Friday, September 19, 2008

The Roll

The first debate will be one week from today. I'm writing in the wee hours before Friday's polls, but I'm willing to bet that Obama will improve on his 6 point lead in the Dkos tracking poll. He's ahead or even in all the tracking polls now, and in the new Pew survey. Update: Yes--Obama is up 7 in Dkos, but because McCain-Palin is down 1 point.

The state polls: good news in Oregon--a ten point Obama lead threatens to put the state out of reach for McCain. Another set of midwestern polls show virtual ties in ten states, including Ohio, although Obama is leading marginally in 8 of them. With the Obama ground game hopefully overwhelming GOPer cheating, a tie is a likely win.

On the stump, Obama looks like he's on a roll, taking advantage of opportunity. He's pretty much mocking McCain. I can't help thinking that Obama probably hoped to conduct this campaign on the issues, and on letting voters get to know him. But McCain's people went after him with personal attacks and lies that Obama had to fight back and try to destroy McCain's credibility.

That credibility may or may not be shredded with voters just yet, but it clearly is gone from the media. The latest big name to recant is Elizabeth Drew, who wrote a book praising McCain in 2002, but who now writes:

When Bush, issued a “signing statement” in 2006 on McCain’s hard-fought legislation placing prohibitions on torture, saying he would interpret the measure as he chose, McCain barely uttered a peep. And then, in 2006, in one of his most disheartening acts, McCain supported a “compromise” with the administration on trials of Guantanamo detainees, yielding too much of what the administration wanted, and accepted provisions he had originally opposed on principle. Among other things, the bill sharply limited the rights of detainees in military trials, stripped habeas corpus rights from a broad swath of people “suspected” of cooperating with terrorists, and loosened restrictions on the administration’s use of torture. (The Supreme Court later ruled portions of this measure unconstitutional.)

McCain’s caving in to this “compromise” did it for me. This was further evidence that the former free-spirited, supposedly principled, maverick was morphing into just another panderer – to Bush and the Republican Party’s conservative base.

Drew also writes: Other aspects of McCain, including his temperament, began to trouble me. He seemed disturbingly bellicose...McCain’s recent conduct of his campaign – his willingness to lie repeatedly (including in his acceptance speech) and to play Russian roulette with the vice-presidency, in order to fulfill his long-held ambition – has reinforced my earlier, and growing, sense that John McCain is not a principled man. In fact, it’s not clear who he is."

I've been reading Elizabeth Drew since her excellent reporting on Watergate. She remains one of the best political journalists around. What is probably unprecedented about her current view is that her 2002 book, Citizen McCain, is now being issued as a paperback. I assume this comes from the new introduction.

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