November 8, 2008

How McCain lost me.

As promised, I'm mining my archive -- beginning in late August -- to try to understand how I turned against John McCain.

August 25: "Nicely done. I'm glad to see the return of the light touch," I say about an Obama ad that uses the song "What a Wonderful World" -- "don't know much about..." -- to highlight McCain's statement "The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should."

August 28, 7:11 AM: Wondering if McCain would pick Lieberman as his VP, I wrote: "... I've got to say that I kind of love Lieberman. He's just about exactly where I am on most things. Why should I fret about what evangelicals and staunch conservatives think? It would suit me just fine! It will wreak havoc with my cruel neutrality." I'd taken a vow to remain neutral (cruelly neutral) until at least October, and this little outburst shows that the choice of Lieberman would have come close to clinching my vote.

August 28, 7:48 AM: I'm struck by a McCain ad that uses an old Obama quote: "You know, I am a believer in … in knowing what you’re doing when you apply for a job. Uh, and I think that if I were seriously to consider running on a national ticket, I would essentially have to start now, before having served a day in the Senate. Now there may be some people who are comfortable doing that, but I am not one of those people." McCain's experience argument was working.

August 29: McCain picks Sarah Palin, and I'm live-blogging the roll-out of the news. When I hear that it will be a woman "a chill ran through my body when I heard that, and I have broken a sob or two as I write this." When I hear the news that it will be Sarah Palin, I write: "Tears! Chills!!!!" I fret that "she is inexperienced" and note that will cancel out the argument that Obama is inexperienced (the very argument that had worked on me the previous day). I note that people will try to catch her sounding inexperienced. "I haven't heard her enough to have any idea whether she has the nerve and the mental capacity to sound right all the time." The live-blogging continues in a second post, and I'm excited by pictures of the family and details about her family. I love her speech -- "amazingly clear and strong, passionate and devoid of any hesitation or filler 'uhs.'" "Wow! Great performance! Fabulous first walk onto the national stage!" Bold-face in the original.

September 2:
The second night of the Republican Convention. (Hey, remember Hurricane Gustav?!) "Wolf Blitzer is pushing the meme -- which I've heard elsewhere -- that McCain is a 'maverick' and that means he makes impulsive decisions like the choice of Sarah Palin. He doesn't add -- but there are versions of this meme where it is added -- that this supposedly gut level choice of Sarah Palin should stand as a warning about the way he will make decisions about foreign policy." I had bought the old "experience" theme. I was not buying the "maverick." But the "experience" theme is still being sung by Fred Thompson ("Obama is 'history-making' all right: he's the most inexperienced, left-wing candidate the Democrats have ever run -- says Thompson.") and Joe Lieberman ("Eloquence is no substitute for a record").

September 4: I react to McCain's convention speech. "The speech felt very long and had its ups and downs.... Ah, why is a speech important? The big idea is John McCain's life, and somewhere along the way tonight that point was made. It was made over and over. It's now for us to decide if we want this man to lead us for the next 4 years."

September 7: "We should be able to deliver bottled hot water to dehydrated babies." Nothing made me laugh more all year that the way I laughed on September 7th at the third video at the link. That might have jarred something free from my clotted thoughts: McCain is incoherent!

September 13: I'm impressed by an anti-McCain ad:
The ad begins with the can't-use-email mockery but switches to McCain's really serious cluelessness problem: McCain has said he doesn't understand much about economics. These 2 things taken together mainly convey the message: McCain is old. McCain's age is also a serious problem, and Obama is justified in massaging our doubts about it, but there's an odd disproportion between the not being able to use email and not understanding economics.
September 18: John McCain gets confused talking about world leaders, and I'm inclined to defend him. If I've got my doubts about his mental acuity, I'm fighting them.

September 19: I poll readers about my neutrality, and most of you think I'll be voting for McCain.

September 21: I enjoy an "SNL" skit -- written by Al Franken -- that bashes McCain (for being willing to say anything to win).

September 24: McCain suspends his campaign -- and threatens to skip the first debate -- because of the financial crisis. My first response was "This is, I think, a smart demonstration of leadership." Was I rooting for McCain? Maybe I was just rooting for a solution to the crisis, which had come to seem much more important that than which man got the presidency. But it's the update that says so much here:
Obama says that "there are times for politics and there are times to rise above politics and do what’s right," but now is not the time to cancel the debate. "This is exactly the time when people need to hear from the candidates." And: "Part of the president’s job is to deal with more than one thing at once. In my mind it’s more important than ever."

I suppose Obama couldn't very well follow McCain's lead. In fact, if McCain had really been serious about this, he should have worked it out with Obama in private, so that the two men could make a joint announcement. McCain went for political theatrics, and I guess he can use it against Obama now, which was probably the point, but Obama's reaction was so predictable that McCain's show of statesmanship was entirely bogus, so I will be impervious to that rhetoric.
After hearing from Obama, I view McCain as having pulled a stunt, a stunt that he should have seen would be ineffective.

September 25: I find Palin's interview with Katie Couric "Painful. Terrible." Yet McCain wants the VP debate to go first. She's not ready, and he's throwing out impulsive, erratic ideas.

September 25, a little later: I'm impressed by Mickey Kaus's mockery of McCain's stunt.

September 26: More criticism of McCain's campaign-suspension stunt:
Why did McCain arrive [in Congress] showily, as if he was the man to close the deal, and then not do anything? Has McCain said one word about whether he thinks now is the time to build a bulwark against socialism?
The House Republicans were going on about "socialism."
And can John McCain explain why government insurance as opposed to government asset-purchasing is the key to saving us from socialism?

Unless McCain talks about some of these things, I don't see the point of his swooping onto the scene to be the leader. Was he just betting that it would look good? But why should he have counted on Democrats allowing him to look good? And, insanely, it seems that Republicans have undercut him.

Belatedly, he must realize that it would have been better to take a low profile and let his congressional colleagues steer their deal to a conclusion -- which is what Barack Obama did.

And then there's the debate. Obama will be there, winning by forfeiture, unless McCain's ultimatum -- he can't debate unless the deal is closed -- was a bluff.
September 26: Once again Mickey Kaus expresses what I've been thinking. (And in the end, Mickey, like me, votes for Obama.) Later that day, I take another poll, and you people still think I'll end up voting for McCain.

September 26, evening:
The first debate. The financial crisis dominates. McCain starts off with 2 problems I think are beside the point: 1. greed, 2. earmarks. McCain accidentally says he wasn't elected Miss Congeniality in the Senate a second time. Nevertheless, I conclude: "McCain made more good points and got in more punches," based on all the discussion of the war and foreign policy. But the opening part about economics hurt McCain and would continue to hurt him as the crisis remained the overwhelmingly important issue in the campaign.

October 7: Hmmm... a long gap since the last notable McCain post. I was probably feeling bad about his competence -- and about the financial crisis -- and declining to talk about it. Now, it's the "town hall" debate, and of course, I live-blog as usual:
McCain sounds a little shaky and winded...

McCain points to his record, and repeatedly tells us he's reached across the aisle....

Again with the earmarks. What was the dollar figure on earmarks? I heard $1 billion. That seems like nothing compared to the $750 billion bailout....

McCain's plan seems to be to sound passionate and caring. And to say "Lieberman" frequently....

I was just admiring Obama's elegant gestures with his long, thin hands, when McCain positioned himself in the background and made a hand gesture that can only be described as holding an invisible grapefruit in front of your chest....

Obama seems relaxed and smiling but also oddly pissed that McCain has been "throwing a lot of things out there."
Get the picture? McCain is erratic.

October 8: The morning after the debate, my attitude shifts:
It's October now, so I can say I kept my vow. It's not the vow keeping me neutral anymore. I don't like deciding, especially between 2 men I've long viewed as dangerously inadequate. The tumultuous financial crisis reminds me why I prefer to wait until the end: We get a better idea of what problems will plague the new President.

It is the response to the present crisis that mattered most last night, and the candidates tiresomely repeated old talking points. McCain kept trying to stoke outrage over earmarks, and Obama continued to lecture us about conserving energy. They clung to their old pet solutions when we are staring at a huge new -- I mean, newly perceived -- problem. Are they so utterly lacking in creativity and flexibility that they cannot offer us anything new in the face of dramatically changed circumstances? Or are they both just determined to play it safe and say nothing in these last few weeks that can be spun against them?

The first half hour of the debate was excruciating, with question after question about the crisis. The candidates' evasions were mind-numbing, and, despite my commitment to live-blogging, I had no words, not even little idle comments. I nearly gave up.

But this morning, I decided to make an effort to say which man had done the better job. It was Barack Obama. And I'm not saying this just because I admired his relaxed demeanor and youthful image and felt uneasy about the older man's jerky movements and desperate grimaces. I'm saying it because I am inclined to think that with the development of complex securities and the pursuit of profit along the edge of disaster, the free market failed spectacularly. When we need new regulation, Obama effectively associated McCain with his party's love of deregulation.

McCain offered no defense of his party, only assertions that he had tried to get regulations passed. So, there he was, embedded in failure. He didn't stand by the principles of conservatism...

Look at how McCain failed to promote conservatism. McCain brought up Ronald Reagan 3 times: once to say he opposed him about sending troops to Lebanon and the other 2 times to say it was wonderful the way he worked with the liberal Tip O'Neill.

McCain never presented the conservative alternative to Obama. He never even called himself a conservative last night. He was wandering all over that red carpet, microphone in hand, and I have the feeling, in retrospect, that he was truly bewildered, mouthing old phrases, trying to slip by. But one old phrase that was missing was "I'm a proud conservative." Remember when he used to say that?...

McCain has lost definition. He's stumbling along to the finish line, hoping to achieve his lifelong ambition, to seize the crown at last. But why? To show he can get along with Democrats? I worry about what awful innovations the new President will concoct in league with the Democratic Congress, but at this point, I'm more worried about McCain than Obama.

This is not a commitment to vote for Obama, and I'm still going to provide the service of observing events from my slouchily neutral posture, to which no vow currently binds me. But you see the trend, and the destination is almost inevitable.

ADDED: I should have paid more attention to this. I heard it last night, but couldn't understand how it would deal with the crisis. It seems like a massive government benefit going out to people who overextended themselves taking loans. Why not give money to all the frugal people who believed they couldn't afford to buy a house? I don't understand the theory, other than as political pandering.
So this was the crucial tipping point. Dear readers, it was right there, the morning after the Town Hall debate.

October 8: "Nope, too slow. Touch her." Humor drives home my perception of McCain as an erratic old man.

October 10:
Christopher Buckley has some influence, especially the phrase "his positions change, and lack coherence."

October 13: Christopher Hitchens has even more influence: "John McCain [seems] to be someone suffering from an increasingly obvious and embarrassing deficit, both cognitive and physical." Yeah, that's what I'd been thinking. Exactly.

October 15: : My advice to McCain: "Act the way you would act if you knew for certain that you would lose... I think he should be the upright and honorable man that he wants us to be remembered as. This isn't a devious ploy to make him give up. I think it's the best hope for getting us bond with him now."

October 15, evening: I live-blog the last debate. "McCain plugs in prepared material about Joe the plumber who is worried about taxes.... McCain is wooden and overprepared, unwilling to react on the spot.... McCain mugs when it's not his turn.... McCain sounds over-rehearsed and he stumbles over many things. He says "abased" for "based." I think he knows he hasn't done enough tonight. He hasn't rattled Obama, not enough anyway...."

October 16:
This still makes me laugh hysterically.

