Mojo - October 2008

McCain Campaign: We Meant We'd Unveil New Economic Plans Tuesday

| Mon Oct. 13, 2008 5:01 PM EDT

The McCain campaign is getting hammered all over the place for promising new economic plans over the weekend and then announcing they had nothing to announce today. The move sent a strong signal that McCain either didn't appreciate the difficulties facing everyday folks, or didn't have any solutions for them. It was doubly damaging because, as I note below, the Obama campaign let loose with a slew of economic proposals designed to help working Americans and small businesses.

Either the negative press surrounding this situation convinced the McCain campaign that it needed to do something, or it always intended to unroll a new economic platform Tuesday and did a terrible job of communicating it. Either way, they are now saying that McCain "never intended" to address the economy today, as previously understood, and will do so tomorrow.

I'm betting McCain's economic policy team is working overtime tonight. Get me a series of economic policies that strike a populist tone while staying true to my fiscally conservative record, combine to articulate a clear vision for the country, and will turn around my failing campaign! You have ten hours!

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McCain Passes on Opportunity to Introduce New Solutions on Economy; Obama Makes Him Pay

| Mon Oct. 13, 2008 2:13 PM EDT

Today, another misstep for the McCain campaign. How much will it hurt the candidate?

Just about everyone is suggesting John McCain find a more effective way to address the American people's current economic insecurity. But instead of starting the week with a concerted effort on that front, the campaign decided over the weekend that it would decline to unveil any new ideas. Reached for comment, spokesman Tucker Bounds said, "We do not have any immediate plans to announce any policy proposals outside of the proposals that John McCain has announced." McCain's top policy man Douglas Holtz-Eakin could only add, "I have no comment on anything, to anybody."

The Obama campaign is determined to make them pay for their inaction. This morning, it unveiled a "rescue plan for the middle class" that is essentially a bailout for the rest of us. To create jobs, Obama proposes to (1) give companies a $3,000 refundable tax credit for every job they create in America; (2) eliminate the capital gains taxes for small businesses; and (3) finance public works projects that the campaign estimates will save or create one million jobs.

Freedom vs. Big Government: Palin Can't Do the Math

| Mon Oct. 13, 2008 11:53 AM EDT

The political news of the day is John McCain's new stump speech. But there was an interesting Sarah Palin moment, as well.

Introducing McCain at the Virginia Beach rally where he unveiled his I-will-fight-fight-fight-fight speech, Palin, playing to the GOP base, declared that she and McCain believe in the "advancement of freedom," not the "expansion of government."

This is conservative cant: big government threatens individual freedoms. Think black helicopters coming to take your guns away. But has Palin not been reading the news about her own campaign? Her ticket supports the $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan, which will give the Treasury secretary expanded power. And McCain has called on the federal government to buy up bad mortgages across the country, at a cost of $300 billion or so. The math is kind of simple here: that's about $1 trillion in government expansion.

The question for Governor Palin is, does that mean $1 trillion less in freedom?

McCain's John Lewis Flip-Flop

| Mon Oct. 13, 2008 11:42 AM EDT

Remember when John McCain said that one of the three "wisest people" he would "rely heavily on" in his administration was Democratic Congressman and civil rights legend John Lewis?

That seems unlikely nowadays, given that Lewis is accusing McCain of "sowing the seeds of hatred and division" a la George Wallace, and McCain is charging Lewis with "a brazen and baseless attack on my character." It's going to be awkward when they cross paths in the Capitol cafeteria...

* Headline changed for clarity.

Is a McCain Comeback Even Possible? Let's Check the History Books

| Mon Oct. 13, 2008 11:01 AM EDT

A question I was mulling over the weekend while watching a sweet, sweet Patriots defeat: Has any candidate in recent times been able to come back from seven to 10 points down with three weeks left in a presidential election? John Harwood, writing in the New York Times, suggests the precedent doesn't look good McCain.

Since Gallup began presidential polling in 1936, only one candidate has overcome a deficit that large, and this late, to win the White House: Ronald Reagan, who trailed President Jimmy Carter 47 percent to 39 percent in a survey completed on Oct. 26, 1980.
Yet Mr. Carter, like Mr. McCain today, represented the party holding the White House in bad times. After Mr. Reagan successfully presented himself as an alternative to Mr. Carter in their lone debate, held on the late date of Oct. 28, he surged ahead...
In 1968, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey all but erased a 12-point early-October deficit before losing narrowly to Richard M. Nixon. In 2000, Vice President Al Gore wiped out a seven-point deficit in the final 10 days of the election, winning the popular vote but losing the Electoral College to Mr. Bush.

Harwood cites a figure from Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels: since 1948, the candidate leading in October has won three-fourths of the time. Bartels puts Obama's chance of winning the popular vote at "a little over 90 percent."

Polling Gets Even More Decisive

| Mon Oct. 13, 2008 10:49 AM EDT

Check out the new ABC/WaPo poll. Obama's up 10, which is not really new, but the internals are devastating for McCain.

Overall, Obama is leading 53 percent to 43 percent among likely voters, and for the first time in the general-election campaign, voters gave the Democrat a clear edge on tax policy and providing strong leadership.
McCain has made little headway in his attempts to convince voters that Obama is too "risky" or too "liberal." Rather, recent strategic shifts may have hurt the Republican nominee, who now has higher negative ratings than his rival and is seen as mostly attacking his opponent rather than addressing the issues that voters care about. Even McCain's supporters are now less enthusiastic about his candidacy, returning to levels not seen since before the Republican National Convention.
Conversely, Obama's pitch to the middle class on taxes is beginning to sink in; nearly as many said they think their taxes would go up under a McCain administration as under an Obama presidency, and more see their burdens easing with the Democrat in the White House.

