Archive for Saturday, September 6, 2008

Maverick side more style than substance

September 6, 2008


All week, Republicans have hailed Sen. John McCain as a maverick and a reformer, an independent thinker who will shake up Washington with the aid of vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

It's a sharp contrast with the way Democrats last week depicted the Arizona senator as a virtual clone of George W. Bush, promising to continue what speakers called the "failed policies" of the last eight years.

To be sure, a President McCain probably would fall somewhere between those positive and negative portrayals, just as Barack Obama would be neither totally the inexperienced Chicago pol nor someone ensuring dramatic change.

But it often has seemed this year that McCain's maverick side is more stylistic than substantive and that his decision to pursue conservative stances on key issues would undercut his stated desire to work across party lines.

Clearly, the dire fiscal situation Bush will leave his successor will constrain him from pushing his proposals. McCain almost certainly would face a more challenging political environment because Democrats will control the next Congress, likely with increased majorities.

Perhaps the most obvious example of the contrast between his stylistic flexibility and substantive rigidity occurred when he was a major figure in the "gang of 14" that sought to prevent a parliamentary meltdown in the Senate's consideration of Supreme Court nominees.

McCain helped to head off Republican conservatives pushing precedent-altering rules changes. But he ultimately joined them in voting for two conservative Bush nominees and, more significantly, made clear that he would name justices with similar ideological views, hardly an independent stance.

Similarly, while his touted early advocacy of the military surge in Iraq deviated some from orthodoxy at the time, it really was a continuation of his reliance on military force.

When Obama and some others already were skeptical about the efficacy of unleashing military force on Iraq, McCain was as enthusiastic as the Bush high command in advocating it and predicting success.

Now, while touting the surge's success, he still seems wedded to the idea that continued force is needed to ensure political progress.

In several areas, McCain has abandoned the approach that nurtured his maverick image. A prime example is fiscal policy.

In the early Bush years, he drew conservative ire by opposing as excessive the president's tax cut proposals for the wealthiest Americans.

Now, he backs extending all of the Bush cuts and increasing the emphasis on cutting spending, even though recent presidents have learned that it's unrealistic to achieve big spending reductions in a budget where most funds go for retirement programs, fixed income security and health payments and national defense.

One of his main goals is to eliminate the "earmarks" that lawmakers use to direct federal funds to specific home-state projects, many questionable. But independent groups estimate that ending all earmarks would save only $18 billion in a budget of more than $3 trillion.

Other areas in which McCain earned his reputation for independence are campaign finance reform, a complex area where legislating limits often produced unexpected side effects; global warming; immigration; and the power within the GOP of religious conservatives.

But he no longer criticizes leading religious conservative figures. He has enthusiastically embraced their goal of Supreme Court nominees who would bar legal abortions and picked a running mate who champions their causes.

On both global warming and immigration, he has abandoned more flexible stances in the face of conservative opposition.

As president, McCain has indicated he would like to reach across party lines and govern in a more bipartisan way than Bush. He would have to if he hoped to get anything done with a Democratic Congress.

But unless he modifies some current positions and reverts to the positions that gained him his reputation for independence, a McCain presidency might resemble a third Bush term and continue the political gridlock most Americans want to end.

Carl P. Leubsdorf is Washington bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News.


