Thursday, April 10, 2008

Obama understands problem; McCain wants to blow them up in macho man style

Do voters elect a President because of his suitability to deal with the problems the nation is facing, or because they like the guy? Democrats run Presidential campaigns based on the problems, Republicans run campaigns based on personal
Digby references a Dick Morris newspaper column in which Morris, responding to poll results, lays out the way this Presidential campaign is going to be fought:
Obama won the traditional Democratic (and female) virtues of understanding problems and caring about people. McCain won the usual Republican (and male) virtues of strong leadership and efficient management.
Digby offfers a great reply to Morris:
The question is whether or not people believe that "strength" is really defined in such simple terms after observing the idiot Bush up close for eight years. It's theoretically possible that they will see McCain as a "strong adult" while Junior was an overgrown teen-ager, but I don't know if they trust their instincts on any of this as much as they used to. They thought Bush's swagger and stubbornness were traits of masculinity and strength after all, and they were proven to be adolescent preening.

Then there are the other big issues of age and race, which also play into masculine stereotypes. This one isn't quite an uncomplicated as Morris thinks, although I'm quite sure he's right about Republican intentions. They are very good at tapping into the masculine leadership archetypes and base all their campaigns on them. The fact that they were able to turn a draft dodging party boy into a hero and a hero into a flip-flopping sissy is testament to how good they are at it.

In my opinion, the GOP's hyper-macho, strutting, codpiece wearing flyboy ran the country firmly into the ditch in virtually every way possible has likely made people yearn for a thoughtful, intelligent president who understands their problems. I'd bet at least 51% do anyