Thursday, 25 September 2008

Oh McCain, you've done it again

How revealing is John McCain's unilateral call to "suspend campaigning" in the face of America's financial meltdown.

What does he think this is -- a popularity contest? A presidential dog and pony show whose result has no relevance to the way the mess is cleaned up?

If McCain has policies to introduce that will clean up the mess, that he really thinks will clean it up better than those of his opponent, then wouldn't that make him all the more motivated to have them introduced, rather than those of his opponent? Wouldn't the financial meltdown make it more urgent rather than less to have those policies introduced? Wouldn't it? If you were convinced you knew what was going on, and you knew your opponent's solutions were destructive, wouldn't you be champing at the bit to keep him from the levers of power?

That would be the case, of course, if McCain was really convinced he had some idea of how to clean up the mess -- if he knew what caused the meltdown and what to do to address it -- if he had a fundamentally different approach to the "regulate them until they bleed" call that's already been articulated by his opponent -- or if he had anything to add to the "American workers" schtick he's been waving around bathetically -- or if he even gave any sign at all that he knows what's going on, fundamentally.

That he himself is apparently convinced he hasn't is all the admission the rest of us need to believe he's right. He doesn't.

The only reasons for any candidate to unilaterally suspend campaigning in the face of such a serious calamity would be the conviction that the winner of the dog and pony show will have no way to solve it anyway, that the result is unimportant to the future direction of the country -- that it really is just a popularity contest with no relevance to the fundamental direction of the country -- a conviction in short that the fundamental attitudes of both candidates are so similar and so impotent that it doesn't matter who's elected anyway.

In which case we must take McCain's admission for what it is, and recognise that he has thereby disqualified himself as any sort of serious candidate.


  1. Robert Winefield25 Sep 2008, 12:49:00

    On the other hand, McCain is a sitting member of the US Senate about to consider passing a bill that will place $10,000 worth of debt on every household in the US.

    If for nothing else, actually voting for it means he is willing to swing for it when the Depression hits. Obama, on the other hand is hiding in Florida practicing his debating style.

    This current situation reminds me of the lead up to the US civil war, with multiple cardboard cut out candidates and presidents all of whom rode the driverless vehicle right off the edge of the cliff - hoping all the time for divine intervention to save them.

  2. On your last paragraph ... you sure got that one right.

    It's all set up for a demagogue who does see a way to take advantage of the intellectual paralysis you describe -- just like FDR did in 1932...

  3. Sorry, I think you are misreading this one. I'm no big fan of the guy, but remember he is the guy who said he would rather lose an election than a war. He meant it. To his mind, this is the same thing.

    He believes the Republic is threatened (albeit he is grossly mistaken by whom and what), but his instinct is to do what he can to help. That means, he believes, going to DC to forge a bipartisan agreement to solve the problem.

    He is woefully mistaken about a lot of things, but he is acting honorably. And, he is not completely wrong about what needs to happen. (He called for major reform of Fannie and Freddie over 2 years ago.)

    Rightly, he is probably thinking that implementing his own policies can wait until he is elected.

    He also is the one guy who can sway things who said "I'm deeply troubled by some things in this [Paulson's] proposal. Once again, his thinking is often confused, but his instincts are pro-American.

    No saint and no thinker, but not so black - or wrong - as you paint him here.

    Anyone, perhaps you, who thinks there are no very substantial differences between Obama and McCain, if any part of that is operational here, needs to look closer.

  4. Robert, you also said, "If for nothing else, actually voting for it means he is willing to swing for it when the Depression hits. Obama, on the other hand is hiding in Florida practicing his debating style."

    Actually, McCain's week is unlikely to be too much different. Before he changed his plans for the week, they looked like this: "Plans to work with advisers on the debate between campaign events this week in Ohio and Michigan, meetings with world leaders in New York for the United Nations General Assembly and briefings on the Wall Street crisis. He also plans to meet Bono, the rock star and humanitarian, and appear on TV's Late Show with David Letterman."

    Which will probably now read more like this:

    Plans to work with advisers on the debate between voting to flood Wall Street in paper, and meetings with world leaders and Bono in New York.

  5. How dare you question my judgment, Jeff. :-)

    May I remind you that honorable ignorance is still ignorance. In the current environment being grossly mistaken in manner you describe is no qualification for the job he's after.

    Remember, this is the guy who just minutes before the collapse became obvious was telling the world that America's "economic fundamentals" were sound, and then just the next day (post-crash) that what he meant by "fundamentals" was the fundamentally sound character of the American worker, who has been sold out by the "greed" of the pirates in neckties on Wall Street.

    It could have been written by Oliver Stone.

  6. Yeah, he does say some dumb things, and he is far from my ideal candidate. But, two things:

    It's him, or Obama. Right now, I'm not inclined to help him lose because I prefer not to have William Ayers buddy as President.

    More to the point, though he is inconsistent, his instincts are better and that counts for a lot. For one, it means that he will have better advisers than the alternative.

    Just as one example, he is for cap and trade because he thinks the oil companies are selling us out and someone (don't know who) persuaded him that AGW is true. But, he has been moved from that position by those who know better and he has listened to them.

    It's extremely frustrating to deal with a pragmatist because you never know where they will land from day to day.

    But concrete issues are always matters of degree and McCain's degrees are so much better than the alternative that I choose to support him to give the maximum time for better alternatives to be pushed for by those, like you, who know better.

    Besides, it isn't like you to do the knee-jerk, 'purist', Oist thing. It's out of character. So, take a deep breath and hang on. It's gonna be a bumpy ride the next few years, but with McCain at the wheel, we at least will have someone who is not committed to throwing sand in the gas tank, merely someone who needs help telling gasoline from water.

  7. Yes- in fact it IS a popularity contest to about 90% of the voters!


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