Monday, August 11, 2008
Is it fair to label John McCain's presumptive presidential nomination as tantamount to Bush's third term in the White House? I thought about this recently after seeing a bumper sticker proclaiming the message. The McCain camp has also taken notice of this particular line of attack on their candidate's viability.
The matter interests me because if the senator from Illinois hopes to win his bid for the highest elected office, won't his political strategists and advisors need to understand what draws an undecided voter toward Senator McCain as much as away from him?
The bumper sticker routine, I believe, simply won't work on voters already likely to vote for Senator Obama. These slogans attempt to discourage the undecided, as well as those leaning toward McCain. But does this particular insult work in that vein?
The most obvious premise of the message taps into Bush's increasingly high disapproval ratings . Since a majority of Americans have repudiated any support Mr. Bush gained before his last term in office, the thinking goes, extending his stay would be political failure. This idea, however, "preaches to the choir" and probably won't serve to sway voters.
A Musing Reamus from Carlsbad
August 15, 2008 at 04:05 AM
There are a number of ways that John Mc Cain can âdistinguish himselfâ from the President. He could, for example, promise not to commit treasonable offenses. However, to your point of the independent voter, there are a number of things that occur to me. At this point what most of us who spend time thinking and writing about these things sometimes forget, is that the majority doesnât care right now? Even one of your âCitizen Voicesâ is on vacation from political information, preferring a week of isolation and introspection to the TV bobble heads, chattering radio talkies, and news junkies we suffer daily because we have, somewhere in us, the need to know. Well guess what? Most independent voters, the Pew Institute and others have discovered, wonât even know the names of both candidates until sometime near the end of September if they begin to care at all. Life is a busy place, not everyone cares about John McCainâs âdriftâ from maverick status. Children need to be raised, the boss wants the project done, the garbage disposal is broken, gasoline is too expensive, and the commute is too long to watch the evening news and everyone wants to go to the movies. There are a lot of people on vacation. People have a lot going on in their lives and the vast center of âindependentâ (better described, I believe, as indifferent voters) who will decide this election need to worry about life, how to cope, pay the mortgage, and care not a whit what Obama ate for lunch or whether McCain is embracing the âBush Presidencyâ. You ask whether challenging the maverick image Mc Cain has so carefully cultivated will be determinative in the election. I donât know. You donât know. It is too soon to know. Could we get to the general Election first please? His âmaverickâ image is largely borne of his familiarity and accessibility to a media who have always liked him because he is those two things. I suspect he was a likeable guy when he was a young Naval Cadet too, but neither that nor the former will make him a âgood President.â So what of Obama? How does he overcome the voter ignorance rampart about him? The big industrial state primaries where the âwhite working class malesâ donât like him and say they wonât vote for him.( This is print and network press short hand for non-college educated, beer drinkers who would rather watch a football game than have an original thought). How does he overcome their bigotry? It is there. I know it. You know it. It is an elephant in the room just as racism is if we would discuss it. So far, only he has. How many potential voters by the second Tuesday in November will hold the view of the Pennsylvania man quoted widely before that primary that he wasnât voting for âno Muslim who wasnât born in America?â I donât know. You donât know. Are there people who resent Obama? You bet. Heâs a rock star. Heâs of mixed race. Does that mean that many in the âindifferent centerâ will not vote for him because of that? You bet. Are there those in the same place that will vote for McCain, despite his embrace of Bush policy, because they confuse heroism with suffering? You bet. When did âpolitics as usualâ become a dirty little phrase? In its purest form, politics is the activities associated with governing carried out by those who have chosen politics as a profession. Usually one chooses a profession in a rational and informed way. Unfortunately, maâm that no longer describes the independents (or indifferent to use my word) voter who get to decide who gets to govern. Do they care if John McCain has 10 (yes, count them 10) houses and more money than he can count? Do they care that he came out for offshore drilling and got a big infusion of campaign donations from the oil companies the next day? Do they care that he was involved in something called the âKeating Fiveâ scandal in the 1980âs and received a letter of reprimand from the Senate Ethics Committee? No they do not. They do not care because they do not know and are not paying sufficient attention to well thought out opinions such as yours to become informed. They do not hear you. They never will. They will vote based on bias, race, heroism, age, or none of those things. They will have a âfactoidâ or two by which they will rationalize their vote and decide one is better, or at least not as bad. It is a cynical view, I confess, but it is reality as I have come to know it. I still care about the reality. I still rail against the injustice. I just donât believe that it will change. It will, no matter which I man I vote for, be politics as usual. If that was politics that made me hopeful it would please me. I am rather certain it will not.
