It is still possible that momentum in the presidential race could shift. McCain still has a chance to win, but a lot will have to go McCain’s way and the odds are definitely long at this point. It is still doable though. This campaign has been extremely volatile and a surprise or two could still shake things up.
McCain is getting a lot of criticism for “going negative” at this point in the race. Think about it though — who doesn’t know what McCain will do if elected? His life has been an open book. He is a Republican who is conservative on many issues like abortion and national defense, but “squishy” on others like immigration. But regardless of whether you agree with his positions, there is rarely ever any doubt what they are. He has shown his ability to lead and has exposed all his shortcomings for the world to see. He has demonstrated time and time again the ability to cross the aisle to compromise to get things done. If there is anything voters don’t know about McCain at this point it is probably something that has nothing to do with what kind of president he would make.
By stark contrast, Barack Obama is a big question mark. He is young, with little experience in the U.S. Senate (especially considering he spent the past two years campaigning) and with no record of leadership to speak of. He does have a very liberal voting record, but that is not getting much attention from those in the media or even the McCain campaign. He has voted for higher taxes consistently, but now says he will cut them. He has made many other promises with little more to back them up than his word. He has had questionable associations that he now says didn’t exist, although the facts indicate otherwise. He has hidden almost half of his campaign contributions behind a wall of secrecy and has shown a great intolerance of any criticism. And on and on. The media who wanted George Bush to show some “curiosity” for the past eight years, has shown absolutely none when it comes to all the questions surrounding Barack Obama’s past activities or the current activity of his campaign. Since the media will not do their jobs, it is left to John McCain to ask these questions and to alert voters to the troubling aspects of Obama’s record, his associates, and his past and to explain to voters why those things are important to consider when choosing a president.
I am convinced that if voters knew anything about the Obama record and background beyond the illusion of the “Obama” brand, he would not be leading in the polls. The media is not going to turn on a dime and change the course they have been on the past two years and start reporting anything negative about Obama. Unfortunately that leaves it to John McCain to do.
Tomorrow night in the debate McCain needs to find enough time to explain the reasons he has to “go negative.” He has been open about who he is, his record and what he would do as president. Obama has not been open about who he is or his past record and has only made pie in the sky promises about what he would do as President. Since the media will not ask any questions or point out the inconsistencies in what Obama says vs. what he does, it is up to McCain to do.
I hope that tomorrow night in the debate, and in upcoming television ads and interviews and any other communication with voters, McCain will make sure voters know the following (listed in no particular order):
1. Obama’s liberal voting record — particularly on taxes and on issues like partial birth abortion. He is the most liberal candidate for president ever. Period. His votes are on record so this is one of those things that is easily verified and not a matter of subjective opinion.
2. Obama’s rhetoric vs. his record — particularly on taxes, but also on matters such as transparency and corruption. He has a history of voting for higher taxes which is inconsistent with his current rhetoric and promises, his campaign is hiding who their donors are and he has a past of associating with corrupt characters and organizations. This is at odds with his mantra of HOPE and CHANGE.
3. Obama’s judgment on Freddie/Fannie and sub-prime mortgages. There is a clear record. Obama was wrong and John McCain was right. Just saying it will not convince voters because Obama is trying to claim he is the one who warned everyone of the coming meltdown. John McCain has to lay out the facts so that voters can see who is to blame for the crisis. When even Bill Clinton is on record saying Democrats in congress thwarted efforts to prevent the crisis, McCain should be able to easily make this case.
4. Obama’s socialist plan to redistribute wealth through his tax policy. I don’t think the average voter realizes that it is impossible to give tax cuts to 95 percent because there are not that many people who pay income tax. When you explain that what will happen is those who don’t currently pay income tax will get a check (funded with their tax dollars), I think most will be surprised — and not in a good way. When voters understand that many of those “rich” people who will be taxed at a higher rate are small businessmen who provide jobs, and that some people will lose jobs as a result of the tax hike, the Obama tax plan doesn’ t sound like such a good idea. Obama’s critics have claimed from day one that the plan is a redistribution of wealth, but few dreamed Obama would ever admit that. His comment to a plumber this week about spreading the wealth around was a very helpful admission that voters should be made aware of.
5. Obama’s judgment on Iraq and complete lack of understanding of foreign policy and national security issues. On Iraq and the surge Obama was dead wrong. Not only was he dead wrong, but he refuses to this day to admit he was wrong to vote against the surge. How can we choose as commander in chief a man who not only voted against funding for the troops, but would have brought them home in defeat two years ago if he had his way? John McCain was right. He stuck his neck out when it mattered and went against many in his party and he was proven right. Obama played politics (at least that is what Joe Biden said) and he was dead wrong.
