1. John McSame. In nearly every respect, a vote for McCain is a vote for Bush III. As Paul Krugman puts it, McCain “has shed whatever maverick tendencies he may once have had, and become almost a caricature conservative—an advocate of lower taxes for the rich and corporations, a privatizer and shredder of the safety net.” Meanwhile, back in the real U.S.A., polls indicate that better than 80% of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. Given that number, it would take a miracle to put McCain in the White House.
2. John McWar. McCain has backtracked on his “100 years in Iraq” oratory, but there’s no way he can escape his unrelenting support for a war that most Americans have long since concluded shouldn’t have been fought in the first place, wasn’t worth it in the second, or both.
3. John McFlip-Flop. When it comes to flip-flopping, Kerry was a neophyte next to McCain. The Bush tax cuts; the Christian right; anti-torture legislation: for Democrats, there’s a deliciously long list of issues on which McCain has first said one thing and then the other. The fact is that McCain has flip-flopped so much, even his laudable positions are flips (e.g., his 11th hour denunciation of the Reverend Hagee).
4. John McLobbyist. McCain’s career could have crashed and burned almost before it got started with his involvement in the Keating scandal. He managed to wriggle free back then, but his extensive, longtime ties to lobbyists (coupled with the prominence of lobbyists in this campaign) will continue to dog and wound him.
5. John McNasty. McCain has a famously thin skin and an infamous temper. He’s managed so far to keep them mostly in check, but they’re certain to surface down the stretch. (We had a sample recently, when he snidely questioned Obama’s patriotism after the latter mentioned McCain’s opposition to the new GI Bill.) As the campaign unfolds, watch the real McCain bubble up: outbursting, churlish, snippety.
6. Obamamania. Mark McKinnon says that the election of Barack Obama “would send a great message to the country and the world.” Agreed--but McKinnon served in both of George W. Bush’s campaigns, is on record as planning to vote for McCain, and worked until recently in McCain’s campaign. Now he’s quit, announcing that “I just don’t want to work against an Obama candidacy.” Not since Ronald Reagan has a force such as Obama appeared on the American political scene. The Gipper rode in on his movie-star aura, but what’s propelling Obama? “The audacity of hope”; “The fierce urgency of now”; or, putting it another way, Obamamania.
7. Obamanomics. Hillary and McCain piled on Obama for opposing a summertime suspension of the federal tax on gasoline. But it’s Obama who knows in his bones who’s doing the taking, and who’s being taken, in today’s America. It’s Obama who’s proposed ending the regressive payroll tax on incomes up to $50,000; it’s Obama who would end the Bush tax cut on capital gains (and perhaps the Clinton cut in 1997 as well); it’s Obama who would let the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire on schedule, maybe even sooner.
8. Obamacare. The Unites States spends far more per-capita on health care than any other country in the world, but you’d never know it from the care we get. We’ve been dropping in the world rankings for years in the most significant measures: we’re now No. 42 in life expectancy (behind, among others, Canada, Japan and Western Europe), No. 28 in infant mortality (trailing the likes of Cuba and the Czech Republic). America is at a tipping point, ready at long last to move toward some type of universal health care. The Democratic left leans toward Hillary’s version over Obama’s, but most observers agree their plans are not really that far apart. Big Mac? For a man whose medical expenses have been picked up for decades by the U.S. government, he can’t see past the false bogeyman of “socialized medicine”.
9. Obamaworld. Barack in 2002: “I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors…to shove their own ideological agenda down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.” In 2007: “I will end the war in Iraq….I will finish the fight against Al Qaeda. And I will lead the world to combat the common threats of the 21st century: nuclear weapons and terrorism; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease.” Meanwhile, The Straight Talk Express straight talks on death and destruction: “I’m sorry to tell you, there’s going to be other wars.” Immediately thereafter, for emphasis, “There will be other wars.”
10. Obama. He’s young; he lacks McCain’s experience. Far from being negatives, these are plusses. Obama grasps (intuitively, or because he’s smarter, or because he’s less ideological) the plain fact that no country, not even the mighty United States, can impose its will via military interventions and blunderbuss diplomacy. He understands the American experience in ways that McCain never could. He’ll head the ticket of the political party that seeks to expand the American Dream, not to shut people out of it. What can hope do? What good are dreams? When Barack Obama announced his candidacy, he seized a moment that nobody else even knew existed; to borrow a phrase from Bush The Elder, Obama truly does have that “vision thing.”