Campaigns/Elections

Stop Me if You Think That You've Heard This One Before

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Today was hardly the first time John McCain has put Country First by showily "suspending" his campaign for the White House. On March 31, 1999, a week before his scheduled "official announcement" confirming the months-old news that he was running for president, and a week after Bill Clinton sent bombers over Kosovo, McCain announced that "It's not appropriate at this time to launch a political campaign."

How'd that work for him politically? According to sympathetic biographer Robert Timberg,

His decision amounted to a masterful political stroke. The Washington Post's Mary McGrory said that "professional politicians of both parties were wowed by McCain's beau geste…. McCain has made himself the de facto Republican foreign policy spokesman, and is getting yards of publicity for a non-event." The kudos kept pouring in, as did even more demands for him to appear on news-oriented TV talk shows. On one day alone, Monday, April 5, he could be seen arguing his case on Fox News's Crier Report, CNN's Larry King Live, PBS's Charlie Rose, two programs on CNBC, and two more on MSNBC, according to the Post's Dan Balz. Balz quoted one Republican strategist as labeling the conflict in Kosovo "All McCain, all the time." By week's end, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, on CNN's Capital Gang, said, "Let me just say in thirty-five years in Washington, I have never seen a debate dominated by an individual in the minority party as I've seen this one dominated by John McCain."

As Jake Tapper reported, in a May 1999 Salon piece that began with the phrase "First, a confession: Sen. John McCain almost seduced me":

"It tells people, here's a guy who doesn't need consultants to tell him what he believes in," says Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., another McCain 2000 co-chairman. "Contrast that with who's been leading this country for the last seven years."

"He's surged in New Hampshire," brags [Warren] Rudman. "He went from 3 percent to 15 percent in just a month."

As [Sen. Gordon] Smith puts it, "He's won the Kosovo primary."

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  1. Matt who are you going to vote for President?
    Please answer now. You know who you are going to vote for or not vote, so just tell us.
    Thanks

  2. Terry — I haven’t decided yet. I newly live in the District of Columbia, which will go 95% Obama, so chances are very strong I will use that “opportunity” to throw a third party a bone, and at this point I prefer the LP over the other ones.

  3. My guess is this gesture will win him as many presidential campaigns as it’s won him before.

    Is there any way we can get him to suspend it until after the election?

  4. Obama’s response:

    NEW YORK – The economic crisis and raw politics threatened to derail the first presidential debate as John McCain challenged Barack Obama to delay the Friday forum and join forces to help Washington fix the financial mess. Obama rebuffed his GOP rival, saying “It’s my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who, in approximately 40 days, will be responsible for dealing with this mess,” … “It’s going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.”…Obama said he would proceed with his debate preparations while consulting with bailout negotiators and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.”…”My sense is there’s going to be a stage, a moderator, an audience and at least one presidential candidate.

    From AP

  5. I hope it works for McCain this time. Good for Welch’s book sales, good for my gun rights. If I gotta eat a shit sandwich I want to chose the “red” flavor!
    Those blue shit sandwiches just taste like shit.

    FWIW, I’m still voting for my fellow Georgian Bob Barr.

  6. I hope the country doesn’t fall for this false act of “patriotism.” My guess is McCain saw himself down by nine points in one poll and is really desperate.

  7. Oh, and Reason, GET RID OF THE FUCKING POP-UP AD!!!

  8. Syd,

    Try using Firefox and ad-blocker.

  9. It’s one of those sneaky flash popup ads.

    Does anyone know why the suggestion that the gov’t buy a 50% interest in some actual mortgages has not gained more support? It seems to attack the problem at the root without rewarding the evil speculators on Wall St. (it does, however, reward irresponsible FL/CA homebuyers but it’s better than a $700 billion blank check).

  10. Have you read McCain’s mind Matt? Maybe he actually wants to do something. Maybe that something is misguided. If it is I would like to hear why. But I don’t see where you or anyone else has a right to question his integrity. His sollutions, absolutely, but I think every person even politicians have a right to be taken at their word.

    I honestly don’t know what to think. A lot of very smart people I respect like Richard Becker think the Paulson plan is the sollution. A lot of other whom I also respect think it is madness. I would like to think Reason would have something intelligent to add to that conversation.

    If McCain hadn’t suspended his campaign in 1999, you would be on here pointing to that fact saying “McCain didn’t think a war was important enough to stop campaigning, why so concerned now?” Regardless of what McCain does or doesn’t do, you will be on here bitching about it. Obama in contrast can promise to mandate national service and leftist indocrtination to all 12 year olds and you have nary a word to say. You are just a snarky prick when it comes to McCain.

  11. “Have you read McCain’s mind Matt? Maybe he actually wants to do something.”