Richard Heckler 9 years, 2 months ago

Three themes emerge from data. First, Obama succeeded in bolstering his image as a tough, strong leader who Americans can imagine as their president.Second, Obama's efforts to "spell out exactly" what changes he would make as president had the desired effect.Third, CBS News found half of its sample (50 percent) saying that Obama "has made it clear what he would do as president," a 9-point increase (from 41 percent) since before the convention.=====================================Latest Gallup Poll: Obama's support firms upBy Yael T. Abouhalkah, Kansas City Star Editorial Page columnistAmerica's "swing" voters are turning to support Barack Obama at a faster clip than to John McCain, according to the latest Gallup Poll. Overall, Obama still leads McCain by a 49-43 margin.But the big news is that support for the Democratic nominee is firming up.Gallup says the registered voters saying they "are certain to vote for Obama" went up 6 percentage points -- from 36 percent before the Democratic convention to 42 percent after it.==============================Democrats Posting Large Gains in Voter RegistrationCLAIRTON, Pa. (Map, News) - Five days a week, Linda Graham trolls tattered neighborhoods of this once thriving steel city outside Pittsburgh for unregistered voters she can sign up as Democrats - one of thousands of unknown volunteers whose work outside the limelight has already altered the basic arithmetic of the November election.The epic nomination battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton helped put millions more Democrats on the voter rolls while Republican registration declined. Now Graham, 45, has taken three months of unpaid leave from her job at Pittsburgh's Central Blood Bank in the hope of adding to those gains before the presidential vote.She's encouraged by the response here. "They're all feeling the crunch" of lost jobs and a sagging economy, Graham said. "But people are feeling empowered. They're feeling like, you know what, I hold a little bit of power in this."

Corey Williams 9 years, 2 months ago

"Who ya gonna believe? The witty, down-to-earth straight talker with the beautiful family and the inspiring life story or the slimy rumor mongers who already tried to feed you a pack of lies?"So it's between Palin and McCain?

Flap Doodle 9 years, 2 months ago

"If Obama's supporters have not figured it out yet, I'll give them a tip -- their scandal strategy isn't going to work. Here are a few reasons why:1. Sympathy. They started off with a vile rumor that Palin faked the pregnancy of her fifth child, then turned it into an attack on her 17-year-old pregnant daughter. The fake pregnancy rumor was false. Not only were they shockingly nasty and vicious, they were also wrong. They lost their credibility and created sympathy for Palin in the process. Palin has shown she doesn't want or need anyone's sympathy, but she got it just the same, thanks to those who sought to destroy her.2. Sarah Palin has connected with the American people. 37 million people heard her speak, in her own words, without interruption or editing from the Obamedia. It will be harder to make a scandal stick to someone America feels they know. Who ya gonna believe? The witty, down-to-earth straight talker with the beautiful family and the inspiring life story or the slimy rumor mongers who already tried to feed you a pack of lies?3. People want someone to work to solve their problems. Are they going to be more likely to have a good opinion of a campaign that is addressing the problems they have or the campaign that appears to be obsessed with tearing their opponent apart?4. The Obamedia has been exposed. Over the past year or more the media have fawned over Barack Obama. Over the past week the media have hit Sarah Palin with dozens of accusations based on little more than nutty leftwing hate site rumors. Recent polls show over 50 percent of the American public believe the media is trying to hurt Sarah Palin."More at:

peach_plum_pear 9 years, 2 months ago

"3. People want someone to work to solve their problems. Are they going to be more likely to have a good opinion of a campaign that is addressing the problems they have or the campaign that appears to be obsessed with tearing their opponent apart?"exactly! McCain's campaign is not presenting any new ideas about how to fix the economy, preserve our natural resources, improve health care, or strengthen our national security.Here's a fun activity: open both the McCain official campaign website and the Obama official campaign website in separate tabs. I found that the Obama website offers more specific details and reports on the changes he would make as president, and is focused on addressing the problems of working Americans, far more so than the McCain website.Or...listen to both the Obama and McCain nomination acceptance speeches, as well as the Biden and Palin acceptance speeches. It was McCain and Palin who offered empty generalities and Obama and Biden who offered specific solutions. Palin chose to use her acceptance speech to make immature sarcastic remarks about Obama rather than make her own case and offer solutions. McCain's pick of Palin in and of itself is reactionary to Obama's success - were Obama less successful at connecting with voters on family issues (economy, health care, education), and McCain himself not on the verge of losing support from an staple Republican voting bloc - pro-lifers - he would have chosen Lieberman or Tom Ridge. Is there anyone who really thinks that Palin is more qualified than Lieberman or Ridge? McCain's choice makes it clear - he would rather pander to pro-lifers than provide for the security of America should he be elected.Let's face it, the McCain campaign is looking pretty desperate for any bit of excitement these days.

