Friday, May 09, 2008

DOES McCAIN EVEN HAVE A CHANCE IN NOVEMBER?

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Paul Krugman hasn't been an advocate for Obama this year. In fact, he's tilted so far towards Hillary that I thought he might tumble off his rock-steady Rocinante. But this morning he's back being  an analyst and back being the brilliant and relevant Paul Krugman whose columns have become such a key part of the liberal conversation. And he's got a warning for Obama: don't squander a sure thing. A sure thing? The polls show a tight race between Obama and a third term for Bush, not a landslide.
Political scientists, by and large, believe that what happens on the campaign trail, while it gives talking heads something to talk about, is more or less irrelevant to what happens on Election Day. Instead, they place their faith in statistical analyses that identify three main determinants of presidential voting.

First, votes are affected by the state of the economy-- mainly economic performance in the year or so preceding the election.

Second, the approval rating of the current president strongly affects his party’s ability to hold power.
Third, the electorate seems to suffer from an eight-year itch: parties rarely manage to hold the White House for more than two terms in a row.

This year, all of these factors strongly favor the Democrats. Indeed, the Democratic Party hasn’t enjoyed this favorable a political environment since 1964. Robert Erikson, a political scientist at Columbia, tells me: “It would be difficult to find any serious indicator that does not point to a Democratic victory in 2008.”

What about polls that still seem to give John McCain a good chance of winning? Pay no attention, say the experts: general election polls this early tell you almost nothing about what will happen in November. Remember 1992: as late as June, Gallup put Ross Perot in first place, Bill Clinton in third.

Of course, no one expects McCain or his desperate corporate allies-- and that, obviously, includes the media-- to just raise the white flag. If you think Hillary fought like a mad dog for the nomination, just wait 'til you see what McCain will do to give himself the opportunity to make up for those lost years in the Hanoi Hilton. Today's Wall Street Journal reports he's been working hard, almost Madonna-like, in re-defining the latest incarnation of John McCain as "a reliable conservative but not a George W. Bush clone" and will soon start the process of smearing Barack Obama with a series of campaign ads (and the kind of Rovian innuendo once-upon-a-time used against McCain himself).

And yet, the national media still shies away from a serious analysis of McCain's actual voting record in the Senate-- not his rhetoric or how he nods and winks on the Daily Show but how he actually voted. True, he's been prone to not showing up for tough votes-- or for even scurrying out of his seat and hanging out where one would normally expect to see Larry Craig during contentious times but he still has a voting record and even if the corporate media refuses to look at it seriously, Keith Poole, a political scientist at the University of California-San Diego just did. He concludes that although McCain has been slightly less right-wing than the average Republican senator for much of his career, once he decided to run for president, he tossed the "moderate" and "maverick" guises off as fast as he could and re-invented himself as an extremist nut-job. He votes the Bush-Cheney line-- both domestically and internationally-- 95% of the time. The only Republicans who have more extreme voting records are an assortment of far from the mainstream neo-Confederates like James Inhofe (OK), John Cornyn (TX), David Diapers Vitter (LA), Jeff Sessions (AL), Saxby Chambliss (GA), Jim DeMint (SC), Miss McConnell (KY), Tom Coburn (OK)... the real bottom of the barrel. For this current session of Congress, McCain consistently ranks among the 20 most far right extremists in the Senate-- across the board policy-wise. Anyone who wants another 4 years of what we've just gone through need only examine John McCain's voting record to know who their candidate must be. And one thing anyone who pays any attention will soon find-- McCain is a radical right rubber stamp, but he sure isn't the principled Goldwater conservative he fancies himself-- or once fancied himself.

John Dean, whose latest book, Pure Goldwater was co-authored by Barry Goldwater, Jr. has this to say about the comparisons McCain is always trying to drum up between Goldwater and himself: "By calling himself a Goldwater Republican or Goldwater conservative, John McCain invites the comparison, but that is an error on McCain's part, for closer examination shows that he is not in the mold of Goldwater, notwithstanding his claims (or wishes) to the contrary."
In reading [Matt] Welch's work, McCain: The Myth of A Maverick, I was impressed by the striking differences between these two men, as was Welch. In the following discussion, I have combined my personal knowledge regarding Goldwater with what I have learned from Welch's books to offer an overall assessment.

