Thursday, September 04, 2008

Will McCain be a drag on the ticket?

I remember sitting in May's Bay, the den in our fraternity at the University of California, Santa Barbara, watching Ronald Reagan accept the Republican nomination for president in the summer of 1980. Reagan had been the object of relentless attacks in the media portraying him as a shallow actor who was too far right to win a national election.

He wound up his speech, and then paused and said he was going to do something he had been advised against doing, but was going to do anyway. Then he asked everyone to bow their heads while he prayed. This was in the days when the media was completely ruled by liberals. You just didn't do this kind of thing on TV. It was prohibited in the First Amendment. Well, okay, it wasn't really, but it should be.

He said "Amen", and thanked his audience for their support for him. The guy sitting next to me said, "Well, what do you think?" Before the speech, I had been convinced by the constant media drone about the former two-term California governor and his dim prospects for election.

But after seeing Reagan's performance, I turned to my friend and said, "It's going to be landslide."

It was.

I got the same feeling last night listening to Sarah Palin's speech. The Party has been waiting for another Reagan--another interesting, vibrant, exciting, authentic, likable character it can use to put a face on its cause. They found one Wednesday night. I could be wrong, but I think what we are seeing here is the emergence of a legitimate conservative folk hero. Our politics are populated with dull, boring figures who think in jargon and talk in platitudes.

Just look at Obama's running mate.

Some Republicans had been worried they had chosen a running mate who would find herself with a deer in the headlights look when the national spotlight was turned on her. But when the national spotlight was actually switched on, there was Sarah field dressing the rhetorical carcass of Barack Obama.

The question is no longer whether Palin was the right choice. The only question now is whether McCain will be a drag on the ticket.

Meanwhile the Obama camp clearly doesn't know how to handle this woman. Here is Obama's response:
The speech that Governor Palin gave was well delivered, but it was written by George Bush's speechwriter and sounds exactly like the same divisive, partisan attacks we've heard from George Bush for the last eight years.
Wonder who wrote that for him.

And divisiveness? Was Obama listening at his own convention? Do the Democrats expect anyone to take them seriously when, right after spending a year verbally savaging George W. Bush over and over again, they issue a formal objection that the Republicans are being mean to them? Is there anyone who thinks that a candidate who thinks it is out of bounds when his political opponents criticize him at their national convention is really ready to face down terrorism and a newly expansionist Russia?

Osama bin Ladan is undoubtedly shaking in his boots at the prospect of offending Obama's tender sensibilities. Vladimir Putin must be hurrying troops out of Georgia so Obama won't lose any sleep.

But there you have it. A man who for some reason has been coronated as a foreign policy expert by a fawning media and who thinks it is inappropriate for people he is running against to disagree with him, and a woman who, although she has no unrealistic pretensions about being an "expert" on anything, and who, after enduring a week of vicious assaults on her character and her family, isn't afraid to take on the whole Washington/media axis.

And we're supposed to feel more comfortable in a hostile world with the man in question rather than the woman. Go figure.

20 comments:

Art said...

C'mon, Martin, why won't you tell us Palin's answer to my question. How can we take her seriously if she's not going to answer the tough and important questions?

Martin Cothran said...

Art,

So now your giving Alaskans lectures on global warming, huh? What do you think her position of global warming is?

Anonymous said...

Palin's speech was more than divisive, it was plain inaccurate. And frequently dishonest.

http://blog.qusan.com/2008/09/palin-fact-check.html

http://justmoreofthesame.com/fact_check/26/fact-check-sarah-palin

I realize that this doesn't matter to many people but it should. Her first big speech was filled with outright lies, and if her teleprompter problems were the cause of it, she should come out and apologize for it.

The fact of the matter is, she did misrepresent her own history. She campaigned in favor of the bridge to nowhere, and the decision to sack the project was not made by her. She still took the earmarked funds and spent it on pork. Further, under her tenure as both mayor and governor, she supported tax hikes. That's just the beginning... and it was only one speech!

If you have any intellectual integrity you would at least criticize the speech for its inaccuracies and outright dishonesty.

Art said...

Well, Martin, I would hope that Palin would know what was happening on the north shore of her state. Her seeming ignorance on this matter is rather akin to, say, Beshear not knowing if the Ohio had flooded Louisville.

You seem to be pretty terrified of substance, Martin. As does your ticket.

Martin Cothran said...

Art,

You seem to be assuming that Palin doesn't believe in global warming. And since you like to give lectures on accuracy, I'm just wondering what your basis for that is.

Art said...

Hi Martin,

I'm not assuming anything. I've read some conflicting statements, and I think it's important to get a clear, unambiguous, non-staged answer to the question.

