>> Monday, June 9, 2008
My last entry was on the McCain campaign strategy video and how it was mostly wishful thinking and fantasy. The entire thing was defensive. It seems that no one is giving John McCain a real chance in this election… or that is how the McCain camp must be feeling. All any one seems to do now is downplay expectations for McCain. I think McCain is getting somewhat defensive of this. You can see an excellent summation of John McCain’s defensiveness and delusions in his interview with Newsweek entitled “How to Beat a Rockstar”.
The first thing to know about this interview is that it was conducted just before McCain took his tour of the Florida Everglades. The same Everglades he voted against protecting. Everywhere McCain goes is an issue he was on the wrong side of and has to try to explain. Not so good for McCain. The second thing to note is the framing of the questions. The questions are actually not as favorable to McCain as you might expect although there is a definite need for follow up on many of them. From his responses you can see what McCain is going to try to do in the election, spin.
The interview starts off with a statement about how awesome Obama is and how hard it is for Republicans this year. McCain appears to acknowledge this. Good framing for the interview putting McCain on a more defensive posture. The second Question with McCain’s answer is
Q-So what's the strategy? How do you overcome those two things?
A-Well, the strategy is the themes of reform, prosperity and peace, and I have the experience, background and a record and the kind of judgment to lead the country through extremely difficult times. There are threats to our economy that are incredibly serious—witness the unemployment numbers that just came out—and to our nation's security. I'm convinced that, using the kind of communications that won me the nomination of my party against significant odds, I will be able to gain the presidency as well. But I think it's got to do with substance, and it's got to do with a concrete plan of action for the future of the country.
McCain wants to highlight reform, prosperity and peace? He is certainly not doing a good job of that so far. In fact, I would say he is doing the exact opposite of this. He constantly highlights the need for war and his promoted policies are all going to be continuations of the Bush legacy. That starts him out 0-3 and it does not get much better. He also claims to have “…a record and the kind of judgment to lead the country through extremely difficult times”. A careful examination of this claim will reveal just how wrong he is here. He was and continues to be wrong about the war. He was wrong about the G.I. Bill. He has been wrong on so many things I really do not have time to list them.
I am really not sure what he is talking about in the second half of his answer. He won the nomination because Huckabee and Romeny split support and because there was no proportional representation. It did not really have to do with his communications. As far as substance goes Obama is the more substantive candidate. He has plans for every thing. His list of issues and what to do with them is long and detailed in contrast to McCain whose plan for Iraq is step one stay, step two ?, step three glorious victory. He is the one lacking in concrete plans.
The third question is about McCain’s use of Obama sounding rhetorical devices and whether it makes him sound old and cranky, note the use of the word vigorous.
Q- The other night you were using the trope "That's not change we can believe in." Watching, it struck me that fighting on somebody else's rhetorical field and offering a negative as opposed to a positive is not the most vigorous way forward.
A- Well, I think it's an important part of this campaign to point out that everybody wants change, but there is a right change and a wrong change. I believe that what Senator Obama is advocating is a return to the failed policies of the '60s and '70s—bigger government, higher taxes—and certainly not the same view on national-security challenges. So, I thought it was important to point out that there is a right change and a wrong change.
Actually, the only change McCain seems to be interested in is him as president. His policies are a continuation of the failed Bush policies. Someone should ask McCain why every one wants change. McCain seems very inconsistent on the issue of changing things. He is against it yet says every one wants it. In addition, government has exploded in size under Bush so that would not even be a change. The right change for McCain is no change.
The next couple of questions are fluff but the sixth is the longest answer given in the interview and it merits discussion. The question is about Obama and accomplishments. It really plays into the experience argument that McCain wants to make.
Q- St. Paul, he said, to paraphrase, that he honors your achievements even though you choose to deny his.
A- We have sharp differences.
I think it's important to know that when he wants to have a specific withdrawal strategy, getting the troops out of Iraq, he has not sat down with General Petraeus, the leader of our troops over there. I think that needs to be pointed out to the American people because it's American lives that are on the line as we speak.
So if that shows a lack of respect, I respectfully disagree. I think it shows that there is nothing more important than the security of this nation and the lives of the men and women who are serving it, and he hasn't ever seized an opportunity to sit down with the general who is in charge over there. These young Americans are serving with such courage and dedication.
If he wants to call it that, fine. He's free to call it whatever he wants, but I think it's important to point out what he has done and what he hasn't done, as well as what I have done, and my clear record.
One of those areas is bipartisanship. He talks about bipartisanship. There is little or no evidence of that in his time in the Senate. I have a long record, ranging from Ted Kennedy to Russ Feingold to Joe Lieberman.
I think it's important to point these things out, and I will. And I don't believe it's disrespectful to do so. I think it's part of the evaluation process that the American people are doing.
By the way, do you think it's disrespectful for him to have distorted my comment about being in Iraq for a hundred years? Every objective organization in America said that's a false characterization of my remarks in the context of what's necessary to stop the casualties and have a victory, rather than saying we are going to be in a war for a hundred years. I have given other speeches saying we are going to win this war, and we are winning it now, and he refuses to acknowledge that.
So, the parameters of this debate are not going to be set by Senator Obama. The parameters of this debate will be decided by the American people, and they will judge whether I have respected him or not. I believe that I respect him in every possible way, and I will continue to do so.
