james debate
james debate

Monday 29 September 2008

I have to admit, as a Democrat I was worried for a while after the RNC. It looked like, in finding Sarah Palin, the Republican party had found this year's 'iraq war' to manipulate impressionable undecided voters. But full respect to the American people, they have shown themselves to be far more astute than many give them credit for.

As I said in last week's blog, McCain needed to find a different way to try and pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat and shake up the election again, and this week he tried to do just that... the result? McCain is increasingly becoming a laughing stock, even among his own supporters. Ladies and gentlemen the comedy stylings of one John McCain:

Anyone reading this who has a clear memory of this past summer (which is probably very few of the republicans judging by their continued support of McCain's policies) will recall with some distaste how McCain attempted to milk the Georgian crisis for his own political gain with melodramatic, inaccurate, and wholly inappropriate speeches designed to appeal to the average oblivious American voter who were not even aware that Georgia is a country.

Well, being that this week started off with probably the worst thing that could ever have happened to the Republican campaign: the massive economic crisis which highlights McCain's complete cluelessness on the economy, as even McCain himself admits, McCain needed to find another gimmick to boost his numbers.

He had already done inappropriate melodrama with foreign policy. He had already done exploitative and cynical vice president choice. So where was he going to get a new thing to play with? Well this time he chose inappropriate melodrama with economics. Guess he must be running out of ideas huh?

McCain decided, out of the blue, to suspend his campaign in order to run out to Washington to save the day. He then also added his regular malarkey about how he had to bring bipartisan politics to a negotiation plagued by partisan politics.

Well for starters, the economic meltdown occurred Over a week ago when McCain was ahead in the polls. So why did McCain only decide a week later, when a solution was already close to being reached, that the crisis, being called the greatest since the great depression, was worthy of his attention? Surely it couldn't have anything to do with the fact that Obama had retaken the lead in the polls the day before this announcement?

On top of this one must look at McCain's absurd notion of bipartisan politics. For starters, by all accounts the negotiations in Washington surprisingly bipartisan and co-operative already, and indeed at the beginning of the week negotiators, both democrat and republicans, announced that an agreement had been reached. But sadly for everyone McCain got involved and turned the whole thing into a ridiculous public spectacle, demanding all eyes to be on him and painting himself as something of a saviour and brought the whole thing crashing down around him. What makes it even more laughable was that it was Obama who called McCain on Wednesday to propose making a joint statement on the economy. During this call McCain suggested postponing the debate and suspending campaigns (likely because he was losing) and when they disagreed, McCain said he would give Obama time to rethink it. Barely half an hour later McCain went live on tv to make a unilateral statement that he was suspending the campaign and cancelling the debate. And this is McCain's idea of bipartisan?

Sadly for McCain even this was not the end of it. Understandably considering everything that's been mentioned above ^ McCain's move was met with some serious criticism by the negotiators in Washington. Comments like "I think he's kind of grandstanding here" and criticisms of the fact that McCain can't multitask (after all a President might actually need to handle the economy and other things at the same time!). Conservative writer Matt Lewis described it as laughable, Senator Chuck Schumer, chairman of the senate banking committee, described the move as Just Weird and added that "We haven't heard hide nor hair of Sen. McCain in these negotiations. He has not been involved except for an occasional, unhelpful statement, sort of thrown from far away, and the last thing we need in these delicate negotiations is an injection of presidential politics." Needless to say, it's become something of a joke in Washington.

NB: even after this melodramatic joke, McCain's campaign was suspended for a grand total of around 12 hours, during which time his adverts were still running, his campaign offices were still open and active and he appeared in live television interviews when he was supposed to be in Washington 'saving the day'. Unbelievably after making such a big deal about suspending his campaign, he didn't actually 'do' anything. In fact considering he had no rallies or campaign meetings planned for those 12 hours there is not one single thing he did differently after 'suspending' his campaign, aside from the dramatic and expensive tv appearance where he declared what 'drastic' steps he was taking 'for the good of the country'.

This whole debacle has been a PR nightmare for McCain and has strained what little credibility he had left. I said it last week that if he keeps basing his entire campaign on risky 'shake up' moves then eventually it's going to backfire in a big way, and it seems to have done just that now.

After all this, McCain desperately needed a win in the first presidential debate on Friday (which he did attend in the end). The topic of the debate was on national security and foreign policy, an area that has long been regarded in the media and by the general populace as McCain's biggest strength, giving McCain the 'home field advantage' if you will. Considering this, anything less than a convincing win would be a disaster for McCain. This was his ace in the hole that he was expected to dominate, and he badly needed it now after the midweek shenanigans.

What we saw in the debate was something quite different though. The vast majority of polls, focus groups and media response have been declaring this debate as an Obama victory, as seen on CNN, The London Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Time Magazine, CBS News, and I think you're beginning to see the pattern here, so I'll leave it there. Crushingly for McCain the kindest things you see around the internet on credible sources are claims that he may have held Obama to a draw, just about, but frankly that won't be nearly good enough for him. McCain must surely now be asking himself, if he can't win there, where is he going to pick up points in the next 37 days?

The next presidential debate is on the economy, which as you know is McCain's weakest point, and one of Obama's stronger areas. Before that we have Biden vs Palin in the vice presidential debates, which is being predicted to be a blood bath as Sarah Palin continues to fail miserably in interviews. I don't know why anyone would expect a small time politician from a tiny town in a tiny state to have even a vague clue of what to say in such matters, and that's pretty much what you see in these interviews where she struggles and fails to recite memorized prose, one can only imagine how she'll fare in the debates where she has 5 minutes of open discussion with Biden.

It's generally assumed that this will be a painful failure for Republicans. McCain's campaign has been trying desperately to get rid of the open discussion between candidates (i wonder how they're trying to spin that?) and it should come as no surprise now that many people are speculating that Palin should drop out of the campaign. No doubt if that did happen that McCain would try to spin it as 'for family reasons'.

In conclusion, an already surreal election is being steered closer and closer to a complete farce by the increasingly risky and bizarre shenanigans of the McCain campaign. It may be too late for him now, but McCain really would be wise to cut it out and just run a normal election. Otherwise he risks losing his strained credibility, and in recent days it certainly seems like that's what's happening.

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