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Thursday, March 30, 2017

McCain has lost my support

Posted Wednesday, October 15, 2008, at 10:19 AM

A year ago at this time I was a solid John McCain supporter. You can look it up. I wrote about how much I admired him and hoped he'd do well in the primaries. He was clearly my preferred choice.

Over the Christmas holidays I happened to have a series of conversations with GOP leaders who knew McCain personally, and in some cases had worked with him.

Each one of them expressed serious reservations, pointing to his temper (which I knew about) and what they described as his sometimes erratic behavior and hasty decision-making.

Like most people, I didn't want to hear bad things about my hero. And since the people I was talking to all were supporting other candidates in the upcoming primaries, I wrote it off as just politics.

I was impressed by his early victories in the primaries, his determination, and his unwillingness to run any negative campaigns.

Meanwhile, Obama, whom I was aware of and had respected for his thoughtful approach to problems, continued to surprise me. I really didn't like Clinton, a lot, but I thought Obama didn't have a snowball's chance in Hades of defeating the Democratic Party machine that was so firmly in the hands of Clinton. Yet he managed to out-organize the party machine and offered a message that resonated with voters who were desperate for a new approach to government.

He also persevered through the last-ditch savage and highly negative attacks of Clinton, and it was at that point that I began to notice something refreshing about the American political landscape this year -- voters seemed to be fed up with negative campaigns and whoever launched one saw it backfiring on them.

Meanwhile, McCain had wrapped up the nomination but his campaign seemed to be stalling. It was at that point, I think, that he made the first of a series of crucial mistakes.

He reorganized his staff, replacing its leadership with what has become known as the Karl Rove Kids, people who had worked under and learned politics from Rove, the master of Machiavellian politics and the smear campaign. But whereas Rove had a surgical precision to his ability to manipulate slime, his followers weren't quite as polished, apparently using chainsaws instead of scalpels. My belief that this would be the cleanest campaign in U.S. history, because both Obama and (still believe) McCain were honorable men, began to unravel.

One of the key things about a president is who they surround themselves with. No president can administer this country without relying on his subordinates to work effectively for him, and typically, a lot of campaign staff winds up in key administrative positions in the government. Who you choose to be in your inner circle is vital (I've often though it was more important to know who the chief of staff was going to be than who was going to be selected as the vice president).

McCain was surrounding himself with people who looked a lot like Cheney and Rove, where the acquisition and maintenance of power is for more important than actually using it to achieve progress, whereas Obama was surrounding himself with people who looked more like the high quality advisors Kennedy and FDR had enjoyed.

Then, rather than playing to the moderates who had helped him win the nomination and who would be vital in the fall election, McCain tried to solidify his support among the very right wing he had run against in the primaries. More and more he was embracing the failed policies of President Bush, looking less and less like the maverick, the image that had been his strength. And he kept reinventing his campaign, never really focusing on key issues long enough to make a difference. Obama's vulnerable on several issues, but McCain choose to attack his character instead of demonstrating how his position on those issues was superior to his opponent.

McCain's supposed foreign policy advantage also began to fade when Obama took his "world tour" and won high praise from virtually every world leader he met (and after selecting Palin he had to virtually put that issue in the closet, anyway). And McCain seemed to be constantly behind changing conditions. He'd endorse a Bush policy only to have Bush reverse that policy often within the week (e.g., negotiating with Iran). He kept saying we needed to support the Iraqi government, only to see it demand a timetable for withdrawal, which he still opposes, but which has been a keystone of Obama's Iraqi policy.

He shocked everyone with his selection of Palin, which energized his campaign only long enough for people to start seeing who she was. He could have done much better. Idaho's Gov. Butch Otter, as just one example, could have helped him every bit as much with the conservatives in his party and has had much, much more foreign policy experience (he's on yet another trade mission to Asia this month). Palin turned out to be merely a bulldog with lipstick, and recent revelations of her husband's involvement in a sucessionist movement, and the fact she's appeared before that group and cut a video for them hasn't helped. I thought that little incident between 1861 and 1865 determined you couldn't do that.

