Tuesday, September 30, 2008

McCain too reckless to be president

It is with a sense of reassurance that I saw the result of a set of polls conducted by the Gallup Organization in recent days – all of which look beneficial to the presidential campaign of Democrat Barack Obama.

Those polls showed a sizable percentage of people thinking that Obama did better in their initial debate performance than Republican opponent John McCain. Another poll released Monday afternoon showed Obama maintaining an 8-point lead nationwide over the McCain campaign.

WHAT MAKES ME pleased in seeing those results (aside from the fact that I have never understood why anyone takes McCain’s “Maverick” rhetoric seriously) is that it makes me think a majority of the people of this country are seeing through the recklessness that GOP backers like to think is McCain’s willingness to shake things up.

It really is a sign that McCain can take a situation and make it worse.

It was last week that Chicago Sun-Times Washington correspondent Lynn Sweet wrote a column that said McCain was successfully confounding the Obama campaign with his skills in “red cell thinking.”

As defined by Sweet, it is a CIA-type term used to describe offbeat, completely unexpected solutions to address threatening situations.

IT WAS SUCH a mentality that led to a political neophyte such as Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin being tabbed over several white guys with equally conservative beliefs on social issues to be chosen as a vice presidential nominee.

Such a mentality also caused McCain to talk of shuttering his presidential campaign so he could focus his attention on resolving the financial crisis that has confounded the Congress – where on Monday the House of Representatives rejected the $700 billion buyout that was proposed by President George W. Bush and the Congress’ leadership.

On a certain level, the strategy worked.

For about one week after the presidential nominating conventions, it was the McCain/Palin ticket that was drawing the public attention and leading in various polls – at least until the financial mess rose to a level that demanded it gain top billing and reminded many undecided voters why it was that the Democratic Party should theoretically be cleaning up at the polling places on Election Day.

THE PUBLIC BLAMES the Wall Street mess on a Republican majority of the past that they think let their big business allies run amok. Whether or not that is a fair viewpoint, it is the one being seen among the general public – which is why many people are badgering their members of Congress to vote against any Wall Street bailout.

For a couple of days, it looked like McCain might be able to portray himself as a leader in the attempt by Congress to resolve the mess; even though as a rank-and-file member his presence was not needed in the room where a buyout was being negotiated.

Neither is Obama’s, when it comes down to it.

In fact, by getting too involved, Obama would run the risk of getting in the way of those people who have serious work to do. I’m starting to wonder if McCain has actually crossed over that line – associating his name with this mess so much that he’s now going to get the blame for the inability to solve the situation.

AND WHEN IT comes to Palin, her lack of interest in the real world outside of Alaska has become apparent to the point where many of those people who were praising her views just a couple of weeks ago are now shuddering at the thought of her being the V-P nominee.

Not that I expect her to take the advice of conservative newspaper columnist Kathleen Parker and step down from the second-in-command post. Actually using Parker’s suggested excuse of claiming she wants to spend more time with her children would seem to her like surrender. She’s one of those who’d rather sink with the ship than try to find a lifeboat.

So the Republicans are stuck with Sarah. And McCain may get stuck with the blame.

Now I can already hear the rhetoric from the GOP faithful (the roughly one-third of the nation that still gives President Bush good marks for his professional performance), claiming they are being picked on by people who are out of touch with their vision of what the United States should be about.

BUT THAT PERCENTAGE of the electorate is getting smaller.

Those Gallup polls I mentioned earlier? Only 34 percent of those surveyed thought McCain did better than Obama, compared to the 46 percent who preferred Obama’s debate performance from Friday in Mississippi.

That 34 percent sounds awfully like the roughly 33 percent “favorable” job performance ratings Bush the younger gets these days.

Overall, Obama on Monday had a 50 percent support level, compared to 42 percent for McCain – the second day in a row that Obama hits that 50 percent level that would indicate he could win the election even if all the “undecided” voters were to decide to shift to the McCain campaign.

I VIEWED THE Palin move as a wasted opportunity, and the financial crisis action as reckless. Apparently, I’m not alone.

Those actions may have gained McCain some attention for a few days. But after people digested them, they came across as brash acts done out of desperation without any serious thought put into them.

To take that now-famed image from the Democratic primary campaign of Hillary R. Clinton, what would we want to happen when that 3 a.m. phone call comes?

Do we want someone who will give a little thought and try to figure out the proper way to act? Or do you want the guy who makes a snap decision, only to realize a week later that he blew it?


EDITOR’S NOTES: The Gallup Organization shows Barack Obama starting to maintain solid leads (http://www.gallup.com/poll/110788/Gallup-Daily-Obama-Maintains-8Point-Lead.aspx) among the electorate, and getting a majority of support from people who watched (http://www.gallup.com/poll/110779/Debate-Watchers-Give-Obama-Edge-Over-McCain.aspx) the first presidential debate.

Did syndicated newspaper columnist Kathleen Parker just manage to get herself (http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003855789) uninvited to the White House Christmas party for the news media in a John McCain presidential administration?

Is “red cell thinking” causing McCain to act rashly in his attempt to remain as a viable Election Day (http://www.suntimes.com/news/sweet/1184246,CST-NWS-sweet25.article) option to Obama?

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