"Country First"

The first time I saw McCain's campaign use the slogan "Country First," I assumed it was simply another cliche Republican attempt to claim the mantle of patriotism and passively indict Democrats as America-haters.

And while I'm sure the patriotism implication is real, I'm starting to think there's a second strategy at play behind the slogan. The Republican brand is in the gutter. Party ID leans Dem by a lopsided margin. GOP candidates won't go near St. Paul this week. Bush's approval is in the tank.

We know McCain can't run just as a Republican on Republican principles; he has to re-claim his "maverick" brand and fuzz the contrast between himself and Obama as much as possible. Picking Palin, a woman who will (falsely) claim reformer credentials, helps that fuzz. And with a rather dynamic personal story, Palin reinforces the media focus on personality-over-policy that McCain desperately wants. A "celebrity" she is not.

There will be more indications of this McCain makeover. If you need any more evidence of McCain's fuzzing his party identity and policy deficit, re-watch Palin's appropriation of Hillary Clinton's groundbreaking campaign legacy from this morning: party and policy differences be damned...Palin's a woman too!

So a heads-up: the "Country First" slogan on McCain's podium this morning may start carrying the unwritten subtext "before party."

Tags: Election 08, John McCain (all tags)

Comments

13 Comments

Re: "Country First"

This current stunt of the McCain campaign is both telling, and utterly terrifying.  The more I've sat with this all day, I went from bemusement, amusement, to slow, gradual, dawning terror.  Not because I think this makes him especially stronger as a candidate in terms of the raw politics.  I don't.  I think this will hurt him bad.

But, there is always a possibility.  Even if it's a small one.  That he.  Will.  Win.

And that thought, with the thought of THIS woman as the vice president, if you really think about it, is terrifying. I'm being serious as I can be here.  The world stage is set to be perhaps the most volatile in a generation.  The thought of this woman being his second, the second of a president who is very likely to die in office, is perhaps the most serious emergency facing our country in decades.  

It seems that the press is getting close to her real story, slowly but surely, digging out the inanity of this choice.  I expect to see that over the coming days, and will be grateful for it.

But at this point, it is blindingly clear that if this starts to look close, we have to, and the Obama campaign has to do absolutely anything it possibly can to prevent this from happening.  If that means turning into the evil we hate for a short period of time and turning completely negative, then so be it.  We should wait and see if this whole thing self implodes, but this woman and the man who's INSANE lack of judgment puts her so close to the White House, should not be allowed anywhere near that office.

by Particle Noun 2008-08-29 06:09PM | 0 recs
GOP slogans

GOP slogans are thinly transparent (think clear skies, healthy forests).

John McCain is for John McCain first.  After all, McCain being for McCain and not beholden to others is what makes him "maver-icky.

The country first slogan is an obvious attempt to deflect attention to the "McCain first" character flaw.

by bakho 2008-08-29 06:36PM | 0 recs
Re: "Country First"

Winning before party has been McCain's subtext all along. The whole "Look at me! Look at me! I'm a faux maverick!" then "Look at her! Look at her! A faux maverick fresh DC outsider! Aren't I a maverick!" thing isn't really subtle.

by souvarine 2008-08-29 06:27PM | 0 recs
Maverick Reformer

Outstanding post. The first that I've seen on this board that 'Gets It' as Obama says...

The Palin pick is being misinterpreted using a rear-view mirror seeing the past as present. McCain is running against Washington and all of its corruptions - he truly intends to be a Teddy Roosevelt by pulling the rot out by the roots and that begins with his own Republican party.

What has Palin just done in Alaska? She has ripped the rotten Republican power structure to shreds and has placed the intrests of the people ahead of her own political career.

In the days and weeks ahead the Obama campaign will be taken to school once again (just like August, except with a Western woman's touch) and to a defeat that will crush the Democratic party into little bitty pieces.

by oliver777 2008-08-29 08:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Maverick Reformer

Oh my god
What is the world coming too?
THE SKY IS FALLING THE SKY IS FALLING

McCain is running against Washington?
seriously?
McCain is Washington, he voted with Bush 90% of the time.
How does picking Pailin change that? Apparently she agrees with Bush on 95% of the things... like her love for Polar bears and Artic Wildlife...

At least Obama has the judgement to be President; the primary process has vetted him thoroughly, what exactly has Pailin done? One interview??

Let me put it another way, McCain says Obama isn't fit to be President because he has no experience (of which Obama counters with his judgement)... but Pailin is fit to be President because he wants to reach out to women?

I think McCain needs to continue debating himself...

by Dickie Simpkins 2008-08-29 08:33PM | 0 recs
Re: "Country First"

Expect to hear the word "reform" a lot. McCain will try to own "reform" like Obama owns "change." Of course, we can have fun reminding people that in 2000, George Bush ran as a "reformer with results."

by animated 2008-08-29 06:28PM | 0 recs
Re: "Country First"

I was thinking today, this is the the equivalent of McCain picking Michael Steele as his running mate had Hillary gotten the nomination.  He's really turned the tables on himself, this election is no longer a referendum on Barack Obama.

