McCain's War Experience Might Not Be A Strength

Matt Stoller made a very interesting observation yesterday. Talking about McCain's first general election advertisement, he said:

McCain is obviously hinging his whole campaign on his POW time in Vietnam, with this spot closing with 'An American President Americans Have Been Waiting for'.  This is a frequent tool he deploys when he speaks with the press, saying things like 'I haven't been questioned this hard since Hanoi'.

I can't help but think that it's a foolish narrative.  1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004 all saw the candidate without military service elected over the candidate who had served, in several cases heroically.


I decided to take a little closer look at this phenomenon. Obviously, the war hero turned President narrative is ingrained in our history. People like George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, and Dwight Eisenhower rode their wartime popularity to political success. In election campaigns, candidates like to use their wartime experience to prove to the public they know something about sacrifice, fortitude, public service, steely resolve, judgment, or any other number of character traits candidates think the American people care about.

Whether veterans actually end up getting elected more often over their non-serving opponents is another question.

Looking back at the elections since 1948 (the election after FDR died), the picture is much more mixed. Below is a chart of the candidates and winners of each election, with their veteran status noted. For the purposes of this chart, veteran means serving overseas, which disqualifies candidates like George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

YearDemocratic CandidateRepublican CandidateWinner
2004John Kerry (veteran)George W. BushGeorge W. Bush
2000Al Gore (veteran)George W. BushGeorge W. Bush
1996Bill ClintonBob Dole (veteran)Bill Clinton
1992Bill ClintonGeorge H.W. Bush (veteran)Bill Clinton
1988Michael Dukakis (veteran)George H.W. Bush (veteran)George H.W. Bush (veteran)
1984Walter MondaleRonald ReaganRonald Reagan
1980Jimmy Carter (veteran)Ronald ReaganRonald Reagan
1976Jimmy Carter (veteran)Gerald Ford (veteran)Jimmy Carter (veteran)
1972George McGovern (veteran)Richard Nixon (veteran)Richard Nixon (veteran)
1968Hubert HumphreyRichard Nixon (veteran)Richard Nixon (veteran)
1964Lyndon JohnsonBarry Goldwater (veteran)Lyndon Johnson
1960John F. Kennedy (veteran)Richard Nixon (veteran)John F. Kennedy (veteran)
1956Adlai StevensonDwight D. Eisenhower (veteran)Dwight D. Eisenhower (veteran)
1952Adlai StevensonDwight D. Eisenhower (veteran)Dwight D. Eisenhower (veteran)
1948Harry Truman (veteran)Thomas DeweyHarry Truman (veteran)

As you can see, a veteran candidate has beaten their non-veteran opponent only four times since 1948, whereas a non-veteran candidate has beaten their veteran opponent six times. (Lyndon Johnson really can't be called a veteran, even though he received the Silver Star.)

Moreover, there is a pretty clear pattern over time from 1948 to 2004. While veteran candidates like Eisenhower and Truman beat their non-veteran opponents in the years directly after WWII, in more recent times, non-veterans have been winning. The last time a veteran (Nixon) beat a non-veteran (Humphrey) was 1968.

The reason for this change is unclear, but I can speculate: Veteran candidates were winning after WWII, which was largely seen as a just, righteous, and even popular war. During Vietnam - a war Americans were deeply ambivalent about - a veteran beat a non-veteran once and vice-versa. Since then, in America's relative time of peace (the Iraq debacle notwithstanding), non-veterans have been winning over veteran opponents handily.

Based on this data, it is doubtful John McCain's status as a "war hero" will significantly boost his campaign. While America is indeed involved in a very bloody war in Iraq, I don't think many Americans feel a deep connection with it - especially a positive one. Iraq is very unpopular, and on top of that, by and large Americans have not been asked to sacrifice for the war effort like they were during WWII and Vietnam. So,  recently, while many Presidential candidates are veterans, they don't seem to get elected more often over their non-veterans opponents.

For the American people these days, it's less about a candidate's war biography than their policies and how they run their races - and that bodes ill for the old, unstable, and out-of-touch John McCain.