October 16, later: It bothers me tremendously that McCain hasn't defined himself as conservative.
Is there some sort of idea that if you think McCain is too liberal, you still have to vote for him, because if he's too liberal, then Obama is really too liberal? I don't buy that. Better a principled, coherent liberal whose liberal choices will, if they don't go well, be blamed on liberals than an erratic, incoherent liberal whose liberal choices will be blamed on the party that ought to get its conservative act together.
October 26: McCain appeared on "Meet the Press," and I thought he sounded "exhausted or sick."
Whenever he found the chance, he would stress that Barack Obama has a far-left ideology, and whenever he needed a different argument -- such as when Brokaw confronted him with his own statements in favor of making the rich pay more taxes -- he would resort to the argument that different times require different solutions. How can you use these two rhetorical strategies alternately? It's incoherent.
Again: incoherent. At the link, I dissect the MTP transcript to demonstrate my point.

October 30: I come to terms with the problem of 1-party government:
Usually, I prefer divided government, but that doesn't mean I need to support McCain. I've seen McCain put way too much effort into pleasing Democrats and flouting his own party, and I can picture Obama standing up to the Democratic Congress and being his own man. What, really, will he owe them? McCain, by contrast, will need them. And we've seen that he wants to be loved by them.

Sometimes, I think that letting the Democrats control everything for 2 years would work out just fine. Let one party take responsibility for everything. When they can't whine and finger-point, what will they actually step up and do? It will be interesting to know. And it will do the Republicans good to retool and define themselves, with an eye toward the 2010 election. I'd like to see this clarification after so many years of obfuscation.
This goes along with my problem that McCain had abandoned the effort to define himself as conservative. I could see myself voting for a conservative. I would like some good conservatism. But I did not see it in McCain. Certainly, just bringing in Palin was no substitute for having his own clear principles.

October 30, later that day:
I agree with The Economist: "on the great issue of the campaign, the financial crisis, he has seemed all at sea, emitting panic and indecision."

October 31:
A dream reveals my emotional picture of McCain: an angry old man who is not interested in rational debate.

November 3:
"One thing I don't like about John McCain is that he never showed respect for Bush. He was all about distancing himself from Bush, but if it's distance you want from Bush, there's Obama. And Obama had no reason to defend the other party's President, but for all his criticism of Bush's policies, I don't remember Obama taking ugly potshots at Bush. McCain treated Bush like an outcast. Was there even a word of defense for the man who protected us from terrorist attacks for 7 years?"

***

How did McCain lose me?

1. He did not understand economics, the most important issue.

2. He lost the ability to make the experience argument.

3. He never defined himself as a principled conservative.

4. Erratic and incoherent, he lacked sufficient mental capacity.

141 comments:

Roost on the Moon said...

How does reason 3 square with your distaste for ideology and your self-described liberalism?

Ann Althouse said...

Roost, I needed him to be coherent, and he could have grounded himself there. The sense in which I am a liberal or a conservative is complicated, and I am capable of respecting strong individuals on both sides.

Roost on the Moon said...

Makes sense.

friscoda said...

But Obama does not understand economics either. His discussion with C. Gibson on the capital gains rate and government revenues exhibited the type of petulant doctrinaire (non)thinking that you claim to abhor.

AlphaLiberal said...

Wow. Kinda long. A length that would make Glenn Greenwald blush.

A Lieberman fan? Yikes. He's gone back on his word to his voters so many times one would think that fact, alone, would drive fans away.

AlphaLiberal said...

And not one mention of Bill Ayers (?). Good for you.

1970_baby said...

How do you feel about the fairness doctrine, Ann?

How do you feel about Bill Ayers being secretary of Education?

The weather underground is now above ground, running the country. Thats some stealth for you.

Jim Hu said...

Regarding #1... it's interesting how economics became the most important issue not just as the current crisis hit, but also as the war - which was the most important issue earlier in the campaign (i.e. the primaries) - faded from the headlines.

Joan said...

I'm fairly certain that the majority of votes for McCain were actually cast against Obama.

I concede your points regarding McCain and had many of the same difficulties with him. As I've said before, I've been living in Arizona for nearly 15 years and this past election was the only time I have ever voted for John McCain -- but I was really voting against Obama.

I do not understand your willingness to hand the presidency over to someone who has such a naive worldview. Yes, foreign policy fell off the table when the financial crisis hit, but the rest of the world is still there. Obama talks about "ending" the war in Iraq, not winning it. He seems to think the terrorists will now all give up and go home, when they're probably gearing up right now for new offensives, expecting Obama to do things they can exploit once he's in office. You interpreted your dream very differently than I did! McCain was right, and you just don't want to hear it.

Well, we can't do anything but wait and see what happens now. I do not think McCain would have been a great or even a good president, but at least he would have maintained our strong stance against terrorists and supported our military. I worry that Obama will do neither, but I'm trying not to to expend too much energy on things I can't change.

Chip Ahoy said...

I'm sorry, I adore you but I do not accept your explanation.

I could stay coherent too If I hammered brain dead axioms like "eight years of BUSH'S FAILED ECONOMIC POLICIES" and "change we can believe in" and "we gotta rescue the middle class," and "tax breaks for the wealthy and oil companies," and "folks out there are wunder'n how they're gonna make their mortgages and put gas in their tanks," and then have that be the only thing let on about knowing about the economy, and not once, not ever once remarking on the actual causes to the economic disaster. So that one is left with the deep impression that an economic structured more closely on a socialist model is desirable.

But I no longer care. I'm too busy wishing well for our shiny new president you guys elected.

Now, give me some money!

I would like to take this opportunity to say, I don't understand yard signs. Do tell me, what is the point? I doubly don't understand keeping them up after the election. Did you know, growing up on and around air bases, discussing politics was apparently verboten? And that the president, as chief of staff, is honored no matter the party? His portrait, looms large inside buildings by way of reminder as to who's the boss. Even when he slightly resembles Alfred E. Neuman, as Bush does. I was reminded of this at my father's funeral at Ft. Logan. I honestly believed most airmen, and by extension most military people, were largely apolitical. Now I believe they were trained to be polite in a potential volatile situation.

Danny said...

Eloquent, transparent and refreshingly honest on this post here, Ann. I really enjoyed reading this and I wish other bloggers kept a similar sort of play-by-play election diary instead of simply choosing a candidate and obsessively fawning without a hint of independant thought.

chickenlittle said...

It bothers me tremendously that McCain hasn't defined himself as conservative.

I'm having trouble finding it, but there's a post of yours with an early McCain campaign video link in which you state a profound aspect of conservatism, seemingly inspired by the McCain video.

It's the one with the message that past and present have continuity. I'll keep looking.

jdeeripper said...

How did McCain lose me?

1. He did not understand economics, the most important issue.


Mitt Romney.

2. He lost the ability to make the experience argument.

Mitt Romney/Tom Ridge

3. He never defined himself as a principled conservative.

Ron Paul

4. Erratic and incoherent, he lacked sufficient mental capacity.

Mitt Romney

In other words had Mitt Romney been the Republican nominee Ann Althouse would have voted for him.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It bothers me tremendously that McCain hasn't defined himself as conservative

Well, that might be because McCain is NOT and NEVER has been a conservative.

1. He did not understand economics, the most important issue.

Why should McCain be any different than the other economic ignoramuses that have been screwing things up for years. Frank, Dodd, Clinton, Bush, Obama, the entire Democrat party and about 50% or more of the Republican party. None of these people are qualified to balance their own check books, much less be in charge of the economy of the United States.

Remember how the economists begged and pleaded with Congress to not enact the Smoot-Hawley Act protectionist legislation that literally dug us right into the Great Depression. Did the lawmakers listen. Fuck no......they just pandered and passed legislation that destroyed the world economy.

Get ready for a re-run of that show with Obama's ignorant economic polices and his narcissistic arrogance. At least McCain admitted his lack of expertise in this area and probably would have relied on qualified advisors. Obama is so above that. He will ruin us in his selfish arrogance and cocksure blind ambition.

Original George said...

But....what about specific issues? You do agree, don't you, Professor, that Pres. Obama will be more likely than McCain to raise taxes, slow oil exploration, support the "Fairness" Doctrine, restrict gun rights, support abortion rights more strongly, oppose CAFTA, and oppose secret union ballots?

Your points above are well taken, except, I think, with the notion that McCain was "Incoherent." For a 72-year-old, I thought his command of the issues showed broad and deep knowledge.

"Obama understood that he had become a giant screen upon which Americans projected their hopes and fears, dreams and frustrations. Maybe such a person never really existed, couldn't exist, but people wanted a savior nonetheless. As a bestselling memoirist he had created a mythic figure, a man named Barack Obama who had searched and quested and overcome travails, who had found an identity and a calling in public service. Obama recalled that he often joked with his team, "This Barack Obama sounds like a great guy. Now I'm not sure that I am Barack Obama, right?" He added, pointedly, "It wasn't entirely a joke."

That is dead on. The charismatic leader is a screen upon which people project what they want him to be. We shall see how this movie plays out. The smell of popcorn rarely is as good as the stuff itself.

Darcy said...

First of all, let me thank you, Professor Althouse, for explaining your vote. I think it is exhibiting huge respect for your readers, especially the regular commenters who have been with you throughout this long election cycle. Not surprising, you exhibiting that - it is a great part of why you have such loyal readers, after all. But I just wanted to say that as someone rather new to commenting here. Well done.

But moving on to what Joan said:
"Obama talks about "ending" the war in Iraq, not winning it. He seems to think the terrorists will now all give up and go home"

Yes. McCain and his campaign failed to hammer this home properly. Before the election, I kept feeling a strong desire to find a story from a freelance journalist I respect to post here. I still hesitate to post it, because, similar to the beheadings early on in the war, it is so gruesome, so evil, that I just didn't want to read it again myself. But it is always part of my thoughts when I consider the Iraq war...the fact that I believe we are still fighting our enemy there, or were when John McCain supported the unpopular surge. That was monumentally important to me! The fact that we've prevailed should not have clouded that. How tragic that is, I think.

People have somewhat forgotten our enemy, or they believe our enemy to be one man in the mountains of Afghanistan. I can only hope that we can stay largely safe under the care of a party that gets it wrong, perhaps even deliberately sometimes, in my view.

Der Hahn said...

I have to agree with you that the 'suspending' and 'unsuspending' of his campaign as the moment that probably jolted most McCain-leaners into Obama-voters (or hand-sitters). Only a flood of conservatives coming home to Sarah provided the ticket with the surge at the end.

I still voted for McCain but that entire period was a serious embarassement. It really wasn't so much his actions as his overblown rhetoric.

Henry said...

Mitt Romney gave the most offensive and stupid speech of the Republican convention, in my opinion. It was a inane mashup of economic liberalism and social conservatism: Enterpreneurship is so important that we can't let gays get married. Thus Romney devalued the most vital Republican principle of the moment -- the defense of free markets. With support like that, it's no wonder McCain was incoherent.

Romney would have lost Althouse too.

I agree with Ann's four points. I still voted for McCain, but with little enthusiasm and without much fear of an Obama presidency (his friends will derail him faster than his enemies).

Ann Althouse said...

"In other words had Mitt Romney been the Republican nominee Ann Althouse would have voted for him."

That is true! Even if McCain had picked Romney as VP.

SteveR said...

For all the talk of how awesome Obama was, it was clear to me that the Repiblicans lost this a long time ago and McCain was symbolic of that.

Ann, I respect that you characterize this as "how McCain lost you" but I'm not sure he ever had you. You were open, but a lot of people were not. We will all get what we deserve, hopefully more but I'm not counting on it.

SteveR said...

For all the talk of how awesome Obama was, it was clear to me that the Repiblicans lost this a long time ago and McCain was symbolic of that.

Ann, I respect that you characterize this as "how McCain lost you" but I'm not sure he ever had you. You were open, but a lot of people were not. We will all get what we deserve, hopefully more but I'm not counting on it.

Ann Althouse said...

Alpha: "Wow. Kinda long. A length that would make Glenn Greenwald blush."

My objection is to verbosity, not length.

