Wednesday, May 07, 2008

How to Run Against McCain?

Can we start talking about John McCain now? I liked Hillary once upon a time, and I’ve humored her candidacy to ensure my own domestic tranquility, but, to paraphrase a line her husband used in 1992 (that he himself took from Reagan in 1980), “It’s time for her to go.”

All these months of internecine fighting have not (and please read these next lines in your best Chris Farley voice) “strengthened the eventual nominee,” or “shown our democracy in action,” or “brought new voters to the party.”

They’ve only let John McCain run around the country with a shiny halo undimmed by even the meekest criticism from a docile media. The country hasn’t yet gotten the telegram that he’s no longer a Mr. Rogers moderate. He’s the carnivorous offspring of Strom Thurmond and Glen Beck.



Time matters. At this point in the 2004 campaign, John Kerry was an effete, wind-surfing, brie-tasting, troop-hating pederast. And possibly an informer for Al Qaeda. John McCain deserves the same treatment – except on, you know, actual issues instead of imaginary demagogic ones.

But don’t worry, there’s plenty to choose from. I think there’s ten themes the Democrats should be trying out:

1. Old man

2. Crazy and cranky

3. Crazy and cranky old man

4. McCain of Arabia

5. Flip-flopper

6. W, the Sequel

7. Anti-choice, anti-Social Security, anti-health care (the usual liberal lines; bleh)

8. Slave to the far-right (playing kissy face with Falwell, etc.)

9. The Double Talk Express (various hypocrisies and about-faces since 2000)

10. Clueless on the economic realities of the middle class

Personally, I like a combination of #6, 9, and 10. Don’t look a gift lame-duck President in the mouth. If Biden or Clarke were the nominee, maybe #4. But I don’t trust Obama (or most Democrats) to be able to talk about foreign policy coherently. Heck, I’m not sure I trust them to do foreign policy.

But, whatever is this attack option, it’s time to start loading the cannons. You can’t transform the country into a radiant, hopeful place unless you first dismantle the other guy.

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31 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

lets not forget john hagee!

5/07/2008 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, EW. Couldn't agree more.

5/07/2008 8:54 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/07/2008 10:25 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

11. He's unpredictable (anger). Not only is he wrong (Iraq), but he is also bitter and mean-spirited kind of wrong. The worst kind.

12. He's unpredictable (poise). He let himself be pushed around by Elizabeth Dole AND George W in the 2000 primaries. And who wants that in a President?

13. He's unpredictable (ethics). The Keating Five

14. He's unpredictable (values). Just prior to the face sucking referenced in (8), he called the Christian right "agents of intolerance" and Falwell and Robertson "corrupting influences" ( . . . um, yeah, so sometimes it's hard to distinguish a weakness from a strength . . . but play it up anyway. He needs the far, wacko right, which worships those clowns)

15. He's unpredictable (position wandering). "Did you hear the rumor . . . McCain has Alzheimer's."

16. He's unpredictable (heart attack/stroke). McCain is decrepit. His face trails somewhere below his collar. Even FDR looked younger -- and he couldn't even walk! If J-Mac lives through the inauguration, he would be the oldest US President in the history of the entire universe. If not longer. And when (not if, but when) he slumps over at his desk, do you really want VP [insert any name here] to be President? Why, that guy is practically Dick Cheney!


Seriously, though, the best thing a Democrat could do, would be to grow a, uh, . . . a "spine." It's just my opinion, but Kerry and Gore (both of whom I voted for) were absolutely painful in this respect. Not everyone votes for a guy they think grew up playing house with his nanny, and then brought his dolls to college.

Dear DNC: Less Mommy. More daddy. It sounds awful, but hey, I'm sorry, that's what people want.

5/07/2008 10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's too soon for me. For now, count me as one of the Hillary supporters voting for McCain.

5/07/2008 10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ageism, what a great strategy.

Hey Mr. Rove, I hear Obama has had not one but two black babies.

5/08/2008 1:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given how detrimental age is to on-the-job competence, which Democrat is going to move first to repeal the Age in Discrimination Act?

5/08/2008 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make that "Age Discrimination in Employment Act"

5/08/2008 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, EW, for humoring that Hillary supporter in your life.

5/08/2008 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um. . .

Has anyone else tried and failed to access the exam interface?

The IST website says parts of the server have been down since yesterday. I'm trying to download a take home final, and this kind of sucks.

Also, the Exam Help phone number listed on the Exam page has been disconnected.

Jeez.

5/08/2008 12:18 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I just logged in from home with no problems.

Haven't tried downloading or uploading anything though...

5/08/2008 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There have been widespread problems with Airbears today.

5/08/2008 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second 10:41. I am also a Hilary supporter voting for McCain.

5/08/2008 1:47 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Who's "Hilary?"

5/08/2008 1:49 PM  
Blogger Earl Warren said...

Wow, 10:41 and 1:47. Like unicorns, Uncle Zeb, and the rule against traveling in the NBA, I wasn't sure you actually existed. And I still don't believe it.

5/08/2008 2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think I believe it at a place like Boalt, but it wouldn't surprise me for the general population. I think non-elite white people are torn. They like the idea of government helping them out, like unions, don't like the war, like tolerance, and don't like it when rich people get special treatment. But they don't like affirmative action, aren't comfortable with being too excited about abortion (even though they wouldn't overturn Roe v. Wade), like religion, and like guns. It doesn't seem groundbreaking that someone fitting that description would vote for Hillary but not Barack.

