The Obama campaign’s alleged promise to accept public financing rather than turn to private donations is the proverbial ‘tempest in a teapot’. John McCain knew back in 2007 that he would have trouble raising funds unless he took money from big corporations and their lobbyists. But, because this would have conflicted with his manufactured “maverick” image and the idea that he was no longer the same John McCain who supported Charles Keating, he hoisted himself on his own petard and opted for the limited funds of public financing. He tried to elicit a promise from Obama in the early days of the campaign to do the same, and Obama said he would consider a commitment to public financing of his campaign.
But, at that time, Obama had no idea that his candidacy would turn into a movement, or that his campaign would have the potential to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from individual contributors. When he first announced his candidacy, I don’t think Obama had any idea that he would be where he is today. There were just too many obstacles in his path: the first African-American candidate, the formidable candidacy of Hilliary Clinton, and the well-known power and tactics of the incumbent party. In light of that, nobody should be surprised that Barack Obama concluded that the only way he could win this election was to raise enough money to offset the Republican Party and its fringe “swift-boat” organizations which would surely come after him.
As luck would have it, the economy tanked and those right wing groups have been unable to finance any kind of meaningful assault during this election. McCain had hoped that choosing a right wing ideologue like Sarah Palin as his running-mate would motivate the swift-boaters to come to his campaign’s rescue, but they obviously have felt that it would be throwing away money to support a candidate whom they didn’t even like in the first place.
The main reason people like Campbell Brown on CNN are bringing up this supposed “broken promise” to John McCain is because Obama is poised to run his 30-minute campaign commercial. CNN won’t run it. No candidate has ever been able to do anything like that before because no candidate has ever inspired this many voters to reach into their pockets and contribute to a campaign.
I just read this very interesting bit of information on a blog and thought I would share it because most people don’t know how Sarah Palin managed to come from out of the blue when McCain chose her as his running-mate. A recent article in The New Yorker revealed how Palin was sold to the Republican National Committee by contributors to The Weekley Standard and National Review. Neocon ideologues William Kristol and Fred Barnes were guests of Governor Palin at her “mansion” during an Alaskan cruise, i.e. junket, back in 2007. Subsequently, a group from The National Review including John Bolton, Robert Bjork and Dick Morris made a similar trip to Palin’s mansion. Basically, these men loved Palin and concluded that she should be on the ticket because her ideology was so strikingly similar to George W. Bush. These are the people who then wielded influence with John McCain and the heads of the RNC, and they are the ones who convinced the Republican nominee that Sarah Palin would bring the base of the party onboard. McCain, being the cynical and easily manipulated political creature that he is, bought their argument and, to this day, defends his indefensible and totally blind choice of a running-mate. This bit of background explains why he never vetted Palin and that it didn’t matter whether she was qualified to be President or not. Country first? Not even close. It also provides the context for Chris Buckley’s decision to resign from The National Review, a magazine which was started by his father.
What is most interesting about all this is that this presidential candidate played no role in the selection of his running-mate, beyond saying “OK”. Sarah Palin was basically foisted upon John McCain, who accepted her without any vetting at all on his part. The notion that political operatives can subvert the system and impose such an overtly unqualified running-mate on a candidate in a presidential election is downright frightening. Especially when you consider that the candidate was the oldest to ever be nominated.
Only a man under tremendous emotional stress would do something like this with millions of people watching him on network television, knowing his primary objective was to instill confidence in his audience about his leadership skills and intelligence. It is an example of a man who has lost all sense of awareness of his surroundings and what is at stake. On its surface, this was a vaguely humorous, candid moment where a person has just let their guard down. But, in reality, it is an emotional breakdown of sorts that is manifested as a momentary loss of dignity and control. Presidential candidates are supposed to be smart enough and poised enough to avoid this kind of lapse.
For the last two months, John “Reach Across the Aisle” McCain and Sarah “the Rogue” Palin have been accusing Barack Obama of a variety of unforgivable sins. He’s a socialist. He has terrorist affiliations. His background is suspect, as is his patriotism. He wants to tax and spend the country deeper into debt, and raise a “white flag” in Iraq. Most recently, Palin has even invoked the “C” word, implying that Obama’s fiscal policies sound like communism. This list goes on and on. If McCain and Palin believe even half of the things on their list, how can they possibly give the standard unifying and gracious concession speech on the night of November 4th? How can Palin go from pitbull to poodle in a matter of hours without looking like a complete hypocrite? What can either of these candidates say that won’t come across as grotesquely self-serving. McCain will see it as his swan-song, where his primary objective will be to repair the damage he has done to his own honor and future ability to work in the Senate. Palin will, no doubt, see it as her opportunity to launch her future political aspirations and demonstrate her stunningly ignorant assumption that she is now the brightest star in the Republican Party. I’m sure she’s too self-absorbed and high on herself to realize that the Republican Party is going to ditch her faster than a Jamaican sprinter. John McCain, who has spent the last year telling the country that he has a record of being bi-partisan, is now going to have to work with the Senate Majority Leader and, in some ways, the Speaker of the House, whom he has spent the last two months ridiculing in his campaign. After slinging so much mud in the final weeks of their campaign, McCain and Palin have dug themselves into a deep and slippery hole. Watching them try to climb their way out of it on the night of November 4th is going to be better than an episode of “Survivor”.