In fact, verbosity makes me doubt length.

Meade said...

How did Obama lose me?

1. He did not understand economics, the most important issue.

2. He never had the ability to make the experience argument.

3. He never dispelled doubts that as a liberal he has any principles beyond attaining positions of political power.

4. Arrogant and elitist, he lacks sincerity and understanding of Americans who he said "cling to guns or religion or antipathy towards people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment, as a way to explain their frustrations."

Meade said...

As of now, the best ticket for Republicans in 2012 will be Romney/Gulliani.

PJ said...

In other words had Mitt Romney been the Republican nominee Ann Althouse would have voted for him.

This post doesn't imply that at all. It only implies that her reasons for rejecting Romney would have been different.

It was clear that the Professor's tipping point had arrived on October 8 (if not before) because of this passage:

I am inclined to think that with the development of complex securities and the pursuit of profit along the edge of disaster, the free market failed spectacularly. When we need new regulation, Obama effectively associated McCain with his party's love of deregulation.

It wasn't because of the observation about Obama's political skill, with which I completely agree. It was because of the assertion that "the free market failed spectacularly," which meant that the Professor had bought the Democratic/Obama narrative concerning the financial crisis. (Of course, McCain and Palin had fed into that populist narrative themselves on more than one occasion.) Once you believe the answer is more government, you might as well vote for the side that consistently (and coherently) advocates more government.

Ann Althouse said...

"I do not understand your willingness to hand the presidency over to someone who has such a naive worldview."

What choice did I have?

At least, Obama is smart and educated in reason and rhetoric. He is very stable and hardworking. I think he will try to understand problems and solve them, and he might be good at picking advisers and experts to rely on. I think he will try to make a good showing for himself and win reelection, so that is a check on how far left he may go.

Darcy said...

I wanted Giuliani so badly for the nomination, Meade. A tested leader.
You don't get any bullshit from him, either. What a shame that one issue made it impossible for him to be nominated. And I'm pro-life.

Ann Althouse said...

"Professor had bought the Democratic/Obama narrative concerning the financial crisis..."

It wasn't just the Democratic narrative. Alan Greenspan said it too!

Palladian said...

"In fact, verbosity makes me doubt length."

LOL.

It's not the size of the paragraph but the motion of the locution.

Donn said...

First of all, let me thank you, Professor Althouse, for explaining your vote. I think it is exhibiting huge respect for your readers, especially the regular commenters who have been with you throughout this long election cycle. Not surprising, you exhibiting that - it is a great part of why you have such loyal readers, after all. But I just wanted to say that as someone rather new to commenting here. Well done.

Excellent point Darcy.

AlphaLiberal said...

It's funny to read conservatives hear talk about economic policies. After all, they predicted gloom and disaster if Clinton's plan went through and they were wildly wrong.

Then, they had years to employ their own economic policies and now the country stands teetering on the brink of ruin.

Might be a good time for some humility and checking in on your economic dogma. It's deeply flawed, ideologically hidebound and not working.

With all the tax cuts we've had, if it was such a tonic, we be living in happier times.

Palladian said...

"What a shame that one issue made it impossible for him to be nominated. And I'm pro-life"

It wasn't just his stance on issues, Darcy, it was his abysmal campaign.

Palladian said...

"With all the tax cuts we've had, if it was such a tonic, we be living in happier times."

Nope because there's always Democrats and pork-addicted Republicans around to fuck things up.

Darcy said...

Well, I think he was torpedoed early, Palladian. And the NYT helped, as usual, but that's a good point. I don't think he is much of a campaigner, it's true, though not for the same reasons McCain was a lousy campaigner.

Meade said...

Darcy,

You're right about the no bullshit of Gulliani. Conservatives would do well let go of the abortion and gay rights wedge issues and stick with the core principles: security, free markets, competent ethical less-invasive government, and defense of the classic liberal rights of freedom and self reliance.

chickenlittle said...

It bothers me tremendously that McCain hasn't defined himself as conservative.

I found that previous post here in which you said:

At one point — TR looking out onto a crowd — I thought: This is the feeling of being conservative — it is a deep emotional sense that the past matters and flows into the present and makes sense out of the future.

Don't know why that made an impression on me, I guess I was thinking too much about the war which Bush had won and which has now conveniently faded away.


BTW, revenant was spot on in his 1:34 comment in that thread.

noufa said...

Really? People thought you were leaning towards McCain? Guess that means you did a pretty good job of maintaining cruel neutrality. Congrats.

Maybe I’m defensive about the guy who got my vote. But I thought it was clear you were leaning towards Obama since the WI Primary. You obviously saw him as a palatable alternative to Hillary Clinton. Seems you never thought McCain was a palatable alternative to other GOP favorites.

That’s what's cool about you, Althouse. You never pretended to be impressed by McCain as a politician. No need to explain why he lost you. He never had you.

There were some (Buckley) who swooned for McCain. They abandoned a decade of support for McCain because of a lousy 3 month campaign.

PJ said...

I believe that Greenspan was taking the underlying problems in the mortgage and real estate markets as a given and evaluating the regulation of the mortgage-backed secuities market from there. To that extent, he was correct that tighter regulation of mortgage-backed securities could have limited the damage from rising mortgage defaults in a collapsing real estate market.

But to call the mortgage market, and the mortgage-backed securities market built on top of it, "free" is in my opinion pure propaganda. If the regulation in mortgage-backed securities was inadequate, it was primarily because the government had purposely distorted the underlying mortgage market.

Original George said...

"At least, Obama is smart and educated in reason and rhetoric. He is very stable and hardworking. I think he will try to understand problems and solve them, and he might be good at picking advisers and experts to rely on."

One might also say the same about Sen. McCain, for surely you would not disagree that Sen. McCain is also smart, well-educated, hardworking, able to seek good advice, and stable enough to survive the national spotlight for 20 years. Yours is an oddly issue-less conceptualization of the Presidency. It is as though, Professor, you see the President as an attorney, a smart rhetoritician versed in the rules of reason who surrounds himself with good advisers, whose positions are based not on his own beliefs but those of his client.

One can possess all of the above traits and still be a lousy leader. Sometimes the best leaders do what is seemingly irrational, lack oratorical skills, are seemingly indolent, shun os-called expert advice, and know which problems not to solve.

Eddie said...

I voted for McCain, but all of your reasons strike me as reasonable objections to the man. Ultimately I too think that neither man is what I want for the Presidency - what do we really know about Obama, after all? - so I mainly voted for the party. And it is precisely because the economy is such an issue that the party matters to me. Neither party is especially intelligent on the subject, but I fear an over-reaction just in the spirit of "we have to do something." Some sensible regulation of the financial sector is likely called for, but God knows what the Democrats will try to pull with this opportunity.

McCain's cluelessness bothered me a great deal, but it led me to believe that he would hand these issues over to advisers who might actually understand something. Obama doesn't know anything about the for-profit sector, but he might believe that he can figure it out, which could lead anywhere. Hopefully he will turn things over to Democrats who aren't idiots, like Rubin, Summers, and Levitt.

Simon said...

AlphaLiberal said...
"Wow. Kinda long. A length that would make Glenn Greenwald blush."

Oh get lost. You show time and again that you just don't understand what the criticism of Greenwald is: he's an awful writer (in terms of style, that is; substance, too, but that's another issue). Greenwald's problem isn't length, it's the extraordinarily poor idea:word ratio in his posts. Length isn't a problem: turgidity is. By contrast, Ann's post may be long, but it's concise and elegant. Those are the hallmarks of attractive writing.

Ann Althouse said...
"this little outburst show[ed] that the choice of Lieberman would have come close to clinching my vote."

Yes, but you must have understood that the number of votes McCain would have bought with that selection would have been far short of the number of votes the purchase would have cost him. You're a practical person, a pragmatist; is it pragmatic or practical to do something when the cost far outweighs the benefit?

"I fret that '[Palin] is inexperienced' and note that will cancel out the argument that Obama is inexperienced...."

That made no sense then and makes no sense now. Palin wasn't inexperienced. She has more experience than Obama, so McCain didn't forfeit the experience argument (although he inexplicably stopped using it). That the left had the nerve to play the experience card totally blindsided me, and that anyone actually bought it remains astonishing to me.

"Maybe I was just rooting for a solution to the crisis, which had come to seem much more important that than which man got the presidency."

For a few months over the summer, gas prices were a "crisis" that needed a "solution." I just filled up a couple of days ago at a price a third lower than that which pundits told us we'd never see again. The same pundits later told us that there was a "crisis" going on because AIG was going to fail. Ehh. A fleeting crisis of the moment should not have been more important than which man got to the Presidency. Still, I agreed with you then (and still do) that McCain "pulled a stunt, a stunt that he should have seen would be ineffective." Polling data make clear: that decision was the blunder that killed his campaign in a single stroke.

"October 30: I come to terms with the problem of 1-party government"

With respect, I think you flatter your post. It's true that "prefer[ing] divided government, ... doesn't mean [you] need[ed] to support McCain"; you could have come to terms with it by deciding that a preference for divided government must give way in this instance, given the totality of the circumstances. Instead, your post sought to have it both ways, positing an extraordinarily dubious theory for why the Democratic candidate would be more likely to be a counterbalance to a Democratic Congress than the Republican candidate. I suppose that that is indeed "coming to terms" with the problem - in a manner of speaking. I suspect that if you write "how Obama lost me" three years and fifty weeks hence, you will note that it was the immediate selection of Rahm Emmanuel as Chief of Staff that disabused you of this rationalization. It may not be clear yet, but I think that it will be later.

Palladian said...

"Obama doesn't know anything about the for-profit sector, but he might believe that he can figure it out, which could lead anywhere."

It will probably lead to Obama turning the for-profit sector into a non-profit sector. Isn't that the dream of the left?

Darcy said...

I agree with you, Meade.

And let me just say that being pro-life means, to me, that I want to hear what candidates think about the issue. I don't look for a candidate that seeks to overturn Roe v. Wade. I don't think that is ever going to happen, and I can live with that.

What interests me is their view on life, and primarily teaching our children to respect the creation of it. That's where my focus is, and I thought that President Bush did a very good job of articulating that when he first ran in 2000.

So I would still like to see the discussions of these issues, but I agree that they should not hold so much power in the Republican party...at least, defined as they are.

Joan said...

Then, they had years to employ their own economic policies and now the country stands teetering on the brink of ruin.

It wasn't Republicans that forced banks to make more and more risky loans. It wasn't Republicans that cooked the books at Fannie and Freddie. It most famously wasn't a Republican who said everything was OK with F&F -- it was Barney Frank. It wasn't Republicans who topped the list of the money-takers from F&F -- it was Chris Dodd and Barack Obama.

It was, in fact, Republicans -- McCain in particular -- who tried years ago to reign in the insanity of the forced relaxation of lending laws.

Ann asks, regarding voting for a naif: What choice did I have?

If foreign policy and domestic security were important to you, you could have voted for the senator that was responsible for the turn-around in Iraq. It wasn't much of a choice, but it was a choice.

You chose Obama because he is articulate and seems smart, and you hope that his desire to be viewed positively will check his liberal tendencies. (I hope so, too, and am encouraged by his performance as editor of the Harvard Law Review.) But in making that choice, you purposely ignored all the horrible gaffes he has made regarding foreign policy, especially his stubborn unwillingness to credit the surge -- how absurd that he finally caved on that point to O'Reilly!

Additionally, Obama's economic ideas are beyond bad. McCain was right that raising taxes on anyone in a recession is the worst thing to do. With taxing the rich, targeting corporations, and bolstering unions with "card check", Obama presents a trifecta of economic policy disasters.

His press conference yesterday was an opportunity to calm down the markets and give investors a glimmer of hope that maybe it wouldn't be as bad as we've been fearing. Obama didn't announce his pick for Treasury, and he implied that all of those policies are still under consideration. The market's behavior since the election tells us a lot about what the investor class thinks of Obama's proposed economic policies.

Darcy said...

I should amend my post to say that I don't think public schools should teach what I believe! I think they should stay out of teaching morality - they do a bad job of it. Government is morality (well, the right government, anyway...) right now in our public schools.

Darcy said...

Joan: The problem was that McCain couldn't make the argument that you just did. He didn't even come close, and it was a huge sitter over the plate. I even wondered what that meant!

Why was he so reluctant to place blame where it belonged? Or was it that he had no clue? I really don't know the answer to this.

Seven Machos said...

Great post. Great thread. Just some reflections from me.

How do you feel about the fairness doctrine, Ann?

Obama has said that he is against it. I doubt that it will become law. If it does, expect it to backfire.

How do you feel about Bill Ayers being secretary of Education?

Absurd question. It won't happen.

I'm fairly certain that the majority of votes for McCain were actually cast against Obama.

That's why I voted for McCain.

People have somewhat forgotten our enemy, or they believe our enemy to be one man in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Also true. I do expect a terrorist strike on American interests. Hillary Clinton would have reacted with a kind of icy-bitch resolution that would make Cheney blush. I'm certain of that. I predict that Obama will react milquetoastly, like an academic, and it will infuriate Americans. The post-9/11 world has made us Jacksonian in terms of foreign policy, even if it's latent now.

what do we really know about Obama, after all?

That's why I voted against Obama. I feel compelled to say that I am extraordinarily proud that we elected an African-American man president, lest I be charged with racism. We got that albatross off our weary shoulders, forever. But I am concerned that he is in over his head. Prove me wrong, President Obama. Make us all proud.

PJ said...

The market's behavior since the election tells us a lot about what the investor class thinks of Obama's proposed economic policies.

Another spectacular failure of the free market!

William said...

It is pleasant to think that our intellect guides our decisions and that with sufficient introspection we can understand all our actions. Every decision is made on a substrata of prejudices, wishful thinking, good memories, fond hopes, current Zeitgeist and how the Dow did last week. You portray your political decision as a geometric theorem, but it is a novel. In your novel, the heroine-voter is a clear thinking, Elizabeth Bennett type who has seen thru all pretense and chosen wisely.....I see more Heathcliff than D'Arcy in Obama but, of course, I have my own novel.

Lionheart said...

So, we have the 250 line list of reasons for voting against McCain, or the Cliff's Notes version: he chose Palin over Romney for V.P. ?

Seven Machos said...

Isn't it funny how so many people loved Romney before he started campaigning, and now thy love him again with his campaign well over?

Sadly, for Romney, he wasn't beloved during the campaign. And that's really the critical time, isn't it?

All of this said, yes, he would have been a better pick than Palin, because Palin didn't work. She was a lightning rod for controversy. The problem for McCain is that he still would have had himself on the ticket no matter which person he chose for the vice presidency.

Beldar said...

I don't understand how you can fault McCain for failing to "[define] himself as a principled conservative," and yet vote for Obama.

Beldar said...

To be more specific, you say in your comment (10:58 a.m.): "The sense in which I am a liberal or a conservative is complicated, and I am capable of respecting strong individuals on both sides."

The first half of that sentence may be true, but gives us no explanation. The second half of it describes me, too, but that fact doesn't explain why I, as a principled conservative, would ever vote for a liberal, even if he's strong, consistent, and coherent.

Seven Machos said...

Beldar -- I think the issue is that McCain presented himself as a grand sum of McCainness.

He had a hash of issues. What was his signature issue? Taxes? Smaller government? A foreign policy amenable to conservatives? These are all things that he may have brought. However, he did not campaign on them very well.

Also, there are several things he would have brought that are anathema to many conservatives, particularly rampant illegal immigration and full-throttle support of bailouts.

I voted for McCain. I wish he would have won. But I can certainly understand why moderates and others did not find him appealing. I did not find him appealing.

Ann Althouse said...

Simon said..."You're a practical person, a pragmatist; is it pragmatic or practical to do something when the cost far outweighs the benefit?"

I'm just saying how he lost me. If the Palin pick had gone well, I would have given him credit for that. I understand why politicians don't give me exactly what I want. I'm not petulant about it.

"She has more experience than Obama, so McCain didn't forfeit the experience argument (although he inexplicably stopped using it)."

That's what I said at first, so another problem was just the decision to give up on the experience argument and switch to the dual arguments: 1. mavericks (ie, erratic and incoherent) and 2. Obama is a socialist (which made little sense in light of the bailout and was exaggeration).

"That the left had the nerve to play the experience card totally blindsided me, and that anyone actually bought it remains astonishing to me."

You have to take into account her weak interviews which highlighted her lack of knowledge of foreign affairs.

Joan: "If foreign policy and domestic security were important to you, you could have voted for the senator that was responsible for the turn-around in Iraq. It wasn't much of a choice, but it was a choice."

That issue had subsided. I voted for Bush on basically this ground, but by the time of the election, Iraq was in a condition that made me think both men would do about the same thing.

"... But in making that choice, you purposely ignored all the horrible gaffes he has made regarding foreign policy, especially his stubborn unwillingness to credit the surge -- how absurd that he finally caved on that point to O'Reilly!"

I didn't ignore these things. I had to choose one man or the other and I had problems with both. I decided McCain was worse.

William said..."It is pleasant to think that our intellect guides our decisions and that with sufficient introspection we can understand all our actions. Every decision is made on a substrata of prejudices, wishful thinking, good memories, fond hopes, current Zeitgeist and how the Dow did last week. You portray your political decision as a geometric theorem..."

How so? That doesn't describe my post. I'm completely open about my emotional narrative.

Beldar said..."I don't understand how you can fault McCain for failing to "[define] himself as a principled conservative," and yet vote for Obama. To be more specific, you say in your comment (10:58 a.m.): "The sense in which I am a liberal or a conservative is complicated, and I am capable of respecting strong individuals on both sides." The first half of that sentence may be true, but gives us no explanation. The second half of it describes me, too, but that fact doesn't explain why I, as a principled conservative, would ever vote for a liberal, even if he's strong, consistent, and coherent."

But I didn't say I was a principled conservative (or a principled liberal). I have a mix that I understand very well, but that the parties do not represent. Also I like balance that is achieved by a range of liberal and conservative voices, and I think the presidency ought to shift from one party to the other on occasion.

Obama is far too liberal for me, and I am afraid he's a lefty at heart. But I thought McCain was even worse. He veers left on some things, and he's so incoherent that I question his mental capacity. Since he's also very old, I didn't think he should get the job.

Joe said...

McCain's biggest selling point was that he was John "Maverick" McCain--a politician who did things differently. Yet in early summer, he turtled and turned to the right. Worse, he shut off the press. They never forgave him for that--the bitterness of the press at the start of the Republican convention was blatant.

On the other hand, I never liked McCain. I thought, and still think, that ultimately he's a phony like so many other politicians (Hatch, Dole, Bush ...) They really believe that government really can solve all your problems, if only done their way.

Matt Eckert said...

I love the smell of excuses in the morning.

It smells like sophistry!

Donn said...

Sadly, for Romney, he wasn't beloved during the campaign. And that's really the critical time, isn't it?

Exactly so.

Simon said...

Beldar said...
"I don't understand how [Althose] can fault McCain for failing to '[define] himself as a principled conservative,' and yet vote for Obama." (2d alteration in original.)

I'll defend that. One could take the position that we can't know what challenges a President will face in office, but we can know the paradigm through which they process new information and make decisions, and that it's better to have a candidate who has a coherent, consistent philosophy than one who has no fixed philosophy and who calls from the gut.

For example, David Broder landed what I regard as a direct hit on McCain in this piece. Broder fretted that "[l]ike Jimmy Carter, ... McCain had an engineer's approach to policymaking. He had no large principles that he could apply to specific problems; each fresh question set off a search for a 'practical' solution." When you're looking at a Presidential candidate, that could be a real concern. Now, I would have thought that for Althouse, who has time and again spoken of preferring pragmatic, practical candidates, it might actually be a plus: if McCain's not guided by any "large principles" then he isn't bound by them, either. But, on the other hand,I could understand it cutting the other way depending on what else is on the balance, even for her.

If I had concluded that McCain has no fixed principles, and that was a really serious concern for me in choosing a candidate, and had I concluded that although Obama had fixed principles that I disagreed with, they weren't so disagreeable as to trump the absence of any on the other side as a clear guide to how the candidate would react, I could see reaching the conclusion that you're criticizing.

prairie wind said...

I find it strange that you would use campaign commercials as a way to decide. Maybe it's just because I don't watch TV at all, or maybe because when I do watch campaign commercials on YouTube, I see them as pure entertainment. I don't hope to glean useful information about the candidate from them.

miller said...

Thanks, Professor. You show us courtesy by sharing your thoughts.

I don't understand why it's important to now delve into changing your mind after your vote is cast.

I don't agree with your final choice, but I understand better why you did it.

I think you made an educated guess (don't we all?) about which of the two would be more stable, but you also made a gamble that he wouldn't lurch left. I don't know if his record shows he has the capability or inclination to govern from the center.

We'll see if he pursues the FOCA, DADT, and DOMA. And if he supports "card check" and the resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine.

rhhardin said...

At least, Obama is smart and educated in reason and rhetoric. He is very stable and hardworking. I think he will try to understand problems and solve them, and he might be good at picking advisers and experts to rely on.

John and Ken on yesterday's Economic Transition Team. (real audio)

rcocean said...

Excellent post. I thought McCain was more dangerous than Obama on Foreign Policy.

His talk of being in Iraq for 100 years, bomb bomb Iran, "we are all Georgians now", "this is the most important crisis since Vietnam","I looked into his eyes and saw KGB" - scared the hell out of me.

Its one thing to be a realist in Foreign Policy, its another to be unstable interventionist, whose eyes only light up when there's talk of war.

Joan said...

Ann:That issue had subsided. I voted for Bush on basically this ground, but by the time of the election, Iraq was in a condition that made me think both men would do about the same thing.

It may be that both men would do "about the same thing"... in Iraq. But Iraq is not the only foreign policy issue the new president will have to deal with. Did Obama's seeing moral equivalency between Russia and Georgia not trouble you at all?

Simon said...

Joan, I don't think one has to buy the moral equivalence theory to be concerned about McCain's attitude vs. Obama's. If there's any one area on which I trust Obama more than I did McCain, it's relations with Russia. I am not willing to fight a war with Russia over Georgia or any of the near abroad, and I would suggest professional help for anyone who is. McCain's suggestion that we now admit the Ukraine to NATO was deeply worrying.

Alex said...

Obama scares the shit out of me because we WILL be attacked in 2009 because the Islamists always test the new President in his first year. See 1993 WTC bombing, 9/11/01. Since we know 100% that Barry will be milquetoast in response, the terrorists will simply keep launching more suicide bombings, etc to break the will of the American people. I see a "24" scenario playing out where we get hit 20 times or more before somebody does something.

blogless said...

Perhaps part of the reason the McCain/Palin ticket seemed chaotic compared to Obama/Biden was because the money for both campaigns was so disparate.

Alex said...

We still don't know where Obama's money came from. I want an immediate investigation into this.

save_the_rustbelt said...

George Bush defined himself as a conservative and look what that got us.

McCain was lost before he started, the country was sick of George Bush and the slobbering dittoheads who have taken over the GOP.

We had to suffer through thousands of idiotic political commercials for nothing.

Alex said...

save_the_rustbelt:

Insulting "ditto-heads" will not get you anywhere. David Frum and fellow travelers are welcome to detach themselves from the GOP and start a new party if they hate soc cons so much.

Cedarford said...

How did McCain lose me?

1. He did not understand economics, the most important issue.

2. He lost the ability to make the experience argument.

3. He never defined himself as a principled conservative.

4. Erratic and incoherent, he lacked sufficient mental capacity.


A very good post by Althouse. I happen to agree strongly with her 4 reasons and would add a 5th.

McCain was positioning himself as the new Neocon who listed four or so nations he saw possible military solutions to. With his temperment and impulsive behavior and record of doing things only on his gut and when he was convinced it made John McCain look good - this was more dangerous to me than a guy who wants another war ONLY as the last resort and wants to rebuild alliances.

It still felt wierd on election day. Voting all my life for Republicans but for a Dem mayor and a few local offices of Dems I know and like - or against a Republican bum, always for national ticket with my vote for Perot excepted...there I was staring at the ballot..
And believing I had to go with the man with the potential to be an outstanding President ...IF...IF..with an adequate backup VP.

Over a man almost guaranteed to be a mediocre or even terrible President with no credible backup as his VP and a higher likelihood that his backup would take over and the nation would be in for a version of a years-long Katie Couric interview.

I remember thinking "Romney, dammit" as I inked in the circle next to Obama/Biden.

Ann Althouse said...

Simon:

"Now, I would have thought that for Althouse, who has time and again spoken of preferring pragmatic, practical candidates, it might actually be a plus: if McCain's not guided by any "large principles" then he isn't bound by them, either."

Yes, it would be, but McCain doesn't do that. I think Obama is more likely to do that. And I don't like rigid ideologues, but I think you can be a principled liberal/conservative and still be flexible, take in new information, and try to solve problems realistically.

Ann Althouse said...

(Remember how the libertarians lost me.)

Kirby Olson said...

O'Reilly claims to be fair and balanced.

NYT says that it prints all the news that fits.

I doubt either one.

I really think that all along you knew where you stood vis a vis Obama, and your neutrality was a pose.

Not that I mind poses.

It just seemed to me that after the election you went wild for the Democrats for a bit, even suggesting that Eliot Spitzer should make a comeback.

And I thought that this showed your true colors.

I think you should put up a new epithet:

"Where neutrality is a cruel pose."

You know, just to humor those of us who feel let down.

stpats_mcdonagh said...

I enjoy reading your blog, and I am sure I will continue. However, I now believe that at your core you are a northeastern snob--you voted for the "Ivy League" man. None of the reasons you have cited for voting against McCain don't also hold true (often more so) for Obama. Obama is hard-working? Really??? How many articles did he write for the Harvard Review? For that matter, other than being the right color at the right time, what did he do to be chosen for that position? Name all of his accomplishments as a "community organizer". List all of the papers he published while teaching at U of C. Explain voting present in the Illinois Senate more than one hundred times--too lazy to learn about the issues. How many times has he called meetings of the Senate Committee of which he is chairman? Your list is nothing but rationalizations at a toffee-nosed choice. But I still like your blog.

PJ said...

McCain's suggestion that we now admit the Ukraine to NATO was deeply worrying.

I was under the impression that both candidates took positions favoring admission of Georgia and Ukraine to NATO. Is that incorrect? (Not that it's critical to your basic point about McCain vs. Obama on Russia.)

BTW, I see that I neglected to thank the Professor in this thread for conducting this retrospective. It is instructive to take the long view, and I believe it advances the reconciliation process as well. I know it does for me.

tjl said...

"McCain was lost before he started"

Sad but true. Any GOP candidate would have had an uphill struggle, as the state and local results also proved.

If this had to be a Democratic year, too bad the Dem candidate wasn't Hillary. Despite her heavy baggage she would have been far more likely than O to give us the pragmatist government Ann seems to want. Hil would also have spared us O's icky personality cult.

I wonder why the messianic trappings weren't troubling enough to lose Ann?

John Stodder said...

I have to say, I find the arguments made along the tracks of your thinking-aloud make a great deal of sense to me, and tend to follow my rational process during this election pretty closely. Most of my friends don't understand that I struggled with my decision to go for Obama, and at various points in the campaign, it could have gone the other way. But McCain just plain lost me -- not just or even principally ideologically, but as a leader.

Maybe he was just too old. Maybe this was a brass ring he should have let go. It just seemed like the times we're in took his measure, and he was found wanting. McCain's best issue, by far, was Iraq in that he was very, very right and Obama was very, very wrong. But thanks to the current leadership, the risk that Obama can screw up Iraq no matter what he thinks about it, is very low.

Of all your points, I think this one is very compelling:

Usually, I prefer divided government, but that doesn't mean I need to support McCain. I've seen McCain put way too much effort into pleasing Democrats and flouting his own party, and I can picture Obama standing up to the Democratic Congress and being his own man. What, really, will he owe them? McCain, by contrast, will need them. And we've seen that he wants to be loved by them.

I think this prediction is, so far, validated, especially by Obama's choice of the Fearsome Toothache, Rahm Emanuel, clearly selected to tame Congress, not reach out to them.

As the economic crisis unfolded, it became clear to me that in 2009 at least, Obama's ideology will only matter at the margins. His inbox is enormous. He won't have the luxury to pursue his ideological follies. He will have to harness his great intelligence and political skills to the task at hand. He'll nod to his lefty supporters now and again -- perhaps he'll make the monumentally stupid choice of RFK Jr. at EPA administrator, for example -- but mostly, he's going to be spending his days and nights with Paul Volcker, trying to figure out how to restart the economy in time for the next round of elections, and his spare time with David Petraeus, who will give him sage advice that can't be ignored about our situation in the Middle East. His left-wing past will be far in the past.

Contrast that with what we could have expected from McCain who would be all about optics and process and holding hands with everybody, who would be beset by haters to his left and his right, and who would never really get what was being recommended to him as economic moves, so he'd just do what the last persuasive guy told him to do.

I would think the Republicans especially are very, very happy not to have been put in the position of defending McCain's shaky leadership during the next four years. They can be statesmanlike in helping Obama address the economic crisis, and organize the occasional filibuster against truly damaging stuff like card check.

The conservatives are really in a perfect position right now, although they apparently don't see it. The next president is most likely to be one of them: In 2012 if Obama falls short, but in 2016 in any case. They've got a lot of time to develop a new leadership core that can develop new arguments and applications for the grand old principles. And maybe they can find someone who can talk off the top of his head and make sense. It's been a long time since they've had one of those at the top of the GOP ticket.

Darcy said...

And maybe they can find someone who can talk off the top of his head and make sense.

LOL, John.

And this:
Contrast that with what we could have expected from McCain who would be all about optics and process and holding hands with everybody, who would be beset by haters to his left and his right, and who would never really get what was being recommended to him as economic moves, so he'd just do what the last persuasive guy told him to do.

I can't disagree with. Ouch. :)

Again, I hope you're right about things...I am definitely not hoping for Obama to fail. And I do think you're right about the position of the Republicans. They may get to look very grown up here soon. If, in fact, they grow up.

Jon said...

Simon said: "McCain's suggestion that we now admit the Ukraine to NATO was deeply worrying."

I agree that admitting Ukraine to NATO is dumb (in fact, I think that NATO should have been dissolved back in 1990 along with the Warsaw Pact). However, I'm pretty sure that both Obama and Biden have also expressed support for Ukraine joining NATO.

Ed Bush said...

Of course you voted for Obama, Professor. It was hard-coded in your jeans.

All best.

Donn said...

JS:
I would think the Republicans especially are very, very happy not to have been put in the position of defending McCain's shaky leadership during the next four years.

Ain't that the truth!

dick said...

John,

One problem with what you say. If Rahm Emmanuel is there to tame Congress you will end up with a lap dog Congress for the presidential policies. Then we look at what the presidential policies are and they are primarily more entitlements, more pandering, more taking away from the productive and giving to the non-productive, increasing taxes on corporations and people who invest in production. You are also then putting the lap dog with a man who has no foreign policy experience and whose ideas on the policy sound like a sure recipe for disaster. Does not compute for a good presidential reign IMNSHO. In fact looks like the opposite.

Where do you see the direction of the country going with this man as president? How do you think the economy and the job creation and investment in industry will go with his policies in effect? How do you think the terrorists will react to him? How do you think he will react to their activities? What is he going to do about illegal immigration, the mortgage crisis, the banking crisis? Remember that he was the second highest recipient of funding from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Think he is going to do anything about their mess that is positive or is he just going to CYA on that issue.

And the bit about a president who can think and talk on his feet? Remember all the gaffes every time he got out of sync with his teleprompter? Remember Biden and his gaffes? Didn't hear much about them in the media but when they are in office maybe we will and then what will happen.

I think most of your points for voting against McCain work even more when applied against Obama. I hope he works out but I have many serious doubts and worries on that score. I just don't think he is all that smart and decisive when he needs to be, that he is far more of a sit back and let it happen and then explain it away with a prepared speech after the fact. That is not what I want in a president.

Invisible Man said...

Joan, I don't think one has to buy the moral equivalence theory to be concerned about McCain's attitude vs. Obama's. If there's any one area on which I trust Obama more than I did McCain, it's relations with Russia. I am not willing to fight a war with Russia over Georgia or any of the near abroad, and I would suggest professional help for anyone who is. McCain's suggestion that we now admit the Ukraine to NATO was deeply worrying.

Although not as highly publicized this episode was just about as bad of an insight into a McCain Presidency as the bailout. Now we are finding that Georgia might have provoked the whole incident, and McCain looked ready to start Cold War the sequel over Atlanta.

/palin'd

MadisonMan said...

This is an very interesting post. I will say that I never thought you would vote for McCain simply because you had so many critical posts about Obama, and I always thought you were aggravated by what he was doing in a way that meant you really were looking for a reason to vote either for him or against McCain.

You give excellent reasons. As a former possible McCain voter -- who leans heavily towards wanting split power in the governmental branches -- the economy and the choice of Palin really killed my voting for him.

Seven (I think it was you): Yes, you were right. The last on your list. I was amazed! Shock and awe! Excellent deduction.

John Althouse Cohen said...

In other words had Mitt Romney been the Republican nominee Ann Althouse would have voted for him.

That's your conclusion from a long post about how she would have wanted a principled and coherent conservative?!

John Stodder said...

Dick,

I just want to get through the next year without triggering a Great Depression. I'd much prefer Obama directing Congress to support plans endorsed by Paul Volcker and Larry Summers over Obama relenting to plans endorsed by Barney Frank. And over John McCain thinking the press will love him for relenting to plans endorsed by Barney Frank when he barely can tell the difference between what Frank says and what Volcker might say.

Yes, some liberal stuff will happen under Obama. So it goes. Frankly, I think he's earned the chance to try to reform health care and the tax code. I have faith that once they get their arms around it as policymakers, rather than sniping authors of one-liners and factoids, they might find that reality dictates a more prudent approach than the one they campaigned on.

If not, there is 2010 and 2012 for things to be fixed. That's the genius of our electoral system. Nobody wants to have to campaign on a slow economy or a compromised security position. Coming to the voters in two or four years and blaming Bush for continued problems is a flat-out nonstarter, and they know it. All the incentives are there for Obama to choose the right thing over the ideological thing, because he'll be forced to realize the ideological thing won't give him what he needs in the short run--economic growth and international respect.

Rich B said...

Ann-

Your tortured logic doesn't convince me. Consider evaluating Obama on your four criteria for McCain:

1. He did not understand economics, the most important issue. Any evidence Obama does?

2. He lost the ability to make the experience argument. A non-starter.

3. He never defined himself as a principled conservative. Also a non-starter.

4. Erratic and incoherent, he lacked sufficient mental capacity. Any evidence that Obama is a great thinker?

I don't think McCain lacked mental capacity - I think he lacked a coherent ideology and thus his positions were based on "the right thing to do".

Obama? - I guess we will find out (probably to our sorrow).

