Your Lying Eyes

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04 June 2008

How McCain Can Win

Barack Obama is already complaining about the Republican election tactics and the campaign hasn't even begun.’s very hard for them to talk about where they want to take the country..."You know, he’s got a funny name. And we don’t know where he’s coming from. And, you know, he may be not sufficiently patriotic." I think that’s going to be the race they run.
He's got a point - McCain hasn't really managed to come up with anything that might excite voters. About all he's got going for him is that he is white and never belonged to a radical black church. But McCain doesn't seem to have the stomach for a hard fight - he'd clearly rather lose the election than risk losing his cachet with the style setters and opinion shapers. And so he is pretty much guaranteed to lose - unless he decides to take some bold positions on the campaign.

  • Iraq - this is one big loser issue for McCain. His 'No Surrender' bluster is great for winning Republican caucuses, but in the general election he'll get slaughtered. With some luck, Iraq may continue not supplying much distressing news over the summer, and things may well appear to improve as Iran manages to unite the various Shia factions into a relatively cohesive governing unit. This would give McCain an opportunity to announce, right before the convention, his intention to begin a concerted phase-out of US troops based on the need for Iraq's government to get serious about providing its own security. I'd much prefer that we simply just get the hell out and not linger at all, but this might be enough to deflect Obama's overwhelming advantage on this issue.

  • Health Care - McCain's preposterous plan to effectively phase-out employer provided group health insurance in favor of 'allowing' (i.e., requiring) individuals to shop around for the best coverage sounds like everyone's worst nightmare. A better alternative would be to proclaim the current system 'good enough'. But the quality of health insurance since Hillary's 1993 debacle has declined to the point where she now looks like a regular Cassandra. The public is fed up, and demands a change. I think Obama's plan is pretty crummy also - basically the current system with more taxes to pay for deadbeats. But the current system is lousy because it relies on private insurers whose only path to profitability is to control costs (i.e., screw the insureds and hold back on treatments). McCain should just toss out his (barely understood anyway) free-market principles (because they no longer operate in health care anyway) and join with Ted Kennedy (an old habit of his) to propose a Medicare-for-all health care solution. With just months to go before the election, there won't be enough time to really analyze it in any detail, so he can claim that administrative savings would more than make up for the increased coverage of the uninsured (as Paul Krugman already has). There's lots of reason to fear such a system, but we're going to have some crappy system in place anyway, and Canadians and Europeans do just fine (albeit with a different demographic). This would also neutralize an important Obama policy advantage.

  • Immigration - As bad as McCain is on immigration, Obama is even worse. He needs to continue to emphasize border-security first, moving to a point system for legal immigrants and away from a family-reunification system, and Obama's harsh and reckless language against those who are concerned about uncontrolled immigration.

  • Taxes and Trade - Americans are beginning to get the idea that big tax cuts and free trade aren't exactly windfalls for the working class and don't seem to do much to make America stronger, either. Here McCain would appear to be hopelessly out of touch with his support for more corporate tax cuts and his oblivious devotion to free trade. Fortunately for him, though, Obama isn't exactly William McKinley himself on trade issues. Perhaps McCain can 'see the light' over the next few months, predicated on visits with constituents on one of his free-publicity tours where he meets with disgruntled ex-manufacturing employees in various dive bars. Americans are willing to go along with corporate tax breaks if they believe they will be aligned with job creation, so perhaps some clever wonk can come up with a policy that would use tax breaks to encourage more manufacturing and increased domestic employment in good jobs. He should maybe pare back some tax cuts on the wealthy (drawing that line could be tricky, but few would argue with setting it somewhere around $250k.

  • Broaching the Taboo - McCain may not want to exploit the Reverend Wright opening, but he can still accomplish the same thing by proposing roll-backs in racial preferences, and in particular Obama's disingenuous suggestion that his own daughters perhaps shouldn't benefit from it (he'd have to repeal the Civil Rights act to accomplish that). McCain can easily take it one step further - why should anyone's sons or daughters benefit from preferences based solely on the color of their skin (well, more precisely one's continental ancestry, but no need to make too fine a point of it)? McCain should insist that merit alone should decide. That's a winner issue - especially among the swing voters he'll need to capture. Again, there's little McCain can actually do about it, but it's worth bringing it up for it's collateral benefits.

