John McCain's desperation took a few big rhetorical leaps today as he tried to portray himself as just another anti-Bush candidate. In Cleveland, a special victim of thirty years of Reagan Bush policies, from the various levels of de-industrialization, job loss, anti-[public sector cutbacks, McCain popped up and said that he and Senator Obama both "disagreed" with Bush, but that Obama thought that "taxes were too low" and he thought that "spending was too high."
Spending for what? Public sector jobs programs that would raise the income of Cleveland's citizens along with the citizens of other industrial and "former" industrial cities? Spending for interest payments on a federal debt that has increased from 1 trillion to over 10 trillion in the last 28 years of Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush administration (with Clinton, with all of his other flaws, the only president who really did get the deficit under control in that period). Spending on for the military which has increase nearly five times in that period and is today nearly double what in 1991 with the dismemberment of the Soviet Union?
McCain didn't say. Instead he said that "I have been through tough times like this before, and the American people can trust me, based on my record and results, to take strong action to end this crisis, restore jobs, and bring security to Americans. I will never be the one who sits on the sidelines and waits for the economy to get better."
McCain's "economic plan" is almost beside the point. All one can say is that it has three parts, none of which are especially in the interest of working families. He will buy up bad mortgage paper he says to help banks and let that trickle down to people facing foreclosure. How he will do that specifically is left unclear(the devil, as the British used to say and the finance companies always show, "is in the details," the fine print, which predatory politicians like McCain are no more willing to discuss than the predatory mortgage lenders). He also has "incentives" aka various tax breaks and other small change subsidies to business owners to hire workers and the general population to "save more" (which won't happen unless there are revolutionary changes in our installment plan society)
But McCain shouldn't be taken seriously in any way. He has never been through tough economic times like this. He was born into a distinguished naval officer family and had all the benefits and welfare state security that the military brings. While he did go through very tough times as a POW, this had nothing to do with economic policy. Also, he has no record and results on much of anything during his years in Congress, except a record of fighting with both friends and foes, endless grandstanding as a foe of pork barrel politics, meaningless legislation to deal with campaign financing, and that is it. The Republican politicians who have gotten "results" in Congress over the last generation are first and foremost Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott, his old friend Phil Gramm, in the executive Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and of course Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. The "results" that they have gotten have been disastrous for the American people and the people of the world. McCain was their follower over the decades.
The truth is that McCain doesn't understand what a modern military leader is, much less the head of a government. He has never shown the capacity to delegate authority, take advice, learn, go beyond an overweening ambition and the resentments which have always followed from his failure to achieve the military and later political prizes that he wanted. Now he has the "least valuable" Republican political nomination since 1964, a nomination that he has further devalued by his choice of Palin as his running mate.
Senator Obama will be speaking on the economic crisis to the people on Wednesday. McCain might turn it on and learn something. He also might bring Palin, who is denouncing Obama's plans to "redistribute" wealth. Or he might have a joint appearance with Palin and replay a scene of Richard Nixon's 1952 Checkers speech, drop the military toughness image and portray himself as a "hard working middle class man(he would have to got rid of four of his houses) who will fight for "America" and the "middle class" against the "crooks" on Wall Street and the "Communists" aka "socialists" aka "Marxists" aka "redistributors of wealth." He might even point to Palin ala Nixon and refer to her "good Republican cloth coat" (minus $149,775 in wardrobe expenditures) Palin might then mention a little cocker spaniel she saved from a Polar Bear whom liberals were trying to put on the endangered species list and together they would try to ride a wave of anti-Wall Street, anti-Communist/Socialist and anti-Polar Bear hysteria in to the White House. Who knows? It is, given the level of McCain's arguments, as likely to work for him as anything else.