Friday, October 3, 2008

John McCain. Sincere Candidate?

I'm perplexed....

Disclosure...John McCain was not my choice of Presidential candidate for the Republican Party.  He wasn’t my second choice, and….he wasn’t my third choice either.

However, John McCain comes closer to my philosophical views on more issues, so he will probably get my vote.

I am perplexed, however, with  John McCain’s campaign, and the general approach that he has taken in his attempt to win the election.

In a campaign where his opponent, and the opposition Party, has worked hard and rather effectively to position him as a continuation of the beleaguered presidency of George Bush, McCain has refused to  engage in combat with what would be a natural extension of his opponent, the Democrat controlled House and Senate.

Running in opposition to the Democratic controlled Congress would significantly increase the mass of his target beyond the skimpy history, and minimally detailed plank of Barack Obama.  A full assault on the Democrats in Congress (which has a significantly lower satisfaction index than Pres. Bush) would give him an even greater advantage at this time due to their role in pressuring banking institutions to make loans to people who could not afford them, their significant involvement in protecting the egregious behavior of Fanny and Freddy, and their ultimate   responsibility for the financial market meltdown.

He has campaigned hard against earmarks, and has used that capability as an argument for electing him, yet he then voted for the Bail-Out Bill on Monday that included essentially $150 Billion in earmark ‘sweeteners’ designed to seduce both Republican and Democrat Congressmen to voting for it.  He should have not only voted no, he should have highlighted the issues and argued against it and pointed out those guilty of architecting the mortgage crisis , such as Rep. Barney Frank, Sen. Dodd, Sen. Schumer, Bill Clinton, Frank Raines, Jim Johnson and the whole Congressional Black Caucus.

He selected an effective decision-making leader and campaigner as his running mate, but watching her performance in last night’s debate, he apparently has tied her hands to prevent her from campaigning against Congress too.

While watching the initial debate between McCain and Obama, I had the distinct impression that John McCain seemed to be running for the position of "President of the Senate", despite the fact that that position doesn’t exist. 

There is a view that the reason not many Senators have won the Presidency, is that the nature of Senators is to make deals and achieve a consensus in order to get legislation passed.  The nature of Governors, and Presidents, is to lead and combat their opposition to defeat.  There should be a degree of effective tension between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch. But John McCain seems unable to do what he says he will do—name names.  He has refused to indict those who, like Senators Dodd and Schumer, have stained hands for their actions in protecting Fanny and Freddy from tighter oversight and reform.

John McCain is a fighter.  He proved that in his career in the military, and has demonstrated that same quality in his many disputes within the Republican Party, and Congress.  But he’s also a guy who’s whole background has been forged by making and keeping relationships, despite disagreements.  You may dislike and disagree with your wingman, but he’s still your cover for him.

It seems that John McCain views the Congress as his squadron, and as a result, he can’t  legitimately and effectively attack the members in it.

But there’s one other thought that has cross my mind as well.  John McCain is a fighter. A tenacious fighter.  He wanted the Presidency, but lost the opportunity to run for it eight years ago.  His tenacity led him to compete again.  But now that he’s closer to the actual goal, I’m not sure that he really wants it now.  Now that he really understands the job and it’s consequences, he appears to be having buyer’s remorse.  Any racing tout can tell you, it’s easy for a jockey to pull a race.  Just a little lighter on the whip, just a bit more pressure on the reins.  The Senate is a great place for a maverick to roam.  The "Lion" of the Senate, as McCain calls Ted Kennedy, may not be able to return.  Maybe the 'maverick' would rather be the 'lion'.

Only the next weeks will tell us if John McCain really is a serious candidate.

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