Archive for Friday, October 10, 2008

McCain campaign struggling, sinking

October 10, 2008


— Time was, the Baltimore Orioles manager was Earl Weaver, a short, irascible, Napoleonic figure who, when cranky, as he frequently was, would shout at an umpire, "Are you going to get any better or is this it?" With, mercifully, only one debate to go, that is the question about John McCain's campaign.

In the closing days of his 10-year quest for the presidency, McCain finds it galling that Barack Obama is winning the first serious campaign he has ever run against a Republican. Before Tuesday night's uneventful event, gall was fueling what might be the McCain-Palin campaign's closing argument. It is less that Obama has bad ideas than that Obama is a bad person.

This, McCain and his female Sancho Panza say, is demonstrated by bad associations Obama had in Chicago, such as with William Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist. But the McCain-Palin charges have come just as the Obama campaign is benefiting from a mass mailing it is not paying for. Many millions of American households are gingerly opening envelopes containing reports of the third-quarter losses in their 401(k) and other retirement accounts - telling each household its portion of the nearly $2 trillion that Americans' accounts have recently shed. In this context, the McCain-Palin campaign's attempt to get Americans to focus on Obama's Chicago associations seem surreal - or, as a British politician once said about criticism he was receiving, "like being savaged by a dead sheep."

Recently Obama noted - perhaps to torment and provoke conservatives - that McCain's rhetoric about Wall Street's "greed" and "casino culture" amounted to "talking like Jesse Jackson." What fun: one African-American Chicago politician distancing himself from another African-American Chicago politician by associating McCain with him.

After their enjoyable 2006 congressional elections, Democrats eagerly anticipated that 2008 would provide a second election in which a chaotic Iraq would be at the center of voters' minds. Today they are glad that has not happened. The success of the surge in Iraq, for which McCain justly claims much credit, is one reason why foreign policy has receded to the margins of the electorate's mind, thereby diminishing the subject with which McCain is most comfortable and which is Obama's largest vulnerability.

Tuesday night, McCain, seeking traction in inhospitable economic terrain, said that the $700 billion - perhaps it is $800 billion, or more; one loses track of this fast-moving target - bailout plan is too small. He proposes several hundred billions more for his American Homeownership Resurgence - you cannot have too many surges - Plan. Under it, the government would buy mortgages that homeowners cannot - or perhaps would just rather not - pay, and replace them with cheaper ones. When he proposed this, conservatives participating in MSNBC's "dial group" wrenched their dials in a wrist-spraining spasm of disapproval.

Still, it may be politically prudent for McCain to throw caution, and billions, to the wind. Obama is competitive in so many states that President Bush carried in 2004 - including Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Colorado and New Mexico - it is not eccentric to think he could win at least 350 of the 538 electoral votes.

If that seems startling, that is only because the 2000 and 2004 elections were won with 271 and 286, respectively. In the 25 elections 1900-1996, the winners averaged 402.6. This, even though the 1900 and 1904 elections - before Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma attained statehood, and before the size of the House was fixed at 435 members in 1911 - allocated only 447 and 476 electoral votes, respectively. The 12 elections from 1912 through 1956, before Hawaiian and Alaskan statehood, allocated only 531.

In the 25 20th-century elections, only three candidates won with fewer than 300 - McKinley with 292 in 1900, Wilson with 277 in 1916 and Carter with 297 in 1976. President Harry Truman won 303 in 1948 even though Strom Thurmond's Dixiecrat candidacy won 39 that otherwise would have gone to Truman. After John Kennedy won in 1960 with just 303, the average winning total in the next nine elections, up to the 2000 cliffhanger, was 421.4.

In 1987, on the eve of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's third victory, the head of her Conservative Party told a visiting columnist: "Someday, Labour will win an election. Our job is to hold on until they are sane." Republicans, winners of seven of the last 10 presidential elections, had better hope they have held on long enough.

- George Will is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


Chris Golledge 9 years, 5 months ago

Americans live at the bleeding edge of the propensity to spend spectrum, it's in our big-as-we-can-afford houses, our shiny new cars, and our big screen TVs. When the sailing is smooth, this causes our economy to roar and race ahead. When a limiting factor is introduced, like energy getting more expensive, it causes the engine to sputter and cough. There are a lot of fingers pointing a lot of blame, but really the blame is systemic, it is built into our culture. Multi-million dollar corporate bonuses are wrong, but they have been around for decades; they are not the cause of our current trouble. Too easy loans are wrong, but they are a response to what the market demanded.What makes me mad is that from a distance, the bailout is a shift of money (in the from of our tax dollars) from those who have been careful with their money to those who haven't. But it would appear our choice is to do that or risk a kink in the fuel line that causes an engine failure. Ticks me off.I'm voting for Obama, but not because I think the Dems are really that much better with the economy than the Repubs. (It has more to do with the Rs being dominated by the religious right and BushCos tendency to favor those with more money with more tax breaks, but that could be only because they've had more opportunity than the Dems for the last few decades.)

Rex Russell 9 years, 5 months ago

Just download,printed off, and filled out the voter registration off the State of Kansas website to change my affiliation from Republican to Unaffiliated. After 24 yrs. I've had enough. I used to respect McCain. Not anymore. He bowed down at the alter to the religeous right loons. Stopped being anything close to a fiscal conservative. And last but by far not least, picked that angel food-fluff cake-Twinkee of a running mate. How stupid does he assume we all are? It's insulting.