I would be more interested in what you think Obama would do and why that will be good for the country. In my experience, this is not something any Obama supporters can answer.

Jason said...

Economics is THE most important issue ONLY because men like McCain and Petreus and Gates first grasped the strategic and defense issue of Iraq and secured what appears to be a victory there.

Had McCain not grasped the situation in Iraq, we may still be struggling there, and Iraq would still be the most important issue of the campaign, a la 2004.

Meanwhile, Obama has demonstrated, REPEATEDLY, his utter naivete, cluelessness and idiocy regarding strategy in general and Iraq in particular.

Obama had the luxury of talking economics only because better men than he had already secured victory in Iraq.

Jason said...

Obama doesn't understand economics as well as he should, either.

McCain is no Milton Friedman. But he sure as hell understands it better than Premier Vladimir Obama.

Cedarford said...

John Stodder, excellent essay!
I believe you have given an excellent preview of the upcoming Obama Administration, and an excellent read of the McCain-Palin disaster the nation and the Republicans avoided.

I have no doubt Obama will do some monumentally stupid appointments. Some on his own, some forced. I would be happy if it was just limited to that self-righteous asshole RFK, Jr., at EPA. I would be happy if he gives the Left a lot of such slots where they can be happy and get lots of PR, but not do the damage they could as new SCOTUS justices, DOD, or at Treasury.

On the big things - your read of McCain vs. Obama was very revealing, in how they would deal with major issues (3rd to last paragraph). I have seen Mccain flip 180 right in the middle of a hands-holding press conference and watched Republican eyes bug as he glommed onto a point the Dem speaker before him said, and commit to it on impulse.
I saw him flail in early October and then seize on some last minute advisors spiel right before his 1st debate that it would be politically popular that taxpayers who did not buy a mansion they couldn't afford should pay 300 billion for those "victims" now holding mortgages they too couldn't afford.. To "help make them hole and keep their house" and to "stabilize housing prices".

Then in the 3rd debate he was back to accusing Obama of being a socialist to "Joe the Plumber" when he was getting at the wealthy paying less total tax on each dollar they earn than a plumber and he was going to return to Clinton Era taxation rates that didn't give the rich a far better break than other Americans on earnings.

jdeeripper said...

John Althouse Cohen said...In other words had Mitt Romney been the Republican nominee Ann Althouse would have voted for him.

That's your conclusion from a long post about how she would have wanted a principled and coherent conservative?!


I don't think Ann would ever vote for a principled and coherent conservative because that would be someone like Ron Paul or Pat Buchanan.

Romney is the son of a liberal Republican father whom he idolized. Romney is personally conservative but he has run for two major offices in the liberal state of Massachusetts.

I don't think his so called flip flops on certain issues are a sign of a lack of conservative principles as it is a respect for democracy and compromise.

This is a difficult issue. Should a candidate stick to his principles on specific issues or should he stick to the greater principle of democracy and compromise? If the majority view on some issues is different from yours should you just say "It's my way or the highway"?

Elected officials are supposed to compromise when in office so why is it wrong to compromise when running for office?

Obviously people will compromise and go against their "principles" on lesser issues so they can get success on the more important issues.

Romney knew that the abortion and gay issues were not something to fight over in Massachusetts at that time.

He was trying to get elected not host a radio talk show or write a newspaper column.

Look, politics is like marriage. If you want to be principled and coherent............stay single. And don't run for office.

Cedarford said...

John Althouse Cohen said...
"In other words had Mitt Romney been the Republican nominee Ann Althouse would have voted for him."

That's your conclusion from a long post about how she would have wanted a principled and coherent conservative?!

Awww, for shame John! Not listening to what your mom said in the comments section...


Ann Althouse said...
"In other words had Mitt Romney been the Republican nominee Ann Althouse would have voted for him."

That is true! Even if McCain had picked Romney as VP. 11:50AM

********************
Alex said...
Obama scares the shit out of me because we WILL be attacked in 2009 because the Islamists always test the new President in his first year. See 1993 WTC bombing, 9/11/01.


Alex, that's just silly. Muslims, ETA, McVeigh, whatever...do their operations when they are ready. There is no "Evidoer Central" where good hits on the enemy are planned only to "test" new leaders.

AQ attacks on the Embassies and Cole hit Clinton in his 6th and 7th year of office and KSM wanted to first go in the summer of 2000 with air attacks on US targets, in Clinton's 8th year. But needed to get pilots trained when he couldn't get suicidal ones off the shelf.

Nor is the other load of Neocon crap true that the "devious evildoers", especially the "Islamofascists fighting WW Four - to use Neocon terminology - are only motivated to do attacks near US or foreign leader elections. An attack on Madrid happened to be close to Spanish elections, but not the case with the Tube, Bali, and Israel attacks with PM's long in power and not close to any elections.

If we accept the Neocon's idea of Terror Central - and it's leadership managing every jerk out there - and despite all the attack's timing, you still buy the "testing and timing" argument - then you will demand Obama run unopposed in 2012 because of the "threat" of the "Islamofascists" triumphing over an untested Republican.

Pastafarian said...

"Since he's also very old, I didn't think he should get the job."

What the hell is this? Is age discrimination suddenly acceptable? This is the 4th or 5th time I've read you openly, brazenly, shamelessly criticizing the man as "too old." That's not a valid reason for rejecting a candidate for any position.

If you want to question his ability, then question it. Don't label him as "too old" -- just call him stupid. This "too old" crap is just unbelievably offensive and obnoxious. And the idea that the "can't use email" ad that Obama put out actually swayed you TOWARD Obama -- you just lost about 12 respect points in my book, Prof. Althouse.

Not that I'd imagine you're too concerned about how many Pastafarian respect points you currently hold, but...

You do realize, of course, that McCain doesn't personally use email because of physical disabilities from abuse at the hands of the Viet Cong, right? That he actually responds to email with the help of his wife, who has full use of her hands?

Or is the full use of hands a vital prerequisite for POTUS?

The very idea that this snot Obama, who never served in any capacity, and who has done nothing but reap the benefits won by others' sacrifices, would use this disability as a soft point to attack a disabled veteran should fill you with rage and disgust. If it doesn't, then I really don't understand you at all.

Pastafarian said...

How did McCain lose me?

"1. He did not understand economics, the most important issue."

McCain doesn't know everything about economics, and he says so. Obama knows less, but thinks he knows everything. Which is more dangerous? I think that McCain probably realized the value of acknowledging his own limitations when he made his first carrier landing -- the ocean bottom is littered with the planes of pilots who thought they knew everything.

So you chose the candidate who has demonstrated superior knowledge of the economy by advocating redistribution of wealth, suggesting tax increases, card check, and energy policies that will cripple business, and supported the changes to lending law that led to the real estate bubble, millions of bad mortgages, and financial ruin for our entire economy.

That choice is...interesting.

"2. He lost the ability to make the experience argument."

By nominating a VP candidate that actually had more executive experience than either POTUS candidate. But she did have a bad interview with Katy Couric; I mean, she couldn't even list off any specific reforms championed by John McCain. How could a governor of Alaska not know every single piece of legislation sponsored by John McCain? What a bimbo. Oh, and SNL really made her look stoooopid. It must be true; I mean, it was on SNL, for God's sake.

"3. He never defined himself as a principled conservative."

Yes, I can see how someone who has described her own mixture of conservatism and liberalism as "complicated" would abhor this same trait in a candidate, because...no, on second thought, that's pretty incoherent; which leads us to:

"4. Erratic and incoherent, he lacked sufficient mental capacity."

Because he's oldy McOld, man. He's not young and handsome and hip like that dreamy Obama.

You want erratic? Listen to Obama's attempts to co-opt both sides of every issue as soon as the primaries were won. I've never seen such a dramatic lurch to the center -- it was nauseating.

You want incoherence? Listen to some of those off-teleprompter stammering stuttering spurts from Obama. He uses "uh, uh, uh" to fill the void as he searches for just the right word to make his transcript read like poetry, while leaving him just enough plausible deniability to claim that he didn't say what he just said.

And sufficient mental capacity? Jimmy Carter was a nuclear engineer, and Ronald Reagan was, to quote Hitchens' eulogy, "dumb as a stump." With the benefit of hindsight, which would you vote for, Carter, or Reagan?

Oh, wait, never mind; you already answered that with your vote.

blake said...

Actually, I think she's suggesting some degree of senility, right? That's the key difference between McCain's incoherence and Obama's. Obama's just lying--er, pragmatic. McCain's got the dementia.

Having said that, conservatives should breath a sigh of relief. Their erratic, unprincipled guy got into office instead of yours.

W's pretty much beaten the meaning out of "conservative". It couldn't have survived a McCain term. Palin, or someone who's even less populist, could restore it in a couple of years.

My logic was similar to Althouse's though (for the first time) I voted for the Rep. I buy some of the worst-case scenarios for BHO. Also, it mattered not at all for whom I voted on anything.

I'm more concerned with getting the voting process cleaned up. Yeah, it wasn't close this time and it probably won't be close the next couple of times. But it'll be close again, and that won't be pretty.

Donn said...

Oh, and SNL really made her look stoooopid.

Interesting, the interview I saw last night with Chevy Chase and his characterization of Ford. Not unsurprisingly, he had an "agenda," i.e. getting a Dem elected. Is Fey any different? I don't think so.

The problem is, because it is part of "pop" culture, it's highly effective.

OTOH, also seeing an interview last night with Rev. Wright, I'm also wondering if he wasn't unfairly represented by the media. Yes, I know the whole black lib thingy, but I still would like to hear more about his views. Just sayin'.

Simon said...

John Stodder:
"The conservatives are really in a perfect position right now"

We have lost the chance to get a majority on the Supreme Court for a generation. I am hard pressed to see how that's a "perfect position," to say nothing of the agenda Obama intends to stamp on this country, much of which may be indellible (think about how long it took us to root out the new deal!). You say that if Obama takes an imprudent approach on healthcare "there is 2010 and 2012 for things to be fixed," but that's just not true. There's a reason why Reagan said that government progams are the closest thing to eternal life you'll see on this Earth.

PJ, Jon: I could be wrong about Obama's position on NATO and Ukraine, but I certainly got the impression that McCain's general attitude towards Russia was more bellicose than Obama's. I agree that NATO has outlasted its usefulness. America should not be a party to a treaty that drags us into someone else's war.

jdeeripper said...
"I don't think Ann would ever vote for a principled and coherent conservative because that would be someone like Ron Paul...."

Ron Paul is not a conservative. He's a fruitcake, and libertarian. An exceedingly radical one at that. He titled his book "The Revolution: A Manifesto" - that ought to be a clue.

Simon said...

Donn said...
"Interesting, the interview I saw last night with Chevy Chase and his characterization of Ford. Not unsurprisingly, he had an "agenda," i.e. getting a Dem elected. Is Fey any different? I don't think so."

You need to get your eyes checked if you can't see the ten billion hotness point difference between Chase and Fey! ;)

Revenant said...

1. He did not understand economics, the most important issue.

I think it would be more accurate to say "he admitted not understanding economics". Judging from Obama's plans it is pretty clear he doesn't understand economics either.

blake said...

Rev,

I think that's exactly right. It's pretty clear that you must maintain that you know everything about everything if you're going to run for office.

dick said...

john,

I guess we just have to agree to disagree. I see no signs that Obama has any inclination on being pragmatic in action at all. In fact I see no signs that Obama has any idea on how to make a decision at all. He just seems to float along and rake in the bucks from whoever wants to hand them to him.

I think this guy is far more dangerous than anyone who has run for office in my lifetime and I go back close to 70 years. He is dangerous because he has never done anything at all that would prepare him for the job he just got elected to. He has no clue on any policy that I have heard that makes sense. When he talks with a teleprompter he is fine. When he talks without one he is a disaster almost as bad as clueless Joe Biden.