Not even close. She and McCain can use that term over and over again, but it still rings hollow when you look at Palin’s record in Alaska. Cronyism is a disease that George Bush suffered from, and it led to dozens of appointments of totally incompetent bureaucrats to key positions in government. The sole basis for their selection was either friendship or shared ideology. The particular expertise required to do the job they were appointed to do was irrelevant. Palin has suffered from the same condition. If you look at her appointments when she became governor, you can see an all too familiar pattern. One is particularly relevant. Palin’s choice for attorney general, Talis Colberg, stirred considerable controversy. A virtual unknown beyond her circle of friends in Wasilla, Colberg had a private law practice with no partners and little management experience. As attorney general, he now oversees hundreds of legal professionals. Colberg was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for his handling of the investigation of Palin’s actions involving her ex-brother-in-law– aka “Troopergate”. A Superior Court judge overruled Colberg’s move to block investigative subpoenas in the case. John McCain proudly states that his running mate will reform Washington. Based on her past and present behavior, it is doubtful that this is anything more than another empty campaign slogan designed for most gullible and uninformed voters.
John McCain’s claim today is that, because he has already been “tested”, no foreign power would dare risk creating an international crisis with the United States if he is president. McCain thinks he has been tested for two reasons: First, because he survived 5 years of torture and captivity and, second, because he sat in a jet cockpit on an aircraft carrier during the Missile Crisis, awaiting orders to bomb Cuba.
What McCain doesn’t realize when he tells the aircraft carrier story is that it was a calm, highly intelligent, relatively inexperienced young president who played a key role in preventing that crisis from escalating into a world-wide catastrophe. If John McCain had been president in September of 1962, it is doubtful that the outcome would have been the same.
As for McCain’s years as a POW, certainly that experience tested his ability to survive and overcome great personal adversity. But that is hardly the kind of testing that is relevant for a leader who has to remain cool, make thoughtful decisions on complex issues, and manage the people who carry them out. Being emotionally tough and resilient are good qualities, but they are not pre-requisites for an effective president.
Barack Obama has been tested all his life, but in different ways that make him better suited to be president. His intellect, communication skills and ability to master complex problems were constantly tested, and the results of that testing are self-evident. But the real question here is which candidate would be the most likely to make an impulsive decision if such a crisis were to unfold?
Considering John McCain’s temperament and pugnacious attitude, I suspect that he would be more easily baited. He has said himself that one his heroes is Teddy Roosevelt, the president who charged up San Juan Hill. Like Roosevelt, John McCain sees himself as a warrior first and statesman second. He’s been fighting all his life, trying to live up to the legacy of his father and grandfather, who were both Admirals. The problem is, John McCain never commanded a company, a platoon, or a squad. He was a “maverick” fighter pilot, and a mediocre one at that. As a senator, he has never played an executive role, a point which his own running-mate recently expressed.
So, the question remains, where has John McCain been tested, and how did he perform on this alleged test? Being president is not a contest of wills or a physical challenge. It’s not about being the one who is most willing to charge up the hill, in order to win that elusive “victory”. The job is considerably more complicated than that.
As if Americans didn’t have enough to be afraid of these days, we also have John McCain’s and Sarah Palin’s campaign. Taking a page from Joe McCarthy and Josef Goebbels, these two candidates have resorted to the lowest forms of character assassination, guilt-by-association and repeated lies in order to frighten voters away from their opponents. First, Barack Obama was the devoted follower of a racist, anti-American ‘fire & brimstone’ pastor who made some inappropriate and inflammatory remarks about the country. Then Obama was a close personal friend of a convicted felon in Chicago. After that came the news that his closest personal friend was an “unrepentant domestic terrorist”, ergo Obama probably had terrorist sympathies. After all, he wasn’t born in America and he was probably a closet Muslim trying to infiltrate our government and destroy us from within. None of that appeared to stick to the wall, so now we’re hearing that Barack Obama is a raging socialist who wants to “redistribute the wealth” and punish rich and poor people alike with heavy taxation while putting the government deeper in debt with his huge spending programs. The only thing that the McCain/Palin ticket has yet to resort to is telling us not to vote for Barack Obama because he’s a black man. But you can probably read that theme between the lines of McCain’s ongoing campaign to paint Obama as a mysterious and suspect figure who refuses to tell the truth about himself. All of these tactics are the tools of a tyrant and John McCain knows it. Palin, who seems totally unaware of the world around her, doesn’t appear to care that her strident, shrill statements at rallies are polarizing the country at a time when it should be coming together. She has no concern that her repeated slurs might be fueling dangerous levels of hatred among the fringe dwellers in her party. After all, getting elected is more important than unifying the nation during a time of crisis. They can worry about working with a predominantly democratic Congress after the election, right? The duplicitous, hypocritical and grotesquely irresponsible tone of the McCain/Palin campaign is indicative of its two candidates’ lack of judgment and indifference to the country’s precarious situation. Most disturbing of all is that thousands of voters are attending these rallies, screaming epithets about Obama, and cheering the continual deluge of lies from the stage. When people are afraid, there are those who will try to take advantage of that fear for their own purposes. That is what is happening right now in the McCain/Palin campaign. In his desperate pursuit of the Presidency, John McCain has forsaken his honor and his self-respect. His running mate, who believes that mankind walked alongside living dinosaurs, has given up nothing because she had nothing to begin with except a pretty smile and the ability to read from a teleprompter. On or before November 4th, voters need to reject these divisive tactics and prove to the extremists in both political parties that they will never work again.
