John McCain

An inconvenient poll -- Obama leads McCain 48-40 in PA

In our long essay about the future of left of center politics, Peter Leyden and I point out that Democrats have won 19 states worth 248 electoral college votes in each of the last four presidential elections. This group includes important states like PA and MI. It is this analysis which has led us to argue that the true battleground of this election will be in the heavily Hispanic states of AZ, CO, FL, NM and NV (and a handful of other states like OH, MO, IA, NH and perhaps NC, WI and VA).

One of the big arguments coming from both the McCain and Clinton camps has been that Obama cannot win those northern industrial states so critical to this Democratic map, and that they can. But is this true? Can McCain, in this environment in which the GOP is weaker today than it has been since at least 1982, and perhaps the 1960s, really think about winning a general election state they have not won since 1988? I have always believed that once a Democratic nomiee was picked, those 248 Electoral College votes would begin to settle in for the nominee and the game would move to the battleground described above, which in recent years was won by the GOP.

A new Survey USA poll of Pennsylvania indicates that as Obama begins his transition from candidate to nominee, that these traditional Democratic states may be reverting back to form. This new poll has Obama beating Senator McCain in PA by 8 points, 48-40, well outside the margin of error -- and this is before Senator Obama has been officially crowned the nominee. Another poll has the uber battleground of Ohio even. I've seen other recent polls that have Obama within a few points of McCain in Texas and Arizona (driven to some degree by the Hispanic community's aggressive abandonment of the GOP).

While it is early, and these polls will bounce around, looking at the national polls (A new Reuters poll released today has Obama up 8) and new state polls, there is growing evidence that Obama is successfully bringing the Democratic Party together, is winning over key Clinton constituencies and that his much discussed weakness with certain white voters is not carrying over to the general election battlefield in any meaningful way.

It also means that we will be seeing an unprecedented national campaign for the Hispanic vote, a battle which Senator McCain begins in a very weakened position and without a lot he can do to change a very anti-GOP dynamic that has taken hold in the Hispanic community.

McCain and the lobbyists

News this morning comes of yet another senior level resignation from the McCain campaign, yet another high-profile lobbyist stepping down. This remarkable spectacle of serial resignations, not something one sees in politics that often, speaks to the central dynamics of the emerging McCain campaign - his inability to escape the horrible politics of the Bush era, and his own very profound weaknesses as a candidate.

First, and we've written about this quite often, the Bush era brought to Washington a conservative politics more interested in protecting the perogatives, power and privilege of its leaders than serving the American people. Its economic strategies enriched the wealthy and ignored the increasingly difficult struggle of every day people. So little of consequence was done to improve the world or our life here at home, as huge problems like climate change, our dependence on fossil fuels, the aging of the baby boomers, immigration reform, our aging infrastucture and the modernization of our health care system all went unaddressed. Cherished and hard-fought civil liberties were undermined and we witnessed an almost unprecedented level of official corruption and strategic governmental deceit. So long out of power, the inability of these modern conservatives to use their newfound power for the common good has become the defining legacy of the Bush era.

Which is why by surrounding himself with dozens of lobbyists, the very symbols of this awful and corrupt political era, John McCain has done more to embrace the politics of the Bush era than his literal embrace of Bush, and the actual embrace of Bush's foreign, economic, entitlement and torture policies. Lobbyists have become for so many Americans the symbol of the triumph of the special interest over the interests of the people, and by being so - what is the word - stupid? - McCain has surrounded himself with perhaps the most potent symbols he could have imagined of what went wrong in this decade.

For those tracking this campaign, the central question that has to be answered is, "How did all these lobbyists get hired in the first place?" Is McCain that out of it, not aware of what is going on around him? Or he is just a very bad candidate and leader? As in so many other instances in this campaign, we come back to these set of questions, as we did with his serial and repeated confusion about Sunni and Shiite - is he just out of it, in a dangerous and threatening way? Or he is much less smart than we had all hoped? Either way the answer is a disturbing one - increasingly it appears that this once formidable Senator from Arizona is no longer up to the job of being President of these United States.

Update Mon 11am - The Post has a very good story on all this today as well. 

The Bush-McCain attacks on Obama

In today's Washington Post, Jamie Rubin does a great take down on the increasingly silly John McCain, reminding us all what McCain said about Hamas two years ago:

Two years ago, just after Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary
elections, I interviewed McCain for the British network Sky News's
"World News Tonight" program. Here is the crucial part of our exchange:

I asked: "Do you think that American diplomats should be operating
the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government
if Hamas is now in charge?"

McCain answered: "They're the government; sooner or later we are
going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand
why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy
towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things
that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it's a new
reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security
and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that."

