The Straightaway

Politics Without Pundits

McCain Comes Out Firing in 3rd Debate

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Sen. John McCain came for a fight against Sen. Barack Obama in tonight’s final presidential debate of the 2008 election season. McCain was angry, energetic, and invigorating. He attacked Obama directly more than he had in the previous debates. He interrupted Obama and called him out constantly. He was a sarcastic jerk all night, rolling his eyes at Obama at least twice – in short, McCain was fantastic.

Obama started the debate poorly, seeming to be on his heels while spouting his usual campaign talking points. Early on, McCain countered the standard Obama comparison of McCain and Bush with the soundbite of the night:

Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against him, you should have run 4 years ago.

However, Obama recovered, scoring points on his healthcare policy and other issues while maintaining his cool. In contrast to McCain, Obama was even, temperate, and looked very wise (although a bit too professorial). Obama wasn’t as engaging in this debates as others, but the key was his consistency – he looked more presidential than McCain.

Overall, McCain won this debate with his energy and boldness. However, this debate will do little in the polls other than energizing the base.

Debate Advantage: McCain

Here is the first part of the debate:

Sidenote: After the debate, NBC featured former governor and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney as a commentator. While he talked, I started thinking about future elections. If Obama ends up winning in 2008, and the Democrats do a terrible job the next four years, the strong, conservative Romney will be a great bet for the Republicans in 2012.


Written by acs2008

October 16, 2008 at 3:24 am

Obama Crosses 270 Electoral Vote Line

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CNN is reporting on its Electoral Map Calculator that, if the election were held today, Obama would have 277 guaranteed electoral votes, putting him over the 270 threshold needed to secure the presidency. Obama was catapulted over the virtual 270 line by new poll numbers in Virginia, which shows Obama leading McCain by 9 percentage points.

Those poll numbers look too good to be true, so naturally, don’t believe that they are true. Obama is gaining nationally and in the battleground states, but never count John McCain out – his presidential campaign was virtually finished last summer, and yet he managed to rally and win the New Hampshire Republican primary and continue on to his party’s nomination.

After tonight’s debate, we come to that 19-day home stretch of the election season. Pundits across the board have been relying on the addage “a week in politics is like a year in real life.” If that’s really the case, then we still have two and a half “years” until the election. John McCain has resurrected a campaign in less time than that.

Written by acs2008

October 15, 2008 at 11:30 pm

The Palins and the Alaskan Independence Party

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Since it is Obama’s guilty-by-association headlines (former Weather Underground member William Ayers) that have been dominating the media, it is only fair to present Sarah Palin’s: her husband, Todd Palin.

Todd Palin was a member of the Alaskan Independence Party from 1995-2002. The AIP is a libertarian political party that advocates strong states rights, including the repatriation of all federal lands in Alaska to the state.

It has been claimed that the AIP is a secessionist party. Although there may be members of the party that wish to secede from the Union, it is not part of the party platform, as posted on the AIP website. However, the ultimate goal of the AIP, also posted on the website, states:

The Alaskan Independence Party’s goal is the vote we were entitled to in 1958, one choice from among the following four alternatives:

1) Remain a Territory.
2) Become a separate and Independent Nation.
3) Accept Commonwealth status.
4) Become a State.

Basically, the AIP wants the citizens of Alaska to be presented with the option of secession, if it so chooses. Secession would be a possibility if this ultimate goal were achieved, but it cannot be construed as a direct aim of the party by this wording. (The AIP must have commissioned a top-notch lawyer to write this, because it is perfectly worded, masking unconstitutional secession as a primary goal).

Sarah Palin has never been a member of the party. However, she did address the party’s convention via video earlier this year. Much the same way that George W. Bush addressed the Republican National Convention, via video screen.

Here’s Palin addressing the 2008 AIP Convention:

Conservative Movement Turns on Founder’s Son

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In a bizarre turn of events, Christopher Buckley has resigned from the staff of the conservative magazine National Review after printing this article endorsing Barack Obama for President. Buckley, a well-known conservative-libertarian and author of several satirical novels (including the film-adapted Thank You For Smoking) is the son of the late William F. Buckley, founder of the National Review and regarded as the father of the American conservative movement.

To be clear, Christopher Buckley has not changed his political viewpoints – he is as conservative as he was when he served as a speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush. Buckley’s decision stems mostly from displeasure with John McCain, as well as belief in Obama’s character.

This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence.

As for Senator Obama: He has exhibited throughout a “first-class temperament,” pace Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s famous comment about FDR.

Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.

Just 4 days after this endorsement ran, Buckley decided to leave his father’s magazine after he was set upon by an angry storm of feedback from readers and colleagues who felt he had betrayed his family name and his movement.

Yet perhaps the readers don’t remember the true Bill Buckley. As Christopher said in the 10/14 column:

My father in his day endorsed a number of liberal Democrats for high office, including Allard K. Lowenstein and Joe Lieberman. One of his closest friends on earth was John Kenneth Galbraith.

William F. Buckley held to rigorous standards, and if those were met by members of the other side rather than by his own camp, he said as much.

It seems unfair that Christopher Buckley shall be faulted for exercising his own judgment rather than following the line of a party, and a movement, in disarray. Perhaps the Republican party has strayed so far from its roots that it has lost its identity, that it cannot take honest criticism from a loyal son.