Tags: 2008 election, John McCain, war experience (all tags)

Comments

43 Comments

Re: McCain's War Experience Might Not Be A Strengt

Don't forget this son and grandson of Admirals is America's only 'Reverse Ace' having lost five U.S. planes in his career. He was not well regarded by his peers, considered a poor pilot, and the term 'Ace' was not one of respect when used to refer to Senator SlimeBall

by Pericles 2008-03-29 12:37PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's War Experience Might Not Be

So far as I can tell, McCain has absolutely no original ideas of his own.  "Stay the course" seems to be his philosophy not only with regards to Iraq, but as to all problems facing the country today.  The question is whether the American people would view an Eisenhower-type president, even an extremely competent one, as enough of an improvement over Bush that that would be sufficient to carry McCain to the presidency.

The reason he plays the war experience card is because it is the strongest (and perhaps, only) one in his hand.

by rfahey22 2008-03-29 12:40PM | 0 recs
These are times though when we do have

enemies out there and that is when being a Veteran will garner more of the vote.  It isn't just that McCain is a Vet either, he already exudes a CIC personality.  He understands the military and he understands leading troops....he is a past officer.  He won't be befuddled when he has to sit down with the joint chiefs and discuss apples and oranges and we have a lot of apples and oranges to discuss and decide right now.  As an Army wife can I just say that in my opinion Hillary has more CIC qualities than Bill did.  It's funny but soldiers didn't have a whole lot of respect for Bill but they champion Hillary like hell right now and McCain scares them because nobody wants to be Iraq until hell freezes over.  Thank God Bill had Madeleine when the world had to deal with Milosevic.  She might have shown up every morning to the press conference after four hours sleep with her lipstick on crooked but by God you would be respecting her or she would be knowing why this instant, and the United States troops respected her and her efforts!

by Militarytracy 2008-03-29 12:42PM | 0 recs
Re: These are times though when we do have

I think you're right, in that when Americans have an enemy they like veteran candidates, but the post-9/11 years are a bit different in my mind. Bush has succeeded in making this a civilian war, not a military one. He is the one voters chose to battle the enemy in 2004, not the veteran, which makes me question McCain's veteran experience as being helpful to him this year.

by J Ro 2008-03-29 12:57PM | 0 recs
I don't agree that post 9/11 is different

Not to average Joe America who is not like those of us who blog and are already prebiased for our certain candidates ;)  We were still attacked and just because Bush in turn attacked a middle eastern country that had nothing to do with it doesn't mean we still don't have problems out there that our military is going to have to deal with.  We were still attacked and Osama is still out there making tapes to remind us all.  

by Militarytracy 2008-03-29 01:06PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't agree that post 9/11 is different

Well, I happen to think Osama is dead... :)

by J Ro 2008-03-29 02:22PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's War Experience Might Not Be A Strengt

What Americans like about war is that they like to win. The Revolutionary War Generals, Union Generals from the Civil War, WWII Generals all work because the involved Generals are perceived to have won and enhanced the belief in America's greatness.

Vietnam, Iraq, or being a POW do absolutely nothing for a politician because there is no winning - period. Many will in fact hold mccain's capture against him. Also note, Americans turned against Iraq not because it was a horrific thing from the outset; they only turned against the war when it became apparent that America is not winning. Had bush been able to persuade most Americans that America won or is winning, he would not be below 30% approval.
.

by gak 2008-03-29 12:43PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's War Experience is a big danger

There is something that needs to be put on the table about John McCain that can't wait.  The blow-up in Iraq has put that back in the front pages and we can expect to hear McCain talk about how this proves how correct he is that we need to fight there bigger and better to achieve the Victory our Troops Deserve.

For McCain this is all about Vietnam. This man truly believes that the only reason that we lost Vietnam was that the politicians in charge of things were not willing to fully unleash the US military -- in particular the Air Force.   Take a look at this old article in The Nation from the 2000 campaign McCain's Vietnam by Robert Dreyfuss. The short version of Dreyfuss' assessment of McCain after traveling with him in New Hampshire is this:


Angry in temperament and pugnacious in style, McCain exhibits a swaggering readiness to avenge America's defeat in Vietnam. . . . 


