Richardson Attacks McCain

We can bitch all we want about St. John McCain, but it's going to take bigger guns that bloggers to point out just how insane he really is.  Bill Richardson, a man who has serious foreign policy credentials, is at least willing to criticize John McCain.

"The leading advocate for escalating the war is Senator John McCain. I have served with John in Congress and I respect him. But John McCain is wrong, dead wrong to think that we can solve Iraq's political crisis through military escalation."

Chipping away at McCain's credibility is critical to beating him in 2008.  I don't know exactly how to do that.  From my conversations with various thoughtful insider-types, they don't really know either.  Many of them are trying to figure out a way to distance themselves from the media fetishization of this guy.  The torture bill really destroyed his reputation among the civil rights crowd, and a lot of insiders now feel betrayed by McCain who previously had no reason to go after him.

I think we're starting to see a willingness to criticize him on policy grounds, as Richardson does, though tone matters and a gradual escalation of rhetoric will be necessary to genuinely undercut his credibility.  Still, this is encouraging.

Tags: Bill Richardson, John McCain (all tags)

Comments

31 Comments

Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

Good for Richardson.

by robliberal 2006-12-16 08:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

"I respect him but he's wrong on the most important issue facing our country"

Jeebus Christmas how hard was that?
Thank you Governor Richards and please help your fellow Democrats figure out how to speak truth so simply.
(PS: McCain is wrong about a bunch of other things too, but let's just start with this one).

by BlueinColorado 2006-12-16 08:25AM | 0 recs
Key frame = Escalation

I think the word Escalation is great and important in this context. Well done, Bill.

by Josh Koenig 2006-12-16 10:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Key frame = Escalation

Yes, because they're stalling on this, the opportunity is still in place to frame it.

Escalation is the word.  Nothing evokes Vietnam better.  It also reinforces the now widely held view that this was undertaken with insufficient force.

And the frame has the virtue of being true.

by jayackroyd 2006-12-16 12:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Key frame = Escalation

McCain is currently in the process of discrediting himself.

I think people overestimate his cunning, if he talked Bush into a policy of escalation.

Because it goes without saying that policy can only be an unmitigated disaster, and 2008 is a long time away now. By November 2008 Iraq will be a worse shambles than it is now, if we send more troops.

Our troops are the problem that is making everything worse. When you look at what they are actually doing in Iraq, instead of tamping down ethnic tensions, they are fueling the fire with their sweeps.

So, the great danger for McCain has always been that Bush would listen to him and do what he says. And there's a great temptation for Bush to do just that, because escalation doesn't require Bush to admit he was wrong or that he's failed. He can go double or nothing!

But, for McCain it's a flat disaster, since his main policy will be exposed as a total failure and making a catastrophe worse.

If Bush adopts his policy McCain will be screwed but good.

by Cugel 2006-12-16 09:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

How does something like McCain's popularity happen? Why do the media love him so and give him such credibility? He has shown himself to be an uber right-wing panderer, and yet people think he is moderate in his views. I'm reminded of that British headline after the 2004 election, which I can only paraphrase now: How Can 61 Million People Be So Stupid?

by apragmatist 2006-12-16 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

I have this impression left over from the 2000 campaign that he was a maverick.  I don't know if he actually was: though I read newspapers daily, I don't think I got enough out of them to be able to make an honest judgment.

So, you old timers: was he really a maverick prior to 2000?  His record after 2000 is pretty clear as a right-wing scumbag, but I'm curious what his older record really was.

by aip 2006-12-16 08:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

For a politician, McCain is funny, and he was constantly available to the media, riding with them on the bus, talking without a handler-approved talking-point script, etc. When asked who his first love was, he couldn't very well mention leaving his first wife for Cindy and her twenty-five million dollars, so he talked about a stripper named Marie the Flame of Florida who worked in a club near the Pensacola base. Stuff like that. He voted against Bush's tax cuts, called for fiscal responsibility while Bush was calling for tax cuts in the 2000 campaign. He talks about global warming. But in general he owes his reputation to talk more than deed (ie, actual votes in the Senate)

by BlueinColorado 2006-12-16 08:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

The availability to the media is a key part of their love-fest.  McCain is downright chummy with the press, and reminds them of the heady days of the past when the candidate would get blitzed in the press bus and not have to worry about it ending up in the papers.

by KansasNate 2006-12-16 10:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

The media's affinity for McCain has little to do with the maverick persona he may or may not have.  It's more simple than that.  McCain is nice to the media, he gives them access to him, and he talks a lot.

by Laurin from SC 2006-12-16 08:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

