own oblivion, so does Jesse Jackson. As Shelby Steele wrote in The Wall Street Journal, Jackson and his generation of civil rights leaders “made keeping whites ‘on the hook’ the most sacred article of the post-’60s black identity,” equality pursued by manipulating white guilt.

Now John McCain is pea-green with envy. That’s the only explanation for why a man who prides himself on honor, a man who vowed not to take the low road in the campaign, having been mugged by W. and Rove in South Carolina in 2000, is engaging in a festival of juvenilia.

The Arizona senator who built his reputation on being a brave proponent of big solutions is running a schoolyard campaign about tire gauges and Paris Hilton, childishly accusing his opponent of being too serious, too popular and not patriotic enough.

Even his own mother, the magical 96-year-old Roberta McCain, let slip that she thought the Paris Hilton-Britney Spears ad was “kinda stupid.”

McCain’s 2000 strategist, John Weaver, was equally blunt with Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter: “It’s hard to imagine America responding to ‘small ball’ when we have all these problems.”

Some of McCain’s old pals in the Senate are cringing at what they see as his soulless transformation into what he once scorned.

“John’s eaten up with envy,” said one. “His image of himself was always the handsome, celebrity flyboy.

“Now somebody else is the celebrity,” the colleague continued, while John looks in the mirror and sees his face marred by skin cancer and looks at the TV and sees his dashing self-image replaced by visions of William Frawley, with Letterman jokes about his membership in the ham radio club and adventures with wagon trains.

For McCain, being cool meant being a rogue, not a policy wonk; but Obama manages to be a cool College Bowl type, which must irk McCain, who liked to play up his bad-boy cool. Now the guy in the back of the class is shooting spitballs at the class pet and is coming off as more juvenile than daring.

Around the McCain campaign, they grouse that Obama “hasn’t bled.” He hasn’t bled literally, in military service, just like W., the last holder of an E-ZPass who sped past McCain. And he hasn’t paid his dues in the Senate, since he basically just stopped by for directions to the Oval Office.

As a new senator, Obama was not only precocious enough to pounce on turf that McCain had invested years in, such as campaign finance lobbying, ethics reform and earmarks. When Obama did reach across the aisle for a mentor, it was to the staid Richard Lugar of Indiana, not to the salty Republican of choice for Democrats, McCain.

When the Illinois freshman took back a private promise to join McCain’s campaign finance reform effort, McCain told his aide Mark Salter to “brush him back.” Salter sent an over-the-top vituperative letter to Obama. “I guess I beaned him instead,” Salter told Newsweek’s Howard Fineman.

McCain could dismiss W. as a lightweight, but he knows Obama’s smart. Obama wrote his own books, while McCain’s were written by Salter. McCain knows he’s the affirmative action scion of admirals who might not have gotten through Annapolis without being a legacy. Obama didn’t even tell Harvard Law School that he was black on his application.

McCain upbraids Obama for being a poppet, while he’s becoming a puppet. His mouth is moving but the words coming out belong to his new hard-boiled strategist, Steve Schmidt, a Rove protégé, nicknamed “The Bullet” for his bald pate.

Schmidt has turned Mr. Straight Talk into Mr. Desperate Straits. It’s not a good trade.

Posted by: Blue Beard at August 6, 2008 3:54 AM

Bluebeard-what I find "low road" is your repeated references to such important issues as cancer scars and baldness.Those are really what men are measured by are they?Well,a worthless hack like Keith Olbermann has no cancer scars and lots of hair on his otherwise empty head.What does that prove?
I wonder what damage Obama's smoking has done to him?As a three time cancer survivor I can say that I would rather deal with melanoma than lung cancer.
And don't sneer at the"William Frawleys" who were in the "ham radio club"-they went off to all our wars,good or bad, without complaint and you mock them in preference to a candidate who gives off the attitude that he was too good for any of that.Well, many of us gave up years out of our lives,and lived with the consequences of wars,so people like Obama could live in a free country and pursue the good life.And I do not begrudge him that.
McCain's "affirmative action"as you refer to it may have helped him get into Annapolis,but once on active duty a man in his position was expected to be out on the sharp edge,not in a cushy office job.And that is where he was-out front.One of my cousins was a contemporary of McCain's,although instead of graduating Annapolis,he came by his commission through the ranks as an enlisted Marine-he holds a high opinion of McCain not only as a fellow combat pilot,but as a man who the nation can trust with the gravest responsibility.I agree with him.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 6, 2008 6:35 AM

I'm glad Bluebeard posted the column by go ol' leftwinger Maureen Dowd.

It goes to show that the left will stop at nothing to distort the truth of a story.


-The column talks about McCain being an "affirmative action scion" who benefited by from his father being an admiral. But it fails to mention that McCain endured extra torture as a POW BECAUSE his father was an admiral.

-Rather than pointing out Obama's dishonesty of making a personal commitment and failing to uphold it, the column politely describes it as "taking back" a "private promise".

-Direct from the talking points published by Obama's camp, Dowd uses the word "juvenile" and "childish" to describe McCain's ads. At least, she could have made the effort to use synonyms!

Of course, the bottom line is that the ads seem to be working and McCain is running stronger than ever. USA Today/Gallup now has McCain beating Obama, while most other polls have McCain within the margin of error.

Posted by: Anthony at August 6, 2008 10:08 PM

""taking back" a "private promise"."

So ... private ones you can renege on? The public ones you have to keep?

This opens up some interesting areas for historic reassessment. How many Republican flip flops, especially ones condemned by MoDo herself, can now be forgiven through the lens of, "it was only a private promise"?

Posted by: Monique at August 7, 2008 10:51 PM
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