Monday, September 22, 2008

McCain Unfit?

After a week of McCain the liar--which in a way continued today--we have evaluations of McCain, coming apart under pressure and even unfit for the presidency, from (among others) ABC, Bloomberg and most surprising perhaps, George Will in the Washington Post.

Sometimes these hot air purveyors say things on TV that they later soften or even contradict, but in this column Will actually amplified his remarks from ABC yesterday (in the video below.) Will is from the William F. Buckley school of conservatism, and already offended by McCain's infliction of Sarah Palin on the GOPer ticket. Now he's being just about definitive.

Under the headline, McCain Loses His Head, he begins: "Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama." He concludes: "It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?"

This impression makes Friday's debate absolutely crucial for McCain. If he can't stop this then, he's finished. The debate was being discussed a lot today, and it will be for the rest of the week. While some debates have been important, they usually don't move poll numbers much. And let's recall that John Kerry destroyed GW in the first debate last time, and won all three, although the third was a fairly tired effort. Still...Obama believes the debates will seal the deal.

Although foreign policy is the announced topic, commentators today didn't believe that the economic crisis would go unmentioned past the first minute or so. If the moderator doesn't bring it up, one of the candidates will. Now that McCain has the rep of being erratic, any tendency that way will be amplified. Conversely, if he just appears calm and reasonable, he could change the talk that's building.

Obama has gotten sharper on the stump last week, and if he can stay sharp--concise, direct, relating policy to people, and linking McCain with Bush policies--then he could seal the deal. The best essay I've seen on what he should do in the debate is this one.

Now another topic, synthesizing two items concerning Colin Powell today. Tweety was talking about the role of race, and one of his (black) companions mentioned that the most admired black politician among whites who have a hard time voting for an African American is Colin Powell. Presumably as a military leader he transcends the genre of black politicians, like athletes. They'd vote for Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods, too. I also read the salon story about Pennsylvania that indicates undecided "hard working" whites there who do have this problem are being pulled towards Obama anyway because of the economy. So...

Colin Powell has said that he may endorse someone for president. He's expressed admiration for Obama and wonder at the possibility of a black man winning the presidency. But he's a GOPer and friends with McCain. On the other hand, I can see him being thrilled with Sarah Palin. Now there's this little bit of new evidence on a foreign policy matter: in a CNN forum with a number of ex-secretaries of state etc., Powell spoke out pretty firmly against McCain's position on Georgia and Russia, without mentioning his name, indicating that his view was too simplistic, perhaps dangerously so. (There's a clip somewhere, but I've lost it.)

So I'm waiting for the moment--and it could be an important one--when Colin Powell stands with Barack Obama to announce his endorsement.

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