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Tilting at Windmills

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February 1, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

QUOTE OF THE DAY....Matt Welch on John McCain's strange appeal to antiwar independents:

The voters most hostile to the war are backing a potential commander in chief who makes Bush look gun-shy.

Kevin Drum 1:26 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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The democratic nominee's (and all democrats') biggest priority ought to be disabusing the misperception of those who have uncritically adopted the MSM's meme of McCain as a "straight-talking maverick." I know TONS of such people -- it's truly scary. They seem to be incapable of absorbing any information about McCain that is contrary to this perception.

Posted by: Tom in Houston on February 1, 2008 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

I think it is time to call "independents" for what they really are----- "people without a clue".

Posted by: melonhead on February 1, 2008 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

indeed, "independents"= low information. McCain is the low information candidate.

Posted by: bellumregio on February 1, 2008 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

My guess is that these are the lazy folks who think George Bush has been pussyfooting around in Iraq and all we need to do is bomb the Iraqis back into the stone age.

They thought the same thing about Vietnam, because they are too lazy or too stupid to read a newspaper. Their gut tells them it is so.

Posted by: enozinho on February 1, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an "antiwar independent" who likes Obama, but on the GOP side, I prefer McCain to the alternatives. Romney is too oily, Huckleberry is too religious, and Giuliani (if he's still even running) has no chance.

Posted by: CatLover on February 1, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

indeed, "independents"= low information. McCain is the low information candidate.

Succinctly demonstrated two comments later.

Posted by: dob on February 1, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Actual policies don't matter but to those on the extremes...Politics is based on a bell curve generally...Races are won based on narrative....The question becomes whether McCain's war hero narrative can beat Obama's change narrative or Clinton's back to the 90s narrative....I'd be shocked to see the War Hero narrative lose...I really do...That's why I'm looking towards 2012 and telling women I know to use good birth control for the next several years...

Posted by: Hank Essay on February 1, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

I'm shocked that people don't get this. You're right that people making this judgement don't have that much information, but the reason they think this is that, up until the surge, McCain was a leading critic of Bush's war policy. Of course, he wasn't advocating withdrawal, but he was saying that Rumsfeld and Bush were boneheads on their prosecution of the war. This is what they're voting on.

As for independents being more lacking in information than Dems or Republicans, think again. Ignorance and idiocy is applied equally across the political spectrum. Just read some blog comments on virtually any left- or right-wing blog.

Posted by: Jack on February 1, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Right now the occupation of Iraq is just for Republican public relations. Never before has a nation sent so many troops to occupy another nation for so long, and got so little benefit out of it, and given so little benefit to the foreign nation.

Right not the average American is paying about $2,000 of tax money so that Bush won't have to look like he made a stupid mistake by invading Iraq.

Many Iraqis have left Iraq already because they know Iraq is a shit-hole. Someday we will leave Iraq and the violence will be terrible again. The Iraqis who are in Iraq now often don't have clean water, electricity, or police forces, because the Republican crony contractors we hired to help provide these things are so crooked they kept goofing up the projects. It wasn't due to the lack of security alone, and the Iraqis are living in squalor because of it. But the surge still hasn't fixed that.

Posted by: Swan on February 1, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Tom: "They seem to be incapable of absorbing any information about McCain that is contrary to this perception."

It's like the inverse of Memento. Amnesiacs have a polaroid of John McCain with "Always believe his lies" written on the back. Anytime he says anything, they flip the polaroid over and are reassured.

Posted by: Grumpy on February 1, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

up until the surge, McCain was a leading critic of Bush's war policy

You just keep telling yourself that.

You could maybe try to make the case that he was a leading Republican critic of Bush's war policy, though Senators Grassley and Graham might disagree, but as compared to full-throated critics like Dean, Byrd, or Gore? Not even a little bit.

Put another way, McCain might like us to believe he was critical of Bush's tactics, but he is and was in complete agreement with the strategy.

Posted by: dob on February 1, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

This support will largely melt away once McCain has to define himself on the national presidential stage, after enough time that most Americans have to have taken notice (which is not the case right now, most people are not paying attention and could care less), and he will be left with those who supported the war but thought that Bush incompetently carried it out, which is still a significant number of people.

Posted by: Jimm on February 1, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

"The voters most hostile to the war are backing a potential commander in chief who makes Bush look gun-shy."