He may luck out and get advisors who tell him what to do and it works. I don't see that happening if he goes with his Chicago Mafia buddies.

Good luck with your wishes but I don't hold any hope in H*ll of him succeeding in leading the country anywhere good.

Peter said...

The only reason I voted for the GOP ticket was Sarah Palin. Plus, the other guy is an unabashed socialist who wants to take from me and give to people like Mr. Thug Thizzle in Ohio and Peggy the Moocher. Otherwise, I would have voted 3rd Party.

PJ said...

I could be wrong about Obama's position on NATO and Ukraine, but I certainly got the impression that McCain's general attitude towards Russia was more bellicose than Obama's.

The way I remember it, their positions on NATO membership for Ukraine were always the same. On Georgia, McCain immediately expressed full support for Georgia and condemned Russia's conduct as unacceptable, while Obama spent a couple of days saying both sides were blameworthy before expressing full support for Georgia and condemning Russia's conduct as unacceptable. I think it was Sarah Palin who joked that Obama could have arrived at his final position sooner if he had just bypassed his hundreds of foreign policy advisers and consulted McCain instead. So I don't think there's been much daylight between their stated positions. But you may well still be right about which of them would sooner resort to cold war revivalism with Russia.

jdeeripper said...

Simon said...jdeeripper said...
"I don't think Ann would ever vote for a principled and coherent conservative because that would be someone like Ron Paul...."

Ron Paul is not a conservative. He's a fruitcake, and libertarian.


You underestimate the level of fruitcakosity of the classic principled conservative.

Fruitcakeishness, fruitcakitude, fruitcakeism, l'esprit d'un Fruitcake has always been a major part of true conservativism.

Embrace your inner fruitcake Simon.

The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other. - Johnny Carson

Dody Jane said...

A long time ago in 2007, I wrote a blogpost called "Voting With my Inner Betty Crocker" on my blog discussing the various candidates. This is what I wrote about John McCain:

"John McCain – I think he is getting too old. My inner 50’s housewife thinks he should be fly fishing in Montana. I know that sounds like discrimination, but I need to know with absolute certainty his brain cells aren’t going POOF! at an abnormally high rate. I have always secretly liked him. He is a tough guy who will probably irritatingly straddle the fence on most social issues but he will make sure the meanies don’t get us. I am all for meanie deterrence. The meanies really cause me to worry; and not so much for me, for my descendants. I am sure in 1922 most 65 year old Jewish couples had never dreamt what the meanies would end up doing to them in 1937. This is my primary talking point when I blather on about security. It is the long range stuff that worries me. I want my daughter to have grandchildren."

The meanie deterrence was my primary issue. I am a scardey cat...

George said...

---ultimately he's a phony like so many other politicians (Hatch, Dole, Bush ...)


ultimately he's a phony like so many other politicians (Kennedy, Byrd, Durbin, Dodd, Rangel, Biden D-MBNA, John Edwards.....)

AimHighHitLow said...

I voted for McCain, but I appreciated your "cruel neutrality". I thought you maintained that posture far better than the newspapers and TV. However, I only agree with Rational 1 out of 4. The other 3 were largely a consequence of a candidate trying to WIN an election and not playing to get close but lose. McCain was never a favorite to win, and much of his lack of intellectual consistency was a result of trying change his fortunes rather than simply accept the inevitable. It's like a football team that must abandon their game plan when they find themselves behind. You throw some "out of character" Hail Mary's. I would accept your rationals 2-4, if upon returning to the Senate, McCain continues to behave erratically.

rices5 said...

Ann, Your long and exhaustive recap/timeline could be boiled down to one entry:

August 28, 7:11 AM: Wondering if McCain would pick Lieberman as his VP, I wrote: "... I've got to say that I kind of love Lieberman. He's just about exactly where I am on most things. Why should I fret about what evangelicals and staunch conservatives think? It would suit me just fine! It will wreak havoc with my cruel neutrality."

Face it. You're a liberal Democrat at heart with a rational enough mind to understand Iraq and the GWOT. No harm there but really, you could have saved yourself a tremendous amount of effort both during the election and in constructing this post. That is not to say that your postings were not interesting-they were. It's just that this reader (and first-time poster) never really thought you'd go McCain.

rices5 said...

The more appropriate question would be this: When was my decision first indicated? Answer:

August 28, 7:11 AM: Wondering if McCain would pick Lieberman as his VP, I wrote: "... I've got to say that I kind of love Lieberman. He's just about exactly where I am on most things. Why should I fret about what evangelicals and staunch conservatives think? It would suit me just fine! It will wreak havoc with my cruel neutrality."

Ann, you're a liberal Democrat with a rational view of the War in Iraq and the GWOT. That's your right but everything after August 28 was window-dressing. Not that it wasn't interesting but this reader and first-time poster was under no illusions regarding your sympathies.

inmypajamas said...

Great post. As a solid conservative, I read your site because you are a rare find - an intellectually honest liberal.

I am a McCain voter who voted against Obama. I never was happy with his nomination and only donated money after his Palin pick (though I would have preferred Romney, I think she was a definite base-energizer and is the only true reformer of the bunch). The more I learned about Obama's radical background, his naive and ridiculous foreign policy positions and his clueless comments on the Constitution, the more I felt I had to pull the lever for McCain. Though Obama sure sings the siren song of moderation and bipartisanship, there is no evidence that he has ever actually acted that way, so I hold little hope that things will change for the better during his administration.

PrestoPundit said...

#4 should be #1


Obama doesn't understand economics either -- and on many levels he understands it less well than McCain.

QED

PrestoPundit said...

Ann,

where's the evidence that you understand economics?

And you post doesn't tell us anything until you tell us what economics you "understand".

Do you "understand" and follow Keynes - or is it Hayek you "understand" and agree with, etc.

These distinctions make a huge difference.

The roe of the economics profession in current crisis tells us there is something very rotten in mainstream economics -- so even "understanding" the best of current Ivy League economics could mean a continuing disaster for America and the world.

Pat said...

I continually amazed at how many people bring up McCain's lack of knowledge of economics without then acknowledging that Obama doesn't know anything about economics either.

PrestoPundit said...

Something must be wrong with my keyboard.

mrkwong said...

Neither one of these candidates knows squat about economics; you could argue that Obama may be more inclined to listen to his advisors, the problem is he's more likely to end up with idiots like RFK Jr among them.

The current financial-system meltdown is a short-range issue; I want to have confidence in a President's ability to deal with foreign-policy challenges beyond the current wars, and to avoid the catastrophic damage to our economy and lifestyle that the folks pushing the anthropogenic global warming agenda want to lay on us. On the former point I'd give McCain the edge; on the latter they're both embracing climate fraud, but I see it being culturally embedded to an unfortunate degree in the Democrats.

Almost Ali said...

This is like Marx blaming Engels, or in the parlance of emotion, Whoppi blaming Elizabeth.

Repeal the 19th Amendment.

But I'll give this much, Glenn is still hiding in the closet.

nick said...

"devoid of any hesitation or filler 'uhs.'"

that was not a positive that
was a negative - a sign of a simple mind, able to spout simple slogans

clintp said...

Some points. Disclaimer: I voted for McCain, and generally vote Republican.

First, Leiberman. I think the Republican Party is WAAAY too hung up on the religious right. "We can't nominate a pro-choice candidate!" WHY? Are you worried the Democrats will suddenly go pro-life? Get your heads out of your asses. A candidate that says "I'm personally pro-life, but I respect the law-of-the-land and there are other things to worry about right now" would be FINE. That's pretty much what our republican-appointed Chief Justice said.

Secondly, I have to disagree with Ann about "McCain's life". Yes, McCain is a decorated soldier. The 30-something's response? Yeah, so? Vietnam was over before many of us were born and you're still bitching about it. What has McCain done lately? No, really. What? Nothing.

So Obama's never done anything with his life, and McCain's resting on laurels from 30 years ago. Not much of a choice, eh?

So you drag an elderly crippled hero from a war that most of us never lived through, who's no friend of economic conservatism, onto the ticket and expect enthusiasm? Please.

Palin may not have been the brightest bulb on the set, but at least there was a sense of excitement and familiarity about her. (sound familiar? Reagan in 1984...) Those that loathed her, weren't going to vote for the ticket anyway. The fact that she was savaged by HER OWN PARTY afterward means that the Republican Party, as it stands now, is dead. Her type is exactly what is needed, everywhere.

Anyone associated with the McCain campaign needs to go with prejudice. There were NO redeeming aspects to the campaign at all. In fact, not many sitting republican senators or representatives need to stay. This SHAM of a Party hasn't represented conservatism in a long, long time.

TexasJew said...

What a bunch of long-winded Law Professor-ish bullcrap. McCain is McCain. His frantic pillor-to-post erraticism is his most defining quality. To use a Saul Bellow quote, "casting himself into chaos, he yearns to be washed up on the shores of truth". Obama, on the other hand, uses a deep baritone protean insoucience to cover up his deep-seated ideologies. It's mesmerizing, like listening to old Jim Reeves records. However, if Obama's actual RECORD ever meant anything to his followers, they would see an unbroken litter of boilerplate hardcore leftism.
I strongly suspect that you were going to vote for the totally economically-challenged Obama anyway, and this is just a verbose CYA.
Sort of like the Washington Post's wordy Nov. 5th "realization" that they were totally in the tank for the most inexperienced major party candidate in history. 'Sorry about that... suckers'!

LonewackoDotCom said...

Meanwhile:

On 10/25, I wrote in comments here: If Althouse does vote for BHO, it's a good example of a higher-end, low-information, low-wattage voter.

I was obviously right.

On 10/30 I commented on an entry here with my non-partisan case against Obama and asked for her to respond. Obviously, she didn't and instead used trivialities to make her choice.

It's worth noting that Althouse could have stopped McCain if she'd asked the question I wanted her to ask during one of the conference calls she was invited to; see this comment I left here.

At least she provided for us a good example of a higher-end, low-information, low-wattage voter.

Pat said...

So let me get this straight, Ann. You came to the conclusion that:

1. Obama understands economics.

2. Obama has experience.

3. Obama is a principled conservative.

4. Obama is coherent and stable.

Of course not, which is why you phrase your arguments so weirdly.

Simon said...

clintp said...
"First, Leiberman. I think the Republican Party is WAAAY too hung up on the religious right. "We can't nominate a pro-choice candidate!" WHY?"

We can't nominate a pro-Roe candidate because the President makes appointments to the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts (with the court taking so few cases, the court of appeals is really the court of last resort for 99%+ of litigants). If they're personally pro-choice but still understand the need for Roe's demise, then fine - I had no problem with Rudy, for example.

Moreover, you're mistaken if you think that the only problem with Lieberman wa that he was pro-choice; the GOP shouldn't be in the business of putting Democrats on our Vice-Presidential tickets, even if they're Democrats who are hawks and even if they're Democrats wih an I after their name. If McCain wanted to run on a national unity ticket, he should have run as an independent; we give the nominee authority to select their running mate, but it would have been a clear abuse of discretion for him to pick a Democrat and conference would have overruled him. It would have been a debacle.

Simon said...

LonewackoDotCom said...
"At least [Althouse] provided for us a good example of a higher-end, low-information, low-wattage voter."

If she is such, I'll take a low-wattage voter like her over a dim bulb like you.

vbspurs said...

I liked Blake's commentaries and StPats_McDonagh's 3:15 best. It reflects my own views on the matter.

I enjoyed Professor Althouse's post, and I welcome it as a kind of closure about the matter.

But here is where I think she is dissimulating.