You seem to be pretty fearful of Palin's positions - that's why you won't offer any answers or even discussion. This speaks as loudly as the answers Palin will never provide.

Martin Cothran said...

Art,

I assume, like me, you have access to the Internet and can find out what Palin's positions on issues are. Are you needing some advice on how to operate your Google search engine or something? Why are you coming to this blog asking me to tell you what her positions are?

Art said...

Martin, I cannot find on the intertubes unequivocal answers to any of my questions for Palin. If you have any, some simple cut-n-pastes would be most appropriate.

Of course, fourth-rate politician that she is, Palin has learned not to answer substantive questions. Well, I believe America needs answers to these questions (and others that are likely to rear their ugly heads).

I've asked three on this blog, and our gracious host is getting more and more uncomfortable, even put off, that I've the temerity to expose Palin's evasiveness (or maybe it's just glaring apathy and/or inexperience). But the fact that Palin has no answers and will not offer any, as well as Martin's growing frustration with this obsession with substance, speaks loudly for readers of this blog. I'm glad to help keep the volume on "high".

Martin Cothran said...

Art,

Not that I have ever heard of a politician being evasive about answering questions, but are you referring to someone who asked Palin a question and who Palin refused to answer?

Are you thinking she frequents this blog and sees your questions and doesn't answer them?

I really am trying to figure out why you have this angst about Palin.

Are you supporting Obama because of his record of always giving specific policy prescriptions in his campaign speeches?

Art said...

Hi Martin,

I'm doing nothing more than pointing out that:

1. Palin is an empty shell when it comes to substantive issues. Her record, meager as it is, gives America no idea what sort of executive she will be. We need answers to the questions I am asking. I predict, however, that she will never answer them.

2. You and your conservative cohort are beyond concerned, you're terrified and offended that people are asking questions of substance. You know that the emperor has no clothes.

I'll keep defining the canyon that is Palin's accountability gap. We'll see just how vacuous the Republican VP candidate really is, or we'll see just how long it takes for a conservative here to screw up the courage and explain Palin's positions.

Lee said...

> art: "Palin is an empty shell when it comes to substantive issues."

Did I just hear that from an Obama supporter?

But to answer the question, yes, McCain is a drag on the ticket. I have voted Republican in every election since 1972, and held my nose through three Bushes. I've decided it's time for the GOP to stop serving up such stinky nominees.

Lee said...

> art: "You and your conservative cohort are beyond concerned, you're terrified and offended that people are asking questions of substance. You know that the emperor has no clothes."

Now, that's funny! ;)

Who has looked more desperate this week? Palin supporters? Or her shrill critics?

Classic case of projection.

For the record, I think conservatives are way too easily placated by the GOP when making an unknown Alaska governor No. 2 on the ticket evokes a 2001 Space Odyssey Dance around the Obelisk.

But. At least she's pro-life, and one of these days having a pro-life Republican office holder may actually manifest itself in a practical way. I'd like to live to see it. Certainly cause for some minor celebration. Up until Palin, it was looking like McCain's strategy was to go after that all-important "Ted Kennedy Republican" demographic.

I still think the country is better off this year if the Republicans lose, but for different reasons than Obama supporters think. Some people say they vote for the man, not the party. There is no doubt in my mind that McCain would make a better president than Obama, but better, I think, in degree, not in type. McCain is essentially a liberal in a Republican suit, but he's not as liberal as Obama. So that means a vote for McCain is a vote for requiring a few additional years to ruin the country.

I prefer unambiguous situations. If we're going to get liberal policy-making whether we elect Democrats or Republicans, I'd just as soon we have Democrats making the policy. There's no hope for the Democrats. But I think there may still be some hope for the GOP. If a Democratic president is pushing for liberal policies, it might concentrate whatever passes for minds in the Republican Party and they may gird for some actual battle -- 1994, when the Republicans swept Congress, would be the ideal situation. But when a Republican president pushes for liberal policies, there is nothing that can be done, as he holds the whole party hostage.

It's like Reagan said: government is like a giant baby, with a giant appetite at one end, and no sense of responsibility at the other. I'd like to see some sense of responsibility. More importantly, though, I would like to see some sense that our political parties put some, any, limitations on what it is they think government should be doing.

Art said...

Hi Lee,

Interesting and forthright comments. Something that is a rarity in the conservative camp.

There's a lot of gushing from the far-right of the Republican Party about Palin. What about people (like me) who seriously (but much less so in the past few weeks) considered voting for McCain?

I vote for McCain because he's a better bet to loosen, ever so slightly, the legislative gridlock that has paralyzed Washington for the past generation. And because, until recently, he had shown indications of leaving the failed Bush/Cheney agenda behind.

