Posts Tagged ‘mccain’
As Senators John McCain and Barack Obama prepare for Tuesday’s debate, the most recent polls show this debate a must-win for Mr McCain: Mr Obama’s campaign has the momentum with just a month to go before Americans go to the polls and leads McCain in virtually every survey recently conducted.
What can Senator McCain do to stem the tide and reverse some of Senator Obama’s recent gains? Plenty:
- Start with an obvious avenue of attack: Senator Joe Biden’s own opinion of Mr Obama, as expressed during the Primary campaign. Senator Obama’s running mate had this to say about the Presidential candidate he now shares a ticket with:
- “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”
- On Afghanistan, Biden’s campaign released this at the time: “It’s good to see Sen. Obama has finally arrived at the right position, but this can hardly be considered bold leadership.”
- “Would I make a blanket commitment to meet unconditionally with the leaders of each of those countries [Iran, et al] within the first year I was elected President? Absolutely, positively no.” (Contrary to what Mr Biden now says, Senator Obama did indeed state he would meet unconditionally with Ahmadinejad).
- “I think he can be ready, but right now I don’t believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training.”
- On Obama’s plan for withdrawing from Iraq: “My impression is [Obama] thinks that if we leave, somehow the Iraqis are going to have an epiphany” of peaceful coexistence among warring sects. “I’ve seen zero evidence of that.”
- Next up, Senator McCain needs to attack Senator Obama (and Senator Biden, too) on earmarks and pork-barrel spending, and on this issue, McCain has the opportunity for a very serious body blow: Mr Obama has requested about three-quarters of a billion dollars in earmarks and pet projects during his three years in office. Add in Mr Biden’s one-third of a billion this year alone, and the numbers are shocking against Senator McCain’s history of never having asked for an earmark during his long Senate career. This should particularly play well in the current economic climate: it’s unlikely the American people have much stomach for lavish government spending at a time when they find themselves tightening their financial belt buckles more than a notch or two.
- The geo-political card should have been Senator McCain’s trump card all along, and Mr McCain needs to get back on message here. He can do so by drawing attention to the agreement Russia and Venezuela recently signed whereby Russia has agreed to provide a loan for the equivalent of one billion dollars to Venezuela for a military/techincal co-operation program. Two Russian Tu-160 long-range strategic bombers also recenty landed in Venezuela, and the countries have agreed to hold joint naval exercises before the year is up. Senator McCain can point to his recent stance on Russia’s invasion of Georgia at a time Senator Obama opted not to interrupt his Hawaiian vacation to respond.
- In general, Senator McCain needs to press Senator Obama, and press him hard: Mr Obama does not do so well under pressure and without an adoring crowd, and when pressed he often stumbles – his speech becomes very halting as he struggles to find the right way to position his answer. That’s not the mark of a person who knows his positions; rather it’s the mark of a person who knows how his positions should be perceived.
- Press the “change” issue: in Senator Obama’s short Senate tenure, he’s been anything but a change agent, and has instead obediently voted along party lines. Mr Obama has no history to speak of involving reaching across party lines or defying his party.
- Senator Obama will seek to continue to paint Senator McCain as “Bush Revisited”. The counter-attack to that is simple: the only thing more unpopular than Bush is the Democratic Senate. Mr McCain needs to start painting Mr Obama as an extension of that unpopular legislative body. Pointing out that Senator Obama’s party has had the majority for some time now and have chosen to do not much of anything should be an effective line of attack.
- Recently, Governor Palin has attacked Senator Obama’s links to William Ayers, the former member of the Weathermen, the group which bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol Building and various police cars etc. Senator McCain would do well to continue to press Senator Obama on his associations: his links to convicted felon Antoin Rezko (Mr Obama’s first political donor and former neighbour; prosecutors of Mr Rezko have requested a sentencing delay and it’s rumored Mr Rezko is on the verge of spilling the beans on corruption in Illinois politics), his twenty-year attendance at the church of Reverend Wright and Mr Obama’s ties to big-money in Washington (Senator Obama’s campaign donations from big money dwarf those Senator McCain (or even Senator Clinton) have received, as we wrote previously).