Written by acs2008

October 15, 2008 at 6:06 am

Is A Vote for Obama a Vote for Bush?

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Posted on is this very thought-provoking article by Deputy Editor of the Washington Times (and former senior adviser to the Republican National Committee) Tara Wall comparing twenty of Obama’s positions on the issues vs. those of George W. Bush.

Wall’s most interesting revelations come when comparing Obama and Bush’s social viewpoints. Obama comes out looking decidedly socially-conservative, based on his opposition to gay marriage (although he believes in civil unions for same-sex couples) and his deep Christian faith.

Liberal Obama supporters might be disturbed to see their candidate sharing so many viewpoints with Bush. It turns out that Bush isn’t a completely bad guy after all; in fact, The Messiah (Obama) and Bush share a common interest in noble pursuits such as education reform and fighting the global AIDS epidemic.

Although there may be a surprising amount of similarities between the two, it should be noted that on important issues such as the Iraq War and upper-class tax cutes, they stand very far apart. For Bush, this argument works a lot like Oliver Stone’s new movie, “W.” (which has received good-but-not-great reviews so far) – it shows that he is completely awful man, despite what his detractors might say. For Obama, this argument implies that he is not the “most liberal senator,” as he was dubbed by the National Journal. This show of moderation, even downright conservatism, might surprise and perhaps sway some moderate-conservatives who find themselves in the Independent corner this election season.

Written by acs2008

October 14, 2008 at 4:10 am

Swift-Boat Season for the Republicans

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Earlier on CNN it was reported that Sarah Palin, desperate to make up the disadvantage her ticket is facing in the polls, has resorted to accusing Obama of being homies with terrorists.

Our opponent though, is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.

This assertion, which has been discredited for a long time now by reputable news sources, is based on the fact that Obama lives in the same neighborhood in Illinios as Bill Ayers, a former radical and creator of Weather Underground, which bombed several important US sites in the 1970s. (Obama was just 8 years old at the time).

This is a lie, a bold-faced lie, concocted to make voters fear Obama. Apparently, the McCain campaign has no real issues left to their credit, so they are resorting to “swift-boating,” a term coined after the Swift Boat Veterans slandered John Kerry constantly during the 2004 Presidential election season, helping Bush retain the White House.

The Republicans claim that they are simply trying to get tougher on Obama. That’s all well and dandy. Attack his lack of experience more, or his wealth-distribution policies. Attack on the issues, which is what this election should be about. Apparently, the Republicans have given up all hope on winning through the issues, so they are instead trying to destroy Obama through lies and distortion.

Swift Boat Season ’08 is the last resort of a dying party. Don’t fall for it. Vote based on the issues, and not based on who lives in the neighborhood of the candidates. After all, Palin can see Russia from her house. Aside from giving her foreign policy credentials, does that also make her a Russian nationalist?


Written by acs2008

October 5, 2008 at 3:58 am

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VP Debate – Biden Wins, Palin Doesn’t Self-Destruct

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It’s sad how little people expect of McCain running mate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Immediately after the debate, many TV commentators acted as if this debate was a tie, simply based on the fact that Palin didn’t blow it. And, to Gov. Palin’s credit, she did not implode on the debate floor at Washington University in St. Louis (although many expected her to). She came out to play, and she carried herself well.

That being said, it was clear that Obama running mate Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) won this debate. He demonstrated that his depth of knowledge far exceeds that of Gov. Palin, and he did not have any major gaffes, except perhaps the part where he said that the powers of the executive are outlined in Article I of the Constitution (they are outlined in Article II).

Palin continuously dodged the questions of the moderator, mostly sticking to talking points. Perhaps this was good debate strategy, but it looked weak in comparison to Biden’s informed, straightforward answers. Biden brought a lot of substance and facts to the debate, particularly in the realm of foreign policy. (After all, he is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs).

Biden hit McCain hard all night, tying him to the Bush Adminstration and constantly attacking his Senate voting record. Palin hard a hard time rebutting these attacks. Whenever Palin would score a shot on Obama, Biden would issue a fierce rebuttal, often turning a weak point into a resounding victory on the issue for the Democrats.

Palin did not look overmatched. However, those who watched the debate very closely could see that she was indeed overmatched. Unlike Obama, who showed in last week’s debate that he belongs on the stage with McCain, Palin did not prove that she is ready to be Vice President. Biden proved that he is more than qualified for the job.

Palin’s folksy language was engaging as usual, but Biden was also likable, playing up his blue collar roots. When he brought up the sad story of his late wife and injured children, he delivered the message with passion and conviction – he choked up, just for a second, covering it up well enough that we can be sure it was a real moment of vulnerability, not something calculated.

Overall, Biden did a better job selling his candidate’s plans, with real substance. His tone throughout the debate was fiesty and angry, which is exactly what Middle America is feeling right now. He was able to connect with the audience as well as Palin did, and he brought a lot of substance in the process.

Quite frankly, the fact that Palin did not screw up does not mean she won this debate. If anything, that kind of standard shows that she is not ready to be Vice President. She didn’t melt down, but she certainly did not prove herself to America like she needed to.

Huge Advantage: Biden

Written by acs2008

October 3, 2008 at 5:51 am