As we were reminded the other day by Obama in another context "the past in not dead and buried, in fact it is not even past".  And for McCain the Vietnam war never ended.  As he told a VFW gathering back in 1999


The memory of them, of what they bore for honor and country, causes me to look in every prospective conflict for the shadow of Vietnam


And what is the lesson of this shadow of Vietnam?  Back in 1998 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary  Tet Offensive McCain explained that


"Like a lot of Vietnam veterans, I believed and still believe that the war was winnable. I do not believe that it was winnable at an acceptable cost in the short or probably even the long term using the strategy of attrition which we employed there to such tragic results. I do believe that had we taken the war to the North and made full, consistent use of air power in the North, we ultimately would have prevailed."


Some politicians might say this just to strike an heroic pose, but I think we have believe John McCain when he says this.  And when he makes "bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran" jokes, and seems to conflate Salafi Sunni Arab al Qaeda and the Persian Shi'ia theocracy in Iran as a common enemy, what he is really doing is viewing Iraq and Iran as though they were South and North Vietnam and seeking to apply the remedy he came to believe was the right one during his long years of captivity and abuse at the hands of people he still calls "gooks".

And McCain has been consistent over the years in this stance.  During the crisis in Kosovo McCain was bitterly criticized the Clinton administration for its "excessively restricted air campaign" and reluctance to commit large number of ground troops saying that


"These two mistakes were made in what almost seemed willful ignorance of every lesson we learned in Vietnam."


and in 1994 McCain was again beating the war drums 


McCain recklessly accused President Clinton of "appeasement" of Pyongyang, warning, "The time for more forceful, coercive action is long overdue." McCain demanded that the United States increase its alert status; mobilize US troops; deploy aircraft carriers, more fighters and Apache helicopters; pre-position bombers and tankers; and announce the immediate application of economic sanctions--even while recognizing the strong possibility that such actions could lead to war on the Korean peninsula.


And likewise, back in 1999  this was  his position on Iraq


And on Iraq, he says that "the only way to prevail is to strike disproportionate to the provocation," criticizing the White House for "the extremely limited scale" of bombing raids there.


As politically incorrect as it is to say such a thing about a distinguished veteran: McCain is a war mongering nut who has never gotten over the trauma of Vietnam and is itching for a chance to show the world how dangerous America and its Air Force really can be. 

Put like that such a line probably  would backfire but the fact is this is the truth about McCain and we need to get it out there on the table even if we have to find a more politic way to frame it.  Do we really want to let this hot headed torture victim, still in the grip of  PTSD, and obsessed with reliving the Vietnam war, waking up from his nightmares with that red phone next to his bed?  Is that really going to keep our sleeping children safe? We can't let the sacrifice he made in the military make us ignore this stuff, the stakes are just too high.

by Fred in Vermont 2008-03-29 08:03PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's War Experience is a big danger

"As politically incorrect as it is to say such a thing about a distinguished veteran: McCain is a war mongering nut who has never gotten over the trauma of Vietnam and is itching for a chance to show the world how dangerous America and its Air Force really can be. Put like that such a line probably  would backfire but the fact is this is the truth about McCain and we need to get it out there on the table even if we have to find a more politic way to frame it."

Maybe a more politic way to frame it would be to emphasize the "warmongering nut" part and minimize or leave out entirely the personal and/or psychological motive that drives it. In other words, use McCain's statements (100 years war; bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran) to show that he is crazy, and crazy in the worst and most dangerous way a President can be crazy, but leave it up to the voters to make the link with either the Rambo "Do we get to win this time?" BS or the PTS syndrome. Going after either one of these latter themes only opens up a whole can of worms, one that our candidate, whoever he or she is, is not in the best position to deal with, never having been in the military or faced anything like what McCain faced in Hanoi. McCain is a warmonger who won't US military involvement in Iraq, will start a war against Iran, and who knows what else. WHY he is a warmonger, and wants to do these things, is not as important, either practically or politcally.

by freemansfarm 2008-03-30 06:54AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's

I don't know that his war experience in it's self is a major positive so much as it helps him with the commander in chief standard some voters have. There's a reason he leads in that category.

by Ga6thDem 2008-03-29 12:47PM | 0 recs
WW II generation

The reason for this change is unclear, but I can speculate: Veteran candidates were winning after WWII, which was largely seen as a just, righteous, and even popular war.

More than that, almost every man of that generation served. Those who did not serve stuck out.

I always thought that Bush 43 hammering away at Clinton's lack of service was self destructive, it just made baby boomer men feel self conscious about their own lack of service.

by Alice Marshall 2008-03-29 12:55PM | 0 recs
Re: WW II generation

I'd completely agree with this. WWII was the last war America was really asked to sacrifice wholesale for. Everyone, men, women, and children, were part of the war effort. Vietnam was like that to a much lesser degree, and after 9/11, we were asked to shop, not to sacrifice.

It's a changing message and a changing demographic. In more ways than one, McCain is old and out of touch with current politics.

by J Ro 2008-03-29 12:58PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's War Experience Might Not Be A Strengt

Correction:

Walter Mondale was/is a veteran.

by eastburbguy 2008-03-29 01:10PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's War Experience Might Not Be A Strengt

Specfically, Walter Mondale was an Infantry Sgt on the front lines in the Korean War

by kmwray 2008-03-30 06:39AM | 0 recs
The real question

is did the candidate ever see combat?

Dukakis never did.  Carter never did.

Bush Sr definately did, as did Dole, JFK and Kerry.

by fladem 2008-03-29 01:14PM | 0 recs
Re: The real question

I think it also might help to look at how much of an issue/non-issue the candidate chose to make of military service.   As in, clearly John Kerry tried to make service into an issue, as did the first Bush and to some extent, Bob Dole (from what I recall--although, admittedly, I'm young enough that my memory of those campaigns is fairly spotty.)  In any case, my point is that if McCain wants to make military service into a specific issue, shouldn't the question be: What sort of impact does military service, as a significant issue, have on a campaign?

by bradley 2008-03-29 02:02PM | 0 recs
Re: The real question

That's a great question, and at least in recent history, it seems voters don't care. If a candidate makes their war experience an issue, voters ignore it.

by J Ro 2008-03-29 02:23PM | 0 recs
Re: The real question

Although any such line of attack needs to be carefully crafted (McCain's behavior as a POW is admirable and he deserves a great deal of credit and respect for it) the fact is his military record outside of his time in prison was far from impressive. He lost five planes (some of them probably weren't his fault, but the fact is you'd be hard pressed to find too many other pilots who lost that many in that little time in combat), and he's been consistently described by those he served with as a reckless, poor pilot, who got atrocious marks in flight school and at Anapolis, who likely got by mostly on his father's position and reputation as an admiral. He served approximately 20 hours in combat and ended it by losing his fifth aircraft. He undoubtedly cost the U.S. war effort in Vietnam more than he contributed. His bravery and resilience as a POW are impressive, but they might not have been necessary if this unskilled child of privelege hadn't conned his way into the seat of a multi-million taxpayer-purchased aircraft in the first place. His military record does not speak of the kind of judgment one looks for in a Commander in Chief.

by Elakazal 2008-03-29 02:53PM | 0 recs
Re: The real question

Got any links for this stuff? I'd love to file it away for later.

by J Ro 2008-03-29 03:29PM | 0 recs
Re: The real question

Very well said.  But, in spite of 5-deferment-Cheney's attack on Kerry, it will be tough to tarnish McCain's war hero image. (And yes, I served, including 16 mos in Korea.)

by ocoocher 2008-03-30 04:49AM | 0 recs
Re: The real question

Uh...Carter served on submarines....they get combat pay whenever they went out to sea (or they used to until the late 1980s).  Futhermore, most of the sea duty of submarines is classified and stays that way for decades.

My father (subs for 26 years0 went to DC about 5 yeras ago to get a medal for events in the Pacfic from the 1960s.

