Sunday, July 13, 2008

Up and Down

This has been a week of ups and downs for John McCain.

First off, John McCain believes that Social Security is a "disgrace" -- which is not surprising for someone who doesn't have to rely on it himself (as a Senator and a gigolo, he's well taken care of) and as a Republican who believes that it should be flushed down the drain. Of course, after he was called on his moment of honesty, he says he was taken "out of context." Is McCain really this clueless?

One of his surrogates, Carly Fiorina, reminded women voters of McCain's stand on mandating insurance coverage for birth control (no) and Viagra (yes) -- after McCain himself "couldn't recall" his position on the issue. In case anyone needs reminding (including McCain), his position is up for Viagra and down on contraceptives. Three gifts for Obama. I guess at his age, that makes a lot of sense.

Then, of course, there's McCain economic advisor, Phil Gramm, who called us all a bunch of "whiners" because the economy's in the toilet (where they'd rather put Social Security), adding “You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession.” Of Gramm, Bob Herbert notes,
Feeling No Pain:

No one (not even John McCain, who tended toward the rapturous when describing Mr. Gramm’s economic bona fides) could mistake this sour-visaged investment banker for a populist.

“We’re the only nation in the world,” Mr. Gramm once said, “where all our poor people are fat.”

During one of the many Republican assaults on Social Security, the issue of cutting back benefits for the elderly came up in the Senate. “They are 80-year-olds,” howled Mr. Gramm. “Most people don’t have the luxury of living to be 80 years old, so it’s hard for me to feel sorry for them.”

* * * *
But the truth is that Mr. Gramm, a close friend of Senator McCain’s for many years, has had a very loud say in the economic policies of the McCain presidential campaign. And those policies are an extension of the G.O.P. orthodoxy that is threatening to sink the ship of state, even as the very wealthy are dancing mindlessly to the music of another Gilded Age.
But, as Fiorina pointed out, it doesn't matter what McCain's advisers or surrogates say, TPM Election Central:
Carly Fiorina today tried to downplay the potential impact of Phil Gramm's declaration that America had become 'a nation of whiners' about he economy. 'Outside of Washington, where this is an interesting parlor game, I think most Americans are not really focused on what a bunch of surrogates are saying,' Fiorina said on Meet The Press -- though it's unclear if the average American will see things as Fiorina does, as she's just a campaign surrogate.
True that. They only worry about what the candidate's minister has to say, a la Reverend Wright. People who are actually part of the campaign itself? Not so much.

And, for a few other lesser gaffes of the week, see Road Still Bumpy For McCain's Retooled Bandwagon. I should also add that some believe that McCain's malappropisms stem from age-related memory issues, John McCain Suffering Deluge of Senior Moments, which is a major concern, because we'll probably never learn if that is true. At this point, I'd rather focus on the results rather than the cause.

So, after McCain's really, really, bad week, it's no surprise that the margin by which Obama is ahead has changed. That's right -- Obama's 15 point lead from a few weeks ago is now 3 points. See Newsweek giveth, and Newsweek taketh away. What else would you expect?

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