Wednesday, October 08, 2008

asked and answered

dispirited die-hard republicans commiserate over mccain's non-game-changing performance at the second presidential debate and wonder:

why on earth would the mccampaign finally be hitting these issues on the trail, and then he didn’t say one word about it (again!) in the debate when he had the eyes of the nation???

it’s like the man wants to lose. ayres is an absolutely legitimate concern. the (imo very real) possibility that obama isn’t even a natural-born citizen is an absolutely legitimate concern. the fact that in four years he took more money from fannie mae than any senator in history except dodd, is an absolutely legitimate concern.

and nobody — i’m not counting rush — is talking about the real reason behind the financial meltdown, which is the government holding a gun to the head of banks, forcing them to make affirmative action mortgage loans that had no chance of being repaid. [link mine]

juan cole volunteers one theory:

in the real world of political ads, mccain and his surrogates are shouting ugly insults at barack obama. he is accused is saying that us airstrikes have killed innocents. this is true and mccain said it, too. they say he was on a committee with a professor who used to be a weatherman 40 years ago. and ... ?

how nonsensical these attacks are is demonstrated by the inability of mccain to repeat them to obama's face.

what sort of allegation won't hold up in a debate? a flimsy one. one with the form of propaganda.

mccain's nasty personal attacks on obama were apparently felt by his campaign to be inappropriate to a live appearance. they feared such smears would look mean in the mouth of a presidential aspirant.

update: even obama himself all but calls mccain a chickenshit on national tv:

i am surprised that, you know, we've been seeing some pretty over-the-top attacks coming out of the mccain campaign over the last several days, that he wasn't willing to say it to my face. but i guess we've got one last debate. so presumably, if he ends up feeling that he needs to, he will raise it during the debate.

update #2: now biden's piling it on out on the trail:

all of the things they said about barack obama in the tv, on the tv, at their rallies, and now on youtube ... john mccain could not bring himself to look barack obama in the eye and say the same things to him. in my neighborhood, when you've got something to say to a guy, you look him in the eye and you say it to him.

update #3: oh snap! you know it's getting ridiculous when even members of the gray panther cheerleading squad start breaking ranks:

king: michelle, are you not supporting the ticket?
laxalt: look, i think — i can't believe the tone of this conversation. here we are, three conservative, loyal republican women. and we are talking about a female who could be the vice president of the united states of america.

in my estimation, she is being used unfairly as a tool by a team who, by the way, do not even support, nor does their candidate, equal pay for women for equal work. so if she is going to be the traditional vice presidential attack dog — which i concur with bay, that's very much a traditional role — why didn't her male running mate, i.e. the candidate himself, man up and speak to those issues, calling his opponent essentially unpatriotic, calling him a terrorist?

i'm sorry. this is not the republican party that bill buckley, that paul laxalt, that ronald reagan raised me on. and i don't believe the american people like this kind of dirty politics. if they can't win fair and square, they shouldn't trash the other guy.

i must admit, it tickles me to hear a paleoconservative biddy like laxalt throw down a neologism like "man up" to challenge the head of her ticket.

how far the mighty have fallen! it was only three months ago that wesley clark was mercilessly excoriated by the mccain camp, the right wing noise machine and the mainstream talking heads for daring to question the mere idea that prisoner of war status isn't necessarily a qualification for the presidency, which cost clark his place in the obama campaign. back then mccain could count on the eager defense of the media to protect him from almost any legitimate inquiry.

but in that time mccain has foolishly sacrificed the centerpiece of the narrative of his entire campaign: his not-to-be-questioned integrity, a facade which he'd been carefully crafting for decades. he figured that he had built up so much house credit, especially with the media, that he could gamble away some negligible portion of his integrity on a bet that he could quickly and permanently tarnish obama. unfortunately for mccain, clinton gambled first and lost, leaving mccain with no cards to play. like the inveterate gambler he's reputed to be, mccain stubbornly doubled-down and bet his integrity on an empty hand, and predictably lost. and when his camp began to attack the media for acknowledging the nasty turn of his campaign, he drove away his best allies.

without his integrity, he no longer has a compelling story for the voters, and without the support of the media, he no longer has anyone to sell it for him, and he's been flailing and flopping and lurching about ever since for some other reason to justify the continued existence of his campaign.

which just reveals how hollow the enterprise is. this is a vanity campaign. it's all about him. its all about how ex-p.o.w. john mccain deserved to win. now that the sterling biography's gone, and worse, now that the collapsing economy is reminding voters that the election is all about the voters, he can't even articulate a coherent narrative or plan that focuses on their lives and how he intends to improve it. he's nothing left to sell them.

the only question left seems to be whether he'll lose like a gentleman. the answer isn't looking good.

i didn't decide to run for president to start a national crusade for the political reforms i believed in or to run a campaign as if it were some grand act of patriotism. in truth, i wanted to be president because it had become my ambition to be president. ... in truth, i'd had the ambition for a long time.

— john mccain, worth the fighting for (2002)

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