McCain: What If?

I don't think there's any doubt that if, as virtually universally anticipated, McCain loses the presidential election on Tuesday, it's because of two things: the economy and his choice of Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential candidate.

Columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson puts them in perspective, by asking, what if McCain had picked Mitt Romney as his running mate. I've wondered the same thing but he says it much better and more succinctly than I would, so read it and see if you don't find yourself nodding along in agreement with his logic. I sure did. [More...]

Some quotes:

He gambled that she could bag a big swatch of disgruntled Hillary Democratic women, rev up the Christian fundamentalists, and burnish his claim to be the Washington outsider. He left Vegas with his pockets picked clean on that one.

This was the biggest single reason why long time rock solid GOP Party regulars and a slew of Reagan and W Bush and Bush Sr. appointees did the unprecedented. They jumped ship to back Obama.That never would have happened if McCain had done the personally smart and politically sensible thing and picked Mitt Romney as his VP choice.


[A] big percentage of voters still said they had huge reservations about McCain, because of his age, his health. That fear led back to Palin. There was stark horror among untold numbers of voters at the thought of having her a heartbeat away from the presidency. Romney would have done a lot to take the age and health fears off the liability table.

No one is suggesting a McCain/Romney ticket would have beaten Obama. But it sure would have been a closer call than what Tuesday is likely to bring.

McCain may not have been able to do anything about the economy, but he has only himself to blame for Palin. A vote against his ticket is a well-deserved vote against his judgment

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    I think it wouldn't have mattered a whit (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by andgarden on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 02:07:08 AM EST
    "The fundamentals of our economy are strong." = this year's "I voted for it before I voted against it."

    Worse in fact (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by cal1942 on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 02:30:11 AM EST
    "The fundamentals of our economy are strong."

    Is very much like Herbert Hoover's similar statement that our economic structure was sound or words to that effect.

    McCain's statement was almost as ridiculous as Hoover's.  McCain really implied that he supported the extremist Republican approach to the economy and denials to the contrary his campaign rhetoric sounded all to much like an embrace of his earlier statement. He never gave a convincing statement that he wasn't Bush.


    The full quote (seldom typed) (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by andrys on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 05:51:11 AM EST
    McCain said:
    '"There has been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street. People are frightened by these events," McCain told supporters in the key battleground state of Florida.

    "Our economy I think, still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong, but these are very, very difficult times," Senator McCain said." '

    I watched this in real time, and his "but" clause followed the "fundamentals" statement immediately.  It is usually left out by those who want to use only the first part of the sentence though.

    Shortly after that, PAULSON said that the fundamentals of our economy were strong.

    'WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, trying to remedy the biggest U.S. financial crisis in decades, said on Sunday, "I wouldn't bet against the long-term fundamentals of this country."

    "But this is a humbling experience to see so much fragility in our capital markets, and ask how did we ever get here," Paulson told NBC's "Meet the Press" as he sought to sell the U.S. Congress and the American people on his multi-billion-dollar rescue plan.'

    All campaigns on all sides truncate quotes to make better effect, and it's dismaying to see.  Human nature, I guess.


    ya (none / 0) (#20)
    by connecticut yankee on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:11:40 AM EST
    SImilar to the truncation of "He's a guy in my neighborhood".  Really it's a more involved statement and that isnt even the full sentence, let alone the statement.

    To make it worse, they actually add the word "just" when quoting the half-sentence which becomes "he's just a guy in my neighborhood.


    Palin + economy=lost election for McCain? (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by rockmyvote on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 02:36:35 AM EST
    I agree that Palin was one of the top 3 reasons McCain lost the election. Could he have won if he choose Romney or someone else for VP? Maybe.

    BUT, the reason he lost is because Presidential Nominee McCain is a completely different person than AZ Senator McCain. He's completely changed and pandered to the wrong groups since becoming the republican presidential candidate. Senator McCain would have never chosen someone like Palin, but Prez Nom McCain did.

    Too bad Senator McCain didn't run for president.
    Obama 2008
    "Mad McCain" videos: http://tv1.com/playlists/show/11

    Polls pairing McCain/Romney against Obama (none / 0) (#8)
    by andrys on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 06:00:48 AM EST
    were showing them running fairly even with Obama-paired-with anyone but Clinton, while the results for McCain/Romney vs Obama/Clinton showed the latter two about 8 points further ahead than with anyone else paired with Obama (June).

    That was reported here.


    You are speaking in past tense on an event (none / 0) (#18)
    by MoveThatBus on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 09:39:09 AM EST
    that has yet to happen, Dewey.

    I'm not feeling quite so comfortable that Obama has this in the bag no matter what the polls are saying.

    As for Palin, she is drawing record crowds and TV ratings.  Don't see how she can be considered a detriment to McCain.  Although, I do see that many democrats who were never going to vote for Obama are using Palin as the excuse they just can't vote Republican.