S0uPnAzi 9 years, 5 months ago

We'll see how Clint feels once Pelosi/Reid and wrecking crew do this massive redistribution of wealth from the retired community (yes, the btch wants to start taxing retirement benefits!!!) to those who are not productive, and then we'll see how he likes it. Given a mandate of having a Democratic president, that is bound to happen.Then of course, Nancy the Socialist has already tried to get all illegals in the country legal* status (including some that belong to Mexican gangs!) so even more of your tax dollars will go to welfare for those who are un/underemployed. Yeah Clint, go ahead and stand for the American way, and we'll see if you even recognize it in a few years down the road. You can join all the other smug socialists after our next terrorist attack!

Scott Drummond 9 years, 5 months ago

Several months ago I predicted that this would be an election marking yet another generational return of vast swaths of the American public to the Democratic Party. Much like the Great Depression of the 1930's resulted in a solidly Democratic voting block that held together through the late 1970's. I was not so sure that george w. bush had another calamity in him, but he and his accomplices have delivered in spades with our current Depression. I hate to say I told you so, but.....I did. Enjoy the political wilderness, Republicans. It will be a long, long while before you build up a mass of people stupid or foolish enough to put you back in power.

Bob Forer 9 years, 5 months ago

" The Obama campaign is benefiting from a mass mailing it is not paying for. Many millions of American households are gingerly opening envelopes containing reports of the third-quarter losses in their 401(k) and other retirement accounts - telling each household its portion of the nearly $2 trillion that Americans' accounts have recently shed. In this context."Just got one in todays mail. In three lousy months the annuity went from around 50K to less than 40. And that's before this week's cluster bombs. Say "Bu bye," Johnny boy. You'll be outta here as quick as our money left.

David Omar 9 years, 5 months ago

Snap, I don't think the Dems have run congress. Everytime there is a bill on the table for the benefit of Americans, the Repups have refused it and shot it down. How many bills were brought to the president that he vetoed? Many and there aren't enough Dem votes to override the veto, so the Repubs are still the power in Congress. Although the Dems have the chairmanships.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 5 months ago

" Republicans, winners of seven of the last 10 presidential elections, had better hope they have held on long enough."Given that Democrats are the ones who largely responsible for passing the BushCo bailout, Wall Street Republicans should be quite comfortable with an Obama Administration."It's ironic that McCain's death knell is being rung by a financial catastrophe brought on largely by Democrats who insisted upon lower standards for home mortgages."That's utterly simplistic, Solomon. There's nothing wrong with making home ownership more available to more people-- allowing that to be used as a basis for a massive fraudulent ponzi scheme is the real crime, and that was a Republican policy the whole way (thanks, Phil Gramm) although it required a lot of Democrats to go along, or at least look the other way.

sfjayhawk 9 years, 5 months ago

It is actually sad to see a once proud McCain get down in the gutter. Where does this leave the republican party? Hopefully they will regroup and reclaim their old standard of fiscal responsibility, states rights, focus on the economy and a reluctance to engage in foreign military entanglements. It is key that they banish the faction that only wants to focus on 'cultural' issues like gay rights, their fascination with guns and their belief that woman cant make a decision for themselves. The sooner they stuff that crowd back under the rock they crawled out of, the sooner they can reclaim some pride and can get back to contributing to the American people. Until then, they will continue to be nothing more than a punchline for SNL.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 5 months ago

"That's utterly simplistic, Solomon."However, it is also true.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 5 months ago

Remember the "Dewey Beats Truman" headline.

guesswho 9 years, 5 months ago

Reminds me of the saying "i did'nt leave the republican party", it left me. I have voted Democratic in the past few elections only because they have been more fiscally responsible. They may be tax and spend, but at least they aren't borrow and spend. The Republicans used to stand for fiscal responsibility, but they have been taken over by the moral police.

verity 9 years, 5 months ago

For those of you who are actually interested in researching the truth, there is a very interesting article in the October 9 Christian Science Moniter entitled "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac must go." It is nonpartisan and as far as I know, the CSM generally is creditable.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 5 months ago

"... the rats that have been running congress the last eight years are being run out..."Actually, the Democrats have been running Congress the last couple of years.

Scott Drummond 9 years, 5 months ago

And now George Will utters the "L" (andslide) word. Say goodnight, Johnboy & then take your unethical, lying ethically challenged campaign home. Oh yeah, and take that weirdo from Alaska with you.

Paul R Getto 9 years, 5 months ago

Good column, Mr. Will. Machine gun Johnny is getting desperate, and it shows.

Alia Ahmed 9 years, 5 months ago

It's interesting how the extreme right try equate Democrats with socialism, when with this $700 billion bailout, voted on by both Republicans and Democrats, the US is essentially moving toward a socialized financial system due to deregulations and unmitigated greed.

David Omar 9 years, 5 months ago

If you have kept up with the headlines today, you will note that Mrs. Palin was involved in the abuse of power scheme as stated by the team of investigators. She has abused her power. I am not at all surprised. She is a really big loser and I still can't understand Mc Cain for choosing her. Never can he win now. What a mistake.

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