John McCain

SHOCKER: Offshore Drilling Push from McCain and his Republican Party is Political Posturing

In the surprise of the 110th Congress, it turns out that the pro-drilling position taken by many Congressional Republicans and their presumptive nominee for President may actually have been – gasp – election year politics. The 'Gang of 10,' a group of five Democrat and five Republican Senators, has offered a compromise proposal that would contain both incentives for energy efficiency provisions and a limited expansion of offshore drilling. Barack Obama has said that he would support such an expansion as part of a broader energy bill, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she may allow a vote as long as a bill includes renewable energy and environmental safeguard provisions, but many Congressional Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, are opposed to the bill.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

Republicans have used the offshore-drilling issue to paint Democrats as out of touch with ordinary Americans and beholden to environmental groups that oppose any relaxation of the current drilling ban. Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican's likely presidential nominee, has made Sen. Obama's opposition to offshore drilling a feature in recent ads critical of his Democratic rival.

But the drilling issue could lose its power as an electoral wedge if both parties agree to the concept put forward by a group of Republicans and Democrats. Their proposal would open additional acreage in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida's western coast to drilling, and also allow Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia to "opt in" to drilling off their shores if their legislatures approve.

The plan would also raise billions of dollars for conservation and energy-efficiency programs partly by making oil companies no longer eligible for a manufacturing tax credit and repealing other tax breaks. Some estimates have put the potential savings from such a move at $13 billion over 10 years.

Some conservatives worry that a deal would remove party differences on what they otherwise see as one of the Republicans' best issues for winning over voters in the November election. Conservative radio-show host Rush Limbaugh has accused the Republicans who favor the compromise of giving a "gift" to Sen. Obama and other Democrats seeking election this fall.

Among many Republicans, "there's a desire to not solve this problem" of gridlock over energy policy, said one of the Republicans supporting the compromise, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. Sen. Corker added that "many people in the Republican Party are missing the point that this is a strong pro-[oil] production bill" and that Republican leaders "made a mistake" by not immediately endorsing it.

This proposal epitomizes the 'all of the above' solution that John McCain and his Republican allies in the Senate claim they support – expanding drilling and investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Sadly, only five have actually acted.

McConnell’s line about "objections to the proposal to eliminate the oil companies' eligibility for a tax credit" is part of his growing charade of election year intransigence. The oil industry receives tremendous direct and indirect subsidies from the federal government; meanwhile McConnell refuses to allow for a straight up or down vote for much smaller tax credits on renewables.

McCain, too, has said that he could not support the bill because it "would raise taxes;" he has since changed to a more 'wait and see' approach. For someone running for president on a supposed record of bucking his party on energy policy, this is certainly not the type of proactive leadership one would expect. (Thomas Freidman calls out McCain today for his lack of action on energy and quotes Suntech America President Roger Efird, one of NDN's panelists from our August 1 event on "Energy and the American Way of Life.")

There is only one conclusion to draw: McCain and Republican opposition to this proposal – which should serve as an important bipartisan step toward some sort of action on energy policy – is nothing more than an attempt to maintain a loosening grasp on drilling as a wedge issue in an election year. By refusing to lend his support to this compromise, McCain and his Republican Party owe America an explanation of what energy reform they are actually for, because behind the pretty windmills in McCain’s ads, there’s no substance.

Quick '08 Update: Hollywood and Tire Pressure

- I already posted the Paris Hilton video, but here's some additional Hollywood news: U.S. Sen. Barack Obama will join Danny Ocean (George Clooney) in Switzerland for a fundraiser in September.

- U.S. Sen. John McCain is outspending Obama with what AdAge describes is a last-minute $6 million ad buy during the Olympics. That is $1 million more than Obama's buy.

- NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg threw a party for U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton this past Monday at Gracie mansion. Debt relief was not on the agenda. Speaking of Sen. Clinton, check out her op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal.

- Jake Tapper cites Politifact research to conclude that Obama's remarks on tire pressure have merit. In fact, as he points out, former President George H.W. Bush's administration held views similar to Obama's on the issue. Game, Set, Match.

- Speaking of energy, Obama is up in Florida with a new ad on energy and gas prices. (Via Eric Kleefeld over at TPM).

- According to Politico, the DNC is responding to the RNC's tire gauge campaign with the launch of its "Exxon-McCain '08" campaign.

- McCain was in Michigan yesterday, emphasizing his support for nuclear power. More on this below.

