PDA

View Full Version : So, John McCain stopped by...


alnorth
06-01-2007, 06:04 PM
(Note: I am voting for John McCain in the Iowa caucus, but I'll try to keep this just to facts, observations, and impressions like you were reading a newspaper with slight editorial commenting or something.)

Yesterday evening as I left work, I noticed another one of those little signs in the lobby, announcing that John McCain would stop by our cafeteria Friday afternoon. So, at least I had more notice this time. During the afternoon, it became obvious during lunch that this was going to be a far different affair than Romney's appearance, with fancy blue curtains that I never knew we had, draped around a few chairs circling a platform, town-hall style. Seeing that there were a lot less chairs this time and not wanting to stand again, I went downstairs a half hour early, and barely managed to snag a 3rd-row seat.

This was obviously going to be more of a made-for-TV event. Romney's stop had more of a spur-of-the-moment unexpected feel with no notice, no media, and a smooth politician trying to speak to a few hundred people. Today's setup was far more intimate, with camera crews from 3 local TV stations, a C-Span camera, and AP photographers. It seemed to me that this would be geared towards the cameras at least as much as us, in contrast to Mitt's appearance where the only votes up for grabs were looking right at him.

After a 20 minute wait, the cameramen must have received some unknown cue as they began to hurriedly turn on their expensive-looking equipment. 5 minutes later, the back of the room began clapping and McCain walked right past me to the center (I was at the end of an aisle). He spoke about 15 feet away from where I sat, so I couldnt have had a much better view.

My first thought: Wow, this guy is old. The TV cameras subtract at least 10 years from his age. After a few minutes: damn, if I live that old, I hope like hell that I am this healthy and physically fit, he moved like a man half his age.

After many jokes and icebreakers (when the microphone screeched with his first words, he quipped "and this microphone is brought to you by the Democratic National Committee") he began a speech that was surprisingly introspective, beginning with why he thought the Republicans lost the election. According to McCain, it was not Iraq, but that the GOP lost all fiscal discipline, spending about 10 minutes or so describing the many things Congress has done wrong in wasting money, concluding with something like "in 1994, the Republican Party promised to change Washington, and in the end, Washington changed us." I remember 2 or 3 times, he promised that if elected he would veto any bill that had a pork project in it, and he would make whoever put a wastful spending item into that veto'd bill famous.

This didnt feel the same as Mitt Romney's speech at all. Mitt was a lot more relaxed and cheerful, and I dont think he ever uttered the words "I want to be president" at all, everyone knew why Mitt was here, but he was almost coy about it. In contrast, McCain's speech felt like a job interview. He said "I want to be president to do the hard things" so many times I lost count. You could also see where his reputation for having a short temper came from. Its not like he got angry on stage, but he was intense more often than he was relaxed, and at times when he spoke about things he disagreed with or didnt like, there was definitely an edge in his voice. He'd throw in a joke or two every 15 minutes or so, but rather than just being silly filler, it almost seemed necessary to lighten the mood in the audience from time to time after he really got going for a while.

He spent a lot of time on fiscal discipline, these are the other topics I remember:

Immigration - He didnt try to duck or hide from this issue, and he apologized for nothing regarding his role in the immigration bill now floating through congress. First, he discussed that in his view, the status quo was an unacceptable security risk that had to change. He explained that the easiest thing he could have done was just demand that the current laws be enforced and deport all illegal aliens, but in his view this was idealistic and impossible. In his words, it was not the bill he would have written, but his ideal solution (along with many other conservatives) would not have passed, but the current situation could not continue so conservatives and liberals had to reach a compromise on this issue. He then went through a long explanation on what the bill would do (hire more border security, require current illegals who want to stay to pay a fine, return to their home country for a background check, get an employer to agree to hire them, get documented using biometric technology that couldnt be passed on to others.) After the new system was fully in place, employers would then face tougher penalties for hiring illegals, and future illegal immigrants would be put in jail and/or deported.

Iraq - this is obviously an issue that could hurt him because of his strong views. Mitt Romney expressed support for staying in Iraq too, but with some obvious qualifiers (we'll see what the generals say this fall, and see if the war is still worth fighting then, etc) to give him a chance to change his mind if things went south. McCain was pretty adamant: we would stay in Iraq until the job was complete, period. To defend that unpopular position, he said that if we left, the terrorists would follow us home. In contrast, he explained that when we lost Vietnam and went home, all we had to do was heal our soldiers and give them whatever care they needed, and it was over. With Iraq, the war would simply move into the US, with al-Qaeda using Iraq as a new base.

