The Real McCain

Via The Jed Report, here’s a video that was put together last February by a Ron Paul supporter. I think it goes off the rails a bit at the end, particularly where McCain is criticized for his behavior as a POW — a subject that, IMO, ought to be out of bounds in the forthcoming election — but most of it is devastating and ought to be played and replayed throughout the coming campaign.

There’s a lot of hand-wringing and worrying over polls that show a tight election, particularly in the Electoral College numbers. However, the campaign fight hasn’t even started yet. Thanks to the tight focus on the Obama-Clinton primary fight, most of the public has no idea how McCain stands on most issues. All they know is that he’s a “war hero” and a “maverick.”

Today, finally, the real fight for the White House can begin.

The Right will try to take down Obama with lies and smears. We don’t need to lie about or smear John McCain to discredit him. All we have to do is be sure the American people get a close, hard, honest look at him.

For example, the GOP complains that McCain never said the U.S. could stay in Iraq “100 years,” and the McCain campaign takes umbrage whenever the Dems bring it up. But listen to the video; that’s what he said.

His ridiculous, out-of-touch ideas about health care alone ought to cost him the election. Just explain what he proposes — he wants to shove everyone into an open market in which the health insurance industry can set the rules. Only die-hard wingnuts who’ve never had to deal with the realities of the “open market” could possibly think that’s a solution. The majority of the American people will not, I think, be fooled by this any more than they were fooled by Bush’s Social Security scam.

American voters can be bamboozled about events on the other side of the world, out of their sight. But when it comes to matters with which they have personal experience, they catch on pretty fast, especially if they get the facts and not just right-wing spin.

The challenge going forward will be to get them the facts.

McCain will try to run on his biography as a war hero and on the alleged superiority of Republicans on national security.

As to the latter — I think that lots of scales have fallen from lots of eyes over the past seven years. As I keep arguing, if you look at the actual record of Dem v. Republican administrations on national security from the end of World War II to 2000, it’s pretty much a wash. Presidents of both parties have had their successes and failures.

Republicans have claimed the national security issue as their territory since the late 1940s, but they did this by peeing on trees, not by getting superior results.

And after seven years of George W. Bush, I think people are ready to be persuaded that tree-peeing does not make an effective foreign policy.

As to the former — I’m sure only those who have been prisoners of war have any idea how horrible it must be. I would not denigrate McCain’s POW experience. However, the skills one needs to survive being a POW, however admirable, are not the same skills one needs to be President. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I had an uncle who was a WWII POW in Japan for more than three and a half years, and he was a lovely fellow, but he wouldn’t have been a good President.

Frankly, I don’t think the war hero persona is going to be enough to overcome McCain’s stands on issues, which are light-years out of touch with public opinion. After the Bush Administration, I think people are in the mood to elect a President who can do more than strut around on a stage with uniformed military as a backdrop and thump his chest. People want someone who can address the real problems that are impacting their lives.

So, while it’s always a mistake to take the right-wing smear machine lightly, I feel better about our chances now than I did four years ago. We can defeat the Right. It’s going to take vigilence and discipline, and it’s going to take a lot of work to counter the lies and deliver the facts to the American public, but we can win.

22 thoughts on “The Real McCain

  1. I agree with you 100% — the way to beat McCain is to simply get the facts out there. Obama has a savvy campaign organization, and they’re already doing their part. And as you note, the right-wing slime machine will do its part to demogogue every Obama negative. We can count on that.

    The open question in my mind is how the media will approach it. They are famously in the tank for McCain — nauseatingly gaga over the war hero persona and persistent purveyors of the bogus “maverick” meme. Will they do their jobs and highlight McCain’s actual positions and records? Their track record so far doesn’t inspire confidence. But maybe they’ll surprise us.

  2. It definitely must be nice for Obama and his supporters because he as NO record to pick apart. McCain’s been in Congress 40 years, so he doesn’t have that leisure that Obama has. And as ANY sensible person knows, McCain did say ‘100 years’ but then he cleary states it has to do with casualties and presence, like Germany, S. Korea, etc. He clearly did not mean we’d be FIGHTING for 100 years, although democrats wrongly try to say that’s what he meant. And it’s a shame you think his health care ideas are ‘out of touch’ simply because he doesn’t want the government running it, which is what Obama believes.

    And it’s funny when Republicans point things out, it’s lies and ‘slime’, but when Democrats point things out, it’s the ‘facts.’ So much for a respectful campaign…

  3. because he as NO record to pick apart

    I trust the Right will manufacture enough straw men and distractions to make up the difference.

    And it’s funny when Republicans point things out, it’s lies and ‘slime’, but when Democrats point things out, it’s the ‘facts.’

    I’m glad you are amused, but the only way the Right wins elections is to lie, smear, and turn their opponents into cartoons. It’s what they did to Al Gore and it’s what they did to John Kerry. That’s the truth. Wake up.

  4. I disagree that his POW performance is off limits, though the Obama campaign should not touch it. As the video presented it ‘it’s understandeable’ that he was acting in response to being tortured when he said things used in their propaganda films, but in this context, we’re seeing a willingness to advance propaganda due to political ambition.

    If he built his rep on straight talk, I think it’s fair to use that as a direct comparison. As in:

    A tortured GI understandably may participate in propaganda films when his life’s at stake, but if that same GI seeks the Presidency later, what rational justifies spreading propaganda then? What is the point of the new lies? Only to perpetuate a continuation of a war that has advanced no security concern of Americans.

    In his own words “I disagree with what a majority of Americans want.”

    That’s not representative democracy. That’s dictatorial.

  5. Paul,

    Regarding the 100 years comment: the problem is not that troops would be stationed in a peaceful country for a long time. The problem is that there must be some transition to peace that McCain does not offer a path to. He says he’s fine with troops in Iraq for forever, as long as they are not dying. But what if the insurgency continues, and they keep dying? Is there a point when we say “that’s enough”? If the answer is no, then he is saying he’s also fine with violence for 100 years, but he’s just hoping it’ll stop eventually.

    It’s not nitpicking…it’s simple logic.

  6. 1. You didn’t even really address the fact that Obama has no record and has done nothing to create one while holding his state and U.S. office.

    2. How exactly was Gore ‘smeared’? Facts would be good here. And I assume you mean Kerry and the ‘swift boad’ ads? Those were wrong, I’ll give you that, but it was Kerry’s fault for not attacking back and defending himself quicker and sooner. He was lethargic.

  7. “Obama has no record and has done nothing to create one while holding his state and U.S. office.”

    “And I assume you mean Kerry and the ‘swift boad’ ads? Those were wrong, I’ll give you that, but it was Kerry’s fault for not attacking back and defending himself quicker and sooner. He was lethargic.”

    You criticized Maha’s claim about smears; she gave you an examples of smears. Wether the smears, in that case, were the smeared guy’s fault or not is beside the point.

  8. Paul et al.: I am extraordinarily busy today and little time to respond to Paul’s’ ignorant charge that Obama has “no record.”

    However, today I will be indulgent and provide a few links. If anyone else wants to explain reality to Paul, have at it.

    Obama has less of a record than McCain, but if he had no record at all it would have been difficult to write the following articles:

    What Obama’s record tells voters

    I found the BEEF – Obama’s Senate Record

    Obama’s Record in the Illinois Senate

    A minute’s worth of googling, Mr. Frederick. Too lazy? Or is ignorance just more comfortable for you?

    Here’s one link on the smearing of Al Gore in 2000. There is a lot more to be found, if you make the effort.

    And you admit Kerry was smeared, but you think it was his own fault. How tiresome.

  9. Kevin — I feel strongly that trying to discredit McCain’s POW experience and behavior would backfire, and frankly it makes me uncomfortable because there’s at least a whiff of “swift boating” in some of the criticism. I say leave it alone. There’s plenty of other stuff to pin on McCain.

  10. Here’s a link to an extremely right-wing veteran’s web site that is vehemently opposed to McCain:

    The basis of their opposition is that they think the North Vietnamese broke McCain mentally and have made him into a “Manchurian candidate.”

    Like Maha, I also don’t think McCain’s war record should be used by the Obama campaign. I’ve never been a prisoner of war and never been tortured, but I’m sure it’s horrible and almost certainly I would have broke too, and made propaganda films for the enemy if that’s what it took to stop the torture. So I don’t hold that against McCain. But does that mean this “war hero” is mentally fit to be president? Is the presidency supposed to be some kind of reward for suffering during the war? If that’s the case, then thousands of other ex-POWs deserve to be president too. Maybe we should go through the mental wards of the VA hospitals and pick out the most tortured, mentally unbalanced exPOWs and make them members of the presidential cabinet, members of Congress, etc. After all, they’re war heroes and they’ve earned the right to run the country.

