Tuesday, September 16, 2008


A really bad day for McCain-Palin. Besides a re-energized Obama and a fiery Biden taking control of the economic meltdown issues, McCain appeared tired and testy on Today and Morning Joe, his CEO surrogate admitted that Sarah Palin wasn't qualified to run a company, and one of his advisors boasted that McCain had helped create the tech revolution symbolized by the Blackberry.

And McCain's losses among the media continued, in a fairly big way with this column by Richard Cohen in the Washington Post. Cohen had the rep of a McCain guy, always willing to give the maverick the benefit of the doubt. But no more, not with words like this: "... the John McCain of old is unrecognizable. He has become the sort of politician he once despised." "McCain has turned ugly. His dishonesty would be unacceptable in any politician, but McCain has always set his own bar higher than most."

But here's the most devastating part of Cohen's column: "I am one of the journalists accused over the years of being in the tank for McCain. Guilty." The reason was: "It had to do with integrity. McCain has soiled all that. His opportunistic and irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as his political heir -- the person in whose hands he would leave the country -- is a form of personal treason, a betrayal of all he once stood for. Palin, no matter what her other attributes, is shockingly unprepared to become president. McCain knows that. He means to win, which is all right; he means to win at all costs, which is not."

"...McCain lied about his lying and maybe thinks that if he wins the election, he can -- as he did in South Carolina -- renounce who he was and what he did and resume his old persona. It won't work. Karl Marx got one thing right -- what he said about history repeating itself. Once is tragedy, a second time is farce. John McCain is both."

Consider all the lies that candidates tell--mostly Republicans, like both Bushes--and the media ignores or "balances" with denials from the other side without mentioning that factually they are lies. I can't recall so major news media people and even news institutions coming out and branding a presidential candidate as a liar.

And apparently once it starts, it becomes relentless. The New York Times even editorially analyzed a McCain commercial that appeared only in Spanish, and exposed McCain's "fraudulent" assertions about Obama's record on immigration under the title "What's Spanish for Lies?"

Meanwhile, Palin's popularity continues to plummet in tracking polls, some high level national press is camped out in Alaska to cover the McCain machinations attempting to forestall the legislative investigation into her potential abuse of power, and a David Brooks column gives voice to national security conservatives who are saying that she's simply not qualified to be VP.

What effect this is having on voters is not yet known, as polls coming out now are still within the shadow of the Palin convention bounce (the Dkos daily tracking poll had Obama up another 1 point on Tuesday, for a total lead of 4 pts.) But with the first debate less than two weeks away, an interesting dynamic is at work. There is polling evidence that the Palin bubble is gone, and so the two presidential candidates go into the debate either even or with Obama ahead. If the economic news continues to be bad--and it certainly won't be good, it just might fade--then McCain is going to find himself at the debate with the primary issue being exactly the one he is weakest on: the economy, and specifically the area of regulating financial institutions.

Not only is his campaign run by lobbyists for some of the most troubled Wall Street firms and banks, and not only is much of the current crisis traced back to the deregulation pushed through by his economics mentor, Phil "mental recession" Gramm, but McCain's own record on deregulation is very suspect, including his involvement in trying to limit government's ability to regulate the Savings and Loan scandal, as a member of the Keating Five. He has to be very worried that this topic will be resurrected.

McCain is already acting paranoid in media interviews (even though he hasn't had an actual press conference in over a month.) He doesn't respond well under pressure--the question is will people really notice it this time?

The McCain campaign looked to be on the verge of collapse before the GOPer convention, and he pulled a Palin out of the hat to live on for awhile. The question now is whether the final collapse is underway.

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