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The weird silence of John McCain

You would think that a man so quick to squash negative ads and sorta-kinda-could-maybe-be considered derogatory remarks about his opponent would have opened his trap sometime in the last two days to tell his bitter, opportunistic staffers to lay off the VP candidate he himself chose. Sadly, no...the silence from our presidential nominee has been deafening.

Which is why a lot of us conservatives are identifying with this Michael Ramirez cartoon these days. Especially since, you know, it seems that McCain and some of his staffers are copping this attitude.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
nornagest
Nov. 8th, 2008 06:53 am (UTC)
It's entirely possible that he thinks they're right, on some level.

Palin was not a by-the-book choice by any means. She's charismatic, and a talented campaigner, so he might have been looking to take Obama on at his strong points (which are charisma and campaign planning). And she's definitely playing to the social-conservative base of the Republican party -- although that's as much a liability as it is an asset, given that that base has been running out of steam since the early 2000s and is getting smaller all the time.

But recall McCain's original comments about his VP choice -- that all he was looking for was the ability to become President. Palin is not, at the moment, a viable President; she lacks experience with and knowledge of foreign policy, knowledge of federal-level issues beyond the talking points, and the flexibility to deal with an often-hostile Congress, all of which are vitally important to the position. All of that may change in the next four years, and I do think Palin's going to be trying very hard to gain that experience.

But that's not really relevant. I think McCain chose her to complement his own weaknesses, didn't fully consider the requirements implied by his original position, and is now kicking himself for it. The polls support this line of thought -- they show his campaign going steadily downhill since Palin started talking to the press in earnest.
fsf_rapier
Nov. 8th, 2008 04:49 pm (UTC)
No surprise, but I disagree here:

"she's definitely playing to the social-conservative base of the Republican party -- although that's as much a liability as it is an asset, given that that base has been running out of steam since the early 2000s and is getting smaller all the time."
Actually, that's not true. Most of the candidates that ran as social conservatives won. John McCain is a great and honorable man, but by no stretch of the imagination can he be called a "social Conservative". His nomination by the Republican centrists was pretty much the death knell for this campaign cycle, and Sarah Palin was able to extend the life of the campaign.

"Palin is not, at the moment, a viable President; she lacks experience with and knowledge of foreign policy, knowledge of federal-level issues beyond the talking points, and the flexibility to deal with an often-hostile Congress"
She is at least as qualified as Barak Obama. The time in office that each has is seperated by less than 200 days, and considering most of the time Obama was a Senator he was campaigning, he certainly doesn't have the Executive experience that Palin has from being a Governor every day. Managing a campaign, no matter how large (and really all the candidate does is shape the ideas and give the speeches) is very different than running a state with an 11 billionn dollar budget.

There is a big difference between being "qualified" and being "recognised". The media was pissed because McCain did an end-run around them and didn't pick one of their "expected" candidates. If they had listened to Newt Gingrich and Bill Kristol back in June they would have known that Sarah Palin was high on the list. It's their own fault for ignoring her and not doing their due dilligence.
wombat_socho
Nov. 8th, 2008 07:00 pm (UTC)
There is a big difference between being "qualified" and being "recognized". The media was pissed because McCain did an end-run around them and didn't pick one of their "expected" candidates. If they had listened to Newt Gingrich and Bill Kristol back in June they would have known that Sarah Palin was high on the list. It's their own fault for ignoring her and not doing their due diligence.

This.
The Maverick made his bones with the media originally by sticking his thumb in the eye of the conservative base at nearly every opportunity, and in the end it's no surprise that (despite Palin's best efforts) he got seven million votes less than W got in 2004.

One also has to give Obama credit for running an excellent campaign, though tbqh 53% is no great accomplishment when you're running against an inept McCain campaign and the worst-rated President since Nixon hung up his spikes and went home.
wombat_socho
Nov. 8th, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC)
The polls support this line of thought -- they show his campaign going steadily downhill since Palin started talking to the press in earnest.

Correlation is not causation, as you should know.

People have been saying that the alliance of social conservatives and fiscal conservatives is dead every two years since 2000, but I notice that the only time the GOP really fails at the Presidential thing is when we nominate the "moderates" the commentariat is always braying for. Bush the Elder lost when he went along with the Dems and raised taxes. Dole lost because nobody believed he was anything but just another Washington insider. McCain, too, was a moderate and lost seven million votes off the base.
nornagest
Nov. 8th, 2008 11:23 pm (UTC)
W was running as a moderate in 2000, too; it just isn't as obvious, because he was more willing to moderate his fiscal conservatism than his social conservatism. And you can just look at the national debt figures to see where that got us. Actually, you could say the same for just about anyone described as a neoconservative, at least post-Reagan.

Anyway, you'll note that I never said the alliance between fiscal conservatives and social conservatives is weakening, because I don't think it is. I do think the social-conservative wing of the Republican party is getting smaller, though, mostly because it's based on a set of demographics that tends to skew elderly and (a few religious sub-demographics aside) reproduces at below replacement rates.
wombat_socho
Nov. 8th, 2008 11:28 pm (UTC)
Yes, he was, but he didn't wait until the last minute to bring Cheney on board as his VP candidate, and Cheney was a known quantity to the fiscal conservatives. "Compassionate conservatism" was an attempt to soften what some people thought were the harsher, Social Darwinist edges off the Republican image, and at least initially was understood to be slightly more expensive than the existing welfare state. However, what really killed us was Tom DeLay and the K Street crowd thinking we could pork our way to dominance in the same way the Democrats had. Stupid bastards.

The social conservative wing of the GOP tends to consist mainly of evangelical Protestants, Mormons, and conservative Catholics, plus Orthodox Jews and some other denominations. All of these groups have rates of childbirth well in excess of replacement rates.


Edited at 2008-11-08 11:30 pm (UTC)
nornagest
Nov. 8th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
I agree that those religious groups represent the core of the GOP's social-conservative wing, but I don't think they have the numbers to dominate it -- there are only about six million Mormons and less than a million Orthodox Jews in the US, not all of which are guaranteed to belong to the GOP (although most do). It's harder to count conservative Catholics or evangelical Protestants, since those groups don't map directly to religious affiliation, but some parts of those demographics seem to have high rates of attrition between generations.
wombat_socho
Nov. 8th, 2008 11:56 pm (UTC)
The most visible actors in the so-con wing of the GOP tend to be the Catholics and evangelical Protestants, because of the sheer numbers. As you point out, there aren't that many Mormons and Orthodox Jews in the total population, and not all of them are Republicans. (Harry Reid, for example, is a Mormon.) The bottom line is that these people represent a healthy chunk of the base vote, and one which McCain has never done much to endear himself to.
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