Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is John McCain Really Fading?

The mere fact that John McCain has made it close thus far in the presidential campaign is a testament to one of two things: he is running an amazing campaign or the American public is easily duped and refuses to come to grips with reality. Given the McCain campaign's repeated lies and just straight-up horrible decision-making, I am leaning toward the latter of the two options to explain McCain's viability.

I'm not going to sit here and rehash everything I have blogged about in the past few months about the man and his campaign, but there are some key themes that have been repeated throughout and they are starting to come to a head as McCain's gamble with "suspending" his campaign in order to work on a bailout does not seem to be paying off.

To begin with, McCain has constantly cited his ability to work with both sides of the aisle, so to speak. He claims to have the wisdom and know-how to work with both parties to get important things done. The fact that the House did not pass the bailout plan on Monday shows McCain's inability to do just that. By making a huge deal of "suspending" his campaign to work on the bailout, he essentially made himself the face of it. Thus, when it failed, it is natural that a lot of the blame fall on the man claiming to be running around Washington working behind the scenes.

When it failed, what did McCain do? He blamed Barack Obama and the Democrats in classic Washingtonian partisanship: "Senator Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship into the process. Now is not the time to fix the blame; it is time to fix the problem." So, after blaming Obama and the Democrats, McCain said now is not the time to fix the blame. To be frank, the House Republicans are the ones who essentially told their leaders to piss off and voted against the bailout. Before McCain can say that he reaches across party lines and gets things done, he might want to start with his own party.

But it simply would not be a John McCain moment if he did not contradict himself or his campaign. You see, shortly before McCain went and blamed Obama for being too involved in the entire process and ruining everything, McCain's top economic adviser, Doug Holtz-Eakin, was saying that Obama had "phoned it in," when it came to getting stuff done on Capitol Hill. So on the one hand, Obama did not do enough over the weekend to help get the bailout passed, but at the same time he did too much and ruined it all. You would think they would muzzle Holtz-Eakin after his BlackBerry comment.

Then comes McCain's "gotcha-journalism" moment with Katie Couric, when he blamed the mainstream media for his running mate's lack of general knowledge of foreign affairs:

In reality, the "gotcha" quote (which is not a pizza place, by the way - what was up with that?) was from a voter, not the media. Couric was simply repeating the sentiments of a voter (something the media does not do that often). McCain hiding behind the thin veil of "the evil media out to get me" is similar to the false cries of sexism put up by the McCain campaign when Palin's credentials were questioned. Additionally, McCain's awkward (and nonsensical) jokes and his confrontational manner with Couric are not exactly ways to get swing voters.

This brings up Sarah Palin: as conservative columnists and writers begin to trip over themselves to say how horrible a pick she was, she begins to prove to everyone how inept she is. The beginning and the end of it is this: she believes dinosaurs and humans cohabited around 6,000 years ago. If one seriously and honestly believes something like that, then they should not be holding an office as important as vice-president. But people somehow looked beyond that.

So she was told to do an interview (I am utterly convinced that she makes no decisions for herself and is at the mercy of McCain's handlers 110%) with Couric. She embarrassingly stumbled through a question that she had been asked before by Charles Gibson. This was the second time she got to answer the same question and she somehow sounded even more moronic than the first time:

It's painful to watch - yet hilarious at the same time. Some follow up questions: how often does Putin invade American air space? I can't imagine we let him fly a MiG anywhere he wants to. What are "those" things that we are sending out to "keep an eye" on the Russians? Are they sent by the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, or by some governor of a tiny state who cannot even grasp the science behind the impossibility of dinosaurs and humans living together? The scariest thing: that person could be one in the same if people do not wake up.

Of course the next installment of Couric interviews did not help Palin much, either. When asked what news sources she reads and how it has shaped her world view, she went off into a ditty about her respect for the media, blah blah. When pressed not once, but twice, on which specific publications she reads, she paused and said, "All of them." This brought back memories of the box-office classic Office Space in which Michael Bolton is pressed on which of his namesake's songs he likes the best:

Having lied about liking Bolton, he stumbles and says "All of them." So the fictional Michael Bolton and the real Sarah Palin share a common ground here: they are both full of it. This is not the end of embarrassing moments for Palin before Thursday's debate, either. The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz says that there are a few more buzzworthy clips of Palin expected to run in the next day or two in which Palin continues to make an ass of herself.

So where are we? With a little over a month before Election Day, Obama's lead is beginning to widen, but the fact that it has been this close thus far is a telling sign. McCain could come out with a smear or some mere bullshit ads to boost his own poll numbers or, at the very least, stop Obama's from rising. It will be interesting to see what happens on Thursday, because while I feel that Biden could mop the floor with Palin, I also think that the media and the pundits are putting way too much stake into Thursday night and if Biden does not have a perfect debate he will catch a lot of flack for it. Peace.

Photos - John McCain announcing the suspension of his campaign to work on bailout issues (The Guardian)

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