  11. Robert — I think the “manchurian candidate” charge is silly and I wouldn’t go anywhere near it. Nor would I try to make a case that McCain is mentally unfit because of his POW experience. If he is mentally unfit, then it’s up to somebody to show the voters he mentally unfit by documenting examples. It isn’t necessary to drag the POW experience, or his age, into it.

    Show people documented facts and let them make up their own minds, but don’t float some kind of undocumented theory or rumor and tie it to his POW experience. That’s what the Right does.

  12. This may well be blasphemous, but I fail to understand how being a prisoner of war makes one a hero. (As a matter of custom, most war heroes, even heroes in general are loathe to talk about their experiences.)

    May seem a minor point but isn’t one in the case of McCain who touts at every opportunity his less than illustrous war record (prisoner of war) as his badge of courage, his heroism as his qualification for POTUS.

    A hero is one admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. McCain would seem to have a way to go.

  13. Maha,

    I was merely trying to have a spirited debate, but your responses endup being childish, immature, and bullish. But I guess that’s to be expected from a leftist blowhard who apparently has no tolerance for opposing view points.

  14. felicity — I’d certainly challenge his claim that having been a POW is a qualification for POTUS. It might have been a test of endurance or personal bravery or survival skills, but being POTUS requires different skills.

  15. Oh, and your links? Could you have found any more liberal sources? MSNBC? DailyKo’s? NY Times??? Give me a break. Try to be a little objective when finding your “facts.”?

  16. I was merely trying to have a spirited debate, but your responses endup being childish, immature, and bullish.

    And making false statements (e.g., Obama has no record) without backing them up with documentation is the essence of maturity. Right.

    Try to be a little objective when finding your “facts.”?

    This is a common trick of righties — dismiss the source. Find something in what I linked to that isn’t true, and which you can document isn’t true, and I might have some respect for you. I doubt that you can, so you have your mature and spirited little temper tantrum.

    For example, why don’t you find Obama’s Senate record on a .gov site to show me that it doesn’t exist? Surely you can do that.

    This is why I don’t have discussions with righties. It’s like trying to explain poetry to a tree stump. In order to have a spirited discussion, both parties have to have functional critical thinking skills. That leaves you out.

  17. It’s obvious that McCain is going to be an easy target, based on the wacky things he’s been saying. What I don’t hear anyone talking about is just how fantastically great our economy is doing (not), and how all of this is going to be laid at the feet of the Republicans, come November. Recall that these were the geniuses who figured we could conquer Iraq and get the oil out of there for about $20 a barrel (a meme that definitely needs repeating).

    As James Kunstler wrote on his blog:

    “So we now head into the general election. One thing the pundits of the mainstream media seem to miss is how much more room for economic carnage there is in the months remaining. They seem to be laying their current odds on the idea that McCain and Obama are starting on a “level playing field.” In fact, McCain is already up to his hips in trouble from his sheer association with the Republican establishment, which will be so badly discredited by the shattered economy that it may actually go the same route as the 19th century whig party and dissolve in a putrid vapor of fecklessness. By November, the Republicans will be viewed as the party that wrecked the nation, and McCain will be in a hole so deep (still on the 20-yard-line by the way) that nobody will be able to see his lips move.”

  18. The way for Obama to beat McCain is to continuously repeat “more of the same McCain” and “I represent change.” He is doing this already, but to secure victory he has to say these two things more and more. Despite McCain’s voting records, his association with the Republican party links him directly to George Bush. Even though McCain disagrees with Bush on many important issues, the people have an image of McCain as being more of the same for the next four years. Obama can’t let that escape the minds of voters.

    He also cannot say the word change enough. When people think of Obama they think of change, and that is the best thing he’s got going for him. If McCain wants to improve his position he needs to do things like go out and get Joe Lieberman and a VP. This will bring his persona under a more centered light and appeal to more democrats. Lackluster speeches like the one McCain gave last Tuesday will only continue to hurt him.

  19. McCain’s specialty seemed to be crashing planes, in service. His real act of courage was refusing special treatment as the son of an admiral, as a show of solidarity with his POW peers. And for legislation, I give him credit for normalizing relations with Vietnam.

    But his embrace of Bush policies, his ties with and favors for lobbyists back to the Keating Five scandal, his abusiveness towards women (unlike his POW peers, he has a history of throwing the gals overboard, most recently Roe v. Wade), his stands on racial matters (MLK Day, apartheid sanctions, Confederate flags), his warhawkishness and his reversals on campaign financing remain huge negatives.

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