But Johnson was in the Navy for roughly 3 months and made sure he was in a combat zone so he could claim he was a war hero

As for Dukakis, he was in teh army in 1958...we were not at war, is taht his fault?

by kmwray 2008-03-30 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: The real question

Uh...Carter served on submarines....they get combat pay whenever they went out to sea (or they used to until the late 1980s).  Futhermore, most of the sea duty of submarines is classified and stays that way for decades.

My father (subs for 26 years0 went to DC about 5 yeras ago to get a medal for events in the Pacfic from the 1960s.

But Johnson was in the Navy for roughly 3 months and made sure he was in a combat zone so he could claim he was a war hero

As for Dukakis, he was in teh army in 1958...we were not at war, is taht his fault?

by kmwray 2008-03-30 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's War Experience Might Not Be A Strengt

Good diary. I've saying it for years.....winning generals make winning candidates, but battlefield heroes don't.

by Kobi 2008-03-29 01:46PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's War Experience Might Not Be A Strengt

That would be an interesting study, though of course you'd have to go back so far in history I don't know how well you could make a prediction.

by J Ro 2008-03-29 02:24PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's War Experience Might Not Be A Strengt

All I know is if being if service records were a determining factor, Reagan, Clinton, and Bushboy would never have been presidents while McGovern, Dole, and McCain would have.

by Kobi 2008-03-29 05:08PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's War Experience Might Not Be A Strengt

It's really hard to call Gore a veteran when he had a cushy job as a photographer.  That was part of the problem with Gore.

by MidwestTracker 2008-03-29 02:05PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's War Experience Might Not Be A Strengt

I'm using the term veteran in the loosest sense. Lots of the candidates above had pretty light wartime jobs, though they all served overseas.

by J Ro 2008-03-29 02:24PM | 0 recs
never knew Gore was a vet...

by rigsoHC 2008-03-29 02:18PM | 0 recs
The nation is in two wars, so the premium on

national security will be higher this year then the times when the non-military candidate has won.

Having only about 1 year of national experience makes Obama a tough, if not impossible, sell.

by mmorang 2008-03-29 03:09PM | 0 recs
I see your point but disagree.

McCain's vet experience is more than just that of somebody who paid his dues.  It's clear heroism mixed with sacrifice.  The man was tortured by the enemy, and we can see him on tape giving them his serial number.  

For the last eight years our country has been run by somebody who it almost universally accepted now (yes, by even many Republicans) was a posturing little lightweight imbecile.  The chickenhawk meme really stuck.  Kerry was a real threat to their easily punctured balloon, and thus they resorted, sadly and successfully, to the Swiftboat slurs.

We risk underestimating McCain.  His weakness isn't in his character.  It's in the war itself, and his own stubbornness about changing political strategies when they don't work, and the terrible weakness of the Republican Party this year in fundraising and organization.

I'll make a confession.  I dread seeing McCain torn apart by Democratic attack ads.  I love the man, as a person, as a story, even if I absolutely oppose him on all policy issues.  I won't be able to personally stomach it if/when it gets that rough.  Probably the best way to attack his character is to just suggest (as many seem to do successfully now) that he's just old and doddering, like a crotechey old uncle we love but wouldn't want to give the car keys to.

by Dumbo 2008-03-29 03:16PM | 0 recs
Re: I see your point but disagree.

He may indeed be a war hero. That's not the point. The point is that Americans don't seem to elect war heroes over non-war heroes.

That said, I can't wait to see McCain's war service torn apart. Sorry.

by J Ro 2008-03-29 03:30PM | 0 recs
i'm excited for a Kerry payback

when we do to John McAmnesty what they did to John Kerry. We need to get someone to attack his war record, because that is all he has. The real truth is that John McCain went crazy in Nam and is not stable, and betrayed America by spreading secrets. He also had a baby with a prostitute in the Hanoi Hilton. She is the one we never see in public, which Bush-Rove informed us about.

by DiamondJay 2008-03-29 04:21PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's War Experience Might Not Be A Strengt

I need to set some people straight here. A person is a veteran if he or she served in the military services of the United States. Those who served in peacetime are veterans. Those, like me, who served in the Vietnam area but not in a combat zone are veterans.

These are some of the consequences. All veterans have certain rights to health care and disability benefits. The disability just has to be linked to service, not combat. That is a part of the societal contract made with every service member.

