Saturday, August 16, 2008

McCain's gone negative? So what?

John McCain sure has been catching hell lately for committing the apparent sin of negative campaigning.

After taking a look at some of the hand-wringing among Barack Obama's supporters, I can't help but think one thing -- what the hell did you people expect?

Now, understand that I'm a McCain supporter, but a marginal one. My entire political philosophy has been summed up nicely by South Park co-creator Trey Parker -- "I don't like conservatives, but I f**king hate liberals."

That's a brilliant conclusion that works for me very nicely. Neither the Republicans or the Democrats give a damn about the middle class. We're just supposed to pay our taxes, shut up and let the government do its thing. All that we can really hope for from the federal government is for low taxes and to be left alone. The Republicans at least pay lip service to that ideal.

It's hard to pick a candidate from either party these days as I realize that neither one cares about what's good for my family, anyway. So, once again, I'm going for the lesser of two evils and that candidate, in my estimation, is John McCain. It would be nice to be able to go out and actually vote for a candidate rather than against one, but such is the pitiful state of national politics.

Well, I digress. Negative McCain. So what? OK.

What has been particularly obnoxious about the present election is how much the media has just fawned over Obama. The media loved Bill Clinton, too, but their adoration of Obama has bordered on secular worship. I despise Hillary Clinton, but I almost felt sorry for her as it was obvious during the primaries that the press was joining the true believers in the Obama camp.

All of that Obama worship peaked during the Chosen One's visit to Germany. We were treated to such enthusiasm from the international press that one had to wonder what happened to such buzzwords as "neutrality" and "objectivity." The clamor over Obama was so extreme that I'm a bit surprised we didn't see male reporters openly weeping and female journalists begging Obama to autograph their breasts.

In other words, the press has been unapologetically pro-Obama, leaving McCain with a dilemma -- how could he get some of that attention from the media, too, without going back on his decision to run a "clean" campaign?

So, he went negative. People might be outraged by McCain's shenanigans over the past month or so, but antics such as handing out tire pressure gauges with the phrase "Barack Obama's energy plan" printed on them and running that infamous commercial comparing Obama to the most vapid celebrities in the nation have worked.

McCain's gotten some media attention, of course, but going negative has achieved a lot more than that for crusty ol' Johnny. The media's reaction to McCain's cynical tactics has served to both get the Republicans more in line behind McCain and has gotten the attention of some of the undecided voters out there.

Here's what I mean. After the "celebrity" commercials, some of the attitude from the press has been, "He may be a celebrity, but what's wrong with that?" In the August 18 issue of Time, for example, Joe Klein wrote a column comparing Obama with another celebrity -- Ronald Reagan.

His point was that Reagan was viewed as a lightweight celebrity who could work a room and toss out some impressive rhetoric, but people questioned his substance. However, Reagan whipped Carter in terms of both style and substance in a debate and the election was decided right then.

Klein isn't the only one who shares that view, either, as that Reagan comparison has come up here and there over the past few months. The common thread throughout those comparisons is that Obama, like Reagan, is facing a nation in turmoil and America is calling out for a candidate to attack the mess left by Bush with some innovative, new ideas. Obama, see, is the "candidate of change" just like Reagan was.

There are at least two things wrong with such a comparison. First of all, Reagan outlined his beliefs very clearly early on and didn't waver from them through the primaries, the election or his two terms in office. The Reagan I saw campaining at the Checkerdome in St. Louis in 1980 was essentially the same man who served for two terms in office. Obama is nothing like Reagan in terms of consistency as his views shifted to the center right after the primaries were over and he didn't have to position himself as the liberal alternative to Clinton to court votes.

And, let's not forget that his opinions seem to rather mirror whatever crowd he's talked to last. In other words, what does Obama really believe? Will he turn into a freaky socialist when he hits office, be a wishy-washy moderate or play with a yo-yo for four years while his cabinet runs everything? There's just no way to tell what you're going to get with the guy. You never wondered about Reagan -- if you loved him or hated him, you at least knew where he stood.

Second, don't ever, ever compare Obama to Reagan. There are a lot of us who remember Reagan and still think fondly of those years. Want to drive a Reaganite firmly into McCain's camp? Just compare Obama to Reagan. That ought to do it. What does Obama really believe? What does the man stand for and will he actually improve the sad state this nation is in or enact a bunch of misguided, boneheaded reforms that will just make things worse? It's really hard to feel too comfortable about a fellow who changes his mind more often than most Americans change their socks.

And, so, I've wounded up in the McCain camp after watching the media fawn over Obama and then scramble to defend the man in response to McCain's attacks.

In other words, "I don't like John McCain, but I f**king hate Barack Obama."

You'd better believe I'm not alone.


FishHawk said...

We need to give Sen. McCain a break. For he hasn't had an enjoyable bowel movement since the big fire on the USS Forestal almost 40 years ago.

lot 2 learn said...

You are not alone. I am leaning towards the lesser of two evils as well.

Anonymous said...

My understanding of the reason people are going after McCain for going negative is that he swore that he would not go negative. Kind of like how other politicians said things like, "Read my lips, no new taxes" and then raised taxes.

No, it isn't surprising that he went negative. That is an unfortunate part of politics today. However, it does make me wonder what other things that he has said he wouldn't do he will end up doing.

Jess said...

EC Droppin.

MomDot Street Team

Da Old Man said...

This may not be the greatest political blog entry ever written, but it's got to be in the running and is the best I ever read.
While reading it, my reactions ran the gamut from damned straight all the way to hell yeah.

One thing I need to know, though. When in hell did negative campaigning, which sounds so awful, become so silly that saying anything at all about your opponent's ideas has become wrong?

I absolutely do not believe that so many of us are riding with underinflated tires that just doing that will all but end the energy woes that befall us all.

And yes, Obama is being treated like, and acting like, a rock star. Pointing out the truth is negative? And why in hell is he campaigning in Germany? I know he thinks we have 57 states or more, but even he can't think Germany is one of them.

I also ascribe to the South Park political view. And, Obama is way beyond liberal, he's closer to full blown Socialist or worse. And a pandering one at that. If he gets in along with a Democratic Congress who loves him, look out.

The Mad Celt said...

I don't think either of the monkeys is worthy of the title of Commander-in-chief; and Obama is certainly no St. Francis.

Theresa said...

No, Hawg. You're not alone. I'd rather compare Obama to Hitler than I would to Reagan, as the charisma takes him beyond leadership qualities and into the realm of cult leader. To put Obama's face on St. Francis's body is a good play on the Pied Piper leading everyone off a cliff. Or are you inferring we're all sheep? Either way, the result is the same.

I am not Repulican, and I am no longer Democrat. I go into the voting booth with no party loyalty either way. This comes from years of listening to politicians speak out of both sides of their mouths and the resulting lack of trust. I'd rather General Patreus as president than either one of these sorry excuses for candidates.

Jay W. said...

I found this article illustrative of how Party hatin' and group blaming can be beneficial:

I hope I live to see a day when we're all Americans, again - like for that 5 minutes after 911. Let us not be deluded that it matters who is President, anyway.

The Natural State Hawg said...


Ah, so he's a little clogged up, is he? How funny would it be if you were right?

The Natural State Hawg said...

lot 2 learn:

Stinks, doesn't it? I haven't felt great about a candidate running for president since I voted in my first national election in 1988.

That's a crying shame.

The Natural State Hawg said...

I don't think either one of them are sticking to their promises. Remember Obama and his agreement with McCain to stick with the fundraising guidelines that would allow both candidates to accept public money? He broke that and didn't look back.

I'd say both candidates have a credibility problem at this point.

Regardless, passing out "Obama Energy Plan" tire gauges is funny...

The Natural State Hawg said...

Da Old Man:

Thank you! Perhaps I just don't see negative campaigning as a big deal because I grew up in Arkansas and watched Clinton absolutely destroy political opponents when they got too close to him in primaries and elections.

I'm sure it was all just coincidental when a bunch of damning information was leaked to a Gazette reporter about Steve Clark, a Democrat who had a real shot of winning the party's gubernatorial primary back in 1990. That's just one example and it was typical of the woes that befell Clinton's enemy.

Ruining lives is negative campaigning taken to the extreme. McCain's lobbing softballs compared to that and I wonder where the cries of negative campaigning are coming from.

Heh. And isn't it fitting for Obama to be surrounded by a crowd of eager Germans? Makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Obama backed by a Democratic Congress who likes him is a scary thought. Should that come to pass, it time to start taking money in cash and burying it in Mason jars in the back yard...

The Natural State Hawg said...

the mad celt:

I agree with you on both counts. Don't tell Obama's enthusiastic followers that their man is no St. Francis, however...

Mike Golch said...

l boils dow to who lies you want to believe. me I thinkg they both stink.

The Natural State Hawg said...


I'm still a Republican, but marginally so. I still put a lot more faith in my Arkansas Republicans that national ones but I'm odd in that regard, too, in that I do have heaps of respect for our Democrat governor and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (another Democrat). And John Boozman, that Republican Congressman representing Northwest Arkansas, is a heck of a guy, too.

The thing about all of those people I've named is that they all put the needs of their constituents ahead of what their parties want them to do. That's very rare on the national scene, isn't it?

I've thought of the Hitler-Obama comparison, too, but thought against going down that path. His supporters scare the hell out of me.

The Natural State Hawg said...

mike golch:

Yes, they do both stink. We can do better than those two in this nation. I keep hoping one of these days we will...

The Natural State Hawg said...

jay w.:

You mean having candidates that represent the nation and her people rather than their political parties?

That sounds suspiciously close to the way things should be, doesn't it?

Sogeshirtsguy said...

You do realize that you compared Barack Obama to a guy that engineered a mass genocide? Pretty bad comparison imo. I don't like a lot of what Obama is doing either as he seems to be pandering to get votes all over the map. Stick to one set of principles. However much like others I will vote for the less of two evils and in my opinion the greater evil is McCain. This guy basically worships George W. Bush. George W. Bush the worst president of all time. McCain's war plan and economic plan barely differ from Bush's at all.

About going negative however I agree with you Hawg. Its smart of McCain to go negative and not really a big deal. The biggest problems with democrats in the past is not going negative enough. Bush and Rove crushed Gore and Kerry and got everyone to believe whatever case they were making (swift boat lies etc) If Obama wants a chance to win this thing he has got to go after McCain. Like hit him with a lie like McCain is going to have the grim reader as his VP.

The Natural State Hawg said...


Perhaps Theresa's comparison was a bit over the top, but I do see where she's coming from. Look at the almost frightening amount of hysteria that Obama's fawning worshipers heap on the man, and one can see a bit of a parallel. It's a bit far fetched, I'll agree, but I get it and I'm certainly she's not implying that Obama is one to go slaughtering millions. However, one must wonder just what the Obamaniacs would sit by and let the Chosen One do.

With our luck, McCain would choose the grim reaper as his VP. The only thing worse than McCain would certainly be another four years of Bush or, perhaps, Obama getting in office. Frankly, I don't see this as an election in which society will benefit too much regardless of who gets in. We're starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel in terms of candidates, aren't we?

Bush is the worst president in history? He'd have to suck a lot to rob Lyndon "Great Society/Viet Name" Johnson or Jimmy "Uh, What?" Carter of that honor. Still, it's a flat shame that my own party put that goof in office. It makes me sick that the scrapping, maverick McCain that got cut off at the knees by the Bush campaign back in 2000 seems to have gone on vacation. I'd feel a lot better if that was the guy running right now.

Oh, what a mess. There needs to be something like a "furious moderate" party to form and kick the hell out of the likes of McCain and Obama. No one but the slavish party faithful are happy with either one of these cats. Again, what a mess!

Sogeshirtsguy said...

Hey Hawg I get you on the Obama supporters thing but one has to wonder if they are really that excited about him or excited that its not Bush. Bush has had 8 years to do one good things and sorry to say I haven't seen it. We're in a war that could last for a long time as holy wars often do. (holy war in our enemies thinking) The economy is a mess and the stock market is going to take a big hit soon. As for Bush not being the worst president we already know the damage Johnson and Carter did. The damage that Bush has done may continue for fifty to one hundred years.

I do agree with you that if Maverick McCain from 8 years ago was here I'd vote for him. I wanted McCain to beat Bush 8 years ago. He had opinions and values. Now hes just waffling, weak, and old.

The Natural State Hawg said...


Here's how much I dislike Bush -- I can't really argue with attacks on him as, hell, they're valid. Whether he's worse than Carter and Johnson is a matter for debate, but I think we both agree that he sucks and we'll be well rid of him.

And, that really underlies McCain's main problem -- he sounds a hell of a lot like Bush these days. That doesn't bode well for him and I really don't get it. Hell, Bush destroyed McCain's campaign with a bunch of underhanded crap back in 2000, so what's going on here?

I think my extremely negative reaction against Obama's supporters stems directly from the Clinton years here in Arkansas. Back in 1990, for example, Sheffield Nelson was the Republican candidate running for governor. On the eve of the election he ran a slew of ads accusing Clinton of being a "raise and spend" liberal.

The Clinton campaign sent out "truth squads" to harass people as they were approaching polling places, declaring that the Nelson ads were untrue. The fact that Nelson absolutely pegged Clinton had nothing to do with it -- his zealous supporters were more than happy to go around intimidating voters. That's a bit too aggressive and it's exactly the kind of crap that Obama's minions would pull.

Kerry, by the way, ran on the "I'm not Bush!" platform and got clobbered. That was largely because Kerry is an arrogant prick, to be sure, but a candidate has to offer more than "I'm not that guy!" to get in office.

I see a common thread in our thinking, however -- we're both voting for the guy we hate the least. That really sucks as this nation can certainly produce better.