- Take the focus off the economy. One easy way to do so is to point out to Senator Obama that there’s only so much influence the government has on the economy in what’s ostensibly a free market, as vividly demonstrated by the impotence of the recent bailout bill. Senator McCain should take a page out of history and point out that the more an economy is managed, the poorer the results for the people – that’s also been very vividly demonstrated in the twentieth century. Follow up, hard, on Governor Palin’s recent message that government is not the solution to every problem but more often is the cause.
- Refer to Mr Obama as “Senator Obama”. It makes Mr Obama’s somehow jarring familiarity at using “John” for Mr McCain seem all the more odd – like calling one’s father by his first name as a child.
In short, Senator McCain needs to come out swinging and put his younger, less experienced opponent on the defensive. Mr McCain has kept himself rather in check thus far. If he plans to close the gap between the two campaigns, now is the time to come out swinging.
There’s no other way to look at it: the 2008 US election should be an absolute cakewalk for the Democrats: a profoundly disliked president, an economy in a crisis not seen since the late 1920s, an unpopular war, US global influence vastly diminished, a currency weaker than it’s been in a generation and eight solid years of a Republican presidency.
And yet, in recent polls, Republican Presidential nominee John McCain, disliked by his own party’s most faithful (in multiple senses of the word…), is starting to gain a small lead. What gives?
The problem is fundamental to Democrats: on the whole, the population of the United States does not embrace Democratic philosophy, and the Democratic party itself is a collection of such deeply divergent special interests that keeping a coalition happily united is a near impossible task.
On the first point, the bulk of the US population does not agree with the fundamental principle of Democratic policies: that it is a just course of action to take from many to pay for the chosen few on ideological grounds. In fact, the “founding fathers” of the US said as much: to quote Thomas Jefferson, “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”
The majority of people in the US are willing to look after themselves, work hard and honestly don’t expect the government to provide the solution to every last inconvenience.
Take the mortgage crisis: while Barack Obama (and the Democratic Congress) pushed for a government bailout of the banks (ostensibly under the guise of helping the distressed home owners, however keep in mind it’s the banks who lose on a grand scale when mortgages default), Mr. McCain had a very different message: why should you, as a responsible homeowner, have to pay for your neighbour’s error in judgement in taking on an ultimately unserviceable mortgage?
You’d think Mr. Obama and the rest of the Democrats would gain an awful lot of traction with their “we’ll save you” message. However they miscalculated the math: their “solution” imposes a burden on 95% of the population for the benefit of the 5% of the population who quite willingly and freely chose to over-extend themselves. While on the surface you’d think Mr. Obama’s message would have massive popular appeal, the Democrats simply don’t have the numbers.
They likewise have a problem hanging their case for the White House on President Bush’s unpopularity. Why? Because the only thing statistically more unpopular among Americans than President Bush is the Democratic Congress! The Democratic message, repeated ad infinitum, of Mr. McCain being simply an extension of President Bush has rung hollow from the get-go: if you’re going to make the case that your opponent is simply a mirror image of the current President by virtue of the fact he voted with the President 90% of the time, you’d best first ensure your record doesn’t reflect a voting record that obediently voted with your even more unpopular Congressional colleagues 97% of the time!
Clearly Mr. Obama’s advisors see Mr. McCain’s reputation for independence as a very significant threat to their candidate’s image as an agent of change. Unfortunately in doing so, they expose Mr. Obama to charges that he’s anything but an agent of change, opening the door for Mr. McCain to point to his rival’s hardly-inspiring record of simply going along with his party during his three years in office.
On the second point, the Democrats are a party based on reconciling irreconcilable differences: their supporters include union members (read: union leaders), but also the “environmentalists” who oppose exactly the kind of industries who lend themselves to a unionized workforce. An overwhelming majority of lawyers support the Democrats by virtue of the party’s opposition to punitive damage caps, but at the same time they seek to appeal to Jack and Jane Blue Collar, hardly a constituency enamored of rich lawyers who enjoy a lavish lifestyle based largely on attacking large employers of union folk. Those same hard working, blue collar supporters find themselves supporting the same party as vaccuous Hollywood stars, for whom it’s important to be seen as egalitarian as they phone in their donations while ensconced in their multi-million dollar homes.