Althouse has braved 4 years of liberal hatred of her blog for having voted for President Bush (note, which she did at the last minute in 2004, on her way to the polling station. I would be interesting to see how she could justify that sequence of events, in a similar post). She could have been in loyal opposition had she stuck to McCain, but she wouldn't have been as relevant, and possibly would've been seen as doctrinaire or worst of all for a blogger, out-of-touch. Well, apart from the real "worst-of-all": racist.

It's obvious that Althouse is not doctrinaire -- she was leaning McCain but would've been happier with that if the Senator had chosen JOE LIEBERMAN as his running mate.

Later, she states as a reason why she didn't opt for McCain is that he never really articulated his conservative principles fully.

What is wrong with his picture?

She would've been happier with a Lieberman pick, but one of her stated knockdowns of McCain was because he couldn't make sense to her as a conservative.

If this is true, this is a lot of hooey. Let's connect the dots as to how and why.

McCain was her default choice because Professor Althouse felt national security was paramount to her for a while. In her mind, McCain would be the best choice given that criteria. His support of the Surge, when it was unpopular and divisive, allowed the Iraq War to be won.

When national security was shunted to the lower rung of importance in October, you saw her remembering that McCain had stated that economics were not his forté. He was honest, but honesty in politics is a killer -- that's why the unprincipled or the liars win elections.

Incidentally, President-Elect Obama is a liar. He's lied, and covered up his troublesome past and associations repeatedly. When things become too hot, people go into hiding like Rev. Wright/Bill Ayers; he puts a muzzle on his spacey running-mate; and his stated political objectives are erased, having gone down the memory hole, like his recent 'change.gov' website about the Civilian Defense programme. Lastly, when all else fails, he throws people "under the bus", like his own now sadly deceased grandmother. But that's okay, because though he knows squat about the economy either, he never said he didn't.

See, this is the paramount point to the elites in academia and media, types like Hitchens, Buckley Jr. and yes, Professor Althouse.

The worst sin anyone can make is appearing to be incoherent, because incoherence can possibly mask a lack of knowledge.

George Bush didn't seem remarkably intelligent to many of these types, but no one can doubt the strength in his views and principles, which he vigourously projected until about late 2005.

Ironically, if the liberals had been right and McCain were really Bush II, we might not be having this conversation. Only once in all of the campaign, did John McCain seem anything close to a real conservative: at the Saddleback Forum. His speech at the RNC was, if you know his history, a reworking of a much favoured stump speech, "FIGHT! FIGHT! STAND UP!", so I don't count that.

But this is the man Althouse wishes would've articulated his conservativism better, and who she would've been happy had he chosen a socially liberal Democrat, Joe Lieberman, as his running mate.

This is how I interpret this above and her reasons for not backing John McCain at the end:

1. He did not understand economics, the most important issue.

Like many people who deal in the world of knowledge, Althouse didn't like that McCain stated he didn't know something. It's a deadly sin to admit that, not because it's true, but because he's unsophisticated enough to think it won't count with her and others like her.

That it later turned out to be the "something" upon which this campaign was defined, was of course, the nail in the coffin in her mind.

2. He lost the ability to make the experience argument.

The Blame Sarah Palin reason, which Charles Krauthammer also mentioned in his election post-mortem.

This is a red herring argument, because it is not about Palin herself, but about the lack of strategic acumen shown by McCain.

How deadly is it to people who deal in logic and words all day, that McCain showed himself to be lacking in logic, the basis of tactis, he an old naval commandant?

I would say that it was huge, and goes to explain a lot of the elite Republicans distaste not just with Sarah Palin, but because _McCain_ showed a chink in his tactical armour.

It opened up a can of worms about his future decision-making skills as potential President. He never recovered.

3. He never defined himself as a principled conservative.

Which really didn't mean much to people like Althouse, the quasi-conservative, in the first place.

They were upset that McCain couldn't make an argument, rather than what the argument was itself.

4. Erratic and incoherent, he lacked sufficient mental capacity.

Again, another intellectual argument against John McCain, and by now you can see this is just circular reasoning.

So let's examine the two choices in practical terms: there were two men in this race, from whom Althouse could've chosen.

One was an ex-law professor whose cool persona was seconded brilliantly by an admiring, forgiving media.

The other was a wishy-washy, elderly career politician who not even Republicans wanted, but who were determined to use as their foil to bring down the other Leftist choice.

It wasn't enough. People who win elections are always those who choose to be FOR someone, rather than someone to be AGAINST.

I suspect Althouse wanted to be FOR Obama, but she convinced herself that she was AGAINST McCain first.

Unfortunately, this is the type of duplicitousness that has lost her not many, but a few regular commenters -- who knows for how long.

In fact, to many of these posters, you can retitle much of this post to "How Althouse lost me".

Cheers,
Victoria

LonewackoDotCom said...

Simon:

I briefly considered giving up blogging after I read your content-rich criticism, but then I realized that you're a non-entity so I guess I'll continue.

P.S. In case anyone needs it, here's yet another example of how Althouse has no clue.

Simon said...

LonewackoDotCom - give up blogging? I hadn't realized that you'd started. Last time I swung by your place, it was such a predictable torrent of hackneyed cliches that I had assumed it was produced by a bot. That conclusion fitted well with your usual insistence on limiting your contributions here to links to said "blog."

LonewackoDotCom said...

I have to thank Simon for continuing the content-free, ad hom attacks since they allow me to continue pointing out how Althouse needs to get a clue.

clintp said...

Simon:

Oh I realize that Leiberman would have been a lousy choice for a veep. (He makes my skin crawl, like some kind of Tolkienesque wormtongue.) But this abortion topic as the be-all-end-all litmus test for a candidate has to stop.

John Clifford said...

Ann, I can't understand how anyone could decide on whom to vote for based upon the decision-making tree you used... although I do understand that most Americans probably follow a similar process.

How about looking at a candidate's record? You know, like how Obama's only executive experience was running the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and how he spent/blew $150 million without making a difference?

Better yet, look at the three major issues that have arisen since Obama was elected senator back in '06?

First, we have the Surge. Obama was against it, McCain was for it. Obama was wrong. Even worse, Obama admitted in a televised interview that the reason he opposed the Iraq War and the Surge was to differentiate himself from Hillary and Bush, and thus give himself a rationale for running for president. Placing politics above what's best for the country... ugh!

Second was the Russian invasion of Georgia. Obama's initial statement, for Georgia to 'show restraint', and his implication that Georgia was somehow at fault here was as ludicrous as it was wrong. Constrast that to McCain, who strongly condemned Russia and who vowed that America would support Georgia. Obama eventually came over to McCain's position. Obama was wrong and McCain was right.

Third, there was the financial crisis. Obama's response was to phone it it, saying "Call me if you need me." McCain went to DC to try to make something happened, and was ambushed by the Congressional Democrats... but at least he tried. Obama was wrong and McCain was right.

So, in the three major instances here Obama was wrong and McCain was right. Yet, you bought the MSM bull$hit and used their (biased) rules to choose your president.

I sincerely hope that Obama is a much better president than he was as a senator. I sincerely hope that he pleasantly surprises me and the rest of America and does a good job. But I'm skeptical. I think four years of Obama will make the American people go Republican in droves, just as Carter brought us Reagan.

Barry Dauphin said...

Thanks for explaining your thinking even though I disagree with some aspects. You are saying McCain had to win you since Obama must be our default position (i.e., vote Democratic until proven otherwise). One thing about McCain- he advocated a change in strategy and tactics in Iraq years ago. The result we see today was so successful that it has disappeared from the news. But back in 2006 it was very unpopular, and McCain looked bad to lots of people. He sure should look good to them now, but they are too embarrassed by their former opposition to admit it.

Sarah said...

I'm sort of with John Clifford up there. McCain's been consistently right on important matters, Obama consistently wrong (or voting "present"). Let's not forget that McCain warned us of the Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac debacle on the floor of the Senate in 2005 and co-sponsored regulatory legislation. It says something about you that, faced with all this hard information, you concentrate on the fact that McCain appears to be holding a grapefruit in front of his chest when he speaks. Oh, all right then! Obama it is!

Sarah said...

Oh, darn, I forgot to title the comment above. I call it "How Althouse lost me."

John said...

The mere fact that anyone would accept the faulty premise that Palin had less experience than
Obama shows that:

1. you are typical member of the media

2. ignorant

3. both

Simon said...

clintp said...
"[T]his abortion topic as the be-all-end-all litmus test for a candidate has to stop."

It's only a litmus test for the Presidency, the litmus test is about Roe-Casey not abortion (as I mentioned above), and as soon as Roe-Casey is dead and buried, the litmus test goes away. Thus, I entirely agree with you that the sooner we can get to a point where the litmus test is unnecessary the better.

S said...

"1. He did not understand economics, the most important issue."

I know it sounds like a dumb partisan quip, but left wing democrats don't understand economics either. If Obama passes most of things he talked about during the campaign, it will do serious damage to the economy. I’m looking at states like Michigan where the governors’ response to every problem is to raise taxes again. She’s basically helped run the state into the ground… Obama has made her an economic advisor…

On the plus side, his picks for financial regulators, thus far, seem to be sound.

Ann Althouse said...

"I know it sounds like a dumb partisan quip, but left wing democrats don't understand economics either. If Obama passes most of things he talked about during the campaign, it will do serious damage to the economy."

I agree, and I've worried about that. But my conclusion was that Obama had the brains and the calm temperament that might allow him to figure things out competently ... more so than McCain, at least. And that the GOP could get its act together and return to power if he fails.

br549 said...

This whole thread has been a nice read. Too bad election campaigns aren't this civil.

My two cents: I believe Sarah Palin was a lightning rod as said somewhere above, for one main reason. The left was scared of her. She invigorated a sleepy campaign.
In their eyes, she had to be destroyed. After she was picked, it all became about her. McCain was in the bloody background. It seems the left wasn't worried about McCain. Did McCain really want to be president?

I voted for the party, not the man.

I can't vote democrat. I don't think as they do, don't believe as they do.

Kansas City said...

Hard to argue with Ann's conclusions and I had similar concerns. I don't think McCain was the most capable candidate the Republicans could have nominated.

But it was a choice between McCain and Obama. It does not seem logical to me for Ann to decide on how to vote by focusing only on one of the two candidates and, of course, once Obama is elected, the only significant analysis was one that focused on him.

grackle said...

I can picture Obama standing up to the Democratic Congress and being his own man.

Oh my.

When they[the Democrats] can't whine and finger-point, what will they actually step up and do?

The answer: MORE finger-pointing and whining. And tabling legislation in the Senate all the while accusing conservatives of "inaction." You can do that if you have the MSM in your hip pocket.

How did McCain lose me?

1. He did not understand economics, the most important issue.


And Obama does?!! Good grief!

2. He lost the ability to make the experience argument.

She could not observe for herself that Obama's inexperience pertained. No, it was absolutely essential for her that McCain point it out with panache – or enthusiasm – or something – otherwise no experience gap existed for her. Interesting.

3. He never defined himself as a principled conservative.

As self-defense. Any self-described conservative is pummeled by the MSM during a Presidential campaign. You don't give ammunition(or sound bites) to the enemy. Stick to the issues instead of touting your place on the political spectrum.

4. Erratic and incoherent, he lacked sufficient mental capacity.

For me it's kind of simple. A conservative seeming to lack "mental capacity" gets my vote over the Lefty seeming to lack "mental capacity." But if you are looking for excuses … any port will do. NUANCE!

Short answer. McCain had the misfortune of not being a good debater and only so-so as a campaigner. Naturally, someone who earns a living teaching is going to value those particular verbal characteristics.

In my opinion we sure could sure use a military mind in the Whitehouse. What we have now are advisors that are dangerously naïve, beholding ideologically to 3rd generation, watered-down Marxist-derived foreign policy fallacies. Putin, Assad, ISIS and others are delightedly reaping the benefit.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks for the new comment, Grackle!