Friday, August 08, 2008

Is John McCain too experienced to win in 2008?

In politics, old hands use mud-slinging & smear-mongering knowing an apology later doesn't erase the first impression about taxes, or whatever... Is Senator McCain's low-information, "talking points, not details" campaign style evidence that he's been in DC too long - fighting the prior war?

By avoiding details there's only so much anybody can say about his plans with regard to taxes. He's avoiding talking about Social Security, for instance, because politicizing it with details is bad for campaigning. McCain's answers are from the classic Rove textbook that got George Bush elected - when asked a question, repeat the closest talking point you have. That way there are only a handful of things to quote you on, but nobody can say you didn't reply even if the reply seems as though you may have missed the question.

Senator McCain's not too old to serve; he proved he's not to old to amuse bikers in Sturgis by suggesting his wife enter a topless pageant, either. But is he too experienced to win a campaign in the era when pundits no longer dominate access to information?

Is "experience" actually McCain's achilles heel?

Obama's been so up front with his answers that it's shocked people. Pundits assert he's too nuanced, and there's no question that his opposition can grab sound-bites out of context and run with them. But this is the era of Snopes, and Google, whether McCain knows it or not. Facts may be hard to come by, but they're out there - and so if voters want the information, it's there to be found.

It's an election cycle full of irony - Many of the charges the McCain camp has leveled at Obama turn out to be indicative of areas they fear they'll be attacked. Have Snopes & Google given the U.S. voters facts to debunk spin?

So the 3 questions are:

  • Is this the year that voters fight back against old-school political tactics?
  • Is John McCain's campaign style evidence that he's been in DC too long?
  • Is the infornation superhighway sufficiently integrated into the lives of U.S. voters that we finally face an election where facts matter more than spin and perception?


Finally, former Senator and Presidential candidate John Edwards has just admitted to ABC News that he did indeed have an affair with Rielle Hunter -- a story covered here since last fall. This was reported on CNN. You can read the whole rest of the story here at Zennie's Zeitgeist.

Edwards says that the affair started after his wife's revalation of Cancer in 2006, but that he did not get her pregnant. He's not taken a test to confirm this.


In 2006, I made a serious error in judgment and conducted myself in a way that was disloyal to my family and to my core beliefs. I recognized my mistake and I told my wife that I had a liaison with another woman, and I asked for her forgiveness. Although I was honest in every painful detail with my family, I did not tell the public. When a supermarket tabloid told a version of the story, I used the fact that the story contained many falsities to deny it. But being 99% honest is no longer enough.

I was and am ashamed of my conduct and choices, and I had hoped that it would never become public. With my family, I took responsibility for my actions in 2006 and today I take full responsibility publicly. But that misconduct took place for a short period in 2006. It ended then. I am and have been willing to take any test necessary to establish the fact that I am not the father of any baby, and I am truly hopeful that a test will be done so this fact can be definitively established. I only know that the apparent father has said publicly that he is the father of the baby. I also have not been engaged in any activity of any description that requested, agreed to or supported payments of any kind to the woman or to the apparent father of the baby.

It is inadequate to say to the people who believed in me that I am sorry, as it is inadequate to say to the people who love me that I am sorry. In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic. If you want to beat me up - feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself. I have been stripped bare and will now work
with everything I have to help my family and others who need my help.

I have given a complete interview on this matter and having done so, will have nothing more to say.

My take on this news:

The back story of the affair:

Tax plans: Obama vs. McCain

Let me state at the outset that you can't know. I don't just mean that politicians don't always follow through on campaign pledges, either. Among other things, circumstances change, and the economy is neither stable nor predictable, so while we may be able to discuss goals, vision, and philosophy, it's not entirely possible to figure what it will take to turn the economy in a better direction while dealing with the costs we've incurred in Iraq.

But the question is hard to answer for another reason, too. Senator McCain and his team have avoided releasing any specifics. Taylor Griffin, for instance, one of McCain's trusted, close advisors, danced away from details about Social Security, because he says McCain fears the debate might become politicized. Seriously. Here's the most beef I can uncover from Griffin or McCain:
"The history of the Social Security debate has taught that too many specifics, especially during a presidential campaign, has polarized the debate."

In contrast, if you want to know what Obama's plan is you can readily find volumes of information describing his specific positions and detailed proposals on taxes and the economy, or virtually any other issue. McCain's savvy; he's been in Washington a long time, and his team knows that the devil's in the details, so they won't give any on his website or in interviews. Clever campaigning, perhaps, but it makes it hard for a voter to make an informed choice.

Let's not dither: we're all in favor of lowering taxes and cutting federal spending, we'd all like to have more discretion in spending on what we personally favor and enjoy. Meanwhile the present budget deficit means that whoever wins the November election faces a gargantuan task leading the country out of the hole. “I will not pretend we can achieve them without cost, or without sacrifice, or without the contribution of almost every American citizen,” Senator Obama said on Monday, “But I will say that these goals are possible, and I will say that achieving them is absolutely necessary if we want to keep America safe and prosperous in the 21st century.” I'll return to Obama's New Energy speech in a bit, but in terms of taxes and the economy? Vision alone won't do it, and both candidates owe us specifics of how they'd manage the budget to overcome the deficit.