I don't vote for McCain because he's in all reality just another politician desperate to be elected (that's the real reason for choosing Palin - this choice is a hail Mary, and act of desperation, an attempt to hit a home run). Because he's sold his soul to the far-right rather than stick to the principles he has espoused in the past. And, most importantly, because he has not acknowledged the fundamental error of Bush's that has dragged this nation into quite a mess. (This is, of course, Bush's war).

I don't care about "he voted for the war, I didn't", what I need to see is a man (or woman) who has the courage to stand up and say "I was wrong, and I won't make the same mistakes again". Up until Palin, if McCain had come to this, he'd have had my vote. Now, I don't trust him. He's just another politician who is entirely too willing to spend my kids' money (and their lives) frivolously.

Art said...

Hi Lee,

You said:

"It's like Reagan said: government is like a giant baby, with a giant appetite at one end, and no sense of responsibility at the other. I'd like to see some sense of responsibility. More importantly, though, I would like to see some sense that our political parties put some, any, limitations on what it is they think government should be doing."

Can you support this proposal?

"Reinstate PAYGO Rules: Obama believes that a critical step in restoring fiscal discipline is enforcing pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) budgeting rules which require new spending commitments or tax changes to be paid for by cuts to other programs or new revenue."

This is a great idea. Why won't McCain support it? (We won't even ask about Palin here - she has no record and will only read the cue cards that are given her.)

Lee said...

Art, as I said earlier, the bigger issue is not how the money we spent gets financed, but how much of it we spend, and especially how much of it we spend on things that should not be the government's concern.

I would be fine with the proposal, *provided* that spending went down to appropriate levels. The federal government does not need to take responsibility for everything under the sun. *That* is what is eating away your children's inheritance, not the fact that it is financed by borrowing per se.

Lee said...

> art: "Interesting and forthright comments. Something that is a rarity in the conservative camp."

Pshaw. I don't believe conservatives are any less forthright than liberals. Quite the contrary. Obama doesn't talk a whole lot about his extremely liberal voting record. I don't expect him to. I don't expect the liberal news media to make him. And if the Republicans try to flush it out in the open, they'll be accused of "swift-boating", treat it as a personal attack. As they should, because it's the one thing that can deflate his candidacy.

> art: "There's a lot of gushing from the far-right of the Republican Party about Palin. What about people (like me) who seriously (but much less so in the past few weeks) considered voting for McCain?"

I don't believe there are enough liberals who would ever vote for McCain to justify him going after them, if it costs him his conservative base. McCain spent years fishing for good relations with the news media, but the truth of the matter is he was the biggest guppie in the tank. Republicans can play footsie with liberals all they like, but they always leave the dance with the Democrats.

As McCain has been finding out in recent weeks.

> art: "I vote for McCain because he's a better bet to loosen, ever so slightly, the legislative gridlock that has paralyzed Washington for the past generation."

What is so bad about "legislative gridlock", per se? Can we agree that bad legislation is worse than no legislation? It's not like Congress is making automobiles or growing corn. New laws can help, or they can hurt. How about we go for better laws, and aboliton of worse laws?

> Art: "And because, until recently, he had shown indications of leaving the failed Bush/Cheney agenda behind."

You would have to specify. What parts of the Bush agenda have failed? And why? By what criteria? Much of Bush's legislation has been of the liberal sort -- e.g., "No Child Left Behind". The parts you might want to keep and expand, I might want to take a backhoe over.

> Art: "I don't vote for McCain because he's in all reality just another politician desperate to be elected (that's the real reason for choosing Palin - this choice is a hail Mary, and act of desperation, an attempt to hit a home run)."

As I pointed out, it is Palin's critics who sound desperate. How dare a modern, successful, powerful woman be a pro-life Republican with five kids? And not have gotten there by having a rich or prominent husband? Kind of blows half of the Democrats' talking points, doesn't it?

> Art: "Because he's sold his soul to the far-right rather than stick to the principles he has espoused in the past."

Oh, please. We should be so fortunate. The "principles" he stuck to in the past is if he could get a thumb in the eye of conservatives, he would hold off until he could get his entire fist in, up to the elbow.

> Art: "And, most importantly, because he has not acknowledged the fundamental error of Bush's that has dragged this nation into quite a mess. (This is, of course, Bush's war)."

That's one of the few parts of Bush's agenda that I'm still hoping he got right. Still, the issue can be debated in two parts: 1. Was the war the right decision? and 2. Given that it was the right decision, has it been well-executed?

I don't know the answer to the first question. As to the second, probably not. That is, probably no better than any other war in our history (except the First Gulf War, perhaps).