    The dude knows jack shit about finance and (by his admission) the economy. What he “wants to do” is probably go to DC and push for the unmodified Paulson clusterfuck plan, because that’s what Bush wants.

  12. “But I don’t see where you or anyone else has a right to question his integrity.”

    Yeah, questioning the motives of politicians is just crazy!

    John, you feel the same way about Obama, or Hillary or Bill Clinton I’m sure, that their integrity should not be questioned…

  13. Anyone who doesn’t think this is a purely (albiet misguided) political move is either a low-info voter or a partisan hack.

  14. John,
    Name one other event in history that suspended a presidential campaign. This is McCain’s last ditch effort because he’s getting beat.

  15. “Regardless of what McCain does or doesn’t do, you will be on here bitching about it. Obama in contrast can promise to mandate national service and leftist indocrtination to all 12 year olds and you have nary a word to say. You are just a snarky prick when it comes to McCain.”

    John, try being a hack less. Just last week Welch had an article making the libertarian case FOR John McCain.

    It’s fascinating to see the right wing hacks falling all over themselves to protect McCain. Look back over a year ago and McCain was one of the more hated “RINO’s” attacked regularly by conservative activists (for campaign finance reform, “betraying” Bush on tax cuts, Iraq and torture, taking on tobacco, etc.). Libertarians have been hating on McCain for a long time, Matt is just being consistent with his principles, something you probably don’t seem to value…

  16. “This is McCain’s last ditch effort because he’s getting beat.”

    I still think he will probably win this.

  17. I think Barney Frank said it best:

    “It’s the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either football or Marys.”

    This is a OMGIMGOINGTOLOSEMUSTDOSOMETHINGNOWWITHOUTTHINKINGFIRST move on McCain’s part, something he has a habit of doing. Prior to today, I thought that Obama was going to win the election, but that it will be quite close. Assuming that McCain really skips the Friday debate (that is, they don’t manage to pass something in the next two days), and that Obama debates an empty podium, I now expect Obama to win by double digits.

    If they do pass something and McCain doesn’t go through with his threat, then it’s not that a big deal, although it will knock a point or two off McCain’s numbers. The only way that McCain wins here is if he personally writes whatever the final bill that passes and everybody likes it-which isn’t going to happen since Pelosi and Reid controll the language of what specifically gets voted on.

  18. MNG–

    If you think McCain will win this you’re doing some really good drugs. He’s dead.

  19. I mean for God’s sake he’s behind in Virginia and Colorado and *Within the margin of error* in fucking West Virginia! He’s also beating him solidly (+50%!) in the rustbelt. Late in the game. Obama is running away with it

    Before you give me Bradley Effect horseshit find an example that isn’t from the 1980s.

  20. This is the type of lame crap McCain has pulled throughout his career that has made him one of the most annoyingly self-righteous little pricks in politics. The bailout bill is important but at best it’s a bad solution out of choices of even worse ones, it will have lousy repercussions down the road. Any legisltion that needs to be rushed the way this one is will turn out to be a travesty in the end. The debate, and the Presidential election are also important. It does not serve the voters to dismiss an event helpful to making descision in that as some sort of petty game.

    Senator McCain, the partisan differences exist because the people in the parties actually have differeng ideas on how the country should be run, they are not merely being difficult for the heck of it. Get over yourself, sir.

  21. BDB,

    Ever read about how they put a chain around a baby elephant’s leg, so it will learn that it can’t break a leash, and for the rest of its life you can keep in from wandering off with a length of twine and a six inch peg?

  22. Ever read about how they put a chain around a baby elephant’s leg, so it will learn that it can’t break a leash, and for the rest of its life you can keep in from wandering off with a length of twine and a six inch peg?

    Are you suggesting Democrats are the baby elephant, and the six inch chain is a combination of Humphrey, McGovern, Carter 1980, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry?

    That’d totally explain why I’m not a Democrat but am more bullish about your prospects this year than actual Democrats.

  23. BDB,

    I’m suggesting MNG is an elephant, and Mondale and Dukakis are the chain.

  24. Got it. I was close!

  25. I didn’t even think that it was a foregone conclusion the Democrats would get it this year. Until Denver, then I knew they weren’t going to fuck this up.

  26. No, wait, Reagan and Bush are the chain, and Mondale and Dukakis are…uh…nearby budding trees…uhhhhh…can we come back to me?

  27. However I’m begging to wonder with all the fuck ups that have happened in the last eight years if the Presidency is that great of a “prize” for the Democrats. I have a feeling the next President will last one term.

  28. However I’m begging to wonder with all the fuck ups that have happened in the last eight years if the Presidency is that great of a “prize” for the Democrats. I have a feeling the next President will last one term.

    I look at it this way:

    If Obama wins, I feel sorry for him.
    If McCain wins, I feel sorry for us.