Andy from greater Pittsburgh PA
August 26, 2008 at 07:34 PM
Dear Carlsbad... What? Oh wait...I'm from PA so let me put my beer down and try to have an original thought as I read this onslaught you pose here as intellectual insight into politics!
A Musing Reamus from Carlsbad
August 26, 2008 at 11:37 PM
Andy An "onslaught is" an attack. It was not my intention too attack anyone. Is there something that you want to say substantively or is the beer thing considered sufficient? If I thought this was intellectual insight, I would be teaching Political Science. I think the original issue was whether I disagreed with Alma's assessement. I did.
Alma from San Diego
August 27, 2008 at 12:19 AM
Hi Musing Reamus, I appreciated your earlier comments and insights about the role of so-called independent voters. I apologize for the late response. I've been working on the juggling act you describe as the "busy life." It's sometimes easier not to stay involved politically when there's so much going on day in, day out. It sounds like you've come to the conclusion that "independents" are given too much weight in deciding elections, given how many arbitrary, and even capricious, motives are behind their indifference. I'm not sure we're on the same page as to that conclusion, although today's editorial post by Bob Herbert of the NYT relates closely to your sentiments: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/opinion/26herbert.html?hp. I appreciated your point about "politics as usual." That phrase has been overused in this election, and I'll try harder not to throw it in as derivative of something substantial. It's a catch phrase used instead of saying "desperate for a change in leadership." Whether McCain's maverick image is enough to maintain the status quo is certainly unknowable in August. What is certain is that the current administration worked calculatedly hard to make sure they got the results we're stuck with: war in Iraq, war in Afghanistan, Gitmo, the Patriot Act, the unilateral Executive, etc... McCain has voiced his approval of much of those results, although he hasn't had the power to affirm approval w/more action. Like Andy and yourself, and the other bloggers and people reading and responding to local and national news, I' d like to continue having a discussion about the reality of independents in this race. If both major parties don't become more tolerant of indecision w/in the ranks, dissent may likely breed contempt, or worse, indifference. That would certainly lead to more administrations like the one leaving office in January 09. And that, to me, is totally intolerable.
A Musing Reamus from Carlsbad
August 28, 2008 at 12:39 AM
In another post, Alma, in response to Chris about Biden, you have helped make the point of why independent voters, even those who are paying attention, are having trouble with Obama. He is asking voters to accept multiple conceptual shifts in this election. Sadly, voters, especially ones that are unaligned donât do that very well. It is why so many who run successfully hammer home one theme, one idea, one concept. It may be fair, odious, or stupid, but it works. Ronald Reaganâs wasâ welfare queens,â Bush 41âs was âread my lips,â Bill Clintonâs was âgrow the economy.â They were not concepts. They were themes. They were not some vague notion of change with the long, involved, albeit erudite well-reasoned arguments for many changes. Sure, we need educate the children, feed the hungry, get the troops home, be vigilant about terrorist, and provide healthcare for all. We need all these changes and more, but if Obama has violated a rule so far, one that he must hone and fix in the general election is that he has too many messages, too many conceptual shifts to highlight. He is violating a cardinal rule of politics and engineering, âKISSâKeep It Simple, Stupid.â It was the mantra of Bill Clintonâs staff in his successful run. Do not just tell them we need change, do not tell them âyes we can.â Just tell the indifferent ones a thing or two that you want to do better and differently, and maybe they will remember that phrase when they vote. Both candidates are preaching to the choir now. That is easy. That is the theater of a convention. That is what you do. When the choir goes home, it must preach to the unconverted in the weeks ahead, there must be a message that will resonate with the âindifferent.â Whomever does that best will win. Senator Obama needs a message to pound home that resonates loudly. After he is President, he can talk the country through the multiple conceptual changes. I donât pretend to be bright enough to tell him what it should be, but thatâs how you get the attention of the âindifferentâ voters. That is how you win elections. It is not rocket science. It is politics. Tell them how you will keep me safe and why they can hope to have a job with you in the White House. Make them comfortable about one of those, and they will vote for you.