To begin, Welch reports that McCain seeks to use the federal government to generate greater patriotism and expand the nation's greatness, while Goldwater – knowing the folly of empire and excessively large government – sought to maximize individual liberty and local autonomy.

Welch notes, too, that McCain has no problem whatsoever being a nasty if not a devious s.o.b. when he sees doing so as necessary to serve or accomplish a greater cause. Goldwater, on the other hand, rejected all incivility and dishonesty in public service, and refused to take the low road; for him, the ends never justified any means. McCain, we learn from Welch's book, has wanted to be president since returning from Vietnam, while Goldwater was drafted to be the GOP standard-bearer. Stated a bit differently, McCain's oversized ego provides him strength, while Goldwater curtained his natural strengths by always acting with great humility.

No wonder, then, that when McCain sought to suck up to Goldwater, Goldwater declined to embrace this very different politician. Welch points out that "McCain has spent much ... time puzzling over Goldwater's lack of embrace." Indeed, McCain stated in his memoir Worth the Fighting For when discussing Goldwater, "I admired him to the point of reverence, and I wanted him to like me.... He was usually cordial, just never as affectionate as I would have liked."

This is no surprise to anyone who knew Goldwater. Welch sums it up accurately: "[T]he biggest differences between McCain and Goldwater were so obvious, [and] so destined to keep the two men out of each other's arms, that McCain's inability to identify them borders on self-denial and political tone-deafness." The gulf is wide, and the difference fundamental: Goldwater loved America and its people; McCain loves power, and what it can do for McCain.

Although Goldwater initially supported McCain's run for the Senate, Goldwater knew an opportunist when he saw one, and did not like any of them. We chose not to dwell on the McCain/Goldwater relationship in Pure Goldwater, but we did report how, after assisting McCain win his Senate seat, Goldwater was forced to pull McCain up short for using his good name for fundraising, when McCain had tarnished his own name because of his involvement with the Keating Five. We also included correspondence to shows that McCain is not very good at keeping his word.

To know Goldwater-- as we believe those who read his unpublished private journal will-- is to understand how different these men are, and to see that McCain is cut from very different cloth than Goldwater. Goldwater considered public service a high calling, not an ego trip or power play. McCain was fortunate that Goldwater never publicly exposed him, but Goldwater was too good a Republican to do that and he thought too highly of McCain's father to sink his successor in the Senate.

Had Goldwater publicized what I believe to be his true feelings about John McCain, I doubt McCain would be the presumptive nominee of the GOP in 2008. Goldwater's political perceptions of others have proven extraordinarily prescient, so his reaction toward McCain is telling.

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12 Comments:

At 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Orthodox political theory holds that in times of crisis people will rally behind their Government.

So watch out for a terrorist outrage followed by an attack on Iran sometime before the end of summer.

Politics is a dirty game, especially when conservatives are playing

 
At 4:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's hope not.

Spread the word for people to read "He died on Memorial Day 2007 - An Open Letter to President Bush" at

http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-19260

 
At 6:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Consider the latest in "Christian" hate and contempt from none other than The Terrible-Tempered Mr. Bang's "real" "spiritual advisor," Rev. Rod Parsley by name--in this instance, playing the "Nae True Scotsman" card against the poor.

 
At 8:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An extreme nut-job to you means a moderate centrist to the country. A lot more people think Obama is an extreme left wing liberal nut job than those who think McCain is on the right. This election has the making of a H W Bush vs. Dukakis except Obama doesn't even have the initial margin of Dukakis. People look as Obama as another Jimmy Carter, not Bill Clinton (especially after the dem primary). Well, if you look like a duck and talk a a duck, you must be a duck. You need more than the promise to blame and punish the rich in order to win the Presidency of this country.

 
At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

War is soon upon Iran (June)

then swarm at dawn ...

You will know hunger

 
At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish the media would actually report the news without bias to political party. Everyone has there agenda and unfortunately the masses are influenced by it.
Shame on you!

 
At 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a shame you have to rant that way; instead of writing an intelligent article.

 
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