    And no matter who wins, my reaction will be:

    “I don’t fucking believe it!”

  29. Stop Me if You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before

    Who said we lied, because we never, we never. Who said we lied, because we never!

  30. Please please please, let me get what I want this time.

  31. “This is a OMGIMGOINGTOLOSEMUSTDOSOMETHINGNOWWITHOUTTHINKINGFIRST move on McCain’s part, something he has a habit of doing.”

    Like the one where he saw Obama’s packed stadium, shit himself, and picked Palin, the gift that keeps on giving.

    I just hope to God he doesn’t have one of these mavericky panic seizures in relation to the bailout. He’d take the position 180 degrees away from the correct one.

  32. BTW, Matt. Nice appearance on the Rachel Maddow Show.

  33. “John,
    Name one other event in history that suspended a presidential campaign”

    I believe that the WAR ON TERROR! was an event that suspended Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

    I’ve got the quote right here:
    “In this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror. This is not an easy decision. I hate to lose,”

    I promise everyone that I did not make up a single word of that.

  34. This is a OMGIMGOINGTOLOSEMUSTDOSOMETHINGNOWWITHOUTTHINKINGFIRST move on McCain’s part, something he has a habit of doing.

    Yes. And now he’s going to Washington, where he will get in a room with people who are having an OMGIMGOINGTOLOSEMUSTDOSOMETHINGNOWWITHOUTTHINKINGFIRST moment of their own, about the economic situation.

    Yay!

  35. I think the wheels may very well be falling off the McCain/Palin campaign, they both are looking to try to get out of debates, neither one of them will give press conferences, what is going on? Has there ever been a campaign who fled responsibility and scruiny like this? It takes maximum spin to tell me that McCain comes out of this looking anything but weak and cowardly. McChicken…

  36. Last McCain video I watched just had a clucking sound.

  37. James: Has there ever been a campaign who fled responsibility and scruiny like this?

    I wasn’t born then, but this sounds a lot like Muskie ’72.

  38. McCain’s strategy also has to do with not spending as much money, since he’s harnessed to his own campaign speech control legislation & Obama isn’t.

    I ask Republicans who are outraged by reactions of suspicion regarding McCain’s motives to imagine the following: Obama trying to postpone a debate in favor of going to Washington, DC in the wake of a hypothetical large scale terrorist attack on a US city. Somehow, in that circumstance, I suspect you’d think they can multitask & hold a debate, too.

    Well, that’s how some Republicans who aren’t admitting the political aspect of this happen to look from the outside.

  39. The dude knows jack shit about finance and (by his admission) the economy.

    Putting him pretty much on par with everybody else in the Senate, including his opponent.

    It’s my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who, in approximately 40 days, will be responsible for dealing with this mess,”

    I think Obama’s right about this.

    “It’s going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.”

    Since Obama isn’t dealing with anything right now except getting Obama elected, I’m not sure what his point is. If he was going back to DC to discharge his duties as a Senator, then he would be multi-asking (as he defines it). But he’s not.

  40. “I think every person even politicians have a right to be taken at their word.”

    Bawaaa!

    “Even politicians…”

    Oh Ho ho ha ho
    snort, gag…..stomach hurts…
    Gotta peeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  41. The debates were a sham anyway. What good is a debate without the candidates?
    http://www.bobbarr2008.com/

  42. If John McCain would just stop lying to everybody, and do something no other politician has ever done before, level with the American people about what is really going on in Washington, he might just win.

  43. Another day another Skunk smelling up the joint.

    Maybe someone should introduce John McSkunk to the INTERNET.

  44. Please:
    Fool me once shame on you.
    Fool me twice shame on me.
    I think people can see this for what it is a mile away. A Political Stunt

  45. Salon existed in 1999??!!
    McCain is a terrible tool, but this news (about Salon) indicates that the problems in America are worse than we thought.

  46. “Those Who Forget History Are Doomed to Repeat It.” Charles Keating, as told to John McCain over a working vacation – 1989.

  47. Maybe the man has principles and they didn’t change over the last 9 years.

    TAP

  48. Except he lost in the end, so . . . so much for a political masterstroke.

  49. Excelennt dude, I have not heard that one before!

    Jif
    http://www.privacy.es.tc

  50. “I think every person even politicians have a right to be taken at their word.”

    Aaaaahhhahahahhahahahahahahahhahahahahahahhhhhhhhhhhhahahahahahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhahahahahhahahaha.

    Oh God that was priceless.

  51. The real point:
    1. Postpone the debate until the day of the VP debate.

    2. Cancel the VP debate.

    -> Gov. Palin isn’t forcefully outed as an idiot (by Sen. Biden).

  52. McCain, is the Master of political theater, it will not work this time, period.

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