OPINION

John McCain Can Do No Wrong

January 20, 2007
Sibin Mohan

 John McCainUS Senator John McCain (Wikipedia entry) has been a darling of the media for a while now. He has been touted as the next President of the United States. Savvy, witty, smart, charming yet with a volatile temper - a classic touch that makes him "human". The media loves him. He can get along with all media personnel, trade jokes with them, take shots at Dick Cheney and seem like a rebel fighting alone to reel in the right-wing, conservative Republic Party to the center.

Some of the biggest names in the journalistic profession seem to back him up and extol his virtues, as seen in this Joe Klein article in Time where a comparison is made between McCain and Barrack Obama's handling of their "Face the Nation" appearance. Excerpts:


From where I was sitting, McCain got the better of it--not because he had the better argument (he didn't), but because he was clear, concise and confident.
...
He also threw down the gauntlet to the Democrats--if you're really against the war, don't mess around with non-binding resolutions, cut off the funding.

And about Obama, he had this to say in conclusion:

but he sure seemed less assured, less presidential, than McCain

Well, that settles it doesn't it? Obama is definitely less presidential that McCain! Note that he doesn't "disapprove" of Obama's message, just that he didn't say it right. That must mean that McCain is more "presidential"! Now this article is a classic example of how the media has propped up John McCain to this saintly status and the next presidential candidate. Not that I am supporting Obama here — I don't know much about him (his background, policies, etc.) to be able to form an honest opinion, yet. It's just that no matter what his opponents have to say, whether right or wrong, and no matter what he himself has to say, John McCain can do no wrong - If he makes a statement that agrees with their ideas, the media will extol him as if he were the next messiah; if not, well, he said it better than the other guy and he's more dignified and "presidential".

Seems like the jury has cast its vote on him becoming the next President!

For everyone who believes that John McCain is a moderate in the Republican party and someone who steers to the center, here is a piece of information for you — you're wrong! Here is an analysis of his voting record among the senators of the Republican party:
109th Senate : Second most conservative!
108th Senate : Fourth most conservative!
107th Senate : Sixth more liberal !

The above numbers show a disturbing trend - his voting records are becoming more and more conservative as the years go by ! Anyone with half an ounce for a brain can see that if he has the second most conservative voting record in the Republican party, then he definitely cannot be a "moderate" !

In fact, the American Conservative Union gives him an 83% lifelong rating. In their rating of presidential hopefuls, his rating is far above that of the Democrat with the highest rating on the list - Senator Evan Bayh, with a rating of 21. How can McCain be considered, even remotely, as a moderate ?

What people forget, in the media blitz, is that McCain has toed quite a bit of the Bush administration line, especially regarding the War in Iraq. He has always voted in favour of the war and for troop increases, including the latest one. Even when the war is being acknowledged as a mistake by the very folks who initially wanted it, McCain refuses to backtrack on this issue - this can only bring him unpopularity, unless of course, the media finds a way to gloss over it.

And McCain is yet to seriously announce his Presidential ambitions for 2008 (yes, yes, he has announced the creations of campaign and finance exploratory committees, but that is still not official). If and when he does do so, then the smear campaigns will probably start. When the dirt starts to fly, we shall see the skeletons in McCain's closet and see if he can handle that kind of intense media pressure. He lost the 2000 Presidential nomination, largely due to a smear campaign, in South Carolina, led by his opposition. Of course his famous temper might be more of a liability than an asset and rumours and news articles abound with stories of his extra-marital affairs and his racist slurs against Asians (he reportedly used the phrase "gook" to refer to South Asians, even during recent times. He defends himself saying that it refers only to his Vietnamese captors during the Vietnam War, where he was a POW).

He was also a serious player in the Keating Five scandal.

It's still early days yet for the key players in the 2008 race to be finalised, but we shall have to see how the media scrutiny of John McCain changes, if at all, when he becomes "official". Don't get me wrong - I am not really against John McCain as such (he is probably just as good/bad as the next person) for being who he is. I'm placing a large part of the blame on the mainstream media for extolling his virtues while neglecting his faults. Whatever happened to the idea of an objective viewpoint ? This next election will decide whether a media-propped favourite will win become the President even if he is against the popular ideas on important issues.

As an interesting footnote, an article by David Leonhart in the New York Times, once talked about how Internet searches might predicted the future, which I had written about previously. Google Trends is a good tool to use for this purpose. you can compare the interest in two people side by side, simply by observing the amount of searches against their name and the amount of media coverage they receive. 

[ Key : Blue = McCain, Red = Other person ]

Here is a comparison of McCain vs Obama:

Interestingly they're neck and neck as far as Google searches go, but McCain leads, most of the time in news coverage. Of course, certain announcements by Obama makes his popularity spike.

Here's another comparison - McCain vs Hillary Clinton:

Well, seems like the Arizona senator has a clear lead in this race. But I guess a few of her results are lost here due to the last name being the same as her husband's.

But here's when it gets really interesting - McCain vs Gore:

Interesting don't you think ? This seems to indicate that Al Gore is more popular in Internet searches, and is slightly more popular in news coverage. Does this mean that Al Gore might just about win this time round if he is the Democratic nominee ? I have a gut feeling that he might, but that is a post for another day.

I'm a PhD student working on worst-case timing analysis in the field of real-time systems! Actually to make it simple - Computer Science...have a keen interest in writing, reading and a wide variety of other topics/issues...

I have been blogging at Context Switch since 2003...

[My research page lists my academic/research interests]
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#1
temporal
URL
January 20, 2007
10:38 AM

sibin:

there is a lot of water that would flow down the potomac between now and election day

you have raised some interesting angles

media scrutiny has played a great part in the past ... what remains to be seen in the next elections is the role of the un-harnessed and the unwashed!;)

the blogging phenomenon as a cosmic equaliser to the ever tight hold of 'certain' lobby groups over the US elections in the past...

there is 'dirt' galore on just about anyone breathing

if the past is any indication al gore is passe

#2
T.Anupallavi
URL
January 20, 2007
04:00 PM

The current polls show Gore trailing both Obama & Clinton. I prefer Gore the global warming crusader than the politician who invented the internet !

Jokes apart, yes there is a long way for both the Democrats & Republicans. If the mid term "thumpin" and Pelosi's first few days are any indication, it will only get tougher for the Republicans. Bush brushing aside internationalists (Baker - Hamilton report) and sending more troops to Iraq can only play against the Republicans. McCain and Giuliani both are right center at best and both are not neo-con favorites. So it is not easy to be a Republican running for 08. Not even if you are a McCain. But McCain has the best shot. McCain's naval pilot past will definitely help him given the war. His resume & image are very impressive. Giuliani of course has 9/11, his deft handling of the aftermath & charisma.

But if the current trend stays, it is a referendum for a change of guard and parties. It is definitely looking up for the Dems. But they are woefully short of experience and high on charisma-visibility. Obama & Clinton are junior senators who are famous.

Clinton has shown her clarity of thought and resolve to tackle tough issues. But if it was all that took, Gore should have won against Bush, hands and pants down. Unlike Mr. Clinton, his Mrs. does not come across as someone who can sell ice to the Eskimos. Obama has charisma sans experience. Obama is unproven. Clinton has Clinton. Bill is a liability, asset , or somewhere in between. Time will tell.

If the Dems had a McCain, it would make him hard to beat. Edwards & Kerry are the closest. While Edwards has Clintonisque charisma & gift of gab, he will come short. Kerry is Kerry. It's just a matter of time before he shoots himself in the foot or flip-flops or bores you with a "When I was in Vietnam.."

I would love to see a Clinton-Obama white house. It would be historic with Bill being the first Mr. First Lady who can decorate the halls come X-mas ! Kidding, but Bill would help Hillary. At this point, it looks like more of a wish than a possibility..., but a lot of people are wishing and if people start to think they can make history, they will move mountains ...

#3
Sibin
URL
January 20, 2007
04:00 PM

temporal,


if the past is any indication al gore is passe

Actually considering the way the world's (and in particular for the US) weather is getting messed up right now, if Al Gore throws his hat into the ring, he might just win, based on fear psychosis as his predictions are coming right ! ;)

#4
Sibin
URL
January 20, 2007
04:28 PM

Anupallavi,


I would love to see a Clinton-Obama white house
...
Kidding, but Bill would help Hillary. At this point, it looks like more of a wish than a possibility..., but a lot of people are wishing

Considering the current moods and state of the country, both Hillary and Obama will have a tough time winning, and the combination, I believe, will probably not do all that well either.

The reason is that both are young and green - inexperienced. And the problem is that Hillary may not even win the female vote. No president has won the election in the recent past without winning the conservative south, and this is where Hillary may run into trouble winning.

In fact this BBC article announcing her entry into the race states the following to say about both candidates...

Yet she is also seen as a divisive figure. Some estimates say one in three Americans would never vote for her.

Our correspondent says Sen Clinton's biggest policy problem is that she supported the Iraq war and at one stage even called for more troops to be deployed there.

Mr Obama's biggest problem is that as a 45-year-old first-term senator in a time of war, he is relatively inexperienced, our correspondent adds.

Well, we can all see how it goes, but as 2000 has shown, the best candidate need not win. :)

Edwards has the same problem - inexperience. In fact, I saw the vice-presidential debate on television during the 2004 election, and Dick Cheney tore Edwards apart...Edwards was all rhetoric and generalities, and Cheney came down with facts and numbers and wiped the floor clean with him...Kerry, as you say, is of course got the famous "flip-flop" problems...he'll shoot himself in the foot easily.

The biggest problems the Democrats will face, of course, is the strongly organized grass-roots organization that the Republicans have and the Dems don't...

#5
T.Anupallavi
URL
January 20, 2007
06:45 PM

Sibin,
Agree for most parts. Like I said Obama-Clinton is ".. more of a wish than a possibility..., but ". It is about time a woman and/or a black got their due. :)

I distinctly remember the Cheney-Edwards debate and much to my surprise Edwards was chewed up and spit out. But what I refer to about Edwards is what the consensus is and that includes Bill Clinton(recent TIME's article on Edwards has that and how he has been camping in Iowa and other crucial states..). But that's no indication of the final outcome. Kerry(snore..) won all 3 and still lost out to Bush.

Again, IMHO Bush is the biggest enemy of the Republicans. If he keeps up his ways despite the inexperience there is a good chance for the Dems.
Bush's approval ratings are consistently low, people are done with the the Republicans at least per the mid term elections.

Long way to go. So it's an open game..

PS : I heard MSNBC say Hillary 'could' make Bill Secretary of State if she got the top slot..!

#6
Sibin
URL
January 20, 2007
08:10 PM

Anupallavi,


PS : I heard MSNBC say Hillary 'could' make Bill Secretary of State if she got the top slot..!

Interesting to say the least...now Clinton was one guy who had a good handle on the middle east - he nearly solved the palestinian-israel issue...

Wonder if he'll take up the job though.

#7
Sibin
URL
January 20, 2007
11:57 PM

Anupallavi,


PS : I heard MSNBC say Hillary 'could' make Bill Secretary of State if she got the top slot..!

Interesting to say the least...now Clinton was one guy who had a good handle on the middle east - he nearly solved the palestinian-israel issue...

Wonder if he'll take up the job though.

#8
blue-dot-green
URL
January 21, 2007
01:35 AM

In the last election Edwards enjoyed Clinton like populism. That's what propelled him to being one of the contenders. He brought up the Two America's issue, but his suggestions to solve the problem were thread bear as was his experience.

It seems like he has learnt from his mistakes, has admitted he was wrong in supporting the war, shed his Clinton like image and more importantly has solutions for problems faced by America. He is asking Americans to be passionate about something beyond the war, he has brought Lydon's Johnson's "War on Poverty" back to limelight, has ambitious plans for universal healthcare and free education in first year of college for poor kids.

Hillary, has no support in the south and her past statements and views on critical issues like 9-11 or the war will not go so well with the dems.

This is from Bob Harris's blog

"In the wake of 9-11, it wasn't just George W. Bush telling the world "every nation has to be either with us or against us." It was Hillary, as you can hear for yourself.

In October 2002, during the debate about giving Bush authorization to invade Iraq, it wasn't just Dick Cheney telling the world in that Saddam Hussein had links to Al-Qaeda. It was Hillary, from the floor of Congress.

And in February 2005, it wasn't just John McCain claiming that democracy was taking root in Iraq, and that the insurgency was in its last throes. It was Hillary, standing right at John McCain's side"

Obama would be great for vice president. His youth, his energy, his charisma, his middle name, his African American heritage are all positives, which will probably help America chart a new course for its future!

Mr. Popular (Peoples man) is up against Hillary's cash machine and Obama's youth and media attention! But I feel the progressives will go for Mr. popular Edwards!

#9
temporal
URL
January 21, 2007
12:32 PM

sibin #3:

the real contest will begin after they have won the respective nominations...

and this time there will be a bigger subterranean contest between the established media and the rogue bloggers for unearthing the dirt on the candidates

perhaps then a dead wood with least dirt clanging can sneak in...hmmm, who could that be?

;)

#10
Sibin
URL
January 21, 2007
02:23 PM

temporal,

As much as we would like to position ourselves, I wonder how much of an influence the blogs will have in a general election.

I mean, look at the Lieberman election - while blogs were influential in him losing the democratic nomination, he won the election in the end as an independent. So, how many people in the general public will pay attention to the blogs and what's written in them ?

#11
temporal
URL
January 21, 2007
02:40 PM

if mark foley can be used as the latest yardstick...and not to forget the macaca experience?

both of them have been cited as a threshold

but yes, i agree, foretelling future is fraught with risk....only angels and fools....er...add poets too!

;)


#12
GG
January 22, 2007
02:10 AM

Bit off topic - I think Edwards is really smart to call the plan to add 3000 troops in Iraq the McCain doctorine. :-)

Thanks for this article, as Clinton said something to the effect of politics is dirty and one must not be afraid to get in and get dirty in the mud. I hope Obama has what it takes to do that!
-gg

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