Thursday, September 25, 2008

McCain's Pretending to be Obama

What a charade.
WaPo: Slipping in the polls? Concerned that Americans may be paying more attention to the declining economy -- and even supporting economic regulation again -- than to your own stellar leadership abilities?

What's a Republican presidential nominee to do?

If you're named John McCain, the answer became apparent yesterday afternoon -- make the solution to the economic crisis all about you. Suspend your campaign. Pull out of tomorrow's debate -- a trivial exercise merely allowing Americans to judge the two candidates side by side. Change the terms of the nation's economic discussion from the course we should take, and the defects of the laissez-faire model that got us here, to the indispensability of John McCain, leader of leaders.

(Besides, if tomorrow's debate goes on as scheduled, it will doubtless focus on the economy as well as foreign affairs, its announced topic. McCain sees foreign policy as one area where he can outshine Obama. Only by rescheduling the debate after the crisis has passed can he be sure he will have his moment in the foreign policy sun.)

McCain's ploy was transparent. To counter the public's preference for Obama's economics over his own, he would get both of them in a room and emerge proclaiming that they had reached agreement, that they had no differences. In fact, they have very real differences. McCain wants to retain tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans; Obama wants to create tax cuts for all but the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans. Obama favors policies -- through investments in infrastructure and education and through legislation enabling Americans to join unions without fear of being fired -- to build the base of the economy, while McCain's record is one of opposition to such policies. Obama favors trade agreements only when they raise labor and environmental standards with our trading partners and protect them here at home; McCain has supported every trade pact that has weakened such standards and has never said one word about protecting our standards or raising them abroad.

Comparisons such as these are odious, however, to McCain's prospects.