Bob Forer 9 years, 2 months ago

Levi Johnston is the father of Bristol Palin's baby. The 17-year-old hockey player at Burchell High School in Wasilla, Alaska, is by all accounts soon to be married to the Republican vice presidential candidate's daughter, but all may not be well. His MySpace page revealed juicy details about his outlook on life before he made it private. In it, he admits, "I'm a fkin' redneck who likes to snowboard and ride dirt bikes. But I live to play hockey. I like to go camping and hang out with the boys, do some fishing, shoot some sh*t and just fkin' chillin' I guess. Ya f*ck with me I'll kick ass."After all the publicity, Levi Johnston's MySpace was redacted, revealing no evidence of his previous profanity laden macho posturing. Although he admits that he is in a relationship, he still says that he wants to use MySpace "for networking or for dating." Moreover, on the subject of possible children, he left the message, "Love kids, but not for me." Most devastatingly, in a sharp contrast to the Palin family's conservative views, Levi instead posts that he is an agnostic.The Levi Johnston-Bristol Palin marriage-to-be may yet not be, despite assurances from the Palin campaign. Their baby is due in four more months so the nuptials can't be delayed much longer.So, what's the big deal, you ask: (1) The McCain Campaign's abject failure to discover the existence of this page, and 86 it before publically identifying Palin as running mate. In Hollywood, secret agents permanently delete files of their "assets" and other damning information, with such extreme prejudice, it's like they never existed. Political campaigns presumably have a similar capacity, especially when it comes to myspace pages. I mean, how many people have both the duimb luck and foresight to download Levi's utterly pedestrian and unremarkable page before last week's runaway train was both christened and irreversibly derailed railed. . (continued)

Bob Forer 9 years, 2 months ago

. Even an internet neophyte is cognizant of Myspace's popularity. Surely, all of us who religiously read our local newspaper's on-line edition recall the several fatal victims of crime and car wrecks whose myspace link is invariably posted in the comments section within a hour or two after their identities are publically revealed. The same for notorious local scofflaws. Rank amateurs!!! Base and primitive neophytes!!!! No? And the same fu*k-ups will be staffing the White House and other major governmental entities and agencies, in important supervisory roles, no less, should McCain win. Remember Monica Goulding? Remember "You're doing a great job, Brownie?" (2) While it is sometimes dangerous, presumptuous and unfair to postulate---without secret agent truth serum--the theoretically unknown and unknowable intent and motivations racing through the minds of others, you can't help but think this: Hmmm, typical 17 year old Red Neck Boy: Loves to cuss, play sports, down a few brews, arm wrestle, fight, and get a little trim. But marriage and kids? No way, no how. So who is perpetrating and perpetuating this distinctly plausible, possible, probable and arguable lie that Bristol and Levi are deeply in love, and want to live happily ever after?. Shot gun wedding? Nah, too crude. If Sarah is anything, she's a cunning playa. Swiss bank account wedding, conveniently cancelledcan you hear "Church Lady"--after the election, and thereafter eternally irrelevant? Four years later, its old news. Remember Monica the Maydela? The Cigar? The Dress? Old hat, except for, perhaps the most acerbic and dog-loyal repubs. Speculation? Yes. But, honestly, I cannot categorically conclude "no way, no how." . How bout we just give the voters the uncontroverted facts, and let them decide? .

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 2 months ago

" Are they going to be more likely to have a good opinion of a campaign that is addressing the problems they have or the campaign that appears to be obsessed with tearing their opponent apart?"Palin's role is strictly to be an attack dog, ala Spiro Agnew (remember Spiro Who?)Spiro T. Palin--

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 2 months ago

McCain's selection of Palin, a right-wing nut whose claims of being a reformer are all fluff, is a pretty clear indication that he has no intentions of being an "agent of change." He's taken a hard tack to the right, and if elected, and he wants to be re-elected in 2012 (or just as likely, Palin after taking over for the elderly McCain) he'll have to maintain that stance.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 2 months ago

"Maverick?",;-DM a a a a a a t l o c k ! ( And, no, all you would-be detractors, it isn't ageism;McCain was old loooooong before his years. )

Todd Epp 9 years, 2 months ago

Maybe Sarah Palin should reconsider her pitbull remark.Read Kansas Watch @

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