Mr. Obama’s San Francisco comments about “people clinging to guns and religion” is very telling: this is a party which, at its root, attempts to appeal to the disenfranchised only for the purpose of getting power so that they can subsequently get to the more important task of imposing ideologies. It’s no different than Mr. Obama making speeches about “protecting” blue collar jobs by way of protectionist policies while his representatives simultaneously approach the Canadian government to reassure them it’s all just talk and they needn’t get nervous about existing trade agreements, despite their candidate’s insistence he will “renegotiate” those same agreements.
The bigger problem Barack Obama and the Democrats face is the sophistication of the voters: the Democratic message of the government as the solution for all the populace’s woes doesn’t ring true to a population who has seen it all before and is familiar with the results. If government intervention was truly the answer, wouldn’t pre-open-economy China, the old Soviet Union and, more recently, Venezuela be paradises for their people?
Finally, the Democratic leadership seems to have an oddly myopic view of reality: they appear to only associate with other Democrats and in so doing get a distorted view of their own popularity. Their hubris has bitten them many times before: both Mr. Gore and Mr. Kerry were widely considered shoe-ins – it was incomprehensible that they should lose. Far-left Democratic supporters (think Michael Moore et al) were utterly dumb-struck that their candidate could have lost in ’00 and even more so in ’04. However a look at an electoral map should have given them a heads up: it’s only in areas of particularly dense population that Democratic philosophies gain traction. By land mass, the United States overwhelmingly embraces Republican political philosophies (as difficult as those philosophies are to define when you have a Republican President who spends more and grows government larger than any Democrat has).
It must be tough times indeed for any clear-eyed Democratic supporter: circumstances have aligned in a way that ought to leave them planning a victory parade rather than worrying about the messy business of campaigning. And yet, the more the voters learn of their candidate, the worse the poll results become. Meanwhile, in a climate ripe for a message of change, the Democratic candidate finds himself up against an opponent who has more (and proven) credibility as an actual change agent.
At heart, most Americans really just want the government to leave them alone and let them get about the business of working hard and providing for their own needs and the needs of their families. For these voters, the only thing worse than being told what to do is being told what to do by the government, regardless of how elequently those orders are conveyed…
An article posted on USA Today’s website today shows some surprising poll results. Among them: those people polled who were likely to cast a ballot in November were more likely to vote for Mr. McCain, by a 49% to 45% margin. Among registered voters, however, it was Mr. Obama in the lead, enjoying the support of 47% of respondents vs. Mr. McCain’s 44%.
The same article shows graphs illustrating the poll’s results on various topics surveyed. The following topics appear under the heading, “Who would do a better job?:
Dealing with foreign leaders
The graph shows respondents picked Mr. McCain by a 52% to 37% margin (with a footnote indicating Mr. Obama’s result was “Based on a half sample, which has a margin of error of +/- 5 percentage points.” (No reason is given as to why a “half sample” was used in Mr. Obama’s case).
Again, the graph for Mr. McCain shows a majority support him in this context, this time by a 47% to 39% margin (once again with the “half sample” footnote for Mr. Obama).
The accompanying article, however, has this to say:
Majorities in the new poll said Obama would do a better job than McCain in dealing with foreign leaders and handling relations with other countries.
So which is it?
We’ve advised the editors of USA Today of the gaffe and await their reply. However in all likelihood, it’s the graphs which are incorrect. Here’s why: under the same heading, there’s the following topic:
The graphs for this one show Mr. Obama trouncing Mr. McCain 48% to 32%, which doesn’t seem right on the face of it – Mr. McCain, after all, long ago adopted the persona of “War Hero” and “Military Man”, and Mr. Obama is hardly seen as the “Anti-Terrorism Candidate”.
Stay tuned – we’ll update this post upon USA Today’s reply to our email or their correction of the article.
***UPDATE July 30***
USA Today finally updated the incorrect graphs: