Sunday, September 07, 2008

The have it both ways campaign

When you compare John McCain to John Kerry, both of whom being in the navy, you look at two different definitions of hero.

Kerry joined the navy when the draft board denied a request for a deferment so he could spend a year in France, and also because some of his classmates had joined the navy. Kerry spent some time on a guided missile frigate picking up downed aviators off the coast of Vietnam but then requested an assignment on the “Swift boats” (at the time, he thought it would be a safe assignment). As we know, Kerry had several encounters with the Vietcong or North Vietnamese, and was wounded three times. He later protested the war.

John McCain was planning to be a career man in the Navy. After graduating Annapolis and then flight school, he requested a combat assignment during Vietnam, and flew bombing missions over Vietnam. Everybody pretty much knows he was shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese. His father, an admiral, became the commander of the Vietnamese theater of operations shortly there after, and the North Vietnamese offered John McCain a release, to show that children of privileged parents were taking advantage of their status. McCain said no, not until all POW’s were released. He stayed a prisoner for I believe around five years, helping some of his fellow prisoners keep their spirits up.

McCain’s heroic status comes from having been a POW, which is different than how we usually look at hero’s. Kerry’s heroic status is more conventional, although he was somewhat uncomfortable with it and of course it was called into question.

McCain is portrayed as a man who served his country with distinction, but at least one reality is that he was a competent but not great pilot, and the most significant feature of his military career was having been a POW. He left the military because he realized he would never be a full admiral like his father and grandfather (although he might have made the lesser rank of rear admiral).

Another reality is that John McCain married a former model as a young man, before going to Vietnam. When he returned from Vietnam, he came home to a wife who had been in an auto accident and had become less attractive. He started having extramarital affairs and eventually divorced her. He then married a former beauty pageant contestant who was (and is) also rich. How should we compare this behavior with Bill Clinton’s, or does the POW status excuse anything.

John McCain’s presidential candidacy this time has become a situation where his campaign staff viciously attacks his opponent while John McCain acts as though he is above it all. Mark Salter handed out tire gauges labeled “Obama’s Energy Plan” back in late July, although McCain later admitted that keeping your tire pressure up to recommended levels is a fine idea. Someone else in the McCain campaign called Obama an “arugula eating, pointy headed professor type”, yet John McCain said in his nomination speech that he would end partisan rancor. These are the have it both ways people.

This is the issue for voters to reconcile. Obama is proposing a lot of policy. Maybe too much. He wants to increase the amount and range of the EIC, he wants to double the hope credit, he wanted to implement an extension of the Social Security payroll tax on people making $250.000 (the tax currently is on incomes up to $102,000). He want to provide a tax cut for essentially everybody with incomes under 250,000 and raise taxes for people with incomes over $250,000. His own people project a three and a half trillion deficit by 2014 (I believe it was). And of course a universal health care plan with no mandates.

There is a chance Obama will get a lot of that, and we shouldn’t rely on Congress to reign him in.

Still, McCain is worse. His fiscal proposals include making the Bush tax cuts permanent, removing the tax free status of employer provided healthcare and a couple of more. It is truly difficult seeing a Democratic Congress doing any of that.

McCain seems more interested in trying to kill earmarks and reduce DC corruption. That’s fine, and more likely something he could actually do while in office, but the Country needs (and should want) more. We need someone to look at income inequality, and do all the government can do about that. We need someone to tackle the mortgage crisis, Social Security and Medicare. We need a detail President, and John McCain is not that man. Even Sarah Palin is not that woman. They are flashy people, jetting into a crisis and then jetting out. You know, celebrities.

McCain is back to even in the polls, though. Apparently a lot of people whose interests are congruent with barrack Obama’s are saying they will not vote for him. Some people on the Burgh Report say how other people they know are excited by McCain’s POW record. Sure, it gives you a reason not to vote for Obama.

I hope people will actually listen to the words and think, can this guy achieve this working with a Democratic Congress? And will it be good for me?

1 comment:

Matt H said...

"say how other people they know are excited by McCain’s POW record."

That's sad. I am glad that McCain served his country but him being a POW means nothing to me as far as him being President.