Digby’s Pessimism

In a fit of what one hopes would be only temporary pessimism regarding our chances of beating McCain in the fall, Digby puts up solid post that shows the urgency with which we need to start taking the fight to McCain.

This is one of the parts that really lept out at me:

I was talking to a staunchly liberal friend of mine over the week-end who told me that he really didn’t worry about the primary because if the party is damaged and McCain wins, it will probably be ok. The reason: he’s not stupid like Bush or crazy like Cheney. After I picked up my brains from the floor and put them back in my head, still reeling from the explosion, I tried to explain how that was wrong. It was pulling teeth and I don’t think I succeeded. He just likes the guy and doesn’t believe he’s really capable of being as bad as Bush because he “thinks for himself” and isn’t a GOP lackey.

This stuck with me because I used to be one of those liberals.  I used to be one of those guys who used to think McCain was a moderate or conservative Democrat in Republican clothing.  This is fed by the hard right’s more vocal factions which have at least appeared to do all they could to turn McCain into a party pariah.

My epiphany came years ago when I first discovered ontheissues.org.  It’s a great website that I have used multiple times in the past and recommend to anyone trying to find out more about their politicians.  At the time, I was putting the site through its paces, and after a while I decided to plug John McCain in.

Now, remember, at the time I had bought, hook line and sinker, this whole idea that McCain was the only liberal Republican alive, except this is where OTI had him:

‘Whoa!’ I thought to myself.  ‘That’s not even close to the middle, let alone the left.’

Which is about the truth of John McCain.  He gets his reputation about not being as bad as Bush from two things.  The first is solid packaging and self promotion as the Maverick-y conductor of the Straight Talk Express.  The second is a handful of high profile pieces of legislation that really pushed the wrong buttons of the more militaristic factions of movement conservatism.

So, thing one that everyone needs to be ready to do is print out the entire record from OTI and carry it rolled up tightly like those mini baseball bats they hand out at minor league ball parks.  Any time, I mean any time a liberal or a Democrat starts talking about how McCain ain’t that bad, you need to hit them swiftly upside the head with that rolled up record, and then have them read it.

The other item to take note regarding Digby’s post is how early attempts from Democratic organizations to “tar” McCain early with a bad rep are suffering due to poor funding.  From pro-Clinton big name money sources, apparently they only want to play if Hillary wins the nomination.  While some pro-Obama big money names are afraid to go negative out of fear of hurting Obama.

My thoughts are that both problems will work themselves out.  I have a hard time believing that as many pro-Clinton supporters that are threatening to defect really will come fall.  This is the behavior of someone who really doesn’t want their candidate to lose; since conventional methods appear to not be working, they’re threatening to take away the only thing they have left–their support.

I know because I did it when it looked like Obama wasn’t going to win.  Problem was, if I actually even came close to following through with that, my colleague Matt would likely fly down here from Canuckistan to cause me bodily harm.

As for the worries expressed by the pro-Obama folks, they do have a point, but not one that is insurmountable.  McCain’s got a great biography for politics, and a record, granted an inflated one, of bi-partisanship.  So you do have to proceed with caution when it comes to going after McCain.  His biography makes it bad if you go after him, this is worse if you’re an established candidate, double that if you’re a candidate that professes to offer a new kind of politics, and quadrup…  qua…  four times as bad when you remember that McCain got a lot of sympathy when Bushed smeared the hell out of him back in 2000.

But I think we’ll find the right tone.  After all, here’s a guy who’s going to keep doing to the economy what Bush did, and that can’t help.  Here’s a guy who is going in the exact opposite direction on Iraq that most Americans want to see us going, and that’s another check mark in our column.  He’s either prone to “senior moments” or he’s an outright liar as evidenced by his relationship with lobbyists and progress in Iraq, so we got that going for us.

Another point Digby brings up is that being on the right side, or even the better polling side, of the issues doesn’t guarantee a win (see Bush, George W. 2000, 2004).  I agree, personality and charm and style go a long way.

But then, really, can anyone actually imagine John McCain having a debate with Barack Obama?  Really?  Does anyone not see a scenario where McCain doesn’t get annihilated on the spot?

It is a pity that we’re still suffering from in-fighting, I agree, but while I used to be pessimistic in the past, just as Digby finds that pessimisim, I’m finding the optimism.

More from memeorandumBuck Naked Politics, Tom Watson, American Street, alicublog, American Power and Weekly Standard Blog

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