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This is a year that favors health care plans and regulatory schemes and unemployment benefits. It is not a year that favors John McCain.

The most telling poll result from last night’s debate was not the CBS survey of uncommitted voters that found Obama trouncing McCain, 53 percent to 22 percent. It was not a Fox News focus group conducted by conservative pollster Frank Luntz that decisively favored Obama. Rather, the most telling result was a subquestion asked in a poll conducted by CNN. “Who spent more time attacking during the debate?” They asked. Seven percent said Barack Obama. Eighty percent said John McCain. It was no surprise, then, that Obama won their poll, too: 58 percent to 31 percent.

He has not lost his temper at a questioner, blown up at a reporter, or exploded during a debate. Rather than a swift detonation, he has settled into a slow burn.

John McCain has an anger problem. But not the one many political observers presumed he’d have. He has not lost his temper at a questioner, blown up at a reporter, or exploded during a debate. Rather than a swift detonation, he has settled into a slow burn. He seethes. His debate performances have been shot through with contempt and resentment. The first meeting saw McCain unable to meet Barack Obama’s eye, or begin a sentence without first attaching, “what Senator Obama doesn’t understand.” The second saw him tumble into a Grandpa Simpson moment, smirking wildly at the camera and referring to Obama as “that one.” Last night’s meeting, however, was McCain’s worst: The seated setting led to split-screen coverage, and McCain’s face was alive with fury. He grimaced and smirked and sighed. He rolled his eyes and bulged his neck and shook his head. What he said aloud was not nearly so damaging as what his expressions silently betrayed. And so he lost.

John McCain has every right to be angry. He should have beaten George W. Bush in 2000. He lost to the money and smears of a lesser man, and then had to watch that man occupy the most historic presidency of modern times. Imagine McCain, a man who has spent his life thinking about war and honor and duty and sacrifice, observing Bush exhort us to shop after 9/11. What must he thought of that moment? How often must he have thought of what he would do with that moment?

The first debate saw McCain unable to meet Barack Obama’s eye.  The second saw him tumble into a Grandpa Simpson moment, smirking wildly at the camera and referring to Obama as “that one.” Last night’s meeting, however, was McCain’s worst: McCain’s face was alive with fury.

But the years were kind to John McCain, and by 2004, he was arguably the country’s most popular politician. The Democrat begged him to be his vice president; the Republican incumbent needed his endorsement. If it had been an open field, he would have won in a walk. And so he made a judgment: He would yoke himself to the Republican Party. He would play the good soldier, and in 2008, he would be promoted to command.

But the world changed on John McCain. The Republican brand is shot. The threat of terrorism has receded from the public imagination. Economic insecurity has come to occupy center stage. Americans are afraid, yes. But what they fear is not what John McCain knows how to fight. You cannot — or at least, should not — bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb the economy. You cannot fix Wall Street with a draft. You cannot prop up median wages by gleefully bucking your party on the Sunday shows. This is a year that favors health care plans and regulatory schemes and unemployment benefits. It is not a year that favors John McCain.

And so it is that George W. Bush now looks like he will beat McCain twice. McCain will have lost to the ruthless aptitude of Bush’s campaign in 2000, and to the inadequacies of his presidency in 2008. It must be a wrenching realization. Caught between the hard realities of the moment and the sharp failures of George W. Bush, he has done the only thing he can do: Attack. And so he has. He has attacked Obama as inexperienced, as unsettlingly eloquent, as a mere celebrity. He has attacked him for consorting with terrorists and plotting with ACORN. He has attacked him on offshore drilling and abortion and taxes and folksy aphorisms.

And so it is that George W. Bush now looks like he will beat McCain twice. McCain will have lost to the ruthless aptitude of Bush’s campaign in 2000, and to the inadequacies of his presidency in 2008.

He attacks because it is the only strategy open to a candidate down eight points, with 19 days left in the election. Because he doesn’t have the policy answer that will vault him ahead of Barack Obama, and because after years in the public eye, there is little left for John McCain to say about John McCain. And as he attacks, he seems ever more inadequate to the moment. Wall Street tumbles, and he speaks of 1960s radicals. Americans lose their homes, and he complains of harsh words from John Lewis. Nine out of ten American express displeasure with the direction of the country, and he cries that Barack Obama did not take public funding. For a man who built his career atop a slew of brave causes and a sense of national purpose, this is an indignity indeed. And so he is angry. But at the wrong things. Viewers see him berating Barack Obama but speaking haltingly about health care. His furies do not match their own.

