Sunday, September 14, 2008

More insights into the negative campaign of John McCain

The asks the interesting question of why John McCain is going negative:

McCain’s tactics are drawing the scorn of many in the media and organizations tasked with fact-checking the truthfulness of campaigns. In recent weeks, Team McCain has been described as dishonorable, disingenuous and downright cynical.

A series of ads — including accusations that Barack Obama backed teaching sex education to Illinois kindergartners and charges that Obama called Sarah Palin a lipstick-wearing pig — have provoked a cascade of criticism of McCain’s tactics.

The furor presents a breathtaking contrast to McCain’s image as a kind of anti-politician who plays fair, disdains politics as usual and has never forgotten how his 2000 presidential campaign was incinerated by a series of loathsome dirty tricks in the South Carolina primary.

The defense from the candidate himself — heard only on “The View” because he hasn’t held a news conference in more than a month — is to essentially assert that he’s savaging Obama because the Illinois senator wouldn’t agree to the series of town hall meetings McCain proposed at the end of the Democratic primary season.

“If we had done what I asked Sen. Obama to do, because I’ve been in a lot of other campaigns where I have appeared with the opposition with the people and listened to their hopes and dreams and aspirations, I don't think you’d see the tenor of this campaign,” he said.

Now let me get this straight. The McCain campaign is blaming Barack Obama for McCain's lying, and for the campaign's dishonest, disreputable, and disingenuous campaign because Barack Obama wouldn't agree to appear at the 10 townhall meetings with McCain? That is like saying John McCain is kicking the dog because the dog wouldn't eat McCain's homework. It is bad enough that the McCain campaign has been caught lying, but now they are trying to blame Obama for their lying. For John McCain, it is "dishonorable, disingenuous and downright cynical."

But there are even more revealing details on McCain's lying:

Current campaign aides and other Republicans who’ve closely watched the race, however, have a very different response to the media elites and good-government scolds: We don’t care what you think.

McCain seems to have made a choice that many politicians succumb to but that he had always promised to avoid — he appears ready to do whatever it takes to win, even it if soils his reputation.

“We recognize it’s not going to be 2000 again,” McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said, alluding to the media’s swooning coverage of McCain’s ill-fated crusade against then-Gov. George W. Bush and the GOP establishment. “But he lost then. We’re running a campaign to win. And we’re not too concerned about what the media filter tries to say about it.”

Rogers, who hung tough with McCain through the dark days of the primary and has lived through every high and low of this turbulent and unpredictable race, argues that they tried to run a high-ground campaign and sought to keep the candidate in front of the media in the fashion he enjoys. His point: No one paid any attention.

“We ran a different kind of campaign and nobody cared about us. They didn’t cover John McCain. So now you’ve got to be forward-leaning in everything,” he said.

Going back to late 2007-early 2008, the presidential campaign was a wide open field for the Republicans. You had Mr. 9/11 Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney all running against McCain for the top spot on the Republican ticket. Different interest groups were courted by the candidates. Mike Huckabee was appealing to the Religious Right for his strong religious and conservative views. Rudy Giuliani ran his campaign on 9/11, where he could keep the country secure from the evil terrorists. Mitt Romney ran his campaign on economic issues--Romney was the businessman who could solve the country's economic problems. John McCain ran his campaign on pandering to anyone who would support him. McCain would say anything to anyone who would support his candidacy. It is why McCain has reversed himself on just about every issue in his own crass ambition of achieving the presidency that McCain believes he is to inherit from King George The Deciderer. The problem for the period of late 2007 was that there were so many candidates running for president, generating so much news headlines, that the campaign was drowned out. And to make matters worst, the media attention was centered not on the Republican primary, but the Democratic primary fight between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. So the underlying reason for McCain campaign's dishonest, negative attacks against Obama is that the media refused to focus their attention on John McCain during the Republican primary, when everyone thought McCain was finished. What's more, the media refused to focus on John McCain's views on the issues during that time in the primary when McCain was ignored. So now the McCain campaign is making the media focus itself on John McCain through these dishonest, disingenuous attacks against Barack Obama. It is an interesting theory--John McCain becomes the little boy that everyone ignores, so he must lash out in negative attacks to get the attention he craves. And the McCain campaign will ride this negativity for as long as they can:

“Every day not talking about the economy, the war and how to fix a broken system is a victory for McCain,” said John Weaver, a former top strategist to the nominee who left the campaign last year. “They’re going to ride it as long as they can and as long as the mainstream media puts up every ridiculous charge.”

Every day not talking about the economy, the war and how to fix a broken system is a victory for McCain. This is the crux for the McCain campaign's strategy of going negative. John McCain is running on a platform that is the same as President Bush's platform. John McCain knows he can not run a campaign where he completely supports the Bush agenda at a time when three-quarters of the American people think that the country is on the wrong track and almost two-thirds of the American public disapprove of President Bush's job performance. There is no way for the McCain campaign to win the presidency based on a Bush Third Term agenda. The only way for McCain to win is to go negative in the lies, the dishonesty, and the slime-ridden filth that John McCain wallows in.

And within the McCain campaign, there is a sense of hubris--that their negative attacks against Obama are showing that they are winning the race. Going back to the story:

McCain strategists now have became even more sure of themselves after the picture-perfect reaction — in the GOP’s view — to the decision to put Palin on the ticket. The choice provoked derision from elites, jubilation among conservative voters long skeptical of McCain and uncertainty from Obama about how to respond. If you are a McCain staffer, it doesn’t get better than that — so who cares that the candidate had met her only once and her chief foreign policy credential seems to be that she lives closer to Russia than other Americans.

The hubris of the McCain strategists may become their own undoing. The McCain campaign may have been correct in placing Palin on the ticket in order to energize their base, but they have done so at a serious cost. The McCain campaign's sudden hostility against the press has caused that same press to go on a major vetting of Sarah Palin's past, digging up some serious questions of Palin's qualifications, corruption, and scandals. Sarah Palin's extremist conservative views on social issues may rally the base, but it is also enough to cause concern among moderates and independents--voters that John McCain needs in order to win. And the fact that McCain has gone negative this early in the general election has resulted in John McCain's lies being exposed, showing John McCain's dishonesty, questioning that if a man of John McCain is willing to run such a dishonest campaign filled with lies, deceit, and slime, then what sort of dishonest, deceit, and disingenuous administration will a McCain presidency become? By looking at how John McCain conducts his campaign, we are also seeing clues as to how John McCain will conduct his presidency--a presidency that makes the Bush administration seem tame.

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