But Palin's selection was an example of that hasty decisionmaking those GOP leaders I'd talked to a year ago were concerned about.

And then the economy melted down. Obama had warned about the conditions that led to this crisis more than a year ago and had consistently been calling for greater oversight. But McCain's laissez faire approach wasn't looking like such a good idea, and in the week following the outbreak of the crisis he bounced around like a pinball and was embarrassed by the members of his own party in Congress. He still doesn't seem to have a handle on the problem and as voters began to recognize that he (or his handlers) decided to switch his campaign focus to the most negative smear attacks he could. His own top aides went on the record as saying they wanted to change the focus away from the economy!

The problem was, that was what the people are most concerned about. The American people aren't so stupid as to fall for such parlor magic tricks, trying to get them to focus on something else in the hopes the rabbit is going too leave the hat on its own.

The smear attacks got so out of hand, and were costing him so much in the polls, that he had to back down and start telling his supporters to cool it. But even as he was forced to praise Obama's character, the negative campaign ads attacking that character continued. It's been hard the last couple of weeks to figure out who is actually running McCain's campaign, it's become so schizophrenic.

Even top Republican strategists, such as Reagan's principal political advisor, Ed Rollins, have been sharply critical of how McCain has been handling his campaign. The "handlers" have had more influence than the candidate in determining the direction of his campaign, and that had started to make me really nervous about what a McCain administration would look like. Who really would be in charge?

With three weeks to go in this election, McCain has managed to turn off the crucial independent voters and he's looking increasingly desperate. Unless the terrorists manage to help him out and attack the United States in the next few weeks (God forbid), his chances of winning this election have fallen below slim and are rapidly approaching none. He needs to quit generating fear about what Obama will do, and start telling people -- precisely -- what he will do.

Perhaps most disappointing to me personally, he's lost my support. I believe that the ends do not justify the means. Rather, the means usually are an example of what the ends will look like, and I no longer believe that he would make a good president.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

"He needs to quit generating fear about what Obama will do, and start telling people -- precisely -- what he will do."

maybe you should start applying this same logic to Obama...I'd be interested to know what you come up with. I for one have yet to hear anything from the man that even closely resembles a plan of any sort.

-- Posted by FlagshipOne on Wed, Oct 15, 2008, at 11:40 AM

"I for one have yet to hear anything from the man that even closely resembles a plan of any sort."

Why don't you pay attention then? How about these recent economic ones to start out:

* Penalty-free withdrawals of up to $10,000 from IRAs and 401(k)s in tax years 2008 and 2009.

* A $3,000 tax credit for every new full-time job created in the USA by businesses in 2009-10.

* A requirement that banks benefiting from the federally funded bailout provide a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures to give homeowners time to work out a payment plan.

* Empowering the Federal Reserve to provide short-term loans to state and local governments caught in the credit crunch.

-- Posted by VirginianJohn on Wed, Oct 15, 2008, at 12:12 PM


Republic? Democracy? What's the Difference?

VIDEO: Obama accuses our troops of "air raiding villages and killing civilians"

VIDEO: Obama promises to gut the military and unilaterally disarm the United States

Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan Calls Barack Obama "The Messiah"

VIDEO: Watch as Obama Mocks the Bible and Christianity

Obama Pastor will only accept a god who assists our aim of destroying the "white enemy."

The Marxist Roots of Black Liberation Theology

McCain and Obama Speak Out on Abortion

Obama's Friend, Terrorist Bill Ayers, Trampling the American Flag

The Obama-Ayers Connection

Chicago Sun-Times: Obama's Connections to Slumlord and Felon Tony Rezko

-- Posted by FlagshipOne on Wed, Oct 15, 2008, at 1:55 PM

I AM paying attention and doing my own research...

