Friday, July 18, 2008

So here's what we're looking at:

McCain’s attacks get more reckless, less responsible

McCain insisted that Obama’s “voting record … is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont.” When reporter Dave Helling asked if McCain believes Obama is a socialist, McCain said, “Oh I don’t know,” as if it were a distinct possibility.

And that, oddly enough, was just the tip of the iceberg.

McCain, bordering on delusion, then accused Obama of reversing course on comprehensive immigration reform, which is hysterical, given that McCain reversed course on comprehensive immigration reform and Obama didn’t. But more importantly, it led to this fascinating exchange:

Q: But you flip-flop a little bit too.

McCain: No, I didn’t.

Q: You flip-flop on drilling, on tax cuts…

McCain: Actually, I didn’t. Actually, on the drilling issue, when gasoline reached $4 a gallon, we’ve got to do things that we otherwise haven’t done in the past. I have not changed my mind on any other issue. On immigration, I said we need comprehensive immigration reform, it failed twice, so we’ve got to do what’s going to succeed.

Q: But you were against the tax cuts, now you’re talking about making them permanent. Isn’t there flip-flopping on both sides?

McCain: Actually, no.
Now, if McCain wants to justify his reversals, that’s fine. He can explain why he changed his mind on various policies, and hope that voters understand. But McCain has instead decided to pretend that he’s never flip-flopped at all. Reality just didn’t happen in McCain’s odd worldview.

“I have not changed my mind on any other issue.” Senator, I’ve counted all of your flip-flops — and at last count, there are 64. At least try to stick to reality here.

McCain relies on the bogus National Journal rankings, after they’ve already been debunked. McCain says he hasn’t flip-flopped on anything, after we’ve already found several dozen examples to the contrary. McCain says Obama hasn’t “reached across the aisle,” after we’ve found plenty of instances of Obama doing just that. McCain just keeps lying, over and over again.

But that “socialist” line is pretty extraordinary. McCain, no matter how wrong he was on a given issue, used to conduct himself with a little more class. Even when one disagreed with him, it was easier to at least respect him as a senator.

But Candidate McCain has become reckless, and frankly, kind of an embarrassment to himself.

Two related thoughts. First, McCain worked for many years to develop a solid reputation in the political establishment, as a credible guy who took policy matters seriously. It’s a shame to see him throw this reputation away as part of a win-at-all-costs crusade for the presidency.

And second, I wonder what the media reaction would be if Obama attacked McCain with this kind of ferocity. Imagine if someone asked Obama if McCain were a fascist, and Obama said, “Oh, I don’t know.” Consider the response from news outlets if Obama called McCain an “extremist,” and began making things up.

We’d hear, I suspect, an endless barrage about Obama “cracking under pressure,” and “losing his cool.” McCain’s attacks yesterday, though, will almost certainly go by unnoticed by anyone except bloggers and blog readers.

Straight Talking (Now With Added Socialism!)

The "most extreme voting record" stuff is presumably based on the National Review Journal's (oops!) claim that he was the most liberal member of the Senate in 2007. One crucial fact about those rankings: they consider the percentage of the votes a Senator actually cast, as opposed to the number of (allegedly) liberal votes cast. I'll outsource the explanation of why this matters to Steve Benen:

"Obama was the 16th most liberal senator in 2005, and the 10th most liberal in 2006, before racing to the front of the pack in 2007. National Journal suggests this has something to do with Obama moving to the left to curry favor with Democratic primary voters.But there’s a more logical explanation: Obama missed a whole lot of votes in 2007 — he’s been on the campaign trail — but was on the floor for many of the biggest, most consequential votes. In nearly every instance, he voted with the party. And with that, voila! The most liberal senator in America."
Obama is a socialist: well, not if you have any clue what 'socialism' means. Wikipedia:
"Socialism refers to any of various economic and political concepts of state or collective (i.e. public) ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods and services."
Noticed Obama trying to nationalize any industries lately? Funny, neither have I. And I have examined his voting record fairly closely -- the voting record McCain claims he's talking about.

Obama hasn't "reached across the aisle to work in a bipartisan fashion": that would be news to Richard Lugar, Tom Coburn, and others. Actually, why not quote Lugar himself, from ust a few days ago:

"Republican Sen. Dick Lugar (IN) today said an Obama campaign ad which features him is "accurate." The ad makes the point the Obama previously "reached out" to Lugar to "help lock down loose nuclear weapons."

Lugar is widely considered one of the most knowledgeable in the area of nuclear weapons proliferation and the coauthored of the 1991 Nunn-Lugar Act on cooperative threat reduction.

"He did" reach out, Lugar said. He explained that in 2005, Obama asked if he could join Lugar on a trip to Russia and other countries to visit sites under the Nunn-Lugar program.

"After that, we had legislation that we cosponsored together which passed" dealing with dangerous missiles. "So I am pleased we had that opportunity to work together," Lugar said. "I'm pleased we had the association Sen. Obama describes.""

I assume that when McCain says that Obama "supported amendments that would have killed comprehensive immigration reform", he's referring to Obama's support for the amendment that would have sunsetted the guest worker program after five years. (Obama missed the vote on the amendment that would have killed the guest worker program, .) There are a lot of principled reasons for opposing that program, like not wanting to create a legally sanctioned group of people who work for us but lack the rights of citizens. And lots of people who agree that guest worker programs are wrong also support comprehensive immigration reform. (Me, for instance.)

The only way to read the fact that Obama supported that amendment as conflicting with his claim to support comprehensive immigration reform is if you assume that nothing other than the bill in the Senate in 2007 could possibly constitute "comprehensive immigration reform": that unless you supported that specific bill, as it stood, you cannot claim to support comprehensive immigration reform. But that is, frankly, ridiculous.

It's also worth remembering that Obama voted for the immigration bill, with the guest worker program. See here, here, and here.

"I have not changed my mind on any other issue." Hahahahahaha!!!! That's a good one, John McCain! Really had me going there!

Oh, wait: he was serious?

Steve Benen's list of McCain flipflops now has 63 items. Some of them are quite important.


UPDATE: Oops, almost forgot to address this: "Senator Obama wants to raise taxes; I want to keep them low. Somebody who wants higher taxes, I'm not your candidate. Senator Obama is."

The correct version is: somebody who wants lower taxes, and is making less than $237,040: Senator Obama is your man. All those people -- 95% of taxpayers -- do better under Obama's plan than McCain's. See here for details, or consult this handy chart:


Here's what I think is weird, and anyone who's got evidence to the contrary should let me know. Republicans don't seem to be excited about McCain and in fact I hear almost nothing but bitching about him from Republicans I know. If you don't believe me, check sites like this.

To me this would suggest that you shouldn't vote for McCain. You don't agree with him on the issues, you don't think he's a real Conservative, you think he's a sleazy politician who's going senile to boot. So why in the hell do you want to put him in charge?

The answer is that it doesn't matter what Republicans want or what Republicans like. Sure, there are people who genuinely consider the candidates each election year, but by and large it doesn't matter if McCain makes his "base" happy. They'll vote for him because he's the Republican, and Republicans vote Republican. Once he secured the nomination, I saw very little he could do to lose the votes of the Right, including losing their support.

My opinion on this hasn't changed. If I could collect some small unit of currency for every Republican who hates McCain, but will vote against their own interests to get him elected... I'd still be depressed but at least I'd be depressed and wealthy. And then maybe Republicans would start looking out for me for a change!

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