I will try to find more time to write about all this in the next few days, but see here for something I wrote about Bush-McCain attacks on Obama yesterday, and here for an essay I wrote recently on the terrible Bush Legacy in the Middle East. Note here the warm reception Bush received in Saudi Arabia today.

Update: TPM has the video of McCain on Hamas. 

Update Sat am: The Times reports on it all here

Obama, Democrats rising - the race is going through a structural evolution

Two central dynamics are now taking over the Presidential campaign - the enormous, even historic, structural advantage of the Democrats, and Obama's new "surge", brought about through the early stages of his imminent victory over Senator Clinton.

Poll after poll these last few years have documented the emergence of a whole new political dynamic in American politics - the end of the conservative ascendency, the collapse of the GOP brand and the rise of the Democratic brand. Simply put, the country is more Democratic today than it has been since at least 1982 and perhaps all the way back to the 1960s. Today's Washington Post has a new national poll which again captures the yawning gap between the two parties, and the strong wind blowing behind the Democrats as they head into 2008 (for further evidence of this note huge fundraising and turnout advantage for the Dems so far in 2008).

A big looming question over the Presidential race has always been would the Democratic nominee be able to match the 10-15 spread between the two parties, resulting in what could be a truly realigning election and the dawn of a new progressive era? So far there has been little evidence of this, and indications have largely pointed to a very close general election.

But in the last week, there are signs that Obama's slowly emerging "victory" over Senator Clinton is beginning to alter that dynamic. Winners often get a bounce from their victory. It can be a few points or much more. And given that Senator Clinton is still in the race, it would be surprising for the Obama bounce to be more than a few points. But looking at the Post poll, the new LA Times poll, Rasmussen and Gallup, there is evidence that Obama is in the early stages of a bounce. He now leads Senator Clinton in all these polls by a larger margin than he has at any time in the campaign, consistently in double digits now (destroying her argument to be a stronger general election candidate). But he also is now starting to show three, six and in the Post poll, seven point advantages over Senator McCain.

While the Post makes the case that at this point McCain is outperforming the GOP and is showing remarkable early strength, I think that interpretation, while partially true, does not really capture what is happening in the race (particularly on the day GOPer Bob Barr entered the race, again showing how hard it is going to be for McCain to take full control over his party). Given the nature of the Democratic race, we really have no idea what a true McCain-Obama match up looks like. Senator Obama has yet to go through his ascension to be the Democratic chief, and all the public benefit that accrues from winning. This week, we are starting to see the public in the early stages of seeing Obama now as the Democratic nominee, and his numbers are rising across the board. But has he has not yet really won yet. I don't think at this stage he has risen as far has he will once Senator Clinton drops out of the race. He is in a sort of "mid-bounce." Which given that Senator Obama is now up mid- single digits now without having fully won, and given that the structural gap between the two parties is between 10-15 points, means he is likely to keep climbing over the next few weeks.

So, to me, this new Post poll should not be a comfort to the GOP, but yet another reminder of the catastrophic legacy of the age of Bush, and another early sign of what may be an historic realigning election to come in 2008 (the Mississippi House Special Election will be another sign).

For more on the dawn of a new political era, be sure to read our recent magazine article, The 50-Year Strategy: A New Progressive Era.

McCain talks climate

John McCain has a new ad up and is giving a speech today in Oregon on climate change, a signature distinction that he likes to draw between himself and President Bush. McCain’s strategy on this issue is to try to position himself as a moderate, and this will be a key issue for him to build his maverick image upon.

Take a look at the new ad:

This ad places McCain in the middle on climate and strikes at others as being "extreme," presumably mainstream Republicans on one side and Democrats on the other. Look for more messaging like this out of the McCain team as the campaigns move into general election mode and McCain tries to neutralize climate change as an issue for the Democrats as he hunts for the middle that he will need to win in November.

McCain’s plan, which David Roberts at Grist calls "better than expected but behind the curve," is part of an important moment in American politics, as it means that the next president will surely do something about Climate Change. It is important to remember, however, that the something on climate all the candidates offer is not the same.

Update: Today's Washington Post features an excellent article by Julie Eilperin entitled "Environmental Stances Are Balancing Act for McCain." A sample:

But an examination of McCain's voting record shows an inconsistent approach to the environment: He champions some "green" causes while casting sometimes contradictory votes on others.

The senator from Arizona has been resolute in his quest to impose a federal limit on greenhouse gas emissions, even when it means challenging his own party. But he has also cast votes against tightening fuel-efficiency standards and resisted requiring public utilities to offer a specific amount of electricity from renewable sources. He has worked to protect public lands in his home state, winning a 2001 award from the National Parks Conservation Association for helping give the National Park Service some say over air tours around the Grand Canyon, work that prompts former interior secretary and Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt to call him "a great friend of the canyon." But he has also pushed to set aside Endangered Species Act protections when they conflict with other priorities, such as the construction of a University of Arizona observatory on Mount Graham. 

John McCain names his VP choice on the Daily Show

John McCain appeared on last night’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart. As far as politicians go, McCain has been a Daily Show favorite, and this interview is well worth watching. Stewart takes him to task on a couple lines he has delivered in the past - like his claim that Hamas endorsed Barack Obama.

Part 1:



Part 2 – Stewart takes McCain into the octagon:

John McCain’s fake walk off when Stewart says Bush instead of Hagee is pretty funny, but he was probably relieved that he didn't have to get into the Hagee issue. He will certainly have to account for the endorsement that he actively pursued from Reverend Hagee in the fall, but McCain’s cozying up to President Bush will obviously be a huge problem as well. How far we’ve come from 2004, when John McCain was considered a potential VP choice for John Kerry.

Unpublished
n/a

More on the gas tax

Dr. Robert Shaprio, Chair of NDN's Globalization Initiative, was quoted by Sam Stein in the Huffington Post on the gas tax holiday proposal. The article, entitled "Expert Support for Gas Tax Holiday Appears Nonexistant," comes on the heels of a Thomas Friedman column and New York Times editorial that both deride the proposal.

From the Huffington Post:

"Stated as clearly as I can," [Shapiro] wrote, "it's utterly misguided both environmentally and economically. Environmentally, it does actual harm, since it reduces the price of producing greenhouse gases. And economically it's trivial or worse -- by reducing the price of driving it encourages more of it, thereby increasing demand for gasoline, which inevitably pushes the price back up - the consumer gains nothing, and the oil companies and OPEC collect the extra bucks instead of the government."

On another note, the conferees on the upcoming farm bill agreed to reduce the subsidy for ethanol. Corn based ethanol has been blamed, among many factors, for the rise in food prices.

Candidates talk energy policy

Americans have dealt with significant increases in their costs of living during the Bush administration. One of the most significant is rising energy costs, most visibly seen in high prices at the pump. This issue has suddenly found itself at the center of the Presidential campaign in the form of a proposal to suspend the gas tax for the summer, saving the average American, according to estimates, at most about $30 over that time.

From the New York Times:

As angry truckers encircled the Capitol in a horn-blaring caravan and consumers across the country agonized over $60 fill-ups, the issue of high fuel prices flared on the campaign trail on Monday, sharply dividing the two Democratic candidates.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton lined up with Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, in endorsing a plan to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for the summer travel season. But Senator Barack Obama, Mrs. Clinton’s Democratic rival, spoke out firmly against the proposal, saying it would save consumers little and do nothing to curtail oil consumption and imports.

While Mr. Obama’s view is shared by environmentalists and many independent energy analysts, his position allowed Mrs. Clinton to draw a contrast with her opponent in appealing to the hard-hit middle-class families and older Americans who have proven to be the bedrock of her support. She has accused Mr. Obama of being out of touch with ordinary Americans who are struggling to meet their mortgages and gas up their cars and trucks.

Mrs. Clinton said at a rally on Monday morning in Graham, N.C., that she would introduce legislation to impose a windfall-profits tax on oil companies and use the revenue to suspend the gasoline tax temporarily.

"At the heart of my approach is a simple belief," Mrs. Clinton said. "Middle-class families are paying too much and oil companies aren't paying their fair share to help us solve the problems at the pump."

Mrs. Clinton said the tax on the oil companies, which have been reporting record profits as oil prices soar, would cover all of the lost revenue from the federal tax on gasoline and diesel fuel. She also said no highway projects would suffer.

Mr. Obama derided the McCain-Clinton idea of a federal tax holiday as a "short-term, quick-fix" proposal that would do more harm than good, and said the money, which is earmarked for the federal highway trust fund, is badly needed to maintain the nation’s roads and bridges.

Here at NDN, we are pleased to see the candidates addressing energy reform and discussing America’s weakening infrastructure. NDN Green Project Director Michael Moynihan recently wrote a paper about the need to invest in America’s infrastructure, and the Green Project has been promoting a long term solution to America’s energy needs. Going forward, we encourage the candidates to incorporate long term solutions these issues into their policy prescriptions.

Do you need to know how to use a computer to be president?

Watch for John McCain's response about 30 seconds in. Is this his "grocery store scanner" moment?

Last year, NDN's Globalization Initiative released a paper proposing univerisal access to computer training through our nation's community colleges. Senator Obama embraced the proposal as part of his community college plan. Under a hypothetical Obama Administration, John McCain might want to consider signing up to take classes.

H/T Matt Ortega at the DNC.

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