Is McCain Serious?

Sarah Palin is John McCain’s VP candidate?  Is it April Fool’s Day?  This cynical, craven capitulation to the far right underscores the  deep flaws in McCain’s judgment.  Do any of the pundits crediting McCain’s boldness honestly think Palin is ready to be one heartbeat away from the presidency?  This decision is bold only in the context of politics as a game.  In the context of statesmanship, leadership, judgment about the future of a nation, it is criminally negligent and insulting.

A friend asked me to state my problem’s with McCain’s candidacy in a sentence.  I said that he hasn’t shown any ability to comprehend the complexity of either national or international issues.  A few moments later I said it more succinctly:  John McCain is a binary thinker in a non-binary world.  I understand the emotional appeal of yes/no, black/white, good/bad answers, the desire to reduce bewildering complexity to simple bit-sized solutions, but that’s not economic, political, or social reality.  John McCain is like Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies–whose character is, ironically, named “John McClane”–except John McCain is not running for a celluloid presidency, the USA is not the Nokomura Tower, and the bad guys are not Eurotrash in $400 haircuts led by Alan Rickman.

6 Replies to “Is McCain Serious?”

  1. David Randall Post author

    That’s not a snazzy box, it’s a halo because my comments are so virtuous.

    “Socialistic” is too strong, I think, but Obama’s tax plans touched off quite an animated discussion with my coffee buddies–Obama supporters all–last Saturday morning. Fingers were pointed, voices were raised, eyes were rolling out of their sockets. Obama needs to explain his tax plan in more detail than he’s done so far. I’ve heard others express this concern and he needs to address.

    I think the foreign policy differences between Obama and McCain will be significant. Going back to his election as head of Harvard Law Review, Obama has demonstrated an unusual ability to listen, bring groups together, and reach consensus. Our world standing is terrible, we’ve lost the moral high ground we held after 9/11, and McCain is not the one to restore it. He’s linked too closely to Bush’s failed policies.

    The next president will not be able to fast-track troop removal from Iraq. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think Obama has promised immediate removal. We’re too entrenched.

  2. cujoespo

    Hey how’d you get that snazzy box around your post? Haha.

    I think we should bag the word “experience” for this election because it’s obvious that no one can come up with a universal definition that satisfies the je ne sais quoi we’re all trying to explain.
    A measure of overall competency is what I’m trying to gauge the candidates by and frankly none of them actually appeal to me as being the right man or woman for the job. This is the way I felt last year during the primaries and I really haven’t changed my opinion that much.
    Now in terms of competency Palin has made many mistakes, that Professor Randall has mentioned, she also apparently lobbied for $770 million dollars in federal money, which may actually be competent, but it does make her a hypocrite (McCain and Palin claim to want to cut the “pork”).

    You still haven’t convinced me on the rashness issue for John McCain though. I don’t believe this was a rash decision at all. Yes he should have spent more time with her, but it was obviously a politically motivated decision that is giving him a better chance to win the election. Judging by the responses that the Obama campaign have come up with in the last week, I’d say Palin was the right pick for V.P. in terms of winning the election.

    Still though, voters will ultimately have to choose between Obama and McCain. There’s no doubt that Obama is a great orator, the best since Reagan and probably better. The thing that concerns me most about Obama is his liberal extremism, he was declared the most liberal senator of 2007 by the national journal ( I don’t consider myself either republican or democrat and that doesn’t mean I take a moderate stance on everything, it means that on some issues I side with the dems and some I side with the GOP. On most social issues I side with the dems, but I definitely am fiscally conservative. Obama is going to raise taxes on the rich, or everyone who makes over $250,000 a year. He’s going to raise payroll taxes on small businesses as well. I am not in favor of this move at all. I think it is going to ruin the economy and is the most socialistic measure that can be taken in a free-market society. This is a major factor that I am weighing in making my choice, because it will affect my family directly and I believe the country’s economic stability is the most important issue of the campaign.
    International relations is another important issue that I consider, but I don’t believe that McCain and Obama will differ greatly in how they will approach other nations. I think McCain will definitely take a more hardliner approach, but I do not think that he will adversely affect the nation. If Obama becomes President I’m interested to see if he immediately pulls all American troops out of Iraq. I don’t think he will, I think he’ll keep to the timetable that Bush is setting and I think he’ll listen to the Joint Chiefs, but if he pulls them out he’ll gain a lot of respect from me for keeping to his word. I’m also interested to see if he can change Iran’s philosophical values. That I have to see.

    I think Obama is going to become the next President because he is an inspiring figure and he will inspire many young people and minorities to vote for him.

    This article plays with some interesting numbers and it’s also where I got the $770 million figure from.

