Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Two major reasons why McCain lost the Presidency (to be continued; there are more, for sure)

If you can’t challenge Obama on his character and judgment in his dealings with Tony Rezko, what can you challenge him on? Don’t ask me. Ask John McCain. He’ll have plenty of time to explain these decisions as he retires to the Senate to refine McCain-Feingold on campaign finance reform, to resist tax cuts, to...
Two major reasons why McCain lost the Presidency (to be continued; there are more, for sure)

1. McCain’s campaign had no central positive theme. What was McCain’s message? “I am not Bush.” Kind of like Nixon saying, “I am not a crook.” Hardly an accomplishment. Hardly words of inspiration. McCain had themes for his campaign. But, no central theme. Country First? More a bumper sticker than a theme. Further, it generally appeared McCain did not quite understand or believe in his campaign’s core arguments.

From the get go, McCain should have talked about the hope, growth and opportunity that comes from low taxes. About the jobs that come from low taxes. About the capital formation that comes from low capital gains taxes—and these are taxes Obama wanted to raise, and these taxes would kill new jobs. Instead, McCain loved to talk about corporate greed on Wall St. That certainly didn’t energize Republicans. And for those Democrats and Independents who like that line of pandering, they would prefer a real Dem to a fake Dem.

McCain should have hammered home, again and again, the hope, growth and opportunity that come from the school vouchers-school choice (for inner cities) that he supports and Obama doesn’t. He should have emphasized that while charter schools are good, school vouchers are even better to empower low-income parents. He might not have won the votes of inner-city parents, most of whom are wedded to the Democratic Party, but McCain would have won the votes of suburbanites—who want their President to do something effective for those inner city kids. When the school voucher topic came up in the third debate, it was like McCain picked up a fumble, but then fumbled for words. He never could benefit from a turnover. McCain always bragged about being fifth from the bottom of his class at the Navel Academy. It really is not something to brag about. Smarts can be helpful. McCain should have studied more.

McCain should have emphasized his promotion of PRIVATE SECTOR JOBS, which would benefit all of America, including, as Obama likes to put it, the middle class, but also low and high-income people. Quality jobs for everybody. That might even beat the vague “change you can believe in,” slogan championed by Obama. Private sector jobs would also generate more private health insurance choices.

But, if truth be told, McCain has never been, deep down, a big tax cutter or even a big believer in the free market. He was against the 2001 Bush tax cuts, against the 2003 Bush tax cuts. In 2006, McCain told this journalist he would make the Bush tax cuts permanent because to repeal the Bush tax cuts now would be the same as increasing taxes and he is not for tax increases. Not exactly straight-talk, not even comprehensible talk. In short, McCain appeared not to believe in or understand his own campaign themes, such as they were. Not a formula for success.

Also, McCain should have played up his successful influence on the execution of the Iraq War during the last two years. Like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, McCain supported authorizing the President to take military action in Iraq. But, unlike Clinton, Kerry and Obama, McCain criticized the conduct and management of the War by Bush and Rumsfeld, with an eye to making the requisite changes to win. Ultimately McCain, with his support of the Surge, helped stabilize Iraq, and put America and its allies on a path to win the War. But, you would never know this from the McCain campaign. Another missed opportunity to trumpet a popular central theme and issue contrast with Obama.

Instead of the above themes, the McCain campaign stumbled on Obama, the wealth redistributor v. Joe, the plumber, as a closing campaign theme. The trouble with that redistribution argument is that it seems to concede that Obama will lower taxes on those families earning less than $250,000 per year. That’s not a concession Republicans want to make. Indeed, another Joe, Biden, the VP candidate, said on Monday the threshold for getting a tax cut is 150K, not 250K. But, it’s too late, this is an argument McCain, the presidential candidate, has already conceded.

2. The McCain Campaign never effectively challenged Obama. Americans want their successful presidential candidates to challenge their opponents in the same way they would challenge our country’s enemies, directly and effectively. They want the candidate’s campaign to be emblematic of an efficiently run Presidency. But, with McCain, there was no coherency to the campaign. A bit about Bill Ayers, but people might have asked what was McCain saying. It was wrong for Obama to associate with a washed up, Terrorist? Ayers never renounced his terrorism? Ayers was a radical educator whose core beliefs conflicted with middle class America? Obama consorted with Ayers, the radical educator, for years? McCain said the American people deserved to know the truth about Ayers. But, then he wouldn’t tell us what that truth was. It was left to the voter to figure out. Swell. That’s leadership you can believe in?

And, with Rev. Wright, McCain simply said his campaign would not raise the issue of Pastor Wright. Why? A twenty year association of Obama with a Pastor who ranted “God Damn America,” and said the U. S. Government wanted to give, or did give, Aids to African-Americans. And, Wright seemed to say Americans were responsible for or deserved 9/11. And, Wright’s church web site warned members to beware of “middle class,” values. (The Obama campaign, on the other hand, contends its driving force is to help the middle class)

Yet, all of that Pastor Wright stuff was ruled out of bounds by McCain. No issue as to judgment by Obama in choosing to have Pastor Wright marry him and baptize his daughters? No issue as to Obama sitting in that church, becoming aware of what was being said and never speaking out against it until this year? Obama didn’t get religion until the final stages of his primary campaign for President? And, McCain wouldn’t challenge Obama on all of that? Fighter John McCain? I don’t think so.

McCain did a little bit about convicted felon Tony Rezko, but never did a clearly directed message. Why not focus on Obama’s lack of judgment in speaking daily with Rezko during Obama’s U. S. Senate run in 2004? Even before Rezko was under investigation, Obama should have known to steer clear of this wheeler-dealer and conniver. But, most of all, there was Obama’s lack of judgment in doing a house deal with a guy who was known to be under investigation by the Feds. What was Obama thinking? Was he thinking?

If you can’t challenge Obama on his character and judgment in his dealings with Tony Rezko, what can you challenge him on? Don’t ask me. Ask John McCain. He’ll have plenty of time to explain these decisions as he retires to the Senate to refine McCain-Feingold on campaign finance, to resist tax cuts, to promote “cap and trade,” as a means of slowing economic growth in this country to diminish its carbon imprint, to resist drilling in ANWR and to became a member of the Gang of 60 to confirm Barack Obama’s judicial appointment of Cass Sunstein to the United States Supreme Court.

Would the last person leaving the McCain-Palin campaign office tonight please turn off the lights. You know, conserving energy and all that sort of thing. The party’s over. Except for perhaps an encore performance of Sarah Palin—on SNL. That would be change you can believe in?
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at *************************************************************
"Public Affairs," is a weekly political interview show airing in Chicago on CANTV, in the Chicago metro area and in Aurora on Comcast and also often on the Illinois Channel. You can watch the shows, including archived shows going back to 2005, here.
Recently posted shows on the Public Affairs YouTube page now include shows taped on October 12 with Senator Rutherford and former Republican Primary candidate for Governor Ron Gidwitz, a show taped Sep. 30 with Cong. Don Manzullo (R-Egan, 16th CD) about his no vote on the bailout, jobs, trade and other issues related to his election contest with Democrat Robert Abboud, a show taped Sunday, Sep. 28, 2008 with State Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston) and a show taped on Sunday, Sep. 21,2008 with 16th Cong. Dist. Democatic Nominee Robert Abboud (D-Barrington Hills), two shows featuring clips and interviews, primarily from the Democratic and Republican National Party conventions, go here to watch 2nd Convention clip show and shows with Cook County Cmsr. and Obama Media Team Member Forrest Claypool and much more.