The first part of the answer is just part of the McCain and Republican hopes of baiting Obama to make a pilgrimage to Iraq. They want him to go so that they have the image of Obama being educated by Petraeus. Supposedly there is some great wisdom that Petraeus can impart that he failed to do when Obama questioned Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker at a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on Iraq April 8.
The next is a lie and distortion intended to make it seem like Obama is a super liberal partisan. He has worked with Richard and Tom Colburn on major pieces of legislation. McCain talks of bipartisan ship but some of his examples are things he now disowns like comprehensive immigration and campaign finance reform. When McCain does break with his party it is rarely on anything that matters.
The presumptive Republican nominee arguably cast the decisive vote 14 times since 1999 to ensure Republicans got their way, and he had five other close cases where his vote may have made a difference, Senate records show. By comparison, McCain effectively handed Democrats a win on roll-call votes four times in the same period. On one of those occasions, Republicans could still have won if Vice President Dick Cheney had cast a tie-breaking vote.
Congressional Quarterly gave McCain a 90 percent score for "party unity" voting last year and said he supported the president's position on legislation 95 percent of the time. Source.
Notice in the answer McCain is really defensive about that 100 years of war thing. He does not really give a good explanation of what it meant because Obama is not far off. McCain does not care how long we are in Iraq casualties or no. We have to stay there because of casualties but once they stop we should stay forever and no John McCain we are not winning the war. McCain claims to have respected Obama is every possible way yet he also tried to make it seem like he was endorsed by Hamas. That was not very respectful in my opinion.
The next two questions need to be taken together because they are both about national security and Obama as commander in chief.
Q- Do you think that an Obama presidency would make the country less secure?
A- Not as secure as my presidency would. That's one of the major reasons why I'm running. I believe I have the experience and the knowledge and the judgment to make America more secure than an Obama presidency would. And if I thought he would make it safer, then obviously I would not have much of a reason for me seeking the presidency.
Q-So, is he ready to be commander in chief?
A- That is a decision that will be made by the American people. I will point out his record: lack of experience, and again, things like [the] failure—it's now the 878th or 879th day since he went to Iraq. How do you know what the situation is and how do you make judgments if you don't go there? How do you say the surge has failed when it's clearly succeeding? It's clearly succeeding. Only the most devout believers [in America's inability to win] will now say that the United States is not winning the war in Iraq. We are winning, but he is saying we are not.
There are several things apparent here. The first is that McCain believes that saying we are winning clearly makes it true. Obama saying that we are not winning and that we should never have gone is not a mark against him. The American people are now on that side as McCain’s own numbers show. Second, McCain is only in it for the military job. He clearly is not a domestic policy guy. That might explain why he just cheated off the Bush plans when it comes to domestic policy. He really just wants to be able to start some more wars. The third thing is that he really thinks he has a winner in this Obama go to Iraq thing. That is being mentioned second only to the surge is working.
McCain was also asked about the new report that came out detailing the fact that Bush and Co used intelligence they knew to be bad. He basically said that everyone else thought he had WMD’s too so that makes it ok. He also threw in this gem though
The second thing, of course, is that the sanctions were breaking down, airplanes were getting shot at, it was a multibillion-dollar scandal in the Oil-for-Food Program. So it's pretty clear that the status quo was not going to prevail.
McCain is saying here that things were not going well so if Bush lied to get us into war it does not matter because we would have had to go eventually. This is a stupid remark. Bush lied to us and now more than 4,000 of our soldiers are dead and McCain thinks that the fact that we might have needed a new course with Saddam justifies these lies and these deaths. I thought he was supposed to hate war? For someone who hates war this is a pretty causal attitude to have.
The second to last question put to McCain is about his recent change in thought on warrantless wiretaps.
Q- There was a report raising questions about statements you made in the past about the wiretapping program and what your advisers say [today]. Have you changed your thinking on wiretapping?
A-Of course not. My position has been exactly the same. I have always said the president should obey the law. I still believe the president should obey the law.
Total dodge as the NYT explains.
Mr. McCain was asked whether he believed that the president had constitutional power to conduct surveillance on American soil for national security purposes without a warrant, regardless of federal statutes.
He replied: “There are some areas where the statutes don’t apply, such as in the surveillance of overseas communications. Where they do apply, however, I think that presidents have the obligation to obey and enforce laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, no matter what the situation is.”
Following up, the interviewer asked whether Mr. McCain was saying a statute trumped a president’s powers as commander in chief when it came to a surveillance law. “I don’t think the president has the right to disobey any law,” Mr. McCain replied.
David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive power issues, said that while the language used by Mr. McCain in his answers six months ago was imprecise, the recent statement by Mr. Holtz-Eakin “seems to contradict precisely what he said earlier.”
McCain did change his mind on this issue. He changed his mind on what the law the president must follow is. See that is the best way to get around a law just say it does not apply. That way you are in compliance even when you are violating the laws or say the constitution.
The final question is about press coverage. McCain’s base is the press and he goes out of his way to be friendly to influence coverage. He denies this. He talks about an inability to change the coverage and that he will never complain about the coverage. This is total crap. McCain host BBQ’s to influence the coverage and when the NYT wrote that piece on him and his female lobbyist friend he was more than willing to comment on that coverage.
This is going to be the standard fair for McCain this election. A steady dose of deception and lies about the war, his own record, and Obama’s record. He will combine these things with a revolving door of trivial and distracting issues like an Obama trip to Iraq. All the time he will be living in his own fantasy land where we are winning the war and he will get to be president.