John McCain’s best moment in last night’s debate came when he heatedly declared, “Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.” So too should John McCain. But he did not run four years ago, nor accept John Kerry’s offer of a partnership. And so the only man John McCain really has cause to be angry at is himself.

Source: Prospect

Like leader – like follower. Many of those following the John McCain campaign are angry – with an added touch of Palin spitefulness – versus the Obama supporter who shows another frame of mind – with Obama its work hard – know what’s against you – whereas the McCain supporter which seems to be dependent on an old order and the assumption that this base of support will automatically be in place – and now we see the violent/angry reaction when it is not.

It is evident from the way Mr. McCain debates – that he is heavily reliant on this power-support or on a sense of supremacy – and when he stands alone in front of the world – with Barack Obama it appears he is reaching for it. The Republican Convention was a little like McCain at the Puerto Rican Craps table – where he becomes untouchable – because of who ‘I am’ – a former POW, and a Senator for 20 odd years. This is the kind of power-framework which he has placed himself in – and therefore he becomes untouchable by Barack Obama, and through that he wins the election – in his own mind.

While McCain is attached to past glories – we have a catastrophic economic crisis – not since the Great Depression and maybe never – as its fallout is not complete – this while McCain is trying to lock everyone into his frame of mind – which is – more than what I will do for you – its what I have done for you – or what I have did – that’s more important – so he’s running on past glories – but what he is offering and expects you to accept – is more of the same – almost the same as what Bush offered – tax cuts for the wealthy who don’t need them as much as the less well off especially in these times – and he is expecting you to accept this – not because they are rational choices – but purely because he was a war hero – and because he has been a Senator for more years than Obama.

With the information age – we can look at his military record (reckless/maverick/lucky), we can look at what he did and didn’t do in the Senate – and we can put that with his plan for the future – and we can look at the current economic state – and say we are going to need more than a touching story about a man who survived the horrors of being a POW. People have children to feed – and a tax cut for the top 5% of the wealthiest people in America – along with benefits for corporations – is not going to help my family – or most of the people I know.

Mr. McCain’s image is his world – it is what he looks at the world through – and when it is challenged, threatened or slighted in anyway – he defends it with his anger. By being behind in the polls – more than anything he sees it as a rejection of his image – of the POW who fought for his country, like so many others and the senator who served – senators make good and bad decisions – so therefore by rejecting his image – he turns to his anger in an attack directed at Obama’s image. But attacking a man who cares less about image – likely will not produce the results that were hoped for.

What we are seeing is a man leading people with this misplaced anger – and its no wonder his crowd is angry – as they also believe people should see McCain’s image. And no matter what he says or what he believes or what he is offering – the image of Mr. McCain should trump everything.

McCain’s image – like Palin’s image of a moose-hunting, polar bear-despising, extreme-anti-abortionist drill-baby-drill final-solution locks her appeal into too narrow a group – has not managed to multiply the women’s vote as expected – by putting a negative, dirty and hateful spin on it – will drive people away from their limited vision faster – and worst you’ll get the wrong types of people being attracted. Unfortunately that’s what has happened – Palin/McCain rallies are turning into Iran – Death to Obama – Obama’s the Great Evil – and WWII Country First/more Country Űber Alle. Signs of this emerged during the GOP convention – and now it is being played out on the stump. At one rally a black camera man was insulted (Palin’s husband and children are part Eskimo) – versus Barack Obama’s DNC Convention – which he not only said but you could see – this was one America – this is not a Black America or a White America this is the united States of America.

With McCain as President – we could expect a leader – who executes his power through his anger – not healthy. A leader who looks backwards – with an over reliance on an image – that has a place – but is no longer as relevant. With Obama as president – we could expect a healing – a thoughtful approach to the environment, to issues which concern women and families, both Wall Street and Main Street, and a forward lookingness to face some of the technological challenges America will face in the near future.

December 2019
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