Just so you have the terminology straight.

As to the electoral prospects of veterans versus non-veterans, I agree that the WWII generation had a generation-side experience that strongly affected their electoral choices.

I don't recall that Nixon made any issue of being a veteran in the 1968 campaign (though I must admit, I missed the last days of that campaign because I was in basic training).

Reagan somehow managed to make people (including himself) think that he was a veteran, even though he was not. Military service was a wedge issue in Clinton's first campaign, mainly because of Clinton's murky relationship to the draft. He won because Perot pulled just enough support from GHW Bush.

I am not convinced that military service has been any significant factor in recent elections, except where a person's record has been exaggerated or falsely smeared.

I was very upset by J Ro's remark that Bush has made Iraq a civilian war until I realized that he probably meant this in terms of using a very large  number of civilian contractors in country and at home.  Bush has NOT made this a civilian war in the sense that the general population feels personally involved and committed in the war effort, certainly not compared with WWII and Korea, and not even compared with Vietnam. (We had a smaller population during Vietnam and had over half a million service members on the ground.)

by anoregonreader 2008-03-29 03:58PM | 0 recs
Stop spreading the Ross Perot MYTH

all evidence, EVIDENCE shows that without Ross Perot, Bill Clinton would still have won the 1992 election. Evidence including how when Perot dropped out of the 1992 race after Bill Clinton's acceptance speech, Clinton got a HUGE bounce, and polled over fifty percent until Perot came back in october 1992. The links to the evidence as opposed to rightwing and Randi Rhodes/Shutlz dogma are here, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.ht ml?res=9E0CE0D7133DF93BA25754C0A96495826 0&scp=3&sq=clinton+poll+lead+&am p;st=nyt when clinton has a lead after Perot LEAVES AND IS NOT IN THE RACE, he is in the lead after the convention http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.ht ml?res=9E0CE7D8133DF931A3575AC0A96495826 0&scp=4&sq=Clinton+Bush+poll& ;st=nyt still ahead of Bush with a majority of the vote in september 1992, and when Perot comes back, Clinton loses votes, and Bush's percentage STAYS THE SAME as in the other polls I showed you http://people-press.org/reports/pdf/1992 1026.pdf Ross Perot being a spoiler is pure selective memory by the right wing, who wants someone to blame for losing to Clinton, and by the Clinton-hating left, who want to discredit centrism. Ross Perot was a LIBERAL on most issues, from gays in the military and abortion http://ontheissues.org/Ross_Perot.htm, to being against trickle down economics, a conservative GOP principle in this http://livingroomcandidate.movingimage.u s/player/index.php?ad_id=969 commercial. A good article is http://www.liberalavenger.com/2008/01/13 getting-the-facts-right-the-1992-electi on
and Bush's approval rating was Carteresque http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/d ocuments/info-presapp0605-31.html
As for the 1996 exit polls show Perot drawing equal support and Clinton still landsliding http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1996/elec tions/natl.exit.poll/index1.html and polls showed Perot voters liked Clinton better http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1996/poll s/cnn.usa.gallup/tracking/ and in May '96, when a poll was taking with Clinton v. Dole and Clinton v Dole and Perot, Clinton had far over 50 no Perot, and under 50 with perot http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1996/poll s/cnn.usa.gallup/050996.shtml#clinton.do le so stop spreading this myth. It is nothing but a smear and revisionism. The fact is Clinton was very electable because he broke from stereotypes on issues. This woulda helped us in 04 with gay marriage. Clinton's strategy for the WH worked. Face it. Kerry woulda won the WH if he came against gay marriage like a proven winner, Bill Clinton proved.

But as for military service, I think the fact that baby boomers are the big bloc is why military service doesn't help today. Most baby boomers were dodgers or opposed to the Vietnam War, because it lacked real principle and meaning, so it means less to voters.

by DiamondJay 2008-03-29 04:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Stop spreading the Ross Perot MYTH

Despite all of the annoying links embedded in your comments, you fail to understand that even if Perot didn't help Clinton, Clinton still won the election with a plurality of votes, never garnering 50%.  Whether Perot voters pushed Clinton over the top is debatable despite your so-called evidence.  In my opinion, Clinton won both of his elections because he was up against bad candidates in Bush and Dole.  Bush and Dole were not motivated to campaign and were lifeless in the debates.  They both had a sense of entitlement, that is, they thought it was their turn to be President after years of public service and their sacrifices in WWII.  This is not enough and it was proven out.

