McCain Wonders If Obama Is A Socialist

The Straight Talk Express took a detour yesterday so that John McCain could revive the "Commie menace" rhetoric of an earlier era.

Asked later if he thought Obama was an extremist, McCain said: “His voting record … is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont.”

Does McCain think Obama is a socialist? “I don’t know. All I know is his voting record, and that’s what people usually judge their elected representatives by.”

Is Obama a socialist? That would be news to those on the left who criticize him for being insufficiently progressive. Yet McCain's answer amounts to "Gee, I dunno, but he sure looks like one." McCain stopped short of calling Obama a pinko, but it's still early in the campaign.

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    Thank Goodness (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by BDB on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:36:10 PM EST
    Obama sucked up to the religious right and, along with the Dem leaders, caved on FISA.  It's totally kept the GOP from trying to paint him as some sort of left-wing terrorist lover.  Whew!

    OMG (none / 0) (#22)
    by janarchy on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 05:15:07 PM EST
    Can you imagine what they'd be saying about him if he'd actually stuck to Democratic principles, showed some backbone and actually DID something?! /snark

    no (none / 0) (#37)
    by Salo on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 07:14:48 PM EST
    what would they be doing about him, more likely.

    Why they'd give him the same treatment they handed out to Edwards and Clinton.


    I wonder how (none / 0) (#34)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 07:00:51 PM EST
    Chavez would vote on FISA, speaking of socialism.  It would not go far enough.

    Come now Wile... (none / 0) (#46)
    by kdog on Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 09:12:56 AM EST
    who said socialists can't be tyrants just as easily as fascists?

    yeah Obama sure stopped that meme didn't he? (none / 0) (#36)
    by Salo on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 07:13:43 PM EST

    I olnty wish he were a socialist. Like Nye Bevan or Clem Attlee. Sadly No...


    Not to be pedantic (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Steve M on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:37:08 PM EST
    But I can think of plenty of socialists in world history whom I would deem to be insufficiently progressive!  Also, what BDB said.

    Which Is Why (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by BDB on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:42:47 PM EST
    it's always so frustrating to see Democrats run to the right.  It doesn't protect them from this stuff, it just opens them up to the (often correct, in my view) charge that they won't stand up for anything, which is much more damaging because it makes even the popular things they promise meaningless.

    I might have some sympathy for this habit if it at least won them elections.  But it doesn't.  Kerry lost running this way.  Gore couldn't win by enough not to have it stolen even though he chose Lieberman and ran away from Clinton (not exactly a socialist).  And if Obama wins this year, it's not going to be because of any kind of brilliant positioning on his part, it's going to be because Democrat is the only alternative to Republican.  He - and his party - are doing nothing to WIN this fall, they're running not to lose.  Which may work, but you end up with less in the long run.


    Yes (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Steve M on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:46:29 PM EST
    Going along with the GOP on one or two strategically-chosen votes does not give you some kind of immunity totem.  It's a great way to lose your base, though.

    McCain will say or do anything - and I mean (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by scribe on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:40:02 PM EST
    anything to be elected.  As in his behavior today.

    As we know, Obama's departing for his Euro and Iraq trip.  So, today, McCain put out - pretty explicitly - when he'll be in Iraq.

    So, assuming Obama makes it to Berlin (and it won't be for McCain's lack of trying), he'll speak there Thursday.  It's getting late and I haven't got the time to translate, but here's an article (I summarize) from the Berlin paper.
    Here's a Bloomberg report.

    From the Berlin paper, "Obama's Fan-mile":
    He'll speak Thursday in Berlin at the Victory Column.  A lot of the arrangements are still up in the air and will be put together in the next few days.  The arrangements will be helped because this area was used for the big outdoor screens on which Germans watched (and before which they partied) during the recent European soccer championship series.  