  3. David Randall Post author

    Palin’s supposed managerial experience is weak beer, at best. According to a longtime resident of Wasilla Palin, as Mayor of Wasilla–pop 5,000–under pressure, hired an administrator to run the town. She pushed for creation of a local sports complex to generate revenue that has failed to live up to its promise. Wasilla had no debt when Palin became Mayor; when she left it had $22 million in debt. She showed contempt for the First Amendment by ordering the local librarian to remove books from the library that Palin did not approve, then attempting to fire the librarian when she refused to remove the books. She backed down because of the uproar her attempted firing created. Palin. She has a history of firing people–the Wasilla police chief, the head of the Alaskan state police–because of personal, not political,agendas. She opposed the infamous Bridge to Nowhere only after its federal funding was withdrawn.

    More critically, and more to the point of the previous comments and similar sentiments expressed to me through other channels, whether Palin has more or less managerial experience than Obama or anyone else is not the issue. Palin has no serious leadership credentials. Nothing in her political background suggests she is skilled at analyzing a problem, listening to alternatives, and forging a solution.

    McCain’s selection of Palin speaks to the rashness of his judgment, which is my biggest concern about him. He met her once for an hour or so before selecting her. He passed over many more experienced and tested Republican women, caving in to the same religious right be excoriated in 2000, which is one of the reasons I labeled this decision as cynical. He chose Palin for her right-wing cred, not her managerial abilities. Don’t try to convince yourself otherwise.

    A friend, a very smart person whose opinion I respect, labeled Obama “the biggest fraud since Rosie Ruiz.” Obama is not a fraud. One may think he lacks experience–not all that much less experience than John Kennedy had in 1960–or one may disagree with his tax plan or other stands, but his record shows sincere commitment to the same ideals throughout his adult life.

    To me this election comes down to leadership and vision. Obama, with no national constituency, ran a brilliant campaign against Clinton, the presumptive nominee until early this year. He out-managed and out-organized her. He convinced 18-20 million people to vote for him in the primaries. That doesn’t just happen. It’s not a fluke.

    Politicians/public figures have inspired me only a few times in my life. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were the first. I heard John Kerry speak in 1973 at rally at Boston City Hall plaza when he was head of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He was moving and memorable but nothing else he’s done in his long career in Massachusetts has come close to matching the inspiration on display at City Hall.

    I was not an early Obama supporter. I thought he lacked substance–until I started to listen to him. Between McCain and Obama there’s no question in my mind that Obama is far better suited to begin to unravel the harm Bush wreaked on the national and the world over the past years, and to meet the challenges we’ll face. I have reservations about Obama, but my reservations about McCain are immeasurably greater–and his selection of Palin confirms all of them.

  4. cujoespo

    I think the McCain-Palin ticket came out way better from the conventions than did Obama.

    I’m not quite sure why you don’t think Palin is ready to be the next President in case McCain goes down. In terms of experience, she has more executive experience than Obama does. She’s been a Mayor and a Governer, while Obama is a senator. She has the most executive experience of any of the four candidates.

    If it’s Commander-in-Chief experience we’re looking for than only McCain can legitimately claim that he knows what to do when handling a war, but really being commander of an army requires the ability to determine what a just cause is. How can we really determine which candidate will be better at this? As for diplomacy, which is the due course of apparently every country except Pakistan if Obama is in command, how can we know which candidate will handle international allies and enemies more effectively? Is Iran really going to negotiate with us? They have nothing to gain by negotiating except our guarantee that we won’t invade them, maybe they want to go to war with us…then what?

    As for the Economy, Palin is the only candidate who’s had to balance a budget on a large scale. Okay so maybe she doesn’t do the books, but what has Obama, McCain or Biden done that makes them more qualified economically?

    I have to agree with Victor about McCain’s binary-ness (?). I doubt he’s going to sit at the Resolute Desk and say “Well should we have war today or not?” Just his convention speech alone should signify that he’s a complex man. He stands behind the war in Iraq because he believes that it is making the world a saferplace, yet he despises war and knows its horrors. Obama on the other hand said that he would invade Pakistan just to find Osama Bin Laden. If President Bush has not invaded Pakistan yet to find Bin Laden, there must be a damn good reason, we all know what a warmonger that guy is…

    Anyway, regardless of who we support I think everyone understands the importance of this election. America is in a tough spot economically and politically. Our next presidential choice must be a good one.

    I think this article sums up the importance of this election while being slightly biased to the right:

  5. Victor

    The John McCain created through media does indeed appear binary…but is that really him?

    His speeches and policies can be quite blunt, and sometimes off the point. Some agreeable, others…well… He’s got that stereotype of “the patriot” attached to him that the public can relate to. I feel that his campaign focuses on portraying a balance between the Log Cabin Lincoln and Grampa Joe. That’s the general strategy to get him his votes. That’s the image that has been created. He may/may not be like that in person, because I feel much of what we feel or think about him has been distorted by the media. All these are intentional portrayals, similar ones that lead our country to elect Bush.

    So I think it’s hard to make myself agree that John McCain is a binary thinker. I mean,if you’re in the White House, what are the chances of a binary thinker running for presidency? Certainly, he had to negotiate in those gray zones of uncertainty. Certainly, he must have some mind to scheme and exploit the gray lines of truth to reach his current position of power.

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