He might as well have chosen Harriet Meyers.

by neko608 2008-08-29 06:34PM | 0 recs
Re: "Country First"

Alan Keyes.  That would have been the best choice of all.   :)

by gavoter 2008-08-29 08:02PM | 0 recs
NRO is all over this

http://frum.nationalreview.com/post/?q=M 2VhOWE0N2VkOWI3MDdlODRlZWE4ODljMDc2NjliZ Dk=

This is a direct quote "But question: If it were your decision, and you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?"

If NRO seems to be having quick second thoughts on this choice, it is a meme that is going to build.  Especially in the wake of Bill Clinton praising Obama's VP choice and Obama going after McCain for saying Obama doesn't put country first.

Regardless of how many votes Hillary got, it is extremely difficult to argue that Biden is not one of the best choices available to be #2.  It is obvious he can take over in a heartbeat.

But how was Palin even among the top 10 qualified to be nominated.  This was not a people driven election as between Obama and Clinton.  This was McCain's choice and his choice alone.  Was this the best he could do?

When McCain claims that he put America first by nominating Palin as the second best person to lead America, are you going to believe him?

by gavoter 2008-08-29 07:51PM | 0 recs
Re: NRO is all over this

Oh, and if the PUMAs start to flck to Palin, it is only going to hurt McCain more.

The PUMAs kept saying that if Obama chose Hillary, he would win automatically, but they wont vote for Obama without her.    Bill Clinton said that Joe Biden was the best choice for #2.  This means that Obama made a decision for VP that was best for the country and not the best to get him elected.  In other words, Obama put America first and his election second.

Now, contrast that with McCain choosing Palin who in her introduction to America praises Clinton and Ferraro and tries to win disaffected women voters.  Extremely easy to argue that McCain was more interested in winning the election then putting America First.

by gavoter 2008-08-29 07:57PM | 0 recs
Re: "Country First"

I think this "Country First" theme is going to be all over the Republican Convention.

After all Joe Lieberman is going to be there, and I think the keynote will totally be about Country First.

If the Republican Party was really about 'Country' first, then I still have to hear details from McCain over what exactly he plans to improve in the country, from my vantage point, he really is more of the same.

You Democrats have to hit them hard on this, the same specifics, etc. demanded from Obama, why aren't you constantly demanding from McCain?

Sorry to use the term 'you' here, I'm an Republican turned Obamacan, and I can't really identify myself with the Democratic Party in general, though I think this time I am voting for 2 Democrats (Obama and Warner) in this election cycle.

I will be introducing myself on Mydd shortly, once I am able to post a diary...

I just wanted to vent that McCain is not "Country" First.

by Dickie Simpkins 2008-08-29 08:40PM | 0 recs
Re: "Country First"

I have to disagree.  John McCain was pandering to his right wing base, not democrats.  The right wing LOVES this woman.  McCain made sure of his base with this pick.  Republicans will flock home now. :(  

by SueBee 2008-08-29 08:52PM | 0 recs
Country Last

Yes, he was unforgivable in his attacks on Hillay.  But now he's turned his sights on a MUCH better & deserving target.  Sullivan has been rabid in his disgust over Palin.  

Remember folks, the man is not a Democrat, he has been desperately hoping to find a way that he could vote for McCain.  And his complaints are not about gender, he's just as rabid in his devotion to Thatcher.  

All of his posts on Palin are worth reading, but I'll toss in this summary of the day:

Think about what the Palin pick really says about how McCain views this campaign and how he views his potential responsibilities in national security.

Think about what it says about the sincerity of McCain's own central criticism of Obama these past two months in foreign affairs.

Think about how he picked a woman to be a heartbeat away from a war presidency who hadn't even thought much, by her own admission, about the Iraq war as late as 2007.

Think about how he made this decision barely knowing the woman.

Think about the fact that the most McCain could say about his potential war-time vice-president in foreign affairs and national security when selecting her is that she commanded Alaska's National Guard as governor and has a son in the military.

Think about the men and women serving this country who have every right to trust that their potential commander-in-chief, whatever their party, would have some record of even interest in foreign policy before assuming office.

Think about how the key factor in this decision was not who could defend this country were something dreadful happen to McCain in office but how to tread as much on Obama's convention bounce and use women's equality as a wedge issue among Democrats because it might secure a few points here or there. Oh, and everyone would be surprised. And even Rove would be annoyed.

This is his sense of honor and judgment. This is his sense of responsibility and service.

Here's the real slogan the McCain campaign should now adopt:

   Putting. Country. Last.

Check it all out: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/th e_daily_dish/

I hope everyone also caught The Daily Show/Colbert Report tonight, they just lit into the choice.

by January 20 2008-08-29 11:53PM | 0 recs

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