It then went into question-and-answers, but many of the questions either focused on one of those three issues which were already thoroughly covered, or were about something not worth mentioning, like "Senator McCain, how would I be able to check up on my own congressman to see if he is fiscally responsible". (Dude, ever hear of watchdog groups? Its not hard to see how various trusted organisations grade congressmen)

Overall, it seemed like McCain only spoke at length about immigration and Iraq because he absolutely had to, those issues were the huge elephants in the room but he isnt going to be voted in on Iraq and immigration. Those issues aside, its clear that he wanted to talk about fiscal issues, trying to paint himself as the fiscally responsible candidate, whether directly, or indirectly in jokes (when mentioning a trip he took to visit soldiers, he threw in a comment like "paid for by you and your fellow taxpayers, of course")

After he was done, I noticed he was going to exit right past me, but unfortunately I hadnt brought any paper for an autograph, so I settled for a handshake instead.

dirk digler
06-01-2007, 06:25 PM
That is pretty cool even though I think McCain is a sellout.

BTW where do you work to get all the candidates come visiting?

alnorth
06-01-2007, 06:30 PM
That is pretty cool even though I think McCain is a sellout.

BTW where do you work to get all the candidates come visiting?

Allied Insurance (a member of Nationwide Insurance) in Des Moines, IA. We are the largest Property and Casualty Insurance company in Iowa.

dirk digler
06-01-2007, 06:39 PM
Allied Insurance (a member of Nationwide Insurance) in Des Moines, IA. We are the largest Property and Casualty Insurance company in Iowa.

Thanks.

alnorth
06-01-2007, 06:40 PM
One question I forgot to mention that was noteworthy: someone in the audience asked him about torture. (On that note, he took a lot more questions than Mitt Romney, who fielded three quickly and took off, I think McCain took at least 8, at one point looking around and saying "Is that it? Am I leaving now" before some other brave audience members started throwing out any question they could think of)

This was probably the only time McCain took a swipe at other Republicans, saying that in the last big debate he was disturbed that everyone else in the field said that some form of torture was ok. McCain opposed any form of torture under any circumstances, noting that the ticking time bomb situation that is often thrown out is unrealistic. Aside from being morally wrong, he argued that it wouldnt work, since someone who is being tortured would say anything they think you want to hear, and that the military opposes torture partly out of concern of what would happen to our captured soldiers. He also described his experience as a POW in Vietnam, saying that he took strength and comfort from knowing that if the roles were reversed, the US would never have done to the enemy what they were doing to him.

As president, aside from obviously making sure that we do not torture accused terrorists, McCain would close Guantanamo Bay and move the prisoners to Leavenworth, KS.

Taco John
06-02-2007, 02:27 AM
With Iraq, the war would simply move into the US, with al-Qaeda using Iraq as a new base.



I have a hard time respecting this viewpoint given the fact that Sunni's and Shia both seem to hate Al Queda (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/13/AR2007041300294.html). Al Queda doesn't have the manpower to control Iraq, let alone use it as a launching pad to make war on the US.

It doesn't matter... McCain is going to be on the wrong side of the American people in September 2007.

But I can tell you someone who won't be... (http://obama.senate.gov/press/070130-obama_offers_plan_to_stop_escalation_of_iraq_war_begin_phased_redeployment_of_troops/index.html)

Taco John
06-02-2007, 02:31 AM
Hey Al... If you get another chance to question a candidate, ask them this:

"The term 'blow back' has recently been a hot topic with regards to the unintended consequences of US policies. Do you believe blow back exists?"

I'd love to see how he'd tackle that one.

patteeu
06-02-2007, 10:04 AM
Hey Al... If you get another chance to question a candidate, ask them this:

"The term 'blow back' has recently been a hot topic with regards to the unintended consequences of US policies. Do you believe blow back exists?"

I'd love to see how he'd tackle that one.

I'm not sure what kind of answers you'd expect from a question like this, but my first thought is who doesn't think it exists? Isn't it a fairly universally accepted concept?

recxjake
06-02-2007, 10:06 AM
I don't think McCain will be in the race by the Caucus.

Taco John
06-02-2007, 07:08 PM
I'm not sure what kind of answers you'd expect from a question like this, but my first thought is who doesn't think it exists? Isn't it a fairly universally accepted concept?



Not if you're Rudy Giuliani...

patteeu
06-02-2007, 08:37 PM
Not if you're Rudy Giuliani...

I don't think Giulliani rejected the concept of blowback. He rejected the idea that the US brought 9/11 upon itself. It's a matter of placing blame where blame belongs.