Dick Morris must have gotten the talking points early because last night’s post from him clearly signaled the new (old?) McCain: the reformer/maverick. The most obvious manifestation of the new track is the VP Choice, AK Gov. Sarah Palin.
Morris’ premise is that the Dems have spent their old convention bashing Bush and not McCain (read Obama’s or Biden’s speech Morris?). McCain is not Bush (so goes DM) hence they failed in their primary attack.
Here is Morris’ list of McCain’s difference from Bush:
• McCain fought for campaign finance reform — McCain-Feingold — that Bush fought and ultimately signed because he had no choice.
• McCain led the battle to restrict interrogation techniques of terror suspects and to ban torture.
• McCain went with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on a tough measure to curb climate change, something Bush denies is going on.
• McCain opposed the Bush tax cuts when they passed.
• McCain urged the Iraq surge, a posture Bush rejected for years before conceding its wisdom.
• McCain favors FDA regulation of tobacco and sponsored legislation to that effect, a position all but a handful of Republican Senators oppose.
• McCain’s energy bill, also with Lieberman, is a virtual blueprint for energy independence and development of alternate sources.
• After the Enron scandal, McCain introduced sweeping reforms in corporate governance and legislation to guarantee pensions and prohibit golden parachutes for executives. Bush opposed McCain’s changes and the watered-down Sarbanes-Oxley bill eventuated.
• McCain has been harshly critical of congressional overspending, particularly of budgetary earmarks, a position Bush only lately adopted (after the Democrats took over Congress).
You will quickly notice a pattern–almost all of those are the McCain of 1999-2003. Not the McCain of 2004-Present.
McCain has abandoned his own stance on Campaign Finance Reform and Immigration Reform. He voted against his own Climate Change Bill. He originally yes did vote against Bush tax cuts but now supports them and wants to add even more tax cuts during a war for the rich. He voted against the application of the Army Field Manual to the CIA (leaving open torture options).
Morris of course knows these things. So unless McCain is flipping back to the early 90s McCain 2.0 then these counter defense seems patently stupid. The only issues on which McCain has clearly broken with Bush is MORE BELLIGERENCE vis a vis Russia, Iraq, and Iran. Not particularly appealing to independent voters.
But to the degree McCain has any chance, I guess this is it. He could only ever win under the image of being a maverick and has to hope he can keep his rightward base only through red meat/anonymous smears to fear Obama. With the Palin pick however he has totally undercut his own message about Obama’s unreadiness for office.
I’m watching McCain’s event from Dayton OH (an hour from where I grew btw) and they just ran what I think is a new ad which said, “Don’t Hope for Change, Vote for It.” It didn’t hit Obama on being inexperienced but simply not the guy to bring change.
It is a change election and McCain now is on that turf. No more celebrities–still references to how he puts country first–but this is dangerous waters for McCain. Especially come the Republican Convention. But it’s as smart of politics as McCain can play.
Update I: I’m watching Palin speak. It’s an interesting pairing with McCain to say the least. It’s good on first appearance, but I’m not sure how it will wear. She’s not starting off very strong in her speech. There is going to be a super steep learning curve for her. She’s cute as a button and has a son enlisted in the army and is heading to Iraq. 3/4 of Prez and Vice Prez picks have children in Iraq.
Her children have super whitey white names like Piper, Trig, Willow. She’s clearly a sweet person, but man she is as she says, a “hockey mom.”
Update II: She’s talking about her anti-corruption stance, she’s getting stronger and clearer. She now sounds like Obama talking about taking on the lobbyists and oil companies plus her work bringing Republicans and Democrats. The crowd clearly digs her. But she’s only got a few weeks to bone up because she is to me not anywhere near ready. She’s not a horribly bad speaker. Better obviously than McCain (though that’s not saying much). She’s not really that good either. She’s had some flashes of real strength, so I bet she’s a quick study. She probably improves.
Update III: She just called him, “Sen. John S. McCain”. That was weird. Why the S?
Wait a sec….(Double) POW Alert from Palin. This pick helps with the “I don’t know how many houses I own” issue. She is clearly not Richie Rich Romney.
Update IV: Oh yeah, she is giving shout out to Ferraro AND Clinton. Really going for those PUMA votes. Although she just made a strong call that by electing McCain you break the glass ceiling that Hillary dented. [Except Hillary was referring to the Presidential Role not VP, so unless she is banking on John going to God I’m not sure that works technically but is probably effective nonetheless].
THE MESSAGE IS REFORM. THE MESSAGE IS CHANGE IS COMING TO WASHINGTON.
Looks like Mickey Kaus could yet be proved right and Mike Murphy could come back on board the Straight Talk Express. It’s much better to see the relaxed, freewheeling not angry, grouchy McCain.
I think the Crowd just chanted, “Yes We Can.” WTF?
She botched up the ending. That’s alright. I’d give her a B.
The Music is better than Obama’s.
Update V: Uh oh, guess we will be hearing about how she opposes abortion in all cases including rape. The only exception being danger to life of the mother. Also she wants to teach creationism in public schools. Jed Report has the details. (h/t WashingtonMonthly).
So I see the logic now. She has legitimate reformer credentials plus staunch hard right credentials particularly among the social con crowd, and then McCain tries to win on his supposed mavericky qualities plus war hero/tough dude.