Setting the Record Straight

July 19, 2008

Flip-Flop, Flop-Flip

Will the Real Flip-Flopper Please Stand Up?
          Consider the ineffable unpredictability of the presidential campaign.
          Much of it is puzzling and too much of it is personal. Bottom line: I wish the candidates would talk only about their own pro- posals to get the country out of what we on this site call “The Bush Messes.” Economy, environment, war, world standing, security, debt, housing, crime, you name it.
          Barack Obama proposed a specific timetable for with- drawal from the Iraq fiasco. Even some of his friends were uneasy. Then he “clarified,” but seemed to modify, that. His enemies were energized and derisive. Flip-flop, they said.
          Then, even Nouri al-Maliki, our puppet in Iraq, and some in the Bush administration are thinking of a timetable, albeit of varying intensity. John McCain continues to believe the U.S. presence in Iraq is a very long-term one. That position brought him considerable moans of dismay.
           McCain was ragging Obama about not having gone to the hot spots in the Middle East. The hidden message was, I have been there, even been kept in a bestial prison.
          But then, when Obama announced his several-stops trip to the region, the McCain reaction was, When I went it was to form my policies; but when Obama is going, it is AFTER he has an- nounced his policies.
          Obama said he would talk with foreign leaders, even some who are very unfriendly to the United States. The Bush adminis- tration derided the idea of talking to the “evil.”
          But now, the Bush administration has caught something of the national mood, and decided to talk with Iran. An undersecre- tary of State, in fact, just met with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, but just to listen, his bosses said. The Bush administration still does not call the discussions free conversations; the Bush condition is: Iran must first pledge to end its nuclear enrichment that would prepare it for a nuclear weapon.
          The fact is, despite the continuing angry national debate about the wars, it seems most Americans are worried about the increasingly desperate American economy. Instead of ragging their opponents, the candidates should flesh out every day their ideas on that issue.
          McCain is wedded to a continuation, even perpetuation, of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, which largely brought us to this deep recession because the increased money in rich hands did not help across the board. The old trickle-down idea (remember David Stockman?) that the rich would invest and hire, and help us all, did not work.
          Obama makes the possibly impossible pledge that he will balance the budget in his years in office, with some new tax breaks for the middle class, but restoring some of the old tax rates for the very rich.
          Both candidates should be held to the standard: List spe- cifically how your ideas add up to your promises.
          Complicating the campaigns of both Obama and McCain is the behavior of Congress. But the argument of a selfish, do-noth- ing-good Congress ignores some of the facts of the legislative/- presidential process.
          Even with a slender Democratic majority in Congress, the president still has the veto power, which means every piece of legislation has to have a “super-majority” to get past him. So the Democrats have an argument in that way. But they still have to defend their continuing support of the greedy habit by both parties of passing “earmarks,” those special home-district projects not subjected to the usual scrutiny in the legislative process.
          And the silly sidebar of the election campaign: When you are in the Senate and running for president, you must schedule carefully so you are in the Senate at just the right moment for some very important things–and absent, campaigning, for the rest. The trouble is, your opponent is watching and can say, “Oh my; my opponent did not see fit to be in the Senate when the important Hangnail Control Act of 2008 was debated today. Shame on him.”
          And this tongue-in-cheek comment about this year’s cam- paigns: Considering the statements that have hurt the candidates the most in this interminable campaign for the presidency, I here- by propose that NOBODY with “The Rev.” before his name be allowed to utter a word, publicly or privately, when the campaign has begun.
          As Bobby Burns said, “O wad some pow’r the giftie gie us tae see oursels as others see us…. T’wad frae many a blunder free us.” The endless campaign is subject to “frae many a blunder.”





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