Home > Election 2008 > Why Is McCain Doing So Well?

Why Is McCain Doing So Well?

October 30th, 2008

Kevin Drum asks, “Why is Obama winning?” The idea is that with all that conservatives are lobbing at Obama, how could he still be ahead by so much? My immediate reaction is, “why isn’t he ahead by more”? Seriously.

I hesitated on that question, primarily because I thought that my own bias was getting in the way. But then I thought of a way to get past that.

Think of it this way: what if Obama were the Republican and McCain were the Democrat? What if the Republicans had a youthful, charismatic, African-American candidate who was a great orator, and the Democrats were running a septuagenarian fuddy-duddy with a weird laugh and a so-so-speaking style? What if the Republican was outspending the Democrat four-to-one in advertising? What if the Republican was the one with consistent policies and the Democrat had flip-flopped on almost every issue? What if the Republican promised bigger tax cuts to the middle class, and the Democrat’s proposals were the ones promising to explode the deficit more? What if the Republican had a solid if not-so-exciting running mate while the Democrat chose a lightweight, far-left whacko? What if the Republican had a solid campaign organization running a competent 50-state policy while the Democrat’s campaign was in disarray? What if the Republican was standing tall while the Democrat was lying left and right and running a pathetic smear campaign?

Take all that, and then add the idea that the election comes after an 8-year Democratic presidency mired in war, corruption, and policy disaster ending with the biggest economic downturn in generations, and the Democrat was running on essentially the same policies as his predecessor?

I mean, seriously: are you freaking kidding me? The Republican would be ahead by huge margins. A landslide would be confidently predicted. There would simply be no question.

So the question becomes, why are things the way they are? Why isn’t McCain losing by a lot more? Why is this even as close as it is? Only so much can be explained off by McCain’s war hero image versus the guy with the funny name. Only so much can be attributed to conservative and rural voters being far less tolerant of a black man who does not enthusiastically share their political views. A bigger part of it is, I believe, the fact that Democratic voters are far less willing to accept BS than Republican voters are. When an al Qaeda affiliate all but endorsed McCain, all I heard from Democrats was that the statement could have been self-serving; had the statement ‘supported’ Obama, the right wing would have erupted in an orgy of finger-pointing, name-calling, and smears. Again, this could just be bias talking, but the right wing far more easily accepts demagoguery, incompetence, and unethical behavior in the name of ideology than the left does.

Another factor is quite simply the media. In part, it’s because they wanted a horse race, but in my opinion, it’s much more because there is a rather glaring right-wing bias involved. Come on–how many times did you see McCain do stuff and note, “if Obama had done that, he’d be toast”? Rather than being about what the public would accept, this is mostly due to what the media decides it will focus on. Just at the beginning of the year, we had McCain blatantly violate campaign finance law, a felony charge with a five-year prison sentence, and the media gave it a total pass. I don’t think anyone could competently argue that Obama would have received the same bye on such a matter. The expression “on the tire swing” gained recognition on its own merit and became widely recognized as describing a reporter who had lost objectivity and favored McCain; the expression “in the tank” for Obama was pushed by the McCain campaign, and instantly died.

The truth of the matter is, had the media reported objectively, truthfully, and with equal depth and candor on both candidates from the beginning, McCain would not have had even the slim chance he now has. Part of Obama’s recent rise came, I believe, as a direct result from the media bailing out on McCain after Palin was chosen as his running mate. At that point, the McCain campaign stopped giving them the access they craved, and started peddling such absurd lies that even those who had been on tire swings were now egregiously offended by the McCain campaign assumption that they would willingly play along when they were being so obviously dumped on.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags: by
Comments are closed.