- Obama's in Indiana today with U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh. Speculate away! Also for those who are looking to affix a label to Bayh's politics, be sure to check out this analysis from Josh Patashnik. (Via Andrew Sullivan.)

- The New York Times and the Washington Post both took a look at campaign bundlers.

- Ben Smith, you are the man for finding this picture:

- As referenced above, this was way too easy. Thanks to Dave for adding who he calls the next Secretary of Energy, C. Montgomery Burns, to the picture of McCain stating his position on nuclear energy. Excellent...

Obama Out With New Energy Plan, Ads

As U.S. Sen. Barack Obama releases his new energy plan this week, the Obama campaign is out with two new ads on energy. Both hit U.S. Sen. John McCain on his energy policies and ties to oil companies and lay out parts of Obama's new plan.

The Obama campaign released "Pocket" yesterday:

According to's Ben Smith, "National Priority" has been airing in battleground states for about a week, but was not released to the press:

McCain Backs Away from Cap and Trade

Last week, as U.S. Sens. McCain and Obama rained down haymakers on energy policy, ads and rhetoric out of the McCain campaign seemed to suggest that his already wavering commitment to Cap and Trade legislation could soon be going to way of his positions on comprehensive immigration reform and the Bush tax cuts. Whether he is having trouble remembering his commitment to this issue or is moving for political reasons, the emerging signs from last week are too much to ignore.

On Tuesday, July 29, McCain economic adviser Steve Forbes appeared on CNN’s Glenn Beck and said:

"I think cap and trade is going to go the way of some other things, as you may remember, when he came into office, Bill Clinton had a proposal of tax carbons and stuff like that. I don’t think those things are going to get very far as people start to examine the details of them."

The same week, the McCain campaign released its now infamous "Celeb" ad, which included a line criticizing Obama for wanting to "tax electricity." Of course, none of Obama’s speeches or plans specifically call for raising taxes on electricity, so what could this possibly mean?

The McCain campaign points to a February, 2008 Q&A with the San Antonio Express-News, during which Obama said, "What We Ought To Tax Is Dirty Energy, Like Coal And, To A Lesser Extent, Natural Gas." He said this in context of putting a price on carbon emissions, a large portion of which come from, of course, energy production. Obama’s (and supposedly McCain’s) chosen method of doing so is cap and trade.

So, if McCain has a problem with pricing dirty energy, then he has a problem with cap and trade. These two points out of the campaign, one from an adviser and one in an ad, in the same week, seem to be more than just coincidence, and a fairly direct repudiation of carbon-pricing regimes.

In light of this, McCain needs clarify his position on climate change legislation – specifically cap and trade. And if he does plan on dropping support of this legislation, he then needs to show how he would create the clean energy future that he has made a central part of his platform without incentives for renewables or pricing carbon. Right now, it just doesn’t add up.

McCain Don't Know Much About Geography

As Simon has commented, U.S. Sen. John McCain's ads exceedingly reflect a new Rovian approach to this election, and he's not limiting himself to attacking in one language...this latest ad in Spanish, called "The World According to Barack Obama" intends to promote the notion among Hispanic voters that according to Barack Obama, Latin American countries somehow "don't count" in the world because he didn't discuss Latin America during his trip to EUROPE ("but entire nations were forgotten.."), by asking voters: "and where is Latin America?", "and what about Latinos?", "Did he forget about us?" The ad is flawed in that Barack Obama's trip through Europe, and his speech in Berlin, was intended to discuss issues related to joint U.S. and EU policy.  As Jake and I were discussing, there's this thing called the Monroe Doctrine that would make it unseemingly to say the least for the U.S. to invite European nations to strategize over Latin American policy. But since when have Rovian tactics had any regard for honesty and accuracy?  

In a Swing State Near You: Attack Ads and Energy Policy

The recent run of negative ads out of the McCain campaign has certainly gained attention for their deceitful, dishonest, and petty attacks. The "Celeb" ad, on the heels of the clearly false claim about the Obama camp canceling the visit to Landstuhl because they couldn’t have media present, seemed to serve as a tipping point for catching the ire of mainstream journalists and even a former McCain advisor. These false claims, on top of ads using imagery clearly designed to scare people about Obama by calling him presumptuous (read: uppity), have lead to the McCain campaign looking, as NDN President Simon Rosenberg wrote this morning, bitter, spiteful, jealous, and angry. Certainly not Presidential.