    Go ahead, Thanin, Mile Hi Hawkeye and sher....hit me with a '2'!!


    This is off (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by nycstray on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 03:27:56 AM EST
    He gambled that she could bag a big swatch of disgruntled Hillary Democratic women, rev up the Christian fundamentalists,

    Only a fool would believe one person could bag both those groups*. Moderate/right leaning indie woman and Republican women crossed over to Hillary, maybe, but not Democratic women. McCain had a better shot at them without Palin. She secured that he was willing to go that far right. She helped Obama with women that don't believe he is strong enough on women's rights. Remember, they didn't go flooding over to either side after Palin. She secured the fundie base and that same large percentage of undecided Hillary voters moved slowly to Obama. Once he started pulling in front, the economy tanked and she also started getting more exposure. She's a good scapegoat for some of those later movers though  ;)

    * Seems even Obama couldn't do it, lol!~  ;)

    That coalition (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by lilburro on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 04:15:10 AM EST
    How long was it going to last?  Disgrunted Hillary Clinton supporters and Christian fundamentalists?  Trying to hold those two together led to the screwed up rollout strategy IMO.  

    I don't think Palin is the reason for McCain's failure, and all in all anything she does reflects more on him than her because he chose her.  His choice of Palin reflects on how seriously he takes this election and these times for our country.  He wasn't able to see, gee, probably need someone who's good on the economy, because we are headed for trouble?  It wasn't lost on anyone that bad economic times were going to get worse.

    Possibly with a different VP candidate, damage control could've been done better in certain areas, "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" comment could've been softened.  Instead we get Joe the Plumber and Palin populism.  And he still has low attendance at his rallies!

    the real sen. mccain (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by cpinva on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 06:02:22 AM EST
    was never the mythological "sen. mccain", a fabrication created by the sen., and pushed in 2000 by his MSM bus buddies. unfortunately for sen. mccain, his real self has been making the rounds these past few months.

    if picking someone as veep, who is unutterably unqualified to succeed you, should you be unable to perform your presidential duties, is "mavericky", then i guess mccain qualifies.

    to most thinking people, it was just another display of his historical lack of judgment. perhaps a romney veep might have overcome this, i doubt it.

    when all is said and done, it's the real sen. mccain who will, most likely, lose tomorrow.

    McCain lost because of eight years of Bush (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by barryluda on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 06:07:15 AM EST
    The only way he could have won was to have had Clinton as his VP.

    Yup, and he doubled down (5.00 / 0) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 08:11:42 AM EST
    with years of being a solid Bush supporter in hopes of securing the Republican nomination.  He danced with the devil in the pale moonlight and lost himself.....and lost.

    The economy trauma, added to by (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by andrys on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 06:18:26 AM EST
    McCain's sudden, darting movements (suspending campaign, a call to postpone debate) were large in helping to change the numbers.  But the horrendous fall in the economy was key in changing the movement of numbers in a big way.

      Obama himself was seen to be saying (video)

    "After this immediate problem, we've got the long-term fundamentals that will really make sure this economy grows"

    That was added to by Paulson when Paulson's own statement at the time:

    Paulson voices confidences in U.S. fundamentals

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, trying to remedy the biggest U.S. financial crisis in decades, said on Sunday, "I wouldn't bet against the long-term fundamentals of this country."

      Normally, it's been said that at a time of great economic uncertainty, leaders need to reassure people because if you don't, it causes them to do things like make a run of the banks etc. and perception becomes reality in a flash. It's sort of a living-down to expectations or acting in accordance with perceptual set.  Very dangerous in this case.

    The only way to tell is to (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 06:36:20 AM EST
    wait for the actual vote and look at the actual data.  If the Republican  base turns out in record numbers, I think Palin helped more than she hurt.  

    It wouldn't have made any difference (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 08:06:59 AM EST
    It would not be any closer.  This vote is America expressing her rejection of Republicanism, not Palin.  In my opinion Palin energized the base a whole bunch more than Romney ever could have or would have while the economy was murdering all of us who weren't a parachuted CEO and gas was $4.00 a gallon until suddenly it wasn't.

    I'm surprised (none / 0) (#14)
    by Lacy on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 08:10:29 AM EST
    that it's rarely noted how Obama's otherwise fatal mistake in not choosing Hillary as VP on the ticket has been providentially offset by McCain's bad judgment in choosing Palin and the timing of the economic calamity.

    Disagree: Palin is not on par with the Economy (none / 0) (#16)
    by Exeter on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 08:13:56 AM EST
    Or Bush or Iraq or McCain being to old or Obama being a great candidate running an historic campaign.  Those were the major factors that shaped this election.  She had an effect and we'll know after tommorrow what it was-- I agree that she likely turned-off many potential McCain voters, but she also energized his base.  

