For the past few days, I have suffered from presidential election writer’s block. Actually, it’s not that I couldn’t think of anything to write, but there was nothing that interesting or novel to say that warranted a post. Nevertheless, today I finally decided to get my act together and write a few lines about some of the more interesting things we learned this week about the candidates and the election:
- Sarah Palin, though I do not believe she is directly to blame for the $150,000 wardrobe, the expensive stylist, and professional acting/speech coach, has not given a credible explanation. Rather, she has proven herself to be, as Maureen Dowd has repeated, nothing more than a My Fair Lady remake.
- The feeling of inevitable defeat has already begun to plague the Republican Party, and there is tension around the handling of Sarah Palin. While everyone panics and tries to save their own skin, Palin has gone from maverick to renegade, concentrating on her own political future.
- A valid worry is that the McCain Palin campaign’s mismanagement will infect many of the other state and federal races, giving the Democrats majorities nationwide and ousting Republican incumbents. McCain’s best argument, now much too late in the game to be successfully articulated, should have been about divided government and the perils of Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and a Democrat in the White House.
- As I wrote previously, the Obamas have become more representative of “America” than Mcain Palin’s small town “only served here” sign. Forget about whether or not a black man can become president, McCain’s own campaign has already conceded that Obama is the “mainstream” candidate with the mainstream media favoring him. As Frank Rich writes, white Americans already support Obama in higher numbers than they did Bill Clinton, Al Gore, or John Kerry. Would a fringe, angry, radical African American break all campaign finance records by rasing $150 million in a single month? I don’t know how Palin thinks Obama sees America, but a lot of Americans sure see Obama as worthy of their campaign donations.
While I was preparing to elaborate on the above, I took a short break to watch McCain on Meet the Press. I was stunned. While I have criticized McCain for his overly military-centeric and extreme shift to the right (including his choice of Sarah Palin), I have consistently avoided disqualifying him due to age. But on Meet the Press, McCain looked exhausted. His voice was shaky, his hands trembled, his tone was offbeat, and at one point he seemed to lose his bearing — giving him that forgetful senior moment that everyone has been hoping would not happen.
First let me say that Tom Brokaw, as annoying as his voice may be, is consistently asking the tough questions that go beyond the standard Sunday show gotchas — gotchas without a proper follow-up. My guess is that Brokaw, being in semi-retirement, has nothing to lose and therefore actually gets his job done effectively. The result was a McCain off balance and at times incoherent. McCain didn’t sound convincing on the poll numbers favoring Obama and those against Palin, was caught off guard on Reagan having once increased taxes, and his response to Brokaw on socialism was simply incomprehensible. This is after being confronted with his past statements in favor of taxing the rich similar to Obama’s present plan.
MR. BROKAW: …of the phrase “socialism.” How would you describe the $700 billion bailout that has the United States government buying shares in American banks, in effect nationalizing those banks to a degree, and even your own mortgage plan of spending $300 billion to buy bad mortgages from banks, having taxpayers who have done the responsible thing, in effect, subsidize people who’ve done the dumb or wrong thing?
SEN. McCAIN: Because we are in a financial crisis of monumental proportions. The role of government is to intervene when a nation is in crisis. A homeowner’s loan corporation was instituted in the Great Depression. They went out and they bought people’s mortgages, and, over time, people were able, then, to pay back those mortgages. And the Treasury actually made some money.
This Treasury in this administration is spending its time bailing out the banks. The cause of the crisis was the housing crisis, as we know. And how–home values, as long as they continue to decline, then we’re not going to see a turnaround in this economy. A lot of other things have to happen, have to happen, but at least let’s understand that we ought to keep people in their homes. That’s the American dream. And they say now that maybe they’re going to address that problem. Let’s address it first. And so when a, when a nation is in crisis, that’s when a government has to intervene.
Now, a lot of the times you were talking about, 2004, other times, times were pretty good overall. You had different–you have to have different roles of government in different times. I’m a fundamentally–obviously, a strong conservative. But when we’re in a crisis of this nature, that’s when government has to help. That’s, that’s what, that’s what our fundamental belief–the reason why we have governments. In times of crisis, we go in and we try and help the people, especially in this situation where they’re the, the victim of a drive-by shooting by excess, greed and corruption in Washington and Wall Street. And again, I and others said we have to have legislation to rein it in. Senator Obama didn’t lift a finger.
How can he complain that Obama is wrong to want the government to spend in a time of financial crisis and then say that during a financial crisis the government should intervene? Basically, he is arguing that now is the time to have an Obama-like government. Also, McCain complains that the government is borrowing from the Chinese to pay for governmental spending, yet takes any sort of tax increases — business or personal taxes — off the table. So how will he pay for the bailouts? Taxes or foreign indebtedness? You can’t have it both ways, Senator.
Then comes a questions about Sarah Palin’s qualifications and then onto Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama. After Brokaw shows the Rush Limbaugh video, McCain seems to crack. This is around minute 25. McCain gets forgetful, notice his hands tremble, he fumbles with the names of the former secretaries of state who do support him. Brokaw senses the awkwardness and quickly reacts by changing the subject to safe ground, as if he feels a need to protect McCain. It is a disturbing and difficult moment to watch.