Sometimes candidates win the Presidency because they look stellar compared to their worthless opponents (see Carter, Mondale and Dukakis).

Bill Clinton was not a centrist in my opinion.  Any centrist policies he supported were forced upon him by a Republican controlled congress.  Maybe he should be considered pragmatic.

by KensUSA 2008-03-29 05:27PM | 0 recs
Perot did not help Clinton

I put those links in because they prove a point, to refute a lie propogated by the right wing and the media. Clinton was a centrist, in many people's eyes because he wanted to reform welfare and reduce crime, which many Reagan Dems and liberal GOP northeast dissidents thought Dems didn't want to do, as Mike Dukakis and Mondale were seen as the embodiment of such. I made the point, because people try to downplay Clinton's electability, when it clearly deserves praise, and they say it because they hate him because he doesn't support Obama. Even before the GOP Congress, Clinton got the crime bill thru, in 94 before the election, and was for NAFTA in '93 before the '94 election. Welfare reform was a campaign pledge.

I made the point because there is definitive evidence to say Perot did NOT help Bill Clinton. He hurt him. It is a direct counterpoint to a lie that is repeated so often it has become truth.

by DiamondJay 2008-03-29 05:48PM | 0 recs
and without Perot, Clinton woulda gotten 50%

is why I posted what I did above, so using that against Clinton is logically wrong.

by DiamondJay 2008-03-29 05:49PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's War Experience Might Not Be A Strengt

According to your definition, and Wikipedia, Reagan was a veteran.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Reag an#Military_service

by freemansfarm 2008-03-29 04:43PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's War Experience Might Not Be A Strengt

Reagan was a veteran, he made army traing films in Hollywood.  Reagan stated m,any times he was in uniform for 4 years (1942 to 1946) He made 8 films during this period, five of which were comercial sucesses including Kings Row.

by kmwray 2008-03-30 06:52AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain's War Experience Might Not Be A Strengt

Agreed on the vet definition, though I redefined the term in my post. Vets who run on war experience almost universally have overseas experience, so it seemed my redefinition seemed appropriate. Not textbook accurate of course.

As for the civilian war...

Well, it's complicated. Bush - a civilian - has made the war on terror into less than a war (it never really was a military thing, more a culture of fear), uses tons of civilian contractors, and never asked people to sacrifice. We are in a war in Iraq, yes, but the larger war on terror is a strange kind of conflict. In a lot of ways, it seems marketed, packaged, produced - much less of a military conflict or military state of mind than an ethos. I guess that's where my civilian war comments come from.

by J Ro 2008-03-29 05:56PM | 0 recs
Americans Like Their Leaders

to be from Wars America Won, or Those men that Avoided Wars America Lost.

Take note, Future Politicians whom happen to be Iraqi War Vets.

by ROGNM 2008-03-29 04:41PM | 0 recs
best argument

so McCain is in for some trouble. When you fight in a lost war, you prob don't know why you fought. because in truth, the only reason mccain served was that as a lousy student, he had no vocation, but to follow in his father and grandpa's footsteps. As much as I like Kerry, I do kind of believe he enlisted because all politicians at the time wer vets of some war, and he wanted to go into politics, tho I in no way believe that he shot himself or any of that swift boat bullshit. As I believe Bush I only served because as a political legacy, Prescott told him he had to serve, as Bush was jumped ahead in line to serve, because he was too young, and his dad got him in.

by DiamondJay 2008-03-29 05:26PM | 0 recs
I say that about Kerry because he was against it

from the start, so why would he enlist? As Bush Sr's dad was for Germany as he traded with them, but knew Bush I had to enlist to go into the family business.

by DiamondJay 2008-03-29 05:27PM | 0 recs

Diaries

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