February 7, 2008

Obama and McCain "exemplify 'post-partisan' politics."

Perhaps. And if so, it's clear — isn't it? — that Obama is the stronger opponent for the Republican's presumptive nominee. George Will lays out this theory well:
Forewarned, Democrats now are forearmed -- not that they will necessarily make sensible use of the gift.... Will their purblind party now nominate the most polarizing person in contemporary politics, knowing that Republicans will nominate the person who tries to compensate for his weakness among conservatives with his strength among independent voters who are crucial to winning the White House?
Will briefly alludes to something else, which is going to be important when the 2 party nominees appear side-by-side. McCain is quite old. He admits it and laughs about it, but it's a fact and it affects perceptions on a deep psychic level. Can a President be that old? Will voters have doubts? Hillary Clinton is old enough to neutralize the age issue or at least reduce our anxiety about it. Barack Obama will make us to think about it constantly.


Elliott A said...

McCain's problem isn't his age, it's his history. It is not often the republicans have a candidate that so many in the party dislike. He may try to coddle conservatives now, but his past positions and votes betray his true self.

Bob said...

Yep. McCain's would very likely a one-term presidency, so the choice of running mate becomes vital. Knowing that McCain might not last more than one term (or even that; his father and grandfather both died young), the American people may decide not to bother with a one-term candidate and go for the alternative.

If Obama wins the nomination for the Dems, the race will be viewed in terms of a pack battle between the old lion and the young lion, and in this youth/beauty obsessed country, the pack will be rooting for the young lion.

Dean Esmay said...

What I find most fascinating about conservative vitriol toward McCain is the fact that he has a very conservative voting record and is arguably one of the most conservative members of the Senate, and he's certainly more conservative than the last three GOP nominees (Bush, Dole, and Bush). Yet there's this perception, seemingly unshakeable, that due to a tiny handful of issues, he's not conservative. It's kinda weird to me.

rhhardin said...

Can a President be that old?

You want them old enough to be bitter.

Imus said, shortly after 9/11, that Bush was the right man for the job because he's enough of a prick to pull the trigger.

In a way judging him right, and in a way judging him wrong.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Will writes that they're said to exemplify post-partisan politics. He reminds us that Obama does not deviate from liberal orthodoxy.

Obama is very charming, engaging, and inspiring, but the policies he supports are hardly moderate or unifying.

rhhardin said...

Obama you could describe as brimming with helium.

Not as post-partisan.

Bob said...

Dean: I think that I read somewhere that McCain's record, while conservative in toto, has been dropping over the last 10 years or so, and his current rating with the conservative rating sites is in the 60's.

And although his choice of issues to disagree with the party on is bad enough, his apparent glee about poking conservatives in the eye is what truly rubs people the wrong way.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Obama you could describe as brimming with helium.

Classic! That truly made me laugh out loud.

ricpic said...

When Obama gives forth with "Our time has come!" who's he speaking to? Not me. In fact, at that allegedly rousing moment, I get the willies. But then, I'm not enlightened and progressive, unlike so many on this forum. No, I'm just one of the millions of troglodytes out there, who suspect that Obama is not speaking to or for US, at all.
Ah well, as the late great Jean Shepherd used to say, "Excelsior, you fatheads."

P. Rich said...

McCain has devolved over the decades into a sleazy pol who is not above lying to achieve his ambitions. In addition, he has become a liberal on many key issues; and arguing that he used to be relatively conservative is an attempt to cover up what he is today.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the only other senator whose presidential candidacy survived the initial round of primaries and caucuses this year, did not vote frequently enough in 2007 to draw a composite score. He missed more than half of the votes in both the economic and foreign-policy categories. On social issues, which include immigration, McCain received a conservative score of 59.

His lifetime average rating is 71.8, and there has been a downward trend since 1986. Over the last ten years, McCains ratings have not been out of the 60's, and have dipped as low as 51.7. The higher "average" being bandied about in the press, and McCain press releases, is a fabrication.

Data from: http://nj.nationaljournal.com/voteratings/

Richard Dolan said...

"Post partisan" is a silly term, certainly when applied in such a partisan context. Here, it seems to mean only that neither McCain nor Obama is clearly the first choice of their parties' most partisan members -- McCain because he's only an 80% conservative; and Obama because he hasn't really connected with women, Hispanics or lunch-bucket, blue collar Dems. Yet both have some ability to appeal across partisan lines.

Far from describing that lay of the land, "post partisan" just obscures things. Barone, as usual, has the more interesting take. He suggests that the issues that will define the partisan divide for the next decade or two are fluid and that the '08 election is weird because those lines are still not clearly in focus yet. This election isn't another version of the trench-warfare we got used to in the 90s, and especially in '00 and '04, where both sides were appealing to their base using the tried and true wedge issues that had worked in the past.

With McCain's win, that seems certain to occur on the R side -- whether he wins or loses in Nov, his nomination is going to change the R team, with some folks abandoning it and others joining because of those changes. It's not that McCain will change the R team from the "conservative" party into a "moderate/liberal" party, but that he will use conservative principles/values to move it (already has moved it) in a different "conservative" direction. The Hillary-Obama fight will determine whether a similar change prevails on the D side. She is clearly the "status quo" candidate, the least transformative D possible but also the safest for the same reason. Obama is a mystery -- no one really knows where he would take the D team if he prevails, except that he would certainly take it to some place different from where he found it.

It's that fluidity in the lines that will be paramount in separating the Rs from the Ds -- Barone calls it the "open field election" -- that is making this election feel both very different and important. Interesting times, for sure. But not "post partisan."

Nor is it clear that Obama is "the stronger opponent" for McCain. All that's clear right now is that with Obama as the D nominee, the way the election will play out is much less predictable. If the Ds nominiate Hillary, there won't be much fluidity on their side of the fight, but whether that means she'd be the weaker candidate is impossible to say.

PatCA said...

Post-partisan to me means that there is no longer any difference between the parties. They both take money from one group and give it to another to buy votes. The closest comparison to W would be LBJ--huge spending boondoggles and a conflicted, non-serious attempt at warmaking. like Dumb and Dumber, we now have Left and Lefter.

But maybe it's just me. My fellow Californians just voted in more tax increases and more gambling, proposed by a governor that was elected to fix the deficit by fiscal restraint!

B said...

Age is a non-issue - look at Rupert Murdoch and Sumner Redstone - they aren't goin' anywhere soon, and Redstone is now older than McCain will be when his 2nd term ends.

Warren Buffet is 77 and I don't see anyone refusing to consider his advice.

George HW Bush could probably win today if he was running again - the public perception of him has changed so much - and he even skydived for the first time on his 75th bithday!

John Glenn went into space at 77!

Lastly, look at a person's genes - have you SEEN McCain's 95 year old full-of-spitfire mother? She'd probably arm-wrestle most of the commentors here to the ground. Even Chuck Norris is afraid of her.

And you already know that the retirement age will definitely be raised in the next 3 years to 70. Which means that the majority of people at that age will be expected to be sharp.

Just because YOU're getting forgetful doesn't mean everyone is.

Simon said...

I wholeheartedly join Dean's 9:02 comment above.

Simon said...

As to age, I addressed that here; "McCain (b. August 29, 1936) is about five months younger than Our Hero (b. March 11, 1936), and all else being equal, I hope Justice Scalia is still on the court in twenty years, never mind eight. While I recognize that President and Supreme Court Jester are very different jobs, ... I don't think that it necessarily follows that old is incapable when considering someone for a job whose most important aspect is judgment."

Ann Althouse said...

"Brimming with helium" is not a good image. How could the helium stay in the container? Helium needs to be enclosed in something, not in an open container with a brim.

Fen said...

Its enclosed in Hope and Change.

Trooper York said...

The question for Obama is will he play the role as Cliff Huxtable or George Jefferson. Hillary is stuck as Margaret Wade.

former law student said...

It boils down to likability and trust, more than abstract platforms. Why else would the nation elect a borrow-and-spend Republican like W.?

former law student said...

It boils down to likability and trust, more than abstract platforms. Why else would the nation elect a borrow-and-spend Republican like W.?

SGT Ted said...

This sin't post-partisan politics. This is 1974 redoux, with the establishment repubs once again pushing for the "electable" moderate, but there's no nascent Ronald Reagan running this time from the conservative side.

As Reagan said after a huge loss in 74:

"I don‘t know about you, but I am impatient with those Republicans who after the last election rushed into print saying, 'We must broaden the base of our party'—when what they meant was to fuzz up and blur even more the differences between ourselves and our opponents....

...Let our banner proclaim our belief in a free market as the greatest provider for the people.

Let us also call for an end to the nit-picking, the harassment and over-regulation of business and industry which restricts expansion and our ability to compete in world markets.

Let us explore ways to ward off socialism, not by increasing government’s coercive power, but by increasing participation by the people in the ownership of our industrial machine.

Our banner must recognize the responsibility of government to protect the law-abiding, holding those who commit misdeeds personally accountable.

And we must make it plain to international adventurers that our love of peace stops short of 'peace at any price.'"

Except for the last bit about foreign policy and abortion, this doesn't sound like how John McCain has voted in the past few years.

PatCA said...

I agree, SGt. Ted. Moderate or compassionate, it's not true at all to the core principles of the party.

the wolf said...

Who you calling old, whippersnapper?

/shakes fist, falls asleep

hdhouse said...

The Democrats get a gift that will keep giving through November.

They have now no reason to beat up each other. McCain is the target now and it is open season on his record or lack thereof, his flipflops etc. and they can triangulate him against the 15-20% of the GOP base that hates him now.

Goldwater re-incarnated. HooooHaaa!

Guacamommy said...

Maybe it's because I'm in Texas, but I'm not seeing or hearing ANY McCain hate, even from the most conservative around me (and fully 80% of the conservatives I know could not be described as moderates). What I'm hearing is they'll all happily vote for McCain, and while they're pulling that lever, they'll be downright full of freakin' glee if Clinton is the Dem nominee. Obama inspires no ire - he's just too liberal (making inexperience a moot point). I think the folks screaming their throats raw about how awful McCain is are all wet on this one, and I think the next few months will bear that out.

former law student said...

McCain is my worst nightmare -- an anti-gun Republican. I mean what is the point of voting Republican if he's going to be soft on gun rights?

Roger said...

HD--a few thoughts on beating up on McCain. First this is a certifiable war hero who spent 5 years as a POW--his status as a Viet Nam vet, and war hero, is considerably different from John Kerry's as an example; second; rightly or wrongly, he his perceived as an independent--and HRC isnt going to get any independent votes; shes an uberpartisan. that independent element is the key voting element; third, your analysis overlooks the fact the democratic candidates face a bruising, and I am willing to wager, increasingly ugly fight that may leave that party fractured for the general and could, depending on results, alientate their Black voting base.

Now--you may be correct; but I am guessing that beating up on McCain isnt like beating up on George Bush---and the Dems will be too busy beating up on each other.

Do I like John McCain? a resounding NO. But given a choice between him and the last two dems standing, this is an easy choice for me to make--and in the end, a lot of the conservatives will come to that conclusion: a conservative action rating of 80 is better than an ADA rating of 100 anytime.

Paul Zrimsek said...

The helium was contained quite nicely while it was at 4 degrees K. Then the race heated up, and boiled down to likability and trust. Time to think outside the beaker!

Middle Class Guy said...

There is a ton of research on post-partisan politics. Is seems that people who suffer from this pernicious malady are prone to fits of deep depression and become suicidal- at times even homicidal and suicidal. They stop caring for themselves and they abdicate all their constitutional responsibilities.

The only real cure for the condition is immediate intervention when symptoms first arise. Early intervention and heavy therapeutic re-indoctrination can have a curative effect on the politician who suffers from post-partisan politics.

Both parties, in a rare case of partisanship have decided to hire Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura Schlessinger to come up with a treatment plan. They are currently arguing over how to proceed.

Chip Ahoy said...


We can do it


We can do it


I just wanted to fill up some space with air to show you what I feel, since it's all about what what we feel. Here's a change I would go for: I want my country's enemies to lose their religion. Now there would be a change.

Roger said...

I do understand that post partisan depression is real problem for female candidates.

Fen said...

[Dems] have now no reason to beat up each other.

Sure they do. What if Hillary wins and doesn't offer the VP slot to Obama? Do you think the black community will notice the fence around the plantation?

From Inwood said...


Some wag has suggested a McCain/Jindal Ticket with the slogan: On average, we're just right, agewise!