On D-Day, for instance, about 18,000 men died in one day. They were just thrown at the French beaches, where the Germans were well fortified, hoping that they'd find a way to break through. We're fortunate that didn't lose the whole war. Then there was the Battle of the Bulge. The war could probably have been ended six months sooner had they followed Patton's advice and cut off and surrounded the bulge. Instead, they took the "prudent" approach (sort of like football's "prevent" defense), and gradually pushed the bulge back in. A lot of American men probably died needlessly of cold and starvation that winter, because the "prudent" thing was done. When Eisenhower toured the lines that winter, he broke down and cried. He should have.

>Art: "I don't care about "he voted for the war, I didn't", what I need to see is a man (or woman) who has the courage to stand up and say "I was wrong, and I won't make the same mistakes again".

Begs the question. *Was* it a mistake?

> Art: "Up until Palin, if McCain had come to this, he'd have had my vote. Now, I don't trust him. He's just another politician who is entirely too willing to spend my kids' money (and their lives) frivolously."

If you want a liberal to vote for, you've got at least one on the ticket. Congratulations. I wish conservatives like me were so fortunate.

Art said...

Hi Lee,

Just to reiterate (and not turn Martin's blog into our own out-of-the-way sounding board), my point is that Palin has no track record on the subjects I speak of. America deserves to know the answers to my questions. If Palin thinks the war in Iraq was justified, she needs to speak out and defend her stance. If she intends to imprison women who have abortions, she needs to tell us now, before the election. Etc., etc.

Is that too much to ask?

Art said...

Lee said: "On D-Day, for instance, about 18,000 men died in one day. They were just thrown at the French beaches, where the Germans were well fortified,"

If I may ask, what is the source for this number?

Lee said...

> art: "Just to reiterate (and not turn Martin's blog into our own out-of-the-way sounding board), my point is that Palin has no track record on the subjects I speak of. America deserves to know the answers to my questions. If Palin thinks the war in Iraq was justified, she needs to speak out and defend her stance. If she intends to imprison women who have abortions, she needs to tell us now, before the election. Etc., etc."

She's be as coy as she can as specific as she has to be, just like any other candidate. Barry Goldwater demonstrated what happens when you get highly specific about things like war.

In politics, to harpoon your opponent when he makes the mistake of committing himself to a specific, one employs the strategy of divergence. One candidate say, "I think emphatically that A ought to happen." Then, as his opponenent, you simply say, "He's out of his mind to think A ought to happen, and all good and thinking people know this."

Now, maybe all good and thinking people know this, and maybe they don't. That's beside the point. What it means, though, is now you have a chance to get the votes for all the people who are emphatically against A. But what are they for? Some of them might have felt A just didn't go far enough, and wanted A1. Some might think B is the option, some might think C is the option, while others want no alternative, they just want A to go away. The beauty of the strategy of divergence is, since you didn't get specific, all of those who oppose A think you agree with them. And you don't, of course, and that's your little secret until after the election.

Johnson employed it effectively against Goldwater in 1964. Goldwater was understood to be a hawk in Vietnam. Johnson simply said, "I'm not a hawk," and ran as the peace candidate. So we voted for Johnson and... had peace?

Obama has been using a version of this approach by citing endlessly the need for "change." What kind of change? Well, he's quite unspecific about that. Do Americans, in your words, "deserve to know" what types of change he may have in mind? Well, we might, but he loses votes if he gets too specific, so yes, that is too much to ask... of a politician. Raising taxes is a change; so is lowering taxes. If you don't like tax rates as they stand, then to say that we're going to "change" them isn't nearly enough information, is it?

> art: "If she intends to imprison women who have abortions, she needs to tell us now, before the election."

Just out of curiosity, art, do you think a vice president can singlehandedly overturn Roe v. Wade, putting abortion back in the laps of state legislatures, and then singlehandedly convince every state legislature to outlaw abortion, and then on top of that make them apply criminal penalties not just to abortion providers but also young women who had abortions?

I mean, if you think that, I have to wonder how you conceive of the mechanics of the federal government.

Ronald Reagan and two Bushes were unable to get abortion outlawed, but a vice president? And, to listen to the Obama camp, a lightweight to boot?

Back in the day, it was right-wingers who saw things under their beds, like commie rats and fluoridated water advocates. Now it looks like liberals are the ones frightened at night with bogeymen.

As for the D-Day estimates, they are all over the map, but still 18,000 seems a bit high. Just trusting my spotty memory on that. Seems like about 5,000 Americans and close to 4,000 Brits is what I'm seeing around the web.

Still, the point is made: 5,000 in one day. What if Bush had lost 5,000 in one day? Why didn't they impeach FDR?

Lee said...
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