    OK - a little geography.  The Victory Column is located on the Street of the 17th of June about a mile west of the Brandenburg Gate.  17th June was originally the western part of Unter den Linden but was so re-named to commemorate the uprising against the Soviets beginning about 17 June 1953.  17th June looks to be about 6-8 lanes wide (Google satellite shows lots of on-street parking!) and runs west through the Tiergarten (kind of like NYC's Central Park, but with more trees) from Pariser Platz (which adjoins the Brandenburg Gate on the Gate's east) to the Grosser Stern (an 8 way rotary - 5 streets, 3 paths) in the center of which is the Victory Column) and thence further west to another rotary at Ernst Reuter Platz.  About two blocks south of the Brandenburg Gate is the Holocaust memorial - thousands of grey rectangular stones.  That, in turn, is bordered on one side by Hannah Arendt Strasse.

    Framed in my apartment I have a nice photo I took, on a spring afternoon in the early 80s, while standing at the intersection of Pariser Platz and Unter den Linden looking across Pariser Platz, through the Brandenburg Gate and into the Tiergarten along 17th June.  In my photo one can see, between the Gate and the Tiergarten, the business side of the Berlin Wall (stark white - no graffiti) and, in the near foreground, a junior Soviet political officer instructing a group of 8 or 10 Soviet enlisted soldiers (itself an interesting group - showing about 4 or 6 different ethnicities) about something or other.  One was trying to stare me down when I snapped away.

    All this assumes, of course, that McCain's leak of Obama's itinerary in Iraq, to my eyes a patent attempt to have him whacked, does not succeed in getting him killed.  For anyone who doubts what kind of a dictatorship we are facing if McCain - or any other Republican - should be elected, need only look at that behavior.  

    Not that the press will.

    Hannah Arendt, where are you when we need you?

    Well (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Steve M on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:48:37 PM EST
    Claiming that McCain was trying to get Obama killed, in my book, is on about the same level as claiming that Hillary was hoping for Obama to get assassinated like RFK.

    I mean, I know it's an election and the other side is supposed to be pure evil, but come on.  "A patent attack to have him whacked"?


    Well, look at what was said (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by scribe on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:58:44 PM EST
    - disclosing his travel arrangements and timing in a war zone - when, and by whom.

    Remember, when McSame, Bush, or anyone else goes to Iraq, there's a lot of secrecy about it and the press only publicizes it (assuming they knew about it) after the fact.

    This, in fact, seems to be the first time I can remember in which the timing of a prominent American's visit (save Bushie's middle-of-the-desert visit with some cooperative sheikhs last year) was put out in advance.

    And, don't forget, the Iraqi guerrillas almost got Paul Wolfowitz in his hotel in the Green Zone a couple years back.  The rockets they fired hit a floor below his room, and killed a couple other people.

    And, if you still don't accept the possibility, answer this:  What conceivable non-malicious purpose would it serve for McCain to be publicizing Obama's travel schedule to Iraq?


    My god (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Steve M on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 05:04:37 PM EST
    At a fundraising lunch, McCain mentions that he doesn't know Obama's schedule, but he thinks he's going to be in Iraq today or tomorrow.  And the only conceivable purpose for this, in your mind, was that he was trying to get Obama killed?  I can't even engage this argument.

    Why should he even bother (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by scribe on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 05:15:25 PM EST
    mentioning it, at all?  Let alone in a context where it is sure to be reported?

    Give me an innocent explanation, please, and not a refusal to engage....


    I Gave You an Explanation (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by BDB on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 05:20:49 PM EST
    He's a notorious undisciplined speaker.  He's been hitting Obama on Iraq and his failure to go there.  It's not weird that he'd now bring up that he is going there (McCain has recently started to hit Obama for only going there after being criticized and as part of his campaign).  In discussing that, he says when Obama might be going.  

    None of which is all that big of a deal, btw.  The schedule may be "embargoed" but I'm not sure it's the NYT readership that poses a threat to Obama in Iraq.  If he's set up meetings with Iraqis there, which I presume he has, then that's the real security threat because they are more likely to have exact times and locations of where Obama will be (saying he's in "Iraq" is kind of like saying he'll be in Ohio, not all that helpful, really).  