John McCain was a high-strung young man long before he disappointed his father, Admiral John McCain Jr., with his dismal academic performance at the Naval Academy. Graduating 894th in his class of 899 midshipmen made him a man with something to prove. His short, stocky frame was well-suited to the cramped cockpit of a jet fighter, but it didn’t help him live up to the imposing image he needed, so he over-compensated by being physically tough and taking risks, especially when he flew. At the Academy, he had been a boxer and wrestler who was often in trouble with superior officers. When you put this kind of A-type personality into cruel captivity for five years, take away all of his dignity and torture him into betraying his country’s Code of Conduct, it’s going to do some serious psychological damage that doesn’t just go away. In my opinion, McCain shows all the symptoms of someone suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. His manic body language, with constantly clinched fists and jutting thumbs, rapidly blinking eyes, tightly clinched jaw and grimace-like smile are physical manifestations of psychological issues. McCain had a well-earned reputation in the Senate for being ill-tempered and profane, and his inability to control his emotions was painfully evident in the last debate. In the last five years, McCain has also been faced with battling a lethal form of skin cancer, which cannot help but add to his stress levels. It is my belief that John McCain’s erratic choices during his campaign have been an expression of his emotional duress. Even some of his long-time supporters have described him as being “tightly coiled.” Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat or Independent, you have to be somewhat concerned about a man with these issues being put in charge of our country at such a fragile time. Yes, John McCain is a fighter. The problem is that he has been fighting all his life and doesn’t know when to stop.
Obama’s life has been an open book to anybody who was interested in listening. Born in Hawaii. Raised by Christian white grandparents. Undergraduate degree from Columbia. Law degree from Harvard. First black to be president of the Harvard Law Review. Taught Constitutional law at University of Chicago. He was selected by the Annenberg Foundation to head up its Trust in Chicago which funds educational programs for children from low income families. William Ayers, the “domestic terrorist”, had been put on that same board by the Annenberg’s, a very conservative family which recently endorsed John McCain for President. Ayers subsequent support of Obama when he ran for state senator came because of what Obama had achieved while leading the Annenberg Foundation. That was Ayers only connection to Obama, and what Ayers did and has done outside of that Trust Board is wholly irrelevant to this election.
Here’s what we know about McCain: A mediocre student, he got into the Naval Academy because his grandfather and father were both Admirals. Then he promptly graduated 894th in his class of 899 midshipmen. After graduating he managed to crash or severely damage several aircraft which investigators found were caused by poor pilot judgment, which is a euphemism for show-boating and flying too low. Then he got shot down over Hanoi. When he was released 5 years later, he left his wife who had stood by him all through his captivity and had an affair with a rich heiress. After he divorced his wife and married the heiress, his new wife’s father gave him a cushy, high-paying job in public relations and helped get his political aspirations off the ground. After parlaying his involuntary POW status into becoming a senator, he promptly started to lobby for Charles Keating, a corrupt banker and reactionary who wanted to influence the government regulators of his savings and loan. If it hadn’t been for his mythological war hero status, McCain would have been thrown out of the senate or at least censured. Since that time, he has stood for a few causes like campaign finance reform, but has voted his party line on just about everything because he doesn’t have the brains to understand the bills he’s voting on. He did put forward an immigration reform plan, but subsequently walked away from it. He’s not a bright man. And his choice of Sarah Palin is further proof of that. If something happened to McCain during his term, we would have had a president who believes that mankind actually walked alongside living dinosaurs.”
I’m not sure why those who support John McCain are so devoted to this man. I suppose we all need heroes in our life, and maybe McCain fits that image for some people. But the reality is that he is an ill-tempered political bully who has waffled on the majority of the issues he has faced because he hasn’t really understood them. His performance in the third debate once again revealed that he is mean, disrespectful man who is incapable of admitting that someone else might be right. I thought that his exaggerated facial expressions while Obama was talking were contemptible. Not just because they were juvenile, but because they showed that this candidate for president has no self-control or grace in a pressure situation. Again, for me, intelligence and calmness trumps experience.