Obama is the WRONG choice from every standpoint. Stop making an emotional decision and start using your head.

The Obama and McCain Tax Plans: How Do They


-- Posted by FlagshipOne on Wed, Oct 15, 2008, at 2:04 PM

Anyone interested in viewing another viewpoint in tonight's "debate"? One the mainstream media has succeeded in silencing and keeping out of the public's eye? Watch Bob Barr, the Libertarian presidential candidate, join in the debate tonight live via the web. He is the only candidate offering real change to Washington.

-- Posted by mattnielsen on Wed, Oct 15, 2008, at 5:15 PM

I didn't know which way to turn at first, about the presidential election. I'll only know for sure after tonight's debate -- or probably tomorrow, to give myself time to think about what I hear tonight.

I flipped a mental coin recently and it's leaning toward the Democrats. McCain and Palin have so very much disappointed me; I've been somewhat impressed with Obama and Biden. Obama is far from perfect, but less imperfect, maybe, that McCain. (The economy is one factor; "dirty" politics another.) I'll know, as I said, sometime after the debate. I have to be at a meeting tonight but have set my VCR.

And this week I'll go to the courthouse and vote. I know if I vote for Obama my vote will not count in the Electoral College, presuming that Idaho will go for McCain; as long as I've lived here (almost thirty years) Idaho has gone Republican I believe. I really hate the Electoral College.

-- Posted by senior lady on Wed, Oct 15, 2008, at 6:53 PM

I wish the electoral college functioned the way it was designed. At its inception, the runner up became the vice president. Then none of us would have to stay up nights worrying that Mrs. Sixpack with lipstick might hit the button if she didn't make point guard.

-- Posted by katzclause on Thu, Oct 16, 2008, at 4:29 PM


Obama is the best choice, who wants 4 more years of the last 8 years??

-- Posted by lovemthome on Fri, Oct 17, 2008, at 12:35 PM

Well, I guess I've made up my mind. My mental coin has landed over all the way flat with the Democrat side up. It's taken a bit longer to decide than I thought; I'll go vote on Monday. I'll vote Democrat and pray.

I believe we may have a better chance to get out of the worldwide mess with Obama's ideas, and at home that we working class folks might have something concrete to live with instead of the Republicans' old trickle down theories which simply haven't helped anyone except the super super wealthy, including, by the way, John McCain.

I'm just tired, also, of McCain's smirks and titters and old age and temper. He reminds me sometimes of one of my sons when he was three: tantrums, except with McCain's old man face. McCain just does not have presidential stature and dignity.

Palin, who I originally admired, I really don't want to have a heartbeat away of leading us at home and representing the US on the world stage. Also, she seems to have a petty and vindictive way about her.

The way fundamentalist Christians and other super-conservative folks have carried on with their hate campaign, well, it makes me ashamed, as I am a devout Christian myself, and not super-liberal.

I can get along with people of other religions or no religions. My basis for this is, ahem, a Bible passage that resonates with me: the parable of the wheat and the weeds (tares) in Matthew, when we are told to let both the good wheat and the bad weeds grow side by side and not be overly concerned with which is which because they look alike, and let God be in control because He knows. In the meantime, for me, I try to treat all people as if they were wheat.

And yes, I believe sadly that there are times when we have no earthly choice but to use force to protect some folks from others. When absolutely necessary only. Long line of patriotic service in my family.

But I don't like being lied to to get into a war, as the Republican administration did to us in Iraq. I believe, now, that this was personal for Pres Bush as Saddam had once wanted to have his father, the first Pres Bush, killed. Vengeance, then, pure and simple. Thousands and thousands of lives lost, counting both sides.

Life is easy and hard, good and frustrating. The Republicans, in my opinion, have made life harder and more frustrating for all, but especially the middle and working "classes." I think we have some hope in Obama and Biden.

-- Posted by senior lady on Fri, Oct 17, 2008, at 6:21 PM

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