    That said, if I was McCain and I was given a do-over, I would have picked Kay Bailey Hutchison or Christy Todd Whitman. But, Romney v Palin? Hmmm... I would say that's a draw.

    The "base" is what bothers me (none / 0) (#17)
    by wurman on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 08:28:51 AM EST
    It appears as if about 25% of the US adults (which transmogrifies into 40% of voters prior to 2008) can still support W Bu$h, then applaud the silliness of Gov. Palin, then ignore the financial meltdown & impending recession, & tell some pollster that he or she intends to vote for McCain-Palin.  Then, the reality that about 40% of voters will cast ballots for the GOP candidate is astounding--given the actual state of the US economy, the wars, & the failures of Bu$hInc.

    The continued presence of that seemingly solid base of about 25% hardcore element in the US population keeps me awake at night.  They seem to function in some parallel universe that has no resemblance to my view of reality.

    Bugs me.

    If you haven't already.. (none / 0) (#19)
    by easilydistracted on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 10:48:32 AM EST
    read Thomas Franks'"What's the Matter with Kansas?"  It'll give you a pretty good insight to how that "base" thinks.  

    Astounding, yes (none / 0) (#21)
    by jondee on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:12:19 AM EST
    but that's because you dont understand that according to the topsey-turvey, S&M mindset of most of "the base" types, when bad things happen in America its a result of God's Judgement (but not his judgement on good Christians). Second thought, it's MORE astounding when you understand it.

    Some people who are "close" to me, (none / 0) (#22)
    by wurman on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 12:04:38 PM EST
    "almost" in-laws, are evangelicals.  My observation is that 2 of them are quite psychotic & the other 3 are just flat-out 90 IQ stupid.  It is difficult for me to imagine that, according to some statistical surveys, 17% of the US population exhibits those 2 features & perhaps even worse.  Certainly none of the 5 can read with any degree of comprehension or understanding.

    I guess it's possible.  And then certainly even more astounding as you put it.


    I do not (none / 0) (#23)
    by JThomas on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 01:00:13 PM EST
    think McCain would pick Palin if he had it to do over again. She was not the single factor that hurt him,or even the biggest factor but she was in the mix. I do think once her ignorance of national and international affairs was exposed, many indys and moderate repubs were alarmed at McCain's lack of judgement on her selection.

    Bush voters would never vote for Obama anyway and most would have caved in and voted for mccain no matter who his VP nominee was..even lieberman..but in the middle Palin hurt him.

    I've read and heard unconfirmed reports (none / 0) (#24)
    by easilydistracted on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 01:18:56 PM EST
    that McCain's first choice for a running mate was purportedly Joe Lieberman, and, the old maverick's advisors supposedly convinced him to back away from that notion.  It seems that the maverick's political stances had already caused extreme discomfort for the republican base.  For you to partner with a Jewish democrat turned independent - and a northerner no less -- would only further anger a base already angry at you, they supposedly argued.  And, oh by the way, you need this maniacal [sic] wing of the party on your side, otherwise your hope for election is slim to none.

    To that end, imagine what might have been if the "maverick" genuinely went maverick on the base and partnered with Lieberman.  No doubt about it, the base would have probably stayed home, and good riddance anyway -- go find another party to take hostage; you and George have damned near brought about our demise anyway, McCain could have said.  

    The political climate was ideal this time to once and for all wrestle the republican party away from the tight grip of the evangels.  I think it reasonable to believe that such a ticket could have been engineered to be extremely competitive in this year's polictial climate and draw centrists of both parties and most likely enough to offset the lost base. Let's face it; the 18 million that supported Hillary were not quick to embrace Obama and might have looked considerably closer at that model of McCain ticket.  It was only after Palin arrived on the scene that so many took a closer at Obama, hell, they had no choice.  Had McCain not forced them to look the other direction, well, who knows what might have happened.

    Further, a more competitive ticket by the republicans - and by competitive I also mean a platform planked with centrist ideals rather than right wing ideology and Bush's flawed principals -- probably would have resulted in a different behaving McCain during the financial crisis.  And, who knows, a more competitive ticket by the republicans may well have knocked Obama off his otherwise perfect game, from the very outset of the general election.      

    I think Romney would have done worse (none / 0) (#25)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 01:37:24 PM EST
    Huckabee would have made it close-- same scaring people thing that Palin does but soft pedaled, great populist credentials. Mitt-- seriously, the economy's in free fall and the people are going to choose the man who is a casting call fit to the "CEO"-- Obama would run a few negative ads with fired Bain-controlled employees whose jobs were outsourced and the race would be over.  "Its A Wonderful Life" didn't end with a popular mandate for Mr. Potter.