  • Judges, Judges, Judges - McCain's already on this one, and he needs to continue it. Americans still fear liberal judges, and it's easy to blame them for the terrible crime of the sixties, seventies and eighties while giving conservative judges credit for rolling it back. He should harp on this one endlessly - and let Obama babble on about how the ideal Supreme Court judge is one who can empathize with teenage mothers.

So it's doable, but McCain will have to be willing to redefine his message pretty dramatically, come up with plausible story lines explaining these shifts, and hammer home the key differences. Of course he won't do this, and he won't get rough on Obama's one obvious vulnerability, so he's no doubt in for a pretty harsh thumping come November. And I'm ok with that, since I think we need to repair our foreign policy ASAP, and while Obama strikes me as a bit naive with the whole "I'll meet with..." approach, McCain is downright delusional about American power.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I honestly think that if Obama wins, the Repubs in congress can block him on immigration and win back alot of voters, setting the stage for alot of Republican gains in two years that can tie Obama up for two good years of gridlock until the next presidential election.

What is most important for conservatives is that we address the real issue of "winner-take-all" primaries in left-leaning states so that a McCain can never win an election like he did again. All states should be proportionally delegated. Mike Huckabee is the reason McCain won. If genuine conservatives cannot reach out to the religous right and explain to them how they are being played, we will wind up with RINO's everytime. Im sure the GOP establishment (the real enemy) has already figured out if they can prod a Ralph Reed-like candidate to run in the primaries, they can squeeze an establishment RINO globalist in the back door-time after time.

Im voting for I'll be able to sleep at night no matter who wins.

June 05, 2008 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Harlem said...

Obama can't win.
Not sure how it will play out, whether direct or indirect, but I just don't think it can/will happen. Meaning McCain defeat.
It may be a sad commentary on American reality but the facts are the facts.
America is 70% white/30% black. If it becomes clear (as it will) that 100% (or very close to it) of blacks will vote for Obama, it will be very frightening for the middle class,and below, white population. This will be seen as a step towards black dominance, similar to the hispanic dominance that is taking over in southern California.
People may agree with Obama's views (what are they?) but just not be willing to join a potential move in on electing him to President. We are talking about a one term senator with no real foreign policy experience in a very dangerous world.
I'll say the bad thing: If he were not black, he would never be the Democratic candidate for Presiddent.
I'm not suggesting McCain is the right candidate or that Obama may not be better than McCain, but let's all tell the truth and be realistic.

June 06, 2008 10:36 PM  
Blogger Black Sea said...

"America is 70% white/30% black."

Sorry to be pedantic, but as of 2005, non-hispanic whites made up 75% of the US population, hispanics 12.5%, blacks 12.3%, with various other groups rounding out the remainder.

I have no strong preference between McCain and Obama. I fear that McCain is lapsing into senility or simply isn't very smart, or both. I'm not sure America can handle another "intellectually incurious" chief executive. I suppose if he's surrounded by competent people and buys their recommendations, he might be OK.

Obama clearly seems sharper, more mentally alert. I have little idea what he'd do as president, particularly in terms of foreign policy. He has higher "upside" than McCain, if he rises to the occasion, but then again he might do more damage.

I don't see either one addressing the issues that seem to me most pressing. Maybe no successful politican could.

June 07, 2008 12:57 AM  
Blogger Black Sea said...

Again, in the interests of accuracy, I should mention that in the percentages I cited above, "Hispanics may be of any race and are therefore counted under more than one category."

Otherwise, there wouldn't be much of a remainder to round out with other groups.

June 07, 2008 1:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I volunteer to supply the text for your "How Obama Can Win" post:

By running.

June 09, 2008 3:08 PM  

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