5/08/2008 3:13 PM  
Blogger Earl Warren said...

I can buy that argument, 3:13. I think it's at least counter-balanced by the new voters Obama will draw in for the general, but I can buy it.

What I don't buy is that there are any Hillary voters right now -- in the primaries -- who will now be voting for John McCain. Primaries are, by definition, composed of a self-selected group of partisans who, unlike 70-80% of other registered voters who don't give a shit, trudge to the polls in February or April to show their solidarity with the Democratic Party. Those people will be voting Democratic in November, guaranteed. (That's why these arguments about each candidate's demographic base of support in the primaries -- or who does best in blue, red, or purple states -- are so impossibly stupid. There are two completely different worlds of voters in the primary v. the general)

The election will really be decided by disaffected, middle-of-the-road whites who don't bother to vote in the primaries and believe pretty much what 3:13 described (except you missed that they don't like taxes).

Incidentally, as for the racial issue, you can take this one to the bank: In September, Obama will give a speech disapproving of racial affirmative action and supporting class-based remedies instead. I guarantee it.

5/08/2008 4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EW, your comment about traveling in the NBA just made my day.

Also, I think "Hilary" must mean Hilary Duff. I think that's how she spells her name.

5/08/2008 5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there is too much talk about the black/white divide. It isn't only white people who have reservations about Obama. In fact, it seems like the only people who don't have reservations about him are Blacks and latte liberals. It will be interesting to see if Obama can get the Latino vote that seemed to elude him during the primaries. If I had to put money on it, I would bet that McCain takes a much bigger share of the Latino vote than GW ever got. In fact, I would not be suprised if CA is in play with Obama as the nominee.

5/08/2008 6:27 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

$100 on the opposite of that last sentence.

5/08/2008 6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're on. I'll look to collect in November.

5/08/2008 6:30 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Well if you're serious, feel free to e-mail before the conventions, just so you don't get a free ride. That'd be a silly bet if I had no way of collecting.

5/08/2008 6:32 PM  
Blogger Earl Warren said...

I wouldn not be surprised if Armen is in play with $100 as the offer. (For anything.)

5/08/2008 6:59 PM  
Blogger Mitchell Wolf said...

Don't let the media fool you, making it sound like there's an actual race. Come November, McCain doesn't stand a chance.

No party keeps the presidency when the economy is in the crapper. I imagine it gets a bit tougher running on a continuation platform of the least popular president since presidential popularity was recorded.

5/08/2008 9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with slurring McCain is that most of his problems are due to his age. There are a LOT of older white Americans who are going to be pissed off about any comments that relate McCain's age to job incompetency a weakness (even if these arguments are based in science). Old people vote more, and I don't like the idea of giving the other side votes because people are offended over a talking point that could have been avoided by saying something else just as relevant. AS Patrick points out, McCain dramatically swings from one perspective to the next, not in a Clinton-follow-the-votes sort of a way, either. He swings and he swings violently, huffing and puffing the entire time. I think it would be better to call him a loose cannon (which even has a youthful ring to it) than a doting old man. I think there is more than enough material there to keep age or age-related infirmity out of it.

Also: I hope that EW is right about Obama supporting class based affirmative action programs. Its a brilliant move that will offend few and bring in the blue-collar white vote.

5/09/2008 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with 9:35 on the economy. The President's party always loses the Presidential election if the economy is bad in the election year.

But I wouldn't count McCain out for other reasons. If the war is a big issue (it seems to have fallen off the radar lately, but it could come back), McCain has the stronger argument. You can hate a guy for appearing militarist but if his logic is unassailable, you've lost. (See Bush v. Kerry, 2004.) Obama's vote against the war shows good judgment, but it doesn't provide a solution to the current mess.

I swear--Bush's invasion of Iraq was the best thing he did to win the 2004 election. No one could get around the issue and there was no way to criticize Bush (except on the decision to invade) on the conduct on the war without providing an (inevitably worse) alternative plan.

I think the economy is in play no matter what--the question is whether the war will overshadow it. That depends on body counts and whether bin Laden decides to issue any last minute videos.

5/09/2008 11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bin Laden is so 2004.

Old people are smart enough to know that an old guy shouldn't be running the country. Plus he HAD MELANOMA - about the worst kind of cancer you can have...and it comes back. (potential S.C. nominees are discarded for lesser health problems) With the stress he's under, chances seem high that it will come back. From a pure health perspective, McCain is toast.

5/09/2008 9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where to find a blog discussion of Kerry's chances circa May 2004? I bet people were pretty confident back then in light of the unpopular incumbent, unpopular war, and allegedly poor economy (though it was better then than it is now). Kerry was kind of a dufus and Barack is much more inspirational, but the inexperience and "diversity" issues might resonate with the general public. A major (or perceived or orchestrated) foreign policy crisis between now and November could do wonders for McCain.

5/10/2008 11:27 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Westlaw has a blog search function. You might be able to find what you are a looking for there.

5/10/2008 11:30 AM  
Blogger MRP said...

I know its old news, but does everyone remember this letter exchange?

http://obama.senate.gov/letter/060206-sen_obama_and_sen_mccain_exchange_letters_on_ethics_reform/

5/10/2008 7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I had not read that before. Obama comes out the rosy winner in that one.

5/11/2008 8:53 PM  

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