Meanwhile, substance has gone straight out the window – or has it? As a backdrop to these attacks and counter attacks, energy policy has stayed at the fore of the campaign. But, like in the primary, energy policy is being used to attribute character traits.

In case you somehow haven’t seen it, "Celeb:"

The ad, of course, makes a lot of odd choices (Britney, Paris) that have been discussed ad nauseum. It also chooses to claim that Obama wants to raise taxes on electricity and keep America dependent on foreign oil. The foreign oil claim would be defensible if one somehow bought the claim that lifting the offshore drilling ban would do anything meaningful, but at least the argument follows. It’s the raising electricity tax claim that is so absurd – the only Obama proposal that would raise the price of electricity is Cap and Trade legislation, which McCain supposedly favors as well.

So why make the claim? Well, if Democrats, allegedly, are two things, it’s that they care more about what foreigners think than "real" Americans and want to take your money. So, if the theme is energy, then McCain needed to find two issues to fit the go-to template.

This sort of campaigning is ok though, because, from’s Ben Smith, McCain is proud:

"All I can say is we’re proud of that commercial," McCain said. "We think Americans need to know that I believe that we should base this campaign on what we can do for Americans at home and how we can make Americans safe and prosperous and that’s the theme of our campaign."

"I respect and admire sen Obama, but we have stark differences," McCain said. "And those differences need to be drawn."

"These campaigns are tough," he said, "But I'm proud of the campaign we've run."

Obama’s response, "Low Road:"

Independent groups have also chosen to engage on the issue with six-figure buys. From the Sierra Club, airing in Colorado, New Hampshire, Ohio and Washington, D.C. "Full-Nelson:"

And from MoveOn, "Gimmick:"

On the off chance that you're tired of the negative ads, NDN will be hosting a speech from Assistant U.S. Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin on the Green Economic Opportunity tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. at the Phoenix Park hotel in Washington, D.C. The address will be followed by a panel on "Energy and the American Way of Life." For more information, and to RSVP, click here.


The new McCain ad.

Josh Marshall has a smart look at some of the themes behind the ad, and how it evokes the now infamous Call Me ad from 2006.

To me, the ad also is full of bitter emotions. Spite. Jealousy. Anger. Emotions people often associate with losing ventures, ones frustrated with their inability to keep up with their competition. No matter what else, this new McCain ad is - given that it replaced an ad that the campaign has now admitted was untrue - this new McCain ad is not a good sign of the mental state of the McCain campaign itself. They know they are being beat by a better candidate and are angry about it. 

McCain's Real Record on Fiscal Discipline: Lots of "Straight Talk;" No Action to Back it Up

When there’s a dispute in sports, we go to the videotape; in politics, we go to the facts – and the facts show that for all of John McCain’s righteous wrath over federal spending, he has been an active supporter of its enormous increases in recent years.

It’s fine to talk about pork barrel spending, but let’s look at his actual votes on all Senate appropriations bills for domestic spending since he started running for president. 

New research shows that since 2006, the self-appointed guardian against wasteful spending from Arizona actually opposed less than six-tenths of one percent of the discretionary spending approved by the Senate. Counting only those appropriations during which Mr. McCain was actually present and voted for or against, he opposed eight-tenths of one percent and voted for 99.2 percent. And counting only the last two years, while Mr. McCain has been most actively campaigning for president, the self-proclaimed arbiter of fiscal restraint actually voted against not one dollar of the more than $2 trillion in appropriations approved by the Senate.

Senator McCain’s record seems to refute his own campaign promises to balance the budget and pay for the new tax cuts he wants to give business and high-income Americans – and for his new spending – by cutting existing programs.

Here are the particulars as verified by the Senate’s records. For FY 2006, Senator McCain opposed one appropriation bill, $17 billion for discretionary spending in agriculture, out of a total of $940 billion in discretionary spending approved for that fiscal year, or 0.56 percent. For FY 2007, the Senate approved nearly $1.1 trillion in discretionary appropriations, and Senator McCain voted for all of it. For the current fiscal year, 2008, the Senate has approved, again, a little under $1.1 trillion; and again, Senator McCain opposed none of it, at least not by actually voting against any of it.

The economic benefits of restraining spending are sometimes exaggerated in our political discourse, especially when economic conditions are weak. However, the value of actually behaving in ways that correspond to your own “straight talk” cannot be overstated. On this basis, Senator McCain’s record falls painfully short.