    Give me a break (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Steve M on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 05:21:11 PM EST
    This is just a sick accusation.

    An innocent explanation (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by waldenpond on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 06:33:47 PM EST
    getting him whacked... wow

    Here's an innocent explanation if the schedule is correct... the McCain camp thinks the media are a bunch of Obama sycophants and McCain doesn't have comparable money to pay media to come on trips with him so he is unable to follow Obama around hoping to get some crumbs of attention... so he releases the schedule hoping some media who aren't in the tank for Obama will be there to offer up a view that may not be a part of the controlled presentation (which shows how delusional McCain is.)


    McCain is releasing a negative ad (none / 0) (#42)
    by nycstray on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 07:47:47 PM EST
    on Obama's trip to counter the media circus tagging along with Obama. I think I heard it was running in 11 battleground states. His other plan is to talk about more pressing issues here and just throw out occasional digs about Obama 'over there'.

    He was asked a question today about the war from a voter. His answer was 8 minutes long and sounded a bit like his ad from the snippet I saw.


    Is Obama Paying Media to Travel With Him? (none / 0) (#49)
    by daring grace on Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 09:39:10 AM EST
    I'm referring to your comment:

    "...McCain doesn't have comparable money to pay media to come on trips with him..."


    RFK redux. What a day this is. (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by oculus on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 05:25:37 PM EST
    Mind Reading (none / 0) (#21)
    by BDB on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 05:15:01 PM EST
    that's what this is.  And we're no more accurate doing it to Republicans than when the press does it to Democrats.  

    I don't like McCain, but I refuse to believe he wants to see his Senate colleague assassinated.*
    I'm an Occam's Razor person, McCain is a notoriously undisciplined public speaker.  Hence, these comments were more undisciplined rambling on his part.

    * It's remarkable how many of Obama's opponents seem to have this exact same wish, which is never stated by them, but people just know that's what they're thinking.  They know it!


    Difference In Trips (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by BDB on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 05:17:44 PM EST
    Bush and McCain went to Iraq as official visits.  In fact, McCain didn't get all that much press coverage because he went as a Senator and not candidate, which meant less press because they had to pay their own way and would have no guarantee of access.

    Obama is going as a campaign event, not an offical event.

    That's going to lead to differences in scheduling, press coverage, etc.  Obama's entire trip is to get press, that's why all aspects of it will be more public.


    Agree (none / 0) (#28)
    by squeaky on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 05:26:44 PM EST
    It was entirely inappropriate. Were it the other way around, Obama would get arrested at worst, and at best hounded for being a traitor.

    In this Congress, (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by seeker on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 05:02:16 PM EST
    how could anyone accumulate a "Socialist" voting record?  "Socialist" measures are not introduced, much less brought to a vote!

    Socialist is just a label (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Rashomon66 on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 07:08:46 PM EST
    I defended Hillary for a long time from right wingers who called her socialist because she wanted universal healthcare. Many of these fools say public education is socialist. Now they go after Obama. It's just a catch-phrase label the GOP uses when they have no real arguments. It's a way of tying him to communism, which in turn is Stalinism, which...you get the idea. Ridiculous. I say keep moving forward.

    By definition... (none / 0) (#47)
    by kdog on Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 09:15:53 AM EST
    we are a socialist nation...or at least semi-socialist.

    Public education, Social Security, Medicaid...all socialist programs.


    Socialist? (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by hitchhiker on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 09:29:38 PM EST
    Dude, that action is reserved for entities like Freddie and Frannie.

    They're socialist when they're about to go belly up: Taxpayers! Save us!

    And capitalist when they're counting profits: Mine!  All mine!

    Maybe he's trying to solidify it (none / 0) (#2)
    by blogtopus on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:36:13 PM EST
    Obama really hasn't been defined yet, and I'm sure McCain's going to try hard to solidify ANY definition that ain't ponies and roses.

