November 8, 2008

I'm going to write a post called "How McCain lost me."

That's my writing project this morning, and it's going to take me a little while. This will correspond to the post I wrote in 2004 called "How Kerry lost me." It's different in that I'm writing it after the election. But it's the same in that I'm mining my blog archive to try to understand how my resistance to the candidate formed and hardened and caused me to vote for the other man.

I know that I voted against McCain. Up through August, I genuinely didn't know which candidate I'd vote for, but I knew I was taking more shots at Obama and therefore giving the impression that I favored McCain. I didn't trust Obama, and I feared (and still fear) what Obama would do with a Democratic Congress. McCain was a more familiar character, less fun to write about, and he was also the underdog. But by mid-October, I knew that unless something big happened, I would vote for Obama. It was nothing new that Obama did. I didn't start liking him more, and I never got caught up in the Obama lovefest.

It was something about McCain. Now, I have 368 posts labeled "McCain," and I'm not going to read them all. I'm going to restrict myself to the time period beginning with the conventions, which is when, I think, McCain lost me.

41 comments:

TMink said...

"I didn't trust Obama, and I feared (and still fear) what Obama would do with a Democratic Congress."

We agree. Where we diverge is that I took that as a reason to vote against Senator Obama!

Trey

Meade said...

I'm going to take a wild guess that it happened right around the time McCain fecklessly suspended his campaign and then unsuspended his campaign, thereby suspending his brain on his on petard of insufficient understanding of the economy for everyone to see, turn to each other, and say, oh shit - on ECONOMIC national security, he might be even worse than the other boneheaded megalomaniac.

AllenS said...

Ann said..."It was something about McCain."

I'll take a guess and say that you came to the conclusion: "There is nothing about McCain that I liked."

campy said...

"Gee, which vote would show I'm not a racist?"

EnigmatiCore said...

I think it is rather simple, although you will probably disagree.

While you believe that Roberts is an excellent judge, and have had nothing bad to say, that I can remember, about Alito, and while you claim to prefer a 'balanced' Supreme Court, you want a balanced Supreme Court that won't mess with Roe.

Up until the choice of Palin, I think you thought McCain would give you the kind of court you want. When he chose her, you realized he responds to pressure from the right and realized that, despite his occasional bombs thrown that way, he's been a pretty conservative guy.

I believe that, for you, it was all about the judges, and all about the right to choose.

Original George said...

We're in a period in which most people need, even crave, euphoria to prevent them from dwelling on the terrible economic realities confronting us.

Consider this Kevin Phillips article on the real unemployment, inflation, and GDP numbers..."U.S. unemployment rate is somewhere between 9 percent and 12 percent; the inflation rate is as high as 7 or even 10 percent; economic growth since the recession of 2001 has been mediocre..."

McCain lost Michigan to Romney because he told voters there that their jobs were gone and not coming back. Romney, like Obama, gave the blue-collar factory folk pretty talk, the way a doctor might tell a terminal patient he'll make it to Christmas, just to give him "hope." Audacious!

As Meade above says, the worst thing McCain did was "suspend" his campaign to return to DC to fix the economic crisis. Impossible, particularly since the Dems. would want him to fail. Obama correctly stood back, did nothing (as did FDR after his election), and let the luminous spectral presences of Volcker and Buffett symbolize the future action.

(Incidentally, unemployment this past summer among men aged 25-44 stood at 13.5 percent, according to Fortune. Considering the numbers fudgery that goes on, is it possible the real number could hit 20 percent next year?)

Finally, Palin was unprepared to discuss many issues in depth and with authority; perhaps worse, her image was woefully mishandled. The GOP took a tough frontier broad who knows how to kill and gut moose and put her in sexy get-ups. Total reality disconnect. And distracting.

jdeeripper said...

Mitt Romney/Tom Ridge would have won it for the Republicans.

All Romney would have had to do is run the same ad and ask the same question over and over:

"If your child was badly injured in a car accident and needed emergency surgery would you want the surgeon to be an actor who plays a surgeon on a nighttime medical show or would you want an actual surgeon with a proven record of competence at various top hospitals to do the job?"

Romney ran a major venture capital firm, he ran the 2002 Olympics and he was Governor of Massachusetts. He's tall, telegenic and articulate.

All Obama has ever done is run his mouth. No resume. Nothing.

The Republicans have been massively incompetent in every way. Including the selection of their 2008 candidate. Their primary system with it's electoral college like winner take all system gave them the loser McCain and kicked Romney to the curb.

Now they can only hope for Obama to be the black Jimmy Carter followed by a new Ronald Reagan and a Republican Congressional comeback.

But the dopes are already off in White goofball land fantasizing about a Bobby Jindal presidency.

Pathetic.

By the way McCain won White America with about 55% of the vote. He did much better with White women than I expected. Something like 14% better than Obama.

Along with the 99% black vote Obama got about 70%!!!! of the single female vote.

Obama's like their pimp daddy. He promised to tax daddy and spread the wealth to the no husband having, got bills to pay single women.

And it worked.

rhhardin said...

I warned you about the 19th Amendment.

Richard Fagin said...

Please post that column soon, Prof. I'm more than a little curious, particularly given your lack of trust and fear that many of us share with you.

Pogo said...

I'm going to write a post called "How McCain lost me."

Was it the riding crop?

Or was it the veal parmigiana incident? (What was it doing in his wallet?)

His acceptance speech reprise of the "U Can't Touch This" video, complete with parachute pants and the "Stop! (one-beat pause) Hammertime!" lyric certainly can't have helped.

Big Mike said...

Yes, I would really like to see that.

Is there such a thing as a Republican you would vote for? What would he or she be like? I'd like to know that, too.

save_the_rustbelt said...

McCain was in an impossible position, he needed to run away from Bush, but doing so lost him some of his base.

Bush determined this election, the rest was just commercials.

Obama has created expectations he cannot possibly meet. Hmmmm.

Windbag said...

McCain-Feingold is reason enough. Immigration if you want some icing on your cake.

Palladian said...

"Is there such a thing as a Republican you would vote for?"

Yes, she has stated that she has voted for at least one Republican, in 2004.

"What would he or she be like?"

Like this?.

tjl said...

"I didn't trust Obama, and I feared (and still fear) what Obama would do with a Democratic Congress"

What about the Democratic media? The MSM's zeal for O will enable, in fact encourage, far more overreaching than Pelosi and Reid.

The media's devotional attitude is a truly destabilizing factor in the political equation. From the talking heads' rapt expressions of joy on election night, we can predict that they'll continue to bless the One's every word and deed. What could be more subversive than the media's tossing aside its duty to scrutinize and criticize politicians?

AlphaLiberal said...

Perhaps it had to do with the shallow character attacks and diversions from important issues.

Bill Ayers has broke his silence and makes a very good point about McCain-Palin allegations:

The McCain-Palin attacks not only involved guilt by association, they also assumed that one must apply a political litmus test to begin a conversation.

I think those are the words I was looking for. Do Republicans really do this in their conversations? I don't. I'll talk to anyone.

AlphaLiberal said...

What could be more subversive than the media's tossing aside its duty to scrutinize and criticize politicians?

This is such a steaming pile. It requires a memory wipe to believe crap like this. Primaries? What primaries?

Obama was probbed, prodded and dragged through the mud by the media.

jdeeripper said...

rhhardin said...I warned you about the 19th Amendment.

America's Achilles’ heel since 1920.

rcocean said...

The Republicans might have won with Romney or Huckabee. They never had a chance with a 72 year old, warmongering hot-head, whose main selling point was working with Ted Kennedy and Fiengold to pass liberal legislation. Oh, and he was a war hero 40 years ago.

The New York Times and WaPo endorsements should have made it clear that McCain was a loser.

McCain bumped along at 46 percent in July/August and except for a brief Palin rush could never get above that.

Bob Dole without the charisma.

elliot said...

No offense, but this sounds like you're trying to take out insurance to me.

"I didn't WANT to vote for Obama. McCain made me. So when Obama screws up, I still get to criticize him and I take no ownership in his actions."

Sorry Ann, voting is sort of like playing catch with dishes in a china shop.But instead of "you break it, you buy it," you "bought it" so now you have partial ownership if he breaks it.

tjl said...

"Primaries? What primaries?
Obama was probbed, prodded and dragged through the mud by the media"

You obviously don't know any Hillary supporters. They had some colorful things to say about media coverage of the primaries.

Crimso said...

"Bill Ayers has broke his silence and makes a very good point about McCain-Palin allegations:"

The difference between Ayers and McVeigh is that McVeigh paid for his crimes (and was sadly somewhat more competent in perpetrating them). Ayers is the piece of shit that actually wrote that he and his henchman might have to liquidate 25 million Americans to achieve their paradise. Defend him all you want.

miller said...

I'd be interested in reading it, but I'm not sure that you "owe" it to us.

It helps to see what others think about their choices.

You elected a newbie with no track record of executive experience.

Now you express regrets that he might - might - not govern from the center.

Like I said, I'd be interested in what you think. Reasonable people can look at the same data and come to different decisions.

jdeeripper said...

rcocean said...The Republicans might have won with Romney or Huckabee.

Romney the executive businessman yes, Huckster the preacher no f***in' way.

Pogo said...

I'm going to write a post called "How McCain lost me."

His wavering rendition of The Band's classic "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" drove many of McCain's tepid supporters away. The smokey bar, scantily clad backup singers, and American flag draped from the mike added little to his untrained vocals, which resembled several cats thrown in a burlap bag together and dropped down the staircase.

The solid belch in the middle of a verse -followed by a quick swig from the nearby bottle of Thunderbird- clinched it, however.

miller said...

It was the directions to the party after the March 4th win.

Turn left, go a few miles to the windmill, hang a left and drive until you reach the bridge where the red farm house used to be and turn left again. Follow that road past the hay bales and then turn right at the intersection where you see the three trees clumped together. You'll see a paper plate "John McCain Victory '08 Party" nailed to the fence at the gate. Just drive on down the road to the house.

You followed those directions and ended up in Cleveland.

I can understand how he lost you.

Meade said...

Ha ha ha ha ha... Good one, Miller.

mrs whatsit said...

The "litmus test" that should have been applied before Obama "began a conversation" with Ayers is not political, Alpha. It's moral. Your failure to understand the difference is enormously telling.

yashu said...

In retrospect, I can see where you're coming from re McCain. When I filled out my ballot, I was voting, above all, against Obama, all the things I knew about Obama (& "what he would do with a Democratic Congress"), and against the MSM; I was voting for Palin (not the caricature of Palin, but Palin herself-- corruption-busting, small-government, strong defense conservative, who's never imposed her religious values in her governance, one congenial to my small-l-libertarianism-- plus a kick-ass woman in general, willing to stand up to the MSM).... and for... the positions McCain had taken re the war. For the profound patriotism & strength of character he had demonstrated, all those years ago. For what I saw as a foreign policy sensibility close to my own, in dangerous times.

But when he couldn't convincingly articulate the conservative economic case (especially given all the facts about Fannie/Freddie, and the record of his past actions vs. Obama's), when he made the economic crisis-- and his campaign in general-- into a stage to show off his "character"...

I don't at all regret my vote, and I'm very unhappy McCain lost. I greatly fear for the future (though I'm hoping for the best). But I think Ace of Spades best describes the problem with McCain here. An excerpt:

"There is no "McCainism" as there was a "Bushism" or "Reaganism." Those men offered fairly clear visions (well, Reagan particularly so). Not McCain. Everything with him is just his personal gut, principle-free, just an instinct, an impulse, which often takes him in wildly contradictory places (but he's always haughty about the moral superiority of his decisions). [...]

What was McCain's schwerpunkt? What was his case? Ultimately he sought to run not on a plan or an idea, but upon his character, his personal wisdom and integrity (something I note, not uncoincidentally, could never benefit Republicans generally, as an *idea* could).

He always had a tough battle, but in the end he had no plan for battle, only the unwavering belief that he alone was equipped to lead the war.

There was no idea of McCain beyond McCain himself.

And ultimately, he lost. No man is greater than an idea.

Even the great McCain."

I think that's about right. I still don't see how any of this would make Obama a better choice (especially to those who are center-right to conservative), especially since so much depends on the vain hope that he will be/do something that his past, his actions, and statements give no grounds for (and in fact strongly contradict). I still can't believe we've elected a president who has found people like Ayers and Wright intellectually, politically, spiritually congenial (recently, not years ago).

The only reason to vote for Obama, as I see it (if you're not a "progressive") is symbolic-- the symbolic significance of electing the first black president. I can understand, and felt, the pull of that. But everything I knew, concretely, about Obama as an individual, his likely policies & their consequences, to me overwhelmed all that. Nevertheless-- yes, I can see how McCain could have lost you. I voted, in the end, despite him.

Darcy said...

Excellent, yashu. Although your statement about being unhappy that McCain lost is the only thing that I slightly differ with you on. I'm unhappy Obama won, is more like it.
A part of me understands that McCain's campaign effort deserved to lose.

I don't think I'll ever regret filling in my ballot for McCain, though. He put his country and fellow servicemen first over and over again when his life was on the line. I think I owed him that vote, when compared to the individual he was running against.

walter neff said...

"I think those are the words I was looking for. Do Republicans really do this in their conversations? I don't. I'll talk at anyone"

Fixed.

yashu said...

I agree, Darcy, that's a better way to put it.

dick said...

Personally I think you lost it the time you thought Obama tossing the people who were the dedicatees of his books away and including his grandmother was a sign of pragmatism. That was a response I just cannot fathom an intelligent person making.

Donn said...

For all the talk about "small government" and the like, Mark Steyn puts it well here:

Even in America, federal spending (in inflation-adjusted 2007 dollars) has gone from $600 billion in 1965 to $3 trillion today. The Heritage Foundation put it in a convenient graph: It's pretty much a straight line across four decades, up, up, up. Doesn't make any difference who controls Congress, who's in the White House. The government just grows and grows, remorselessly. Every two years, the voters walk out of their town halls and school gyms and tell the exit pollsters that three-quarters of them are "moderates" or "conservatives" (i.e, the center and the right) and barely 20 percent are "liberals." And then, regardless of how the vote went, big government just resumes its inexorable growth.

Pastafarian said...

Outstanding comments by Yashu and by Elliot.

I think that Elliot is on to something here: I think that Prof. Althouse might be suffering from a little buyer's remorse. Sorry, Ann, but when Obama is "tested", as he will be, according to the new VP-elect, and he starts making "unpopular decisions" (like, say, hanging Israel out to dry, or rounding up weapons, or drafting people into "compulsory volunteerism"), your readers will remind you who you voted for.

When he seizes control of the media with the "fairness doctrine", when unemployment and inflation hit double digits, when he nominates left-wing hacks to the courts, when he guts defense and intelligence spending and we're then attacked, you'll be reminded who you voted for.

Twice.

Once in the primaries, versus a female candidate, and once in the general, versus a ticket that included a female VP candidate.

That "but I was only voting against his opponent, not for him" is really, really weak stuff. Please don't insult our intelligence by attempting it. You voted for Jimmy Carter Redoux when we're teetering on the economic brink; and you voted for a man who's promised to slash defense while we're at war.

If you're honest with yourself, by the way, you'll admit that you were going to vote for Obama as soon as you saw that "Will.I.Am" music video.

Cedarford said...

Somehow in the end McCain had come to look more like Bush than a replacement. A swaggering, old stubborn fighter jock..saying the same old stuff, mismanaging his organization, unable to communicate a coherent message.

McCain got nominated in a different time - when Iraq was the issue and McCain the "Surge-meister, Petraeus worshipper, and sentimental war hero who suffered! 35 years ago."
Primary voters overlooked he was a disaster as a campaign leader and Party Head. He had major executive failings, and was a poor communicator. Leading to collapse of his organization. And too hated to ever be Leader and Speaker of his Party.

As he headed into the Convention - he had failed to use the 5 months he had before to rebuild an organization or define and communicate his vision and the Party's, for moving past Bush II into the future.

He had bizarrely come up with a strategy that people aren't interested in issues, just experience and character that only a war hero and a great man like himself had. Run on that. Show how Obama never suffered!! for his country...That he was going to stay with the Neocon foreign policy and his great friend, Joe Lieberman as VP. And run looking backwards 30 years to another era, of Reagan, as his source of ideas. Oh, and his excellent idea of running as a Maverick Outsider - something he said he was best at because of all the deals he cut with Teddy and Russ and his other dear friends like Diane Feinsten and John Kerry in his 30 years inside the Senate cloakrooms as the Outsider.

Then things went bad to worse. Most Republicans had strong reservations about a pro-abortion, liberal judge-appointing Lieberman as VP - even if he was a Neocon. So with no real vetting he got Palin. And spent remaining months trying to balance her becoming a Cult Goddess with the Base and a Star stump speaker "exciter" - with knowing she had huge knowledge holes and had to be shielded from questions and the media as much as possible. Palin also took the Republican's biggest weapon against Obama away - his lack of experience doing anything substantive.

And along the way, McCain himself became angry, incoherent. Bouncing along with his "theme" of the campaign week - dropping some themes and contradicting himself on others. Looking like an erratic, impulsive Lone Wolf fighter jock not capable of running an organization. He lost his 1st two debates with Obama..bedeviled with the same incoherence and being all about "Me!" while Obama was cool, talking "We!" and running as head of a team as good as any ever seen in a Presidential election.

Then the ground shifted and the economy melted and both McCain and Palin lacked the ability to understand and communicate well on economic matters - sticking with culture warrior, Bill Ayers, socialism!! stuff touting the noble non-elites of America over the edumicated hoity-toities. And left the field free for Democrats to pin the whole financial disaster on McCain and George Bush.

In the end, most people I know, including Republicans, had concluded Obama was the superior candidate, the better natural executive leader and communicator.

Had he been up against Mitt Romney the story might have been different. My belief is that Romney, with Kay Bailey Hutchinson or Tom Ridge as VP, would have devestated Obama in experience, Rev Wright, national security, economic matters (especially in the swath of Northern states from Maine to Minnesota), and on readiness to lead. And beat him or equalled him on foreign policy and ability to communicate consistent ideas and vision...

rcocean - The Republicans might have won with Romney or Huckabee. They never had a chance with a 72 year old, warmongering hot-head, whose main selling point was working with Ted Kennedy and Fiengold to pass liberal legislation. Oh, and he was a war hero 40 years ago..Bob Dole II

Adding - yep, and without Bob Doles charisma AND brains.
And disagreeing slightly on the Huckster...I think he would have done much better than Palin as a VP, but as Nominee his appeal would be limited to the deep South.

walter neff said...

You voted for Obama because it was cool.

Now you are stuck with the result.

Just like the rest of us.

PJ said...

Professor, I hope you're doing this because you want to rather than because you think you ought to. But either way I appreciate the effort and will read with interest.

Yashu, very well stated on the point of McCain not being backed by coherent ideas. I suspect that the Professor found that troubling.

On the other side was a man who didn't want to talk much about what specifically his coherent ideas are or where they would be likely to lead the nation. But that did not undermine the conviction that he indeed has coherent ideas, because you can tell that the man is a Deep Thinker. So there is confidence that he has coherent ideas, but no consensus about whether those ideas will lead him to govern from the center or the left. A lot of O-voters are bound to be disappointed when the truth is finally revealed, but for now they each have Hope!

bagoh20 said...

When it's ready, just retitle it "How Althouse lost me", and prologue it with "These are her excuses for closing her eyes in the voting booth.", then post it for me.

Thanks, Anne

blake said...

I think you guys are way too cocky about being the losers here.

And I say this as someone who cast (for the first time in his life) a vote for a Republican President.

Yes, I think Obama is going to be far worse than McCain would have been--but McCain was going to be very, very bad indeed.

Buy out bad mortgages? Really?

Get serious about small government. Bring out more Palins. You'll clean out in 2012, maybe 2010 even. And if you can stick to it--well, if you could have stuck to it before, we wouldn't even be discussing this--but if you can stick to it this time, you'll get that "permanent majority".

knowitall said...

Poor McCain, and poor country. What will America do now that the left-wing illuminati have us in the palm of their hands?