The Media Begins to Confront the Awfulness of the McCain Campaign

Today's New York Times has a remarkable editorial that dives deeply into a theme we've been exploring here at NDN for the last few months - the overwhelming sense of weakness, desperation and just plain awfulness of the McCain campaign and its candidate.

It begins:

Well, that certainly didn’t take long. On July 3, news reports said Senator John McCain, worried that he might lose the election before it truly started, opened his doors to disciples of Karl Rove from the 2004 campaign and the Bush White House. Less than a month later, the results are on full display. The candidate who started out talking about high-minded, civil debate has wholeheartedly adopted Mr. Rove’s low-minded and uncivil playbook.

In recent weeks, Mr. McCain has been waving the flag of fear (Senator Barack Obama wants to “lose” in Iraq), and issuing attacks that are sophomoric (suggesting that Mr. Obama is a socialist) and false (the presumptive Democratic nominee turned his back on wounded soldiers)

The rest of the editorial is very much worth reading here. In today's paper, the Times also has a related article in its news section, and the Washington Post offers up a story, McCain Charge Against Obama Lacks Evidence, which explores the integrity of McCain's effort. As readers of this blog know, I have been arguing for months that McCain and his performance are a legitimate and important issue in the campaign. His ads have been full of outright lies. His public comments have been full of false statements about facts, history, his opponent and even his own voting record. There is a lack of seriousness about some of the major issues facing the country. He has knowingly violated campaign finance laws he helped create. He has said he would clear his campaign of lobbyists and has now reversed that decision. He is on his third campaign manager. Several senior campaign advisors have had to resign. He hid two surgeries he had this year, during the campaign, from the public. The list goes on and on...

Yesterday, I looked at the lies behind his last three TV ads. Previously, I wrote about how the media was beginning to make McCain and his campaign an issue; about the importance of his putting a Bush/Rove operative in charge of his campaign; and that the big story of the race so far was his terrible performance as a candidate. In one of these posts, I concluded:

it all adds up to a man simply not up to the job of running for -- or actually being -- President of the United States. In a recent appearance, I even surmised that the GOP would become so concerned with his performance that there would start to be a quiet movement to replace him at the Convention with another candidate. This moment may be upon us as the media, and the public now has no choice but to confront that there is a man running for President who seems so out of touch with basic facts, reality, his own voting record that one might even conjecture that it would be a grave risk for the United States to put him in charge of the country.

After a Republican era during which governing always played 2nd fiddle to politics and power - resulting in one of the worst governments in our history - we all hoped McCain would represent a break from the truly disapointing politics of the Bush era. But his performance these last few months shows that his lack of seriousness and knowledge about policy - even running an ad saying that his energy and drilling proposals would immediately address high gas prices when everyone knows this to be, let us say, not true - shows that the McCain candidacy has itself become an extension of this awful Republican era that did so much to harm the national interests of the United States, leaving us less prosperous, less powerful in the world and certainly less free here at home.

In putting Steve Schmidt, a Bush/Rove protege, in charge of his campaign, McCain has told us all exactly what kind of man he has become, and what kind of Presidency we can expect.

In trying to make the campaign about Senator Obama, the McCain campaign has made the national story about themselves, their own integrity and their own performance, and it has become a disapointing and awful spectacle to watch.

Update 344pm: Markos reports on how the McCain campaign has now admitted that the premise behind their "troops" ad was, let us say, just not true.

Update 555pm: And this stumbling campaign today reaches oh so high with their new ad, featuring Paris and Britney. It replaces the ad McCain now acknowledges as untrue and problematic. My my what would Joe Lieberman say about this new one....

Update 945pm: Obama responds

McCain's Ads Continue to Make Things Up

In a post last week, I argued that it was astonishing that U.S. Sen. John McCain's two energy ads he had airing at that time where predicated on things that were - let us say - just not true.

McCain continues this new strategy of just making things up this week. As Andrea Mitchell, a journalist, points out in this video in a story from Huffington Post, McCain's new ad attacking U.S. Sen. Barack Obama for not showing up at a base in Germany is also just not true.

Friends, 3 McCain ads, 3 lies. Why has it been so hard for McCain to play this campaign straight? Why do they feel compelled to make things up? Is the issue environment that bad for Old Man McCain? More evidence of how hard this race has been for the Senator from Arizona.

Update: The Washington Post has a new story running tonight also questioning the veracity of the McCain claim.



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