Obama not only was wrong about Iraq, but he was calling publicly for quick troop withdrawals and at the same time, behind the scenes. was trying to pressure the Iraqis to delay negotiations on troop withdrawal. This is a huge deal, whether the media thinks so or not. Believe me, if John McCain was calling for quick withdrawal of troops and at the same time was working behind the scenes to undermine the current president and convince Iraqis to delay troop withdrawals this would be a big story. Most in the general public have never heard about this at all. McCain needs to tell this story.
Not only his attempt to derail negotiations for troop withdrawals from Iraq, but some of his comments about the behavior of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan should have disqualified him from consideration as commander-in-chief, but since most in the media share his opinion of the US military, they are not going to be telling that story.
For those who think the success in Iraq removes that as an issue (not realizing what the example would mean for future conflicts), they should be able to at least understand the danger of Obama’s statement that he would meet the leader of Iran without preconditions. He lied and said Henry Kissenger agreed with him on that issue in the first debate. He not only claimed Kissenger agreed with him, but made a big point of it saying “guess what” even your advisor Kissenger agrees with me. Kissenger issued a very clear statement following the debate that Obama was dead wrong. If he wasn’t lying about it, then Obama was just plain clueless about the difference between Kissenger’s position and his and that is even scarier. Mysteriously the “fact checkers” were not all over this after the debate, even though Kissenger issued his statement as soon as it ended. Imagine if Sarah Palin had made such a grand “guess what” gesture and was shown immediately following the debate to have been dead wrong.
6. Obama’s past (and current) associations. This is getting a lot of media attention lately, but only in a “McCain is going negative” way, rather than a “let’s get to the bottom of the allegations and report the facts to the people” kind of way. Not only the Ayers and Wright associations, but also Rezko, Jim Johnson, Franklin Raines, ACORN, etc. need to be called to voters’ attention, especially important is explaining the implications of each on possible future policy. Is someone who considered Jeremiah Wright a great mentor the best person to lead on the issue of tolerance? Is the person who chose Jim Johnson and Franklin Raines as campaign advisors the person who should be leading the nation out of the current sub-prime mortgage mess?
7. Obama’s truthfulness. Obama has demonstrated in the past few weeks that when he is confronted with information that could harm him he chooses to just deny it. He has been caught in several doozies, including his various stories about his relationship with Ayers and ACORN, but also on some policy matters as well. He cannot be trusted to tell the truth and since all of his promises are based only on his word (many times at odds with his past voting record) they should be disregarded as unreliable at best.
8. Obama’s efforts to silence opposition. These have not been done by Obama himself, but have been done on his behalf by high profile supporters and people in his own campaign and he has done nothing to stop them.
9. Massive attempts at voter fraud are currently underway. Voters need to be aware that ACORN and others are conducting activities that endanger a fair and free election and the close association between Obama and ACORN needs to be made clear. How Obama is getting away with claiming he is not associated with ACORN is beyond me. The man gave $800,000 to an ACORN organization to “get out the vote.” What about that is hard for even the Obama -lovingest media to get their minds wrapped around? And to the McCain people — why am I not seeing that in a campaign ad about every five seconds?
10. The lack of checks and balances in an Obama presidency. If Obama wins the entire government would be controlled by Obama-Pelosi-Reid. It is possible that Republicans in the Senate would lose enough seats to give Democrats a filibuster proof majority. Obama would also likely appoint two or three Supreme Court justices. They would be very liberal because Democrat contol of the Senate would allow Obama to choose pretty much anyone he wanted — no matter how extreme. Obama has no record of reaching across the aisle and compromising and he would not have any need to do so with his party controlling the government. Obama could enact policy as liberal as his voting record, and would have little incentive to even honor any of the promises he has made in the current campaign. Americans typically like divided government. I doubt many, except the political junkies, have given a lot of thought to the possiblity of what might be in store for them if liberal Democrats control all branches of government. The Employee Free Choice Act including card check would surely be passed allowing unions greater power to intimidate workers by taking away the secret ballot process. Other legislation that has been blocked by Republicans would said through a liberal Congress with a liberal President ready to sign.
I realize this is a long list, but many of these are points that would be easily made in a 30 or 60 second television ad and likewise could be made in the debate. Most of these points have been made by McCain at one point or another and some have even been reported by the news media. My point is that these are all things many in the general public (who are not political junkies like those who read this blog) have little or no knowledge of. Many have heard something about some of the items or names listed above, but most do not have even the basic facts surrounding them, much less an understanding of why these things are so important to consider in determining who should be president. I will be keeping count tomorrow night of how many of the items on my list are mentioned and how many of the points are successfully made. Even if McCain makes these and other important points, they will need to be made over and over again over the next three weeks to make any difference. Even then, it might take some intervening event to change the course of this election.
Update: Regarding item 9 above, there has been a lot in the media lately about ACORN abuses, but in most reports (except those on Fox) there was NO mention of the Democrats or Obama campaign connection. That is no longer the case: