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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Monday, September 15, 2008

McCain, Keep the Change

By Keith R. Schmitz

Admittedly I'm not totally on top of things when it comes to politics (Jay leaves me in the dust on that account) but I believe I am better than average when it comes to following this contact sport.

So when I subjected myself to that form of torture known as the GOP convention, I kept hearing references by the parade of white people about John McCain's bold Congressional initiatives, standing up to special interests, program of reform, etc.

What was nagging was there was no there, there. Give us a laundry list of accomplishments. Hell, give us one thing. They certainly couldn't of course risk a rain of boos by mentioning McCain-Feingold, which would bring out the true colors of this "change" party.

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter raises, and answers, this point as well, poking some holes in the notion that John McCain is this dynamic force under the National Dome by comparing the record to that of Barack Obama:
Obama served eight years in Springfield, and has been in Washington nearly four so far. In the Illinois state Senate, he authored about a half-dozen "major laws" on issues ranging from ethics to education. The best example of his leadership style was bipartisan legislation to require the videotaping of police interrogations, which is now a national model. Obama brought together police, prosecutors and the ACLU on a win-win bill that simultaneously increased conviction rates and all but ended jailhouse beatings. In Washington he has his name on three important laws: the first major ethics reform since Watergate; a much-needed cleanup of conventional weapons in the former Soviet Union, and the "Google for Government" bill, an accountability tool that requires notice of all federal contracts to be posted online. Besides that, Obama hasn't been around long enough to get much done.

McCain served four years in the House and has been in the Senate almost 22 so far. But he, too, has authored fewer than a half-dozen major laws. Trying to fix immigration counts for something, but nothing passed. So while McCain deserves credit for the landmark 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform bill, the only other major law on which his office says his "name appears" (Palin's standard) is the "McCain Amendment" prohibiting torture in the armed forces. But that has little meaning because of a bill this year, supported by McCain, that allows torture by the CIA. Under longstanding government practice, military intelligence officers can be temporarily designated as CIA officers ("sheep-dipped" is the bureaucratic lingo) when they want to go off the Army field manual. In other words, the government can still torture anyone, any time. McCain caved on an issue he insists is a matter of principle.
Alter questions the vaunted crusade against earmarks, in this case earnicks because "account for less than 2 percent of the budget." If you think symbols are sexy then you may get turned on by the bridge to nowhere, but Alter points out the project "is offensive but amounts to the cost of a few hours in Iraq (now THAT's pork!)."

Alter charges that "given his claims of two decades of "making change," his record of legislative achievement is surprisingly thin. Nothing big on the economy, education, health care, law enforcement or other major issues."

That has been the problem with this campaign all along, one with seven, long, weeks ahead -- a political eternity -- that could take a big mouthful out his behind. They have scored a lot of political points against Obama with largely scurrilous charges and we keep hearing about "what has Obama done, what has he passed" and every time we offer something up it gets minimized or dissed. But where's the beef from McCain? Try to think of one thing that he has done. His campaign has done nothing to remind you what those things are.

Based on the record, to compare McCain's to Obama's. McCain defenders need to come up with roughly one fairly decent Congressional measure based for every year in the Senate. Can they do that?

The Obama campaign is fittingly getting aggressive. Despite the scurrying and worrying of some Obama supporters and the concern trolling both by concern trolls and the media, there was nothing that this campaign could constructively do with Palin being the new shiney object for the press.

Now that the two week penalty box time is over, the Obama campaign is hopping over the rink wall and ready to hit the ice. With all the garbage McCain and Palin has thrown out there in the typical style of GOP hubris, there is no need for high sticking. Just unreel the facts and crack the bottle of bubbly on a fleet of YouTubes. In four weeks this past two weeks will be far in the rear view mirror.

The fun part will be watching McCain simmer as the lid on him builds the pressure inside. You could see it on Friday when Joy Behar on The View was charging the McCain campaign with lying. You could imagine him wanting to lunge at her..

For anyone smug or sweating over the election, bear in mind November is a long way away.

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