Oh, you're talking about Hillary supporters...

Posted by: Traven on February 1, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

When the choice is between uber-hawk McCain and unrepentent hawk Clinton? At least McCain denounces the use of torture. If the war is your issue, and the choice is McCain-Clinton, you'll have to find some other issue as the deciding factor. It is a lot clearer if the choice is McCain-Obama.

But, still, I suspect a series of ads of McCain singing "Bomb bomb bomb Iran" might magnify the difference between him and the alternatives.

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 1, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Better yet for me, these aren't exactly the sort of people who are that far away from a TV. Come summer when the ads hit the airwaves featuring McCain with Bush, showing McCain saying it was okay with him if American troops are in Iraq for "hundreds of years", showing McCain saying Baghdad is a peaceful place. Those ads from the maverick's own mouth and history will be enough to peel a substantial part of those independents off and send them to the Democrat

Posted by: timb on February 1, 2008 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK
When the choice is between uber-hawk McCain and unrepentent hawk Clinton? ...PTate in MN at 4:03 PM
You have made it clear already that you would rather vote for a warmonger than a female Democrat who merely claims that, with current information, no one would have voted for war and promises to begin withdraw instantly. That's called supporting the war on your part.


Posted by: Mike on February 1, 2008 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

McCain loved Bush's "steely resolve" in "staying the course" in Iraq until it came time to distance himself from the fiasco and run for president. But it's all been about the conduct of the war. The few indies voting Repub this time love it when he says he'll never surrender and says Dems want a timetable for defeat. It's all about finding the pony in Iraq for them.

Posted by: markg8 on February 1, 2008 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Voters most Hostile to the war want W. Bush, VP Cheney and former Defense Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to be tried for war crimes. When president W. Bush begins serving a life sentence in solitary, these types of voters will be satisfied some justice has prevailed.

Voters most Hostile to the occupation want an immediate withdrawal from Iraq and a reparations regime in place that not only repays the Iraqis for their suffering, but is punitive to the American people.

Sen. McCain will do none of these things, so whomever these independent supporters are, they are not Hostile enough about the war and occupation of Iraq.

Posted by: Hostile on February 1, 2008 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Idealistic people are sadly suckers for charm and the honest image a lot of times.

Posted by: Neil B. on February 1, 2008 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Well, the whole thing has gotten very ironic and topsy-turvey: Ann Coldturd just said that if McCain is the R. nominee, she's going to campaign for Hillary Clinton (hours ago interviewed on Faux.) She said she'll campaign for Obama if he gets the D. nom instead, since she'd rather have the Devil than McCain approx. Not that McCain is actually more liberal than Hill or Barrie now, but rather that the Repubs will get the blame for how screwed up things will be if McCain wins, but if Obamary gets it, Democrats will be blamed - get it?! So, who gets the blame for the last eight years? Just askin'

Posted by: Neil B. on February 1, 2008 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, supporting a man who has forgotten that he once had an ethical compass, and now lies about it, is pretty damn exciting. Also stunning has been his complete and mendacious repudiation of everything he used to stand for while embracing the modern conservative movement. And finally, who could not be charmed by a veteran who, despite living the evils of war 24/7 for many years, now fully embraces it? That is stunning hypocrisy barely dreamt of in our crude progressive philosophy! Freaking staggering.

Posted by: Sparko on February 1, 2008 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

The reason I am an independent is because I am a frustrated liberal for whom all candidates range from beyond unacceptable to barely acceptable. And primarily because the allowed range of political dialogue excludes - almost entirely - almost any examination of actual policy. All encouraged by the so-called news media.

The one word that should be attached to McCain is "panderer" (oh, I forgot "100 years in Iraq is OK").

Hillary? well, at least there are words and phrases that fit. How about "hawkish interventionist" for one?

Obama - dunno. "Makes briefly inspiring speeches while campaign staff enthusiastically publish right wing talking points".


Posted by: PowerOfX on February 2, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Bush IS gun shy.

Posted by: Rula Lenska on February 2, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

"Bush IS gun shy."

In that he spent his military "service" making damn sure no-one ever got to point one at him, sure :-)

Posted by: ally on February 4, 2008 at 5:47 AM | PERMALINK

How John McCain can appeal to anyone besides a brain-damaged leper is beyond me....

Posted by: Hodwik Flushingpout on February 4, 2008 at 6:59 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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