Josh Marshall adds a couple more points:

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McCain's New Lurch: I Will Fight, Fight, Fight, Fight, Fight

| Mon Oct. 13, 2008 10:31 AM EDT

This was first posted at DavidCorn.com....

John McCain offers his newest lurch today.

In a speech he is to give in Virginia Beach, McCain says 17 times that he will fight for America, according to his prepared remarks. He repeatedly calls himself a "fighter." And he's an experienced fighter who won't--like you know who--have to study up on issues before making command decisions.

Over and over in this new stump speech, McCain says he is ready to fight--for the country, for change, for a new direction, for the future, for the children, for justice for all. Seriously.

Times are tough, McCain notes, but America is worth fighting for. It needs a fighter like John McCain, who is a real fighter who has always been a fighter for America.

In other words, vote for the fight guy. Here's how the speech ends:

The New GOP: Party of Blockheads

| Sun Oct. 12, 2008 12:00 PM EDT

If you missed it the first time, David Brooks offers a poignantly sad piece in NYT about the GOP's warm embrace of mediocrity and class warfare. It's counterintuitive (being smart and accomplished is now a no-no on the right) and so devastating in its insight. It deserves a very close reading:

...over the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare. Democrats kept nominating coastal pointy-heads like Michael Dukakis so Republicans attacked coastal pointy-heads.

Over the past 15 years, the same argument has been heard from a thousand politicians and a hundred television and talk-radio jocks. The nation is divided between the wholesome Joe Sixpacks in the heartland and the oversophisticated, overeducated, oversecularized denizens of the coasts.

What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole. The liberals had coastal condescension, so the conservatives developed their own anti-elitism, with mirror-image categories and mirror-image resentments, but with the same corrosive effect.

Republicans developed their own leadership style. If Democratic leaders prized deliberation and self-examination, then Republicans would govern from the gut.

George W. Bush restrained some of the populist excesses of his party — the anti-immigration fervor, the isolationism — but stylistically he fit right in. As Fred Barnes wrote in his book, "Rebel-in-Chief," Bush "reflects the political views and cultural tastes of the vast majority of Americans who don't live along the East or West Coast. He's not a sophisticate and doesn't spend his discretionary time with sophisticates. As First Lady Laura Bush once said, she and the president didn't come to Washington to make new friends. And they haven't."

The political effects of this trend have been obvious. Republicans have alienated the highly educated regions — Silicon Valley, northern Virginia, the suburbs outside of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Raleigh-Durham. The West Coast and the Northeast are mostly gone.

The Republicans have alienated whole professions. Lawyers now donate to the Democratic Party over the Republican Party at 4-to-1 rates. With doctors, it's 2-to-1. With tech executives, it's 5-to-1. With investment bankers, it's 2-to-1. It took talent for Republicans to lose the banking community.

If it remains on its present course, the GOP may well self-immolate. It's bad enough that we only have two viable parties in this country. Getting down to only one is not something even Democrats should cheer.

Palin Report: The Mavericky Governor "Abused Her Power"

| Fri Oct. 10, 2008 9:22 PM EDT

Were Sarah "I can see Russia" Palin not already having a tough time on the campaign trail, the report released on Friday by a special prosecutor in Alaska finding that she "abused her power" might be more of a blow to the McCain-Palin campaign. But even though she has already fallen in the polls, there is room for more of a drop. And now the mavericky reformer who is part of a campaign attacking Barack Obama as old-style Chicago pol looks like a lying, vengeful pol herself.

The report was commissioned by a bipartisan group of Alaskan legislators after Palin was accused of firing her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, after Monegan did not dismiss Mike Wooten, a state trooper who had gone through an ugly divorce with Palin's sister. Though Palin--pre-veep campaign--had pledged to cooperate fully, once she became part of the Republican ticket, she reneged on that promise, as the McCain camp tried to shut down the investigation. But the Alaskan courts refused to short-circuit the investigation, and Stephen Branchflower, a former prosecutor retained by the Alaskan legislators, managed to finish his inquiry, after getting reluctant witnesses--including Todd Palin, the governor's husband--to answer written questions.

The report is blunt:

I find that, although Walt Monegan's refusal to fire Trooper Michael Wooten was not the sole reason he was fired by Governor Sarah Palin, it was likely a contributing factor to his termination as Commissioner of Public Safety.

Alaska Judge Cracks Down on Palin's Emails

| Fri Oct. 10, 2008 5:09 PM EDT

A judge in Alaska has ordered the state to preserve any business-related emails sent by Sarah Palin from her private email accounts. Palin's emails have generated a lot of attention, possibly because the situation mirrors the Bush Administration's own missing emails scandal.

We know that Palin is withholding 1,100 emails from open records requests on the grounds that they are protected by executive privilege, despite the fact that her husband was frequently a recipient of the emails.

We know that Palin used private email accounts for public business, a tactic used by the Bush Administration to deter oversight. We also know that the Palin Administration has declared that making the emails in these accounts public will require so much work and time that it is impossible for them to be released before the election.

Finally, we know that as mayor of Wasilla, Palin used her official city account to campaign for higher office, a seeming violation of Alaskan state law that has gone unaddressed.

The action of the court may lead to greater oversight down the road, but it is unlikely anything Governor Palin is hiding will come to light before the all-important date of November 4th.