    I don't think McCain can pull it off - it is a ridiculous assertion. But had McCain tried a different tact, like making Obama out to be a 'say anything and do anything to win' candidate, Obama would be in big trouble.

    Nope, McCain went with the kneejerk assertion for his era - and it only makes him look more out of touch.

    Maybe he plans to imply (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by nycstray on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:39:55 PM EST
    Obama is something different every week  ;)

    I Agree (none / 0) (#6)
    by BDB on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:39:00 PM EST
    that's what McCain is trying to do.  He's really awful at it, isn't he?  

    They've really seemed to flail around at how to identify Obama.  I'm not sure why, I can think of a number of ways to do it that would probably be at least somewhat effective.  I think their problem is they're overreaching.  Instead of seeing what Obama's true weaknesses are and then building on those, they go for this weak crap.  


    His Senate Voting To The Left of Sanders? (none / 0) (#3)
    by daring grace on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:36:43 PM EST
    I support Obama.

    I've loved Bernie for years. But I find this hard to believe.

    Depends on How You Define "Liberal" (none / 0) (#11)
    by BDB on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:46:08 PM EST
    Some of those that rate "liberal" score in such a way that missed votes raise the "liberal" score.  Obama's barely been in the Senate the last two years, which led him to be dubbed the most "liberal" Senator by at least one publication because of all his missed votes.  Needless to say, Obama ran from the label immediately.

    I wish he was the most liberal Senator.  Then, I'd happily embrace him.  


    Absurd Talking Point (none / 0) (#18)
    by squeaky on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 05:04:42 PM EST
    But whaddya expect?

    like a fox (none / 0) (#33)
    by waldenpond on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 06:43:23 PM EST
    I don't think it is effective to apply multiple characteristics to a candidate.  I just can't look at the McCain's flailing around with defining Obama as 'you can't define him?  well, we can't either'  is going to work as a strategy.  If their attack is scattered, so are their resources for doing this.  One targeted commercial is cheaper than 4.  Obama is in a position for a multi-phased attack as he has the money.... McCain does not have the resources for a scattered attack.

    For me, both camps seem afraid to attack on the stereotypes they already have..  I think of the jib-jab video and the LAT piece on how to make fun of Obama.  

    I expect both camps will ramp up after their noms.


    but you are an attentive observer. (none / 0) (#39)
    by Salo on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 07:18:49 PM EST
    Personally I do think McCain is attempting to infuriate left wingers by calling Obama left wing.

    And as a bonus he scares the crap out of centrists.

    It's a twoferone.


    I have to disagree with most (none / 0) (#43)
    by waldenpond on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 07:55:19 PM EST
    of what you said.  No I do not need to rethink anything.  I think the McCain campaign's attacks are pretty lame.  While I have seen a generic dem does better than Obama, I think the polls are odd because it is the summer time.

    I don't believe Obama will forego 527s. He can if he wants to... he has enough of his own money to do what he wants.  He doesn't need 527s to fight McCain.  He isn't above 'that' as he showed with Clinton.

    I would pick 3 or 4 memes to attack Obama with.  I am apathetic about both candidates so I am not researching anymore.  I get info from some news tv and articles over at RCP etc.

    As I said... I think the memes of the jib-jab video would work on both sides and the LA article would be effective against Obama.

    Did you write that I should go to McCain's website?  I seem to recall the supporters of another candidate telling me to do that.  :)


    "As far as I know," . . . (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:36:44 PM EST

    Socialist??? (none / 0) (#10)
    by daring grace on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:45:21 PM EST
    Doesn't this kind of highlight McCain's image as, well...old?

    I mean Muslim, even 'Angry Black Guy' those are labels that still have fear traction.

    But, socialist? Really? (snort.)

    Is McCain nuts? (none / 0) (#13)
    by LarryInNYC on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:46:31 PM EST
    I don't know.

    Actually, I do.