Adam from Chula Vista
September 03, 2008 at 03:58 AM
To the Musing Reamus...wow. I share similar views relative to the average American voter, whether Independent, Democrat, or Republican. I shall work to collect and express my thoughts with the degree of eloquence you demonstrate. It has been my position that as November approaches, the race will tighten as Americans all over will inevitably have to come to grips with their own bigotry, racial tendencies, and hyprocrisy. Having taken personal account and measurement of each of these parameters, a good portion (perhaps the portion that is determinant) will vote McCain into office. And they will have invested more time in finding justification for their conclusions as opposed to studying what either candidate truly offers. The average American voter has set such low standards in the last two presidential elections that one cannot expect much in the upcoming election. Think about it...think about the fact that a slight difference in the pigmentation of one man's skin cells would make all that bit of difference to you America. How absurd we all are....and I haven't forgot about the Clinton die-hard supporters. Some percentage of this group anticipate staying home on voting day or voting for McCain or some independent candidate. Huh? You have to be spoon-fed, placated, and catered back into making the right choice for President? The humanity....
A Musing Reamus from Carlsbad
September 03, 2008 at 07:36 PM
Adam, âInvesting more time in finding justifications for their conclusionsâ¦â I wish I had said that. You put it well and succinctly. Rather than search for facts, they will justify what they already believe. I am not sure this stuff is eloquent but since I have been around it all my life, I tend to believe it. You have put it well. I do not know how many of the voters will decide that Obama isnât qualified because he is black, but it certainly more than concerns me that they will even consider it. I do not know how much it means to the so-called neo-conservatives to have a Vice Presidential candidate they can closely identify with, but I suspect a lot and they are willing to look past whether she is qualified. Doesn't meant much to me, because unless McCain tips over, sheâll spend four years raising her kids and going to funerals, as Biden will spend his time calling in his favors after thirty years in the Senate and going to the same funerals. We all should be willing to be honest about all this. I donât need to hear responses from those who repeat the taking points, but I do. They come from both sides. The election is in November. A wise man once said two weeks is a lifetime in politics, so what we write now we may rue when the second Tuesday in November is over, but your case that McCain can be elected is persuasive. Politics as I have known it was not a place of zealots. It was a place for practical people of strong beliefs who found reasonable common ground so we got what we needed even if it wasnât what they wanted. Will McCain give us that? I donât know. Can Obama deliver all he says he wants to? I donât know. But they have position about what the want to do.We need to make the next President, whoever he is, understand that they have to give us what we need. We donât need some spoiled kid stamping his feet until he gets to start a war in the wrong place at the wrong time. We need someone to lead. Sadly or not, these are the ones we have. Now it will be up to one of them. This is a different election in the United States. We have never had one like it. A man of color and a colorful if a bit windy bright senior and decidedly not rich US Senator run against a perceived maverick and the 22-month sitting Governor who happens to be a woman in the 47th smallest state, thousands of miles away from the real problems of Washington and governance who has strong views, strongly held. McCain would like you to believe he is like-minded. How my âindifferentâ voters will respond is a real question that the pundits and the Chattering Class will debate for the next two months. It will be as tight as you say, in my opinion, as well. It could be ugly and scary, too. Maybe that new part is what is so unpredictable and unsettling Thanks for responding. Alma gets surely must tire of only my words of contrarianism.
October 05, 2008 at 07:44 AM
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