Friday, August 29, 2008

The Democratic Strategy of Linking McCain to Bush

I understand why they are trying to tightly link McCain to Bush - Bush is unpopular now and the closer you can tie the two the more likely voters will feel uncomfortable with McCain. The only problem is - of all Republican senators - McCain has been one of the most visible and staunch critics of Bush during his presidency. While most other Republicans either fell in line or else criticized Bush for not being conservative enough, McCain was constantly in the news for opposing Bush policies. Boortz (who's very amusing, though I very rarely agree with his opinions) has a good list of issues where Bush and McCain did not agree:
  • McCain fought for campaign finance reform — McCain-Feingold — that Bush resisted and ultimately signed because he had no choice.
  • McCain led the battle to restrict interrogation techniques of terror suspects and to ban torture.
  • McCain went with Joe Lieberman on a tough measure to curb climate change, something Bush denies is going on.
  • McCain opposed the Bush tax cuts when they passed.
  • McCain urged the Iraq surge, a posture Bush rejected for years before conceding its wisdom.
  • McCain favors FDA regulation of tobacco and sponsored legislation to that effect, a position all but a handful of Republican senators oppose.
  • McCain's energy bill, also with Lieberman, is a virtual blueprint for energy independence and development of alternate sources.
  • After the Enron scandal, McCain introduced sweeping reforms in corporate governance and legislation to guarantee pensions and prohibit golden parachutes for executives. Bush opposed McCain's changes and the watered-down Sarbanes-Oxley bill eventuated.
  • McCain has been harshly critical of congressional overspending, particularly of budgetary earmarks, a position Bush only lately adopted (after the Democrats took over Congress).
In other words, this democratic bundling strategy caries little weight with me, as I think it should with anyone who has been politically informed over the years. Of course, they should use the political climate to their advantage, but I don't think it should be their only strategy. They should also use an entirely different strategy, one that is not entirely dependent upon people's present discontent. The strategy I have in mind would be to ask how they would sell their case if President Bush were not nearly as unpopular. They should be trying to showcase the intrinsic value of their view over that of their opponents (without negating the valid concerns of their opponents). This way they wouldn't have to rely on the populace's ignorance of the differences between Bush and McCain or merely on their present contingent discontent.

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