Wednesday, June 04, 2008

John McCain's Very Defensive Speech

Sen. McCain's speech last night-- which even most conservatives couldn't convince themselves was any good-- reeked of desperation. McCain attempted less to explain why you should vote for John McCain, and more on why he wants you to vote against Barack Obama. Oh, and also stop saying that he's very similar to President Bush!

The pundits I watched last night made a big deal of how McCain was officially embracing the idea of this as a 'change' election. He had said "This is, indeed, a change election. No matter who wins this election, the direction of this country is going to change dramatically." He went to cite areas where Americans want and expect that aforementioned change: "health care, energy, the environment, the tax code, our public schools, our transportation system, disaster relief, government spending and regulation, diplomacy, the military and intelligence services.... [and] job loss, failing schools, prohibitively expensive health care, pensions at risk, entitlement programs approaching bankruptcy, rising gas and food prices, to name a few." Indeed.

The problem here is that McCain now has to acknowledge all of these problems... despite not being politically able to acknowledge the reason(s) for them, that is namely that the Republican president and his congressional allies ran this country into the ground these past eight years, and people are pretty pissed about that. He must also-- and on this note I think he will do fairly well, unless the media decides to fact-check him-- get the American people to buy into his proposed solutions despite them being just repackaged versions of the same GOP policies that got us into these messes to begin with. Malibu Stacy has a new hat!

And here was the part of the speech where he was most defensive-
"You will hear from my opponent's campaign in every speech, every interview, every press release that I'm running for President Bush's third term. You will hear every policy of the President described as the Bush-McCain policy. Why does Senator Obama believe it's so important to repeat that idea over and over again? Because he knows it's very difficult to get Americans to believe something they know is false."

6-7 years ago, this would've been true. But around 2003, McCain made a hard turn to the right, in hopes that conservatives who had seen him as a traitor would embrace him. But years of basically embracing the Bush/GOP Base position on every issue-- war, the economy and taxes, energy policy, torture, jobs, etc (he now embraces the Bush position on dictatorial executive power)-- haven't helped solidify conservative support, they only opened up new problems... primarily that he must now convince swing voters that none of that is true.

He went on to specifically emphasize that "I disagreed strongly with the Bush administration's mismanagement of the war in Iraq." This may be one of the biggest lies of McCain's entire campaign. McCain was one of the biggest defenders of the Bush/Rumsfeld strategy, and then in late 2006 he cast himself as the Senate's main spokesman for the impending escalation surge (it's working, ya know!) and also retroactively as a longtime critic of Bush. I hope that Sen. Obama will work to refute all of this quickly.

In the following video, you can see McCain 'disagreeing strongly' with Bush on the war-



Finally, it took real gall for McCain, in seeking to distance himself from President Bush, to deliver this speech in New Orleans. McCain only briefly does address the elephant in that room, noting (correctly) that "We must also prepare, far better than we have, to respond quickly and effectively to a natural calamity... Our disgraceful failure to do so here in New Orleans exposed the incompetence of government at all levels to meet even its most basic responsibilities." He then goes on, naturally, in the next paragraph to explain the old conservative trope that government is a problem, rather than a solution.

And where was McCain when that tragedy was burying New Orleans? Sharing birthday cake with his good friend, President Bush. We deserve better leadership than this.

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