Posts Tagged ‘campaign’

McCain stands up (for a moment)

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

John McCain turned on his most vitriolic supporters yesterday, correcting a woman who thought Obama was an Arab terrorist, and telling the crowds they don’t have to be scared in the event of a Democratic victory. He deserves full credit for this, though of course it was his campaign who gave these ignorant fuckwits the idea in the first place, and they’re going to keep giving those ignorant fuckwits the same ideas for the next three weeks (and the four years beyond that too).

Still, one can’t help but wonder how McCain would be doing in the polls if he had never called up the forces of darkness to begin with.  Probably even worse than he is now, but still it’s fun to think about:  what if McCain had run the kind of campaign I suspect he wanted to run?  You think he likes any of this shit?  You think he enjoys pandering to the racist morons who were totally convinced eight years ago that he’d fathered a black child?   You think he relishes saying that Joel Osteen’s book is the best thing he’s ever read?  McCain’s essential tragedy is that the math of the Republican Party as it’s now configured forces its candidates to pander to a voter base that (let’s face it) probably would be a lot happier in a theocracy than a republic.

And that’s why his “stand of honor” yesterday ultimately means little.  Even as the Senator cringes in the face of the venom he’s presiding over, his paid operatives keep on pumping out the Jesusland bullshit, portraying Obama as a man whose first move as president will either be to blow up the White House or paint the whole thing black.  These are the same people who McCain once promised would burn in a “special place in hell” for smearing him so badly back in 2000.  He may end up in one of his own for joining forces with them.  Looking at his anguished face in yesterday’s rally, he may be there already.

Last night’s debate

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

The Romans understood that politics is a particularly weird/brutal kind of sport (check out Tom Holland’s brilliant Rubicon for specific analogies vis-a-vis chariot racing), and they wouldn’t have been surprised in the slightest by our presidential debates, where a single false move could cost a candidate the election. Neither candidate made such a move last night; indeed, Jim Lehrer’s decision to open things up at the start paradoxically seemed to make both Obama and McCain more careful in navigating their way forward. Which made for a somewhat boring first 15 minutes as the two men gingerly maneuvered around each other, neither wanting to start debating the specifics of a bailout bill that changes with every passing day . . .

But hey.  I just read John Scalzi’s latest post, and he’s got all sorts of advice for those who would comment on the debate, in particular the injunction to STAY AWAY FROM VIOLENT SPORTS ANALOGIES.  (Yawn.)  Though I do think he raises a good point in wondering why the “real people” scored the debate so differently from the pundits.  John thinks that’s because the voters are concerned with “steak not sizzle”; I gotta admit that’s news to me.  Because I didn’t hear a whole lot of substance last night.  What we got was the standard thing we get in every debate:  two candidates eager to allow the American people to continue in their delusion that fiscal questions can be addressed without hard decisions vis-a-vis military spending and entitlements.

No, I think the gap between the pundits (who rated the debate as even) and the independent voter/focus groups (most of whom scored it for Obama) has nothing to do with what was said and everything to do with what was seen.  Obama simply looked more presidential; he looked McCain in the eye, he didn’t cringe when the other guy was talking, and his posture was confident throughout.  McCain couldn’t even make eye contact in the initial handshake, and that says volumes to the voters.  Palin said she watched Tina Fey impersonate her with the sound down; anyone who did that to this debate knows exactly who won, and why.

McCain’s campaign suspension: three thoughts

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

First of all, the “suspension” is nothing of the kind. McCain’s surrogates will continue to stump for him, the 527 ads like this one will continue, and so will the massive undercurrent of email invective insinuating that Obama’s a Muslim, that he hates Christianity, etc., etc. Sure, I know McCain can claim he’s not directly linked to any of this: but that’s the point.  You can’t just turn a presidential campaign OFF.  Except as an exercise in political theater.

Second, McCain’s move will take the oft-heard “Obama’s playing politics with the issues” argument to reductio ad absurdum levels, since it literally will no longer be possible for Obama to discuss the issues (ANY issues) without getting accused by the GOP of playing politics.  Meanwhile McCain can grandstand all he wants.

Third, while the suspension is an act of total cynicism, it may actually work.  But don’t look to today’s polls/tea-leaves to see whether it is.  We’re entering uncharted waters now, and God only knows how all the intrigue on Capitol Hill across the next few days is going to look to confused centrist voters.  They may yet hail McCain as a statesman.