How is the US Election Shaping Up?

John McCain

 

The long two year road to the US presidential election is nearing an end.  Canada can be proud that the same ordeal is not part of the political system here.  The US forgot to copy the Brits ... just being contrary maybe.  So how is it going?  Let's look at John McCain.   We've looked at Sarah Palin.

It's a very strange election in that the traditional Republican mantra about big government and low spending cannot be used effectively.  Why?

A man sits in the White House who has spent more and grown government more than any other President. John McCain voted for Bush's agenda 90% of the time.  He voted for more deregulation.

History will have its say, but he is considered now to be the worst President since reconstruction.  There is not a single candidate asking for George W. Bush to give them a hand in their district (riding).  He has disappeared.

Bush doubled the national debt to 10 Trillion Dollars.  Next years' budget may reach a half trillion dollars deficit. Jobs have been lost and we all know what happened on Wall Street.

The new President will face staggering obstacles.  Bush came into office with a surplus and a good chance of paying off the national debt.  He has left with a gigantic debt and two wars raging with the US reputation in tatters.  Tough to run on that legacy.

The Republican party has lost it's way according to many conservative members of its intellectual base.  McCain cannot win arguments on the economy. Trickle down economics are not popular when the tap is dry.

He has national defense credentials, but the old mantra of elections seems to come back again and again... "It's the Economy Stupid!"

John McCain, an honoured war hero, has been co-opted by the same people who ran George Bush's Presidential races in 2000 and 2004. Ironically they ran over McCain in 2000! He has lost his natural zest and has reverted to attack methods manufactured by his hit team. 

He has a very poor campaign structure from an organizational side.  If he attacks Obama on organizational experience, he has only to look in the mirror to see a lack of ability and experience.

He is faced with a juggernaut that is well organized, well financed and very modern using the Internet effectively.  It is surely a changing of the guard from a generational stanpoint.  McCain does not use the Internet himself. 

In the 3 debates, Obama countered McCain's edgy responses and facial reactions with an almost stoic calm.  It was like watching Michael Jordon or Gordie Howe waiting for the game to come to them.  In each of the debates it did just that.

McCain is an effective communicator, but he is a dim light compared to Obama in full form.

People running for high office have a tough go.  You cannot puzzle over each and every committee they've served on or exactly what they will do for health care, education, national security or the economy.

All the proposed details can be obtained from their web sites, but they usually are not matched by how to pay for them.

(next column)

13/01/2009 04:24 PM

(continued)

Most people judge either by the base principals they believe in or by looking at the person and either liking or disliking them.  The Americans know they cannot have another President that they'd like to have a beer with -- that was a bad idea.

So where McCain is known to have a quick temper, Obama appears stoic.  Where McCain has a fighter pilot's instinct for quick reactions, Obama appears to want to take some time to think about things.  He likes to wind up behind the net and not rush into the jaws of a decision.

Where McCain seems to revert to deeply held first principals, Obama strangely is more pragmatic.  Where McCain does not seek deep advice, Obama does.  That came out in the first week after the financial failure on Wall Street.  McCain rushed around and Obama got on the phone to ask experts "What is the right thing to do for the nation and the world" according to Bill Clinton and others who got a call from him.

If you  look at the campaign style, it tells you a lot.  McCain ran as a maverick.  By that he meant he fought hard  ... both his party and the 'SYSTEM' as he calls it.  But the word fits better using its real definition and not its manufactured meaning.

From a marketing standpoint the word maverick is a bad one.  It implies being contrary and was applied first to a family who just rubbed everyone the wrong way.  Here is the current definition:

A maverick is an unbranded range animal, especially a motherless calf. It can also mean a person who thinks independently, a lone dissenter, a non-conformist or rebel.

Is that good marketing?

When he selected Sarah Palin, she took the maverick label as her own.  It made no marketing sense.  The strange thing is that it does apply to his fighter pilot background.  He was picked because of his independent nature.  The old first gun profile.

McCain spent 22 years in the Navy and the next 26 years as politician. He's been a good senator, but not a great one. He had an unfortunate connection to the Savings and Loan disaster of the 80s.  Everyone has forgiven his lack of insight in that issue.

He's been running for President for a very long time ... getting to a position where he could win.  He came from an illustrious background where his father and grandfather were Navy Admirals ... a fighting family.  

He went to the Navel Academy where he graduated 4th from last due to his penchant for fun and mayhem.   Like George Bush getting into Yale due to his family, John McCain was destined to be a Navel Officer...so the hijinks was forgiven when you have Admirals in your genes.

If McCain loses, three things will stand out as causes above the others.

1.  He did not run as John McCain the war hero as he did in 2000 against Bush.  He was brutalized by Bush's Carl Rove tactics.  McCain somehow gained respect for the result more than the methods.  He adopted the tactics.

2.  His first decision as a nominee was to select a Vice President.  He picked a person he had met once, who is not ready for the job.  That decision has been unkind to him and his party.

3.  His campaign was run poorly, constantly searching for a message and reverting to Rove tactics that are not natural for McCain.  People who know him  believe they are beneath him.