The Tax Policy Center, in a report disputed by Douglas Holtz-Eakin (arguably McCain's key economic advisor,) said that McCain's "...proposals on the stump are often far more sweeping than the more measured options outlined by his campaign." That they might as much as double the tax impact of his formal proposals, while Obama's off-the-cuff additions would reduce the impact of his plan (by roughly one-sixth, they say.)

Who can we believe? And who are we? There's nobody following the campaign who doubts Obama will champion tax policies that will impact those who earn a quarter million dollars or more in a year. Fortunately, while those folks have economic challenges, they need not worry about the price of a gallon of gas or the cost of bread, and their children will probably be able to afford any college they choose. In his "New Energy" speech on Monday (see below) in Lansing Michigan Obama, for instance, repeated his call for a windfall profits tax on oil companies while focusing on eliminating oil imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 years, while McCain's speeches and press releases on energy are somewhat vague - basically, "drill now, and build nuclear plants."

Obama offers New Energy for America
Obama offers New Energy for America

So, what of the various rumors circulating in email or reports echoing in the media lately? Let's turn to a non-partisan group that has found fault with both major candidates at times, PolitiFact. Here are some highlights from their clear summary page on taxes. Click the meter(s) if you want the details on each of these "facts."

  • "Obama will charge a 28% tax on all home sales." false

  • Obama wants to "restore" the estate tax that George W. Bush "repealed." false

  • McCain will keep the estate tax at 0%, the same as it is now. false

  • Obama will "cut taxes for working families." mostly true

  • McCain July 30th, 2008 in a television ad: Obama "says he'll raise taxes on electricity." barely true

  • Tax rates were significantly higher "in the '40s, the '50s, and the '60s." true

  • Obama wants to "enact the single largest tax increase since the Second World War," according to John McCain on Tuesday, June 10th, 2008 in Washington, D.C. false

  • McCain and Bush are millionaires who are "for tax cuts for millionaires." mostly true

  • John McCain on Monday, August 4th, 2008 on the Bush tax cuts. McCain reverses tax cut rhetoric

PolitiFact is a project of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly to help track truth in the presidential campaign. The Times and CQ analyze the candidates' speeches, TV ads, and interviews daily to determine and report on whether the claims are accurate.

So, when you ask who will raise "my" taxes more, the answer depends on who you are. If you work for BP, or Exxon/Mobil, or if you can earn a million dollars in under four years, your personal weatlth and earning potential may suggest you support McCain (although where he finds the money to fund his admittedly vague proposals still could affect you adversely.)

Despite the fact that Obama has hired more economic advisors, McCain might need more advice.

Despite the fact that politics relies on perception, voters need facts to make informed choices. For individuals earning under a quarter million dollars a year concerned with their personal finances as a key issue, a close reading of Obama's plans probably wins the vote. Either way, McCain's claims that Obama will raise taxes are wrong.

Digg this story!

Obama At Invesco Field for DNC Convention: Tickets Sold Out For Colorado Seats in One Day

PICT8529, originally uploaded by Al-Nimer.

In just one day, Thursday, all tickets for Colorado citizens who want to attend Senator Barack Obama's historic speech accepting the Democratic Party's nomination for President of The United States have been taken -- about 60,000 applications in 24 hours. An amazing achievement which shows how excited Coloradans are over Obama's presidential run and the fact that the speech, and the DNC Convention, are in their state.

Rielle Hunter / John Edwards' Alleged Baby Photos Surface - DNC Convention Impact?

Wow, this is getting deeper. After reports that the Enquirer did not have photos to go with their latest claim that the former Senator and Presidential Candidate John Edwards was visiting his rumored mistress Rielle Hunter, we now see photos.

If you recall, late last years, rumors and photos surfaced on and in The Clinton-Backer Owned National Enquirer that Edwards had a mistress who was pregnant but the campaign claims not by him but by Andrew Young, a campaign operative. Then Rielle Hunter had the baby and the Enquirer's two reporters caught Edwards at the hotel where she was staying, a visit confirmed by a security guard.

My video reports those details:

My question is how does this impact Edwards at the DNC Convention which is now just 18 days away? Will he be given a speaking role? Will he be shunned all together? An explosive topic that's not going away. At least Edwards didn't try to get Rielle Hunter to try for "Miss Buffalo Chip"!

John McCain Believes Iraq Had Weapons Of Mass Destruction They Never Had

Yikes! Senator John McCain is really out of it. He now says that had Sadamm Hussein never been captured, he would have used his weapons of mass destruction. McCain also asserts that the high price of oil justifies the Iraq War.

But here's the kicker: there were never any weapons of mass destruction.

McCain thinks Americans are stupid. Either that, or he is himself.