Corn has broken stories on presidents, politicians, and other Washington players. He's written for numerous publications and is a talk show regular. His best-selling books include Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.
In the final weeks of the 2008 presidential campaign, Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin have accused Senator Barack Obama of being a socialist bent on taking money from hard-working folks to finance hand-outs to others. At the last presidential debate, McCain declared, "the whole premise behind Senator Obama's plans are class warfarelet's spread the wealth around." This line of attack has been the centerpiece of McCain's closing blast against Obama: because Obama wants to tax the well-to-do to pay for middle-class tax relief, he's an untrustworthy, divisive, redistributionist who cares more about controlling wealth than creating it. He's an enemy of the American dream.
But eight years ago, in January and February 2000, McCain was on the receiving end of similar criticism, as conservatives and Republicans accused him of engaging in class warfare by opposing tax breaks for the rich while advocating tax cuts for middle- and low-income Americans. That is, McCain was denounced in much the same way as he is now denouncing Obama.
Back then, McCain was locked in a fierce fight with George W. Bush for the GOP presidential nomination. Bush had proposed a massive tax-cuts package. At the time, McCain said, "Sixty percent of the benefits from [Bush's] tax cuts go to the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans--and that's not the kind of tax relief that Americans need .I don't believe the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans should get 60 percent of the tax breaks. I think the lowest 10 percent should get the breaks .I'm not giving tax cuts for the rich." On Meet the Press, he maintained, "There's a growing gap between rich and poor in America .I think that the people who need [tax cuts] most and need the relief most are working middle-income Americans." At a campaign rally in February 2000, he declared, "I don't think Bill Gates needs a tax cut. I think your parents do." The New York Times described McCain's tax plan as "apportioning the spoils of the nation's current prosperity."
For taking this stance, McCain was walloped by Republicans.
* On Hardball, former Housing Secretary Jack Kemp said, "John McCain is waging class warfare, and he should stop it."
* On Meet the Press, Representative David Dreier, a California Republican supporting Bush, said of McCain's stance, "The idea of engaging in class warfare is not a pro-California thing."
* On CNN's Crossfire, co-host Mary Matalin huffed, "John McCain has been running on class warfare."
* Texas Republican party head Susan Weddington excoriated McCain for engaging in a "shameless kind of class warfare."
How much do the spies of the US government spend on their spying? Over $47 billion a year, according to budget numbers released on Tuesday by the Director of National Intelligence. And if you count the military intelligence program, the total amount is closer to $60 billion. This is only the fourth time in U.S. history that the government has publicly disclosed the intelligence budget. Secrecy Newsexplains:
The aggregate intelligence budget figure (including national, joint military and tactical intelligence spending) was first released in 1997 ($26.6 billion) in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Federation of American Scientists. It was voluntarily released in 1998 ($26.7 billion). The National Intelligence Program budget was next disclosed in 2007 ($43.5 billion), in response to a Congressional mandate, based on a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. And then there was today's release for 2008.
In recent years, the most passionate opponent of intelligence budget disclosure has been none other than Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), whose own financial non-disclosure practices have recently earned him multiple felony convictions.
In an October 4, 2004 Senate floor debate, Senator Stevens usefully marshaled all of the traditional arguments against disclosure. Most of them were false at the time. Others have since been disproven.
"No other nation, friend, or ally, reveals the amount that it spends on intelligence," Sen. Stevens said then.
In fact, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands and other countries have published their intelligence budgets for many years without adverse effect.
John McCain doesn't seem to care about how he finishes the race—with integrity or without. In recent days, he keeps claiming that Barack Obama is an untrustworthy pol who will say anything to get elected. But let's look at the newest McCain ad, Here's the narration:
Iran. Radical Islamic government. Known sponsors of terrorism. Developing nuclear capabilities to generate power, but threatening to eliminate Israel. Obama says Iran is a "tiny" country, "doesn't pose a serious threat." Terrorism, destroying Israel, those aren't "serious threats?" Obama—dangerously unprepared to be President.
This is about as dishonest an ad as the McCain campaign has produced. In fact, it's a repeat of an ad the campaign tried in August. When that earlier ad was released, Factcheck.org explained why it was fraudulent. Obama, it noted, had in May said this:
Strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries. That's what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That's what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That's what Nixon did with Mao. I mean think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela—these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us.
At least, that's what the Obama campaign strategists seem to believe. This morning, the campaign sent out a schedule of Obama's remaining campaign stops. After Obama finishes visiting with his ill grandmother in Hawaii on Friday, he will return to the trail. First up, there are stops in Nevada. Next he will head to New Mexico. Then his final campaign stops will occur in Colorado.
Notice, there's nothing on schedule (as of yet) for Ohio, Pennsylvania or Florida, the traditional deciders. Instead, Obama is working hard the new swing states, especially Colorado.
Meanwhile, the McCain campaign's attitude toward Colorado is, eh, erratic. The campaign pulled its money out of the state. But after doing that, it decided to send McCain to campaign rallies there. And Sarah Palin has recently campaigned in the state. So what does that mean? Do the McCain strategists believe he can win that state by turning out the base with personal appearances rather than by courting swing voters with expensive teleivsion ads? It's a theory.