    Aren't All Muslims Socialists? (none / 0) (#19)
    by squeaky on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 05:05:57 PM EST

    They've been sneaking this (none / 0) (#20)
    by eric on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 05:10:38 PM EST
    Socialist name-calling back into the media vocabulary recently, I've noticed.  And for good reason.  Anyone who grew up during the 50's through the 80's has been brain-washed into having a negative reaction to the term "socialist".  Or commie.  Whatever.  Half the time, those upon whom the brainwashing has stuck are not even too sure what socialism is.  But they know it's bad.  And we defeated it.  Go USA!

    The anti-terrorist/Muslim/Arab propaganda is fresh.  Anti-Socialist rhetoric is tried and true.  Calling someone a socialist is a pretty reliable way to invoke a reaction amongst the greatest number of the brainwashed masses.  Even if one is all grown up and considering some of what Obama is saying, pulling out the S word is sure to conjure up images of Stalin, mushroom clouds, and hiding under a school desk.

    Furthermore, the war against Socialism, so gallantly fought for so many years, was a true war of ideologies.  There were (and are) entire states that practice this unholy economic system.  Nobody could seriously believe that terrorists are in Congress, but Socialists?...Maybe.  Let's have some hearings.

    Anyway, for people like McCain, he is both a cold-war, anti-commie, true-believer and someone who probably has been advised that there are plenty of sheeple out there to respond to this type of thing.

    Yeah.... (none / 0) (#48)
    by kdog on Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 09:18:20 AM EST
    I wonder if every commie-hating, flag-flying, proud Republican retiree realizes he's a dirty pinko socialist whenever he cashes his social security check.

    Nah (none / 0) (#53)
    by squeaky on Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 11:17:14 AM EST
    SS is just a forced savings plan based on lifetime earnings, very capitalist. Medicare, on the other hand... that is commie. And don't you doubt for a second that the right wingers are not exploiting it to the max, especially those with millions in the bank.

    I'll speculate this harks back to the (none / 0) (#29)
    by oculus on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 05:28:29 PM EST
    article about the parents of Obama's mother.  When they all lived on Mercer Island, rumor had it the parents were Communist party members, sympathizers, had been in the past, or something.  Plus, gasp, they were Unitarian.  Then we have Ayers and Dorhn plus that fellow at Columbia.

    it open up for Ayers and Wright in a (none / 0) (#41)
    by Salo on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 07:25:04 PM EST
    very new way.

    and wouldn't that have been (none / 0) (#30)
    by cpinva on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 05:29:17 PM EST
    And, don't forget, the Iraqi guerrillas almost got Paul Wolfowitz in his hotel in the Green Zone a couple years back.  The rockets they fired hit a floor below his room, and killed a couple other people.

    a tragic loss? well, no, actually, it wouldn't have been.

    not that i'd want him killed or anything, just sufficiently wounded so he'd be out of action for 3 years or so.

    frankly, i don't think even mccain is that batsh*t crazy, especially since the tables will have an opportunity to be turned on him in the future.

    You Never Know... (none / 0) (#50)
    by daring grace on Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 09:44:47 AM EST
    Your comment

    "Anyway the threat to Obama isn't likely to come from the left or Iraqis."

    reminds me of how when JFK went to Dallas, the fear for his safety was that some right winger would harm him down there.

    John Updike in his novel "Couples" portrays this when he has a Republican guy at a party on the night of the assassination saying something like (about Oswald):

    "Hey, Bob! It wasn't one of our nuts. It was one of theirs."

    yeah right! (none / 0) (#51)
    by allpeopleunite on Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 10:06:17 AM EST
    Socialism is about nationalising the means of production on a planned basis with workers democracy. Obama is about continuing capitalist exploitation of the working class, just as Republicans are. So no he is not a socialist.

    Perfect Setting (none / 0) (#52)
    by squeaky on Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 11:10:31 AM EST
    Al Qaida and BushCo are working to the same ends. Both want to incite war, endless war, for the foreseeable future and both want to drain the US treasury, albeit for different reasons. Taking out Obama would help both of them realize their dream.