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Where Have You Gone, John?

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by BrAinPaiNt, Aug 5, 2008.

  1. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Brotherhood of the Beard Staff Member

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    http://www.newsweek.com/id/150477/


    BETWEEN THE LINES
    Jonathan Alter
    Where Have You Gone, John?

    His zesty attacks on corporate greed and inspiring plans for national service are no more.


    ---

    In the middle of John McCain's dopey Britney & Paris attack ad, the announcer gravely asks of Barack Obama: "Is He Ready to Lead?" An equally good question is whether McCain is ready to lead. For a man who will turn 72 this month, he's a surprisingly immature politician—erratic, impulsive and subject to peer pressure from the last knucklehead who offers him advice. The youthful insouciance that for many years has helped McCain charm reporters like me is now channeled into an ad that one GOP strategist labeled "juvenile," another termed "childish" and McCain's own mother called "stupid." The Obama campaign's new mantra is that McCain is "an honorable man running a dishonorable campaign." Lame is more like it. And out of sync with the real guy.

    Of course, it might work. Maybe depicting Obama as a presumptuous and vaguely foreign presence will resonate. (Why else would one of McCain's slogans be "An American president for America"?) Maybe voters will agree with McCain campaign manager Rick Davis, who played the fussy card last week by arguing the central importance to the future of the republic of Obama's taste for "MET-Rx chocolate roasted peanut protein bars and bottles of a hard-to-find organic brew called Black Forest Berry Honest Tea." (Davis somehow forgot to mention McCain's own preference for $520 Ferragamo shoes.) Maybe convincing nervous white voters that Obama is another Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson in his use of racial grievance politics will carry McCain to the White House.

    But this is not 1988, when Vice President George Bush turned Michael Dukakis into an unpatriotic coddler of criminals. (Bush that year had a popular president and a strong economy behind him.) And it's not 2004, when his son Swift-Boated John Kerry. (The president would have likely won anyway by playing on post-9/11 fear.) This year, McCain is running under a tattered Republican banner, with more than 80 percent of the public thinking the country is on the wrong track. Without some compelling vision beyond support for offshore drilling, the negativity may well boomerang. "It's hard to imagine America responding to 'small ball' when we have all these problems," says John Weaver, McCain's chief strategist in 2000 who was pushed out of the campaign last year.

    With the exception of Mark Salter, who is still friendly with Weaver, the rest of McCain's high command says Weaver is just bitter and disloyal. "Actually, it's being loyal," Weaver says. "I want him to win." He's despondent over the destruction of a priceless maverick brand. McCain's zesty Theodore Roosevelt-style attacks on corporate greed and inspiring plans for expanding national service are gone, replaced by Karl Rove's playbook. "When was the last time you heard the word 'reform' or 'service' come out of his mouth?" Weaver asks. "We need to return to the John McCain who speaks his mind. Instead, it's Dick Butkus running a West Coast Offense or Wilt Chamberlain playing point guard. It's not going to work."

    That's because McCain is patently insincere when his heart's not in it, like a little boy who eats his peas when his parents tell him to but remains transparently unhappy about the experience. It's not clear how committed McCain himself is to this latest assault on Obama. Does he genuinely believe that Obama is an out-of-control egomaniac who thinks he's Moses? McCain no doubt comforts himself that the ad making that argument—an argument that is beneath a major-party candidate for president—was not part of a big media buy but just chum thrown to the media piranhas via the Drudge Report.

    McCain's erratic campaign has GOP strategists scratching their heads. The obvious play for him was to tack right during the primaries, then navigate back to the center, where American general elections are always won. Conservative base voters can rarely be turned into McCain enthusiasts. But most will reluctantly vote for him. So why jeopardize his standing with independents by being grouchy and partisan? Makes no sense.

    I misread McCain. On the night of the 2000 South Carolina primary, I was in his hotel suite and watched Cindy weeping over what Rove and his goons did. Her husband was plenty mad, too. Now he's got Rove's protégé, Steve Schmidt, running his campaign. Eight years ago, McCain profusely apologized for playing racial politics in South Carolina by backing efforts to fly the Confederate flag at the state capital. Now he's content to see race crowd out the economy in the battle for precious media oxygen. McCain argues that Obama opened himself up to attack by saying, "They're gonna say he doesn't look like those other presidents on the dollar bills." But if his campaign hadn't leaped on that Obama comment, it would have been another. Accusing the other guy of playing the race card is a not terribly subtle form of, well, playing the race card—and the victim.

    The real question is what all of this might mean for a McCain presidency. The list of troubling portents is growing long: repeated campaign staff upheavals reflecting poor management skills; abrupt reversals on big issues like tax cuts and relations with Russia (where he was superhawk one day and superdove the next); shameless pandering on a gas-tax holiday that even his own economic advisers think is a joke; confused handling of Social Security that annoys all sides of the debate; bogus charges (e.g., Obama is causing high gas prices, Obama didn't visit wounded soldiers because he couldn't take the press) that undermine his integrity; and an angry, bunker mentality among aides that one GOP operative, fearing excommunication from Team McCain if identified, describes as "lacking only a Luger and a cyanide pill."

    Victory for McCain would hardly prove redemptive. "You can't govern winning this way," Weaver says. "We've seen that after the last two elections." And defeat would leave John McCain feeling more than the usual depression, wondering why he mortgaged his precious personal honor just to trade up to the White House.
  2. zrinkill

    zrinkill Diamond surrounded by trash

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    This guy is a regular of Al Frankens show on Air America.

    One of Clintons Media buddies.

    And a Bush impeachment supporter.

    Just so we know who we are reading.
  3. Danny White

    Danny White Winter is Coming

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    I don't care for Alter much, and this article reeks of bias.

    At the same time, it's hard to disagree with him that McCain's running a dis-jointed campaign.
  4. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Brotherhood of the Beard Staff Member

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    Never heard of the guy, it is obvious from the article that he is bias. However I do like some of his points seeing as I did like McCain at one time and was going to vote for him. I would like the old McCain, not old by age, and hope that if he does get elected he returns to that instead of turning how has the last year or so in order to get the nod.

    Also had to laugh because of some of the people saying the ads were dumb...just like I think they are, and these are not people from the other side of the political spectrum saying that.
  5. arglebargle

    arglebargle Well-Known Member

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    Now that we've established that you don't like the author, what about his points?

    He certainly points out a number of things that I noticed in this run up. I liked McCain the Maverick, and would have considered voting for him in the past. I think we would have been better off if he had been president. But this campaign, like with so many others, has the candidate backing off their own views to various pundit and pollster positions. It's not unique, but it is certainly enough to sour some voters, myself included. Dole, Kemp, Gore, all did it for me before.

    When I discovered some of the suck up things that McCain's campaign was doing, it was that last nail in the coffin. Especially since some of the stuff hit McCain himself during the Rove run campaign. And then discovering that he had Phil Gramm deep in his campaign staff and was considering him for Sec. of the Treasury....

    It was to his credit that McCain actually stood up, against his party, for things he thought were important. But that seems to be gone now. And that's what would have made me consider him in the first place.
  6. vta

    vta The Proletariat

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    They all have to play politics. The parties have much too strong a stranglehold on the government, and anyone truly thinking they're going to 'change' anything are pretty much relegated to Ron Paul status.

    Someone is going to have to blatantly lie, (which they do anyway) to their party for accepptance and a real chance to run, then do a complete 180º once elected.

    Problem is, they'd probably get shot.
  7. Ben_n_austin

    Ben_n_austin Benched

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    I thought the article was spot-on. The Dems are being quiet right now, but it's about to turn around on McCain and people are going to ask what this guy has to offer....

    He's 72. I think that's pushing it, given how the man acts. I was willing to see pasts Gravel's age, because he had some good ideas.

    When I see McCain, I see the lights on but nobody's home.
  8. Ben_n_austin

    Ben_n_austin Benched

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    :hammer:

    It's a sad, sad attempt by the GOP to play the victim.... At least, Obama hasn't stooped to making fun of old fogeys.


    :fogeys:
  9. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament... Zone Supporter

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    Oh dear Lord...

    This is the most backwards reasoning I've EVER seen. It amazes me the heights people will go to to defend their own agenda/candidate...
  10. Ben_n_austin

    Ben_n_austin Benched

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    Seriously, the right has been playing the victim of the race card and hollering race card louder than anyone has in this campaign.

    It's McCain's immature way of getting people riled up to vote for him.
  11. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed Zone Supporter

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    subject to peer pressure?

    so, if you buck the party line, you're a maverick and need to come back to the party values. you try and compromise and now you're subject to peer pressure.

    i hate people who write with bias eyes.
  12. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed Zone Supporter

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    did we so soon forget obama's long time church and their "oh so respectful" ways?
  13. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament... Zone Supporter

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    So Obama can say anything he wants and if you call him on it, then you are actually the one at fault?

    I would like examples btw...
  14. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Brotherhood of the Beard Staff Member

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    Is BTW subliminal word play for black totalitarian world?

    AHA I GOT YOU....You master race manipulator.

    ;) :p:
  15. Danny White

    Danny White Winter is Coming

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    It's actually more like:

    "You do things the media likes, the media uses nice words to describe you like "maverick" and "courageous."

    "You do things the media doesn't like and they'll call you "sellout" and "insincere" and "erratic."
  16. BigDFan5

    BigDFan5 In Tebow I Trust

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    Gotta love the media

    Oppose Bush and they love JM, oppose a liberal and you get articles like this
  17. bbgun

    bbgun Benched

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    True, JM is no longer "useful" to them, but he had to know they'd favor a Dem in the general election.

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