Given his reputation for integrity, I think the key to undermining credibility on policy issues is pointing to conflicting statements and positions. Rather than trying to point out McCain is a true conservative, which might not frighten people as much as we'd like (it didn't work with GWB during the campaign), emphasise the conflict between his attempts to be a Roosevelt maverick-progressive when he was running to the left of Bush, and his increasing attempts to pander to the right. He frames himself as a maverick when really the very things that establish him as one actually prove he has no principles that trump his desire for power -- if that message gets out, it undermines his most important attribute, his reputation for independence and principle. We should compile a dossier of his most progressive-sounding pronouncements and then wait for him to say things that explicitly contradict them.

by thesleepthief 2006-12-16 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

Speaking of chipping away: earlier this week, a couple of friends on a ~100 person social email list mentioned that they really liked McCain.  I wrote a short piece about the backstepping he's done on torture, the immunity for torturers, and most recently, his anti-blog, anti-social networking proposal.

Another person piled on, and 24 hours later, everyone on the list had been convinced that McCain was morally equivalent to Bush, and was not someone worth voting for (this is the Bay Area, after all).  The McCain of 2000 was honorable, but not roll-over McCain of 2006.

I tell this not to pat myself on the back, but to mention that your blogging reaches many people indirectly.  Only a handful of these people have patience to read political news or blogs.  Just mentioning a few of the dirty deeds McCain has done in the past few years was enough, and I think he's almost unelectable at this point given his record.  As you said, we just have to keep chipping away at him.

by aip 2006-12-16 08:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

That's great to hear.  I'd like to understand more fully how to integrate these grasstop networks into overall progressive messaging.  One of the things the right does is use local business associations to fulfill the basic function you did on this listserv.  Maybe we're leapfrogging them?

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-16 11:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

I'd say it's more of a parallel move, but yeah, it's certainly more advanced, but mostly applies only to 30-somethings or younger that grew up with email.  

On terminology: I'm not sure "grasstop" is a good description per my understanding from this.  
Social email lists are more of an "urban tribe" phenomenon, a social network is usually limited to a local area, and discusses events, announcements, life challenges, etc. - think church group, but without the church.  There are lots of other lists that are more directed: house repair q&a, or neighborhood emergency preparedness, for example, but even these stray into politics occasionally.  

For each of these lists, there's usually one person that determines list membership, but there's no real leader: people just speak up when they have questions, answers to question, occasional random comments or announcement, and (nowaways) lots of YouTube links.  It's just more insular than a public discussion forum, as you know most everyone prior to joining the list, and so there's more freedom to discuss personal topics and no need to be "on the record" when you post (pseudonyms are not needed when you already know most everyone personally).

I'd say there's about 500-2000 such lists around the Bay Area, with at least 100,000 people on them total, but I'm just pulling that out of my arse.  I count about 20 private email lists I'm on right now, with probably 500 or so people on these lists, and a lot of overlap between lists.

by aip 2006-12-17 02:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

Best way to "chip away" is to ALWAYS refer to the emerging "Way Forward" plans for Iraq as the bush-McCain plan.  They both think this is nifty....link the two of them together.  When it fails, and it will, make sure both of them get full credit.

by NotRight 2006-12-16 09:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

Great point.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-16 11:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

aip is right -- it doesn't take much to turn rational folks away from McCain. Most don't even know that his "straight talk" is just B.S., they just trust the media chatter, so when you actually show them how he has voted -- especially for things (like torture) that he originally spoke out against, it's not hard to stick a pin in that particular balloon. I think most people's support for McCain is pretty shallow at this stage of the game, so getting the facts out is a good way to start.

by IncandenzaH 2006-12-16 09:29AM | 0 recs
this is a good start

I don't think there's any one magic phrase that will dent McCain's popularity. Democrats just need to hammer him often and tie him to the Iraq War.

The first step is that Democrats need to stop wanting to make themselves look good by association with McCain. Kudos to Richardson for taking that first step.

by desmoinesdem 2006-12-16 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

Lots of good ideas here. I've been pouring the truth serum on McCain to everyone I know. It does burst the bubble of media fawning, but I agree with desmoinesdem and I think we need to put pressure on our elected ones to do the same.

by suki 2006-12-16 10:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

What are the chances? McCain gets muscled out by Rudeee or some dark-horse religious zealot (Brownback or Huckabee) and decides to run as an Independent with fellow chickenhawk, Joe Lieberman - calling themselves the "America for John and Joe" party. Would they have the time to get on the ballot in all 50 states? Is it even possible? The way the primaries are front-loaded, the Republican and Democratic candidates should be decided relatively early. Would they have the time, with their huge egos and bad judgment, to totally muck up 2008?

by randron 2006-12-16 10:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

Let's hope so.

by robliberal 2006-12-16 10:23AM | 0 recs
McCain-Lieberman?

This would be the greatest thing to happen to the Democrats since FDR.  Indie McCain would siphon so many votes from the GOP, the Democrats could run a Kucinich/Sharpton ticket and be the odds-on favorites.  But it'd never happen.  McCain's too much of a suckup to the GOP to ever run against them.  And the last thing Holy Joe needs is to be a failed VP nominee again.

by schroeder 2006-12-16 05:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

I think McCain is damaging himself. I would have probably voted for him in 2000. I won't even think about it if he is on the ballot this time. I also don't think I could put aside my beliefs and vote for someone like Hilary Clinton. I would probably grudgingly vote for Obama, not sure I could motivate myself to do anything for him. All the people I would feel strong reasons to do things for keep dropping out.There has to be someone anyone out there to run better than these people. I think I'm going to post this as a personal diary  

by orin76 2006-12-16 11:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain
...escalation of rhetoric will be necessary to genuinely undercut his credibility. Could we be careful of our own rhetoric? This should read "necessary to expose McCain's lack of credibility. Undercutting a decent man's credibility is a Rethuglican tactic. McCain lost his credibility along with his integrity by too close an association with George W.
by Polly 2006-12-16 11:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

richardson just provided the template for going after mccain. "i respect him but he's dead wrong" is a palatable message for the independent types. nice job, bill.

by arbitropia 2006-12-16 12:30PM | 0 recs
Could this be one chink in McCain's armor?

A statement by the authors Joseph and Susan Trento jumped out today on C-Span while they discussed their book, Unsafe at Any Altitude. Their book documents the great financial waste at TSA, compounded by sloppiness, and they credit John McCain as the person most responsible for setting up TSA as it exists today. Granted, the Trentos say that 60 days didn't allow sufficient time to organize a well-thought out agency. They also seem to think that a decision against retaining the private employees while installing a federalized supervisory layer might have worked out to be more efficient and less costly.

The authors hope to see some oversight and maybe even streamlining in the 110th Congress.

by Books Alive 2006-12-16 01:29PM | 0 recs
Well, I have some suggestions...
...about how to take down McCain. Come check them out here.
by Qshio 2006-12-16 01:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

Think Gender Gap.  Right now the Dem's have a good advantage here, and by taking on McCain properly, we can increase it.  

Reproductive Rights -- obviously, but not the right issue right now.  

McCain is terrible on education issues, and for working class and middle class women, this is a very significant issue.  Combine that with afterschool programs and pre-school education, even his Headstart voting record -- and you can cut a swath through his appeal with his own voting record.  Democratic and Independent Women voters have a particular take on this issue that has to be understood to use it properly.  More than 60% of them are in the full time work-force while they have children at home, and for them, the quality and availabilty of appropriate education they can manage while working full time is important.  "He-manship" doesn't cut it when you work this issue properly.  I believe McCain sits on Ted Kennedy's Ed & Labor Committee, which has to review NCLB this year and re-authorize.  This is a great chance to push him on an issue that matters to millions of voters.  

Energy Policy.  As far as I can tell, McCain has never voted for anything that represents support for alternative energy.  I expect him to be given a hard time on this in Iowa, where the undercurrent is all about Bio-Fuels, Wind Energy and Ethanol -- turning Iowa's ag assets into a variety of types of new energy, where Farmers may actually have a stakeholder role in production.  McCain is a "big oil" pol -- and he can be brought up short on his failure to support R & D and deployment of alternatives.  The questions about McCain's stance have to be precisely targeted in Iowa (each state is different).  In Iowa it is significantly the farmers, the equiptment salespersons, and the like who are now very interested in, and investing in these alternatives. They are Republicans. McCain can be thrown for a loop if the messages are properly drawn and targeted.  In New Hampshire the same set of issues are environmental -- in Iowa it is about support for developing a profit center.  

There are more such issue centers where McCain's record is horrid -- we just need a strategy to use them so as to reveal his voting record.  

by Sara 2006-12-16 02:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

Republicans must be nervous about McCain, since escalating the war is going to seal their fate, as well as his.  I think you see Republicans starting to move away from the belligerent jerk.

by Bob H 2006-12-17 03:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Hell has no fury like a general scorned.  Looks like Colin Powell did a fine job on Sunday.

by notime4lies 2006-12-17 10:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson Attacks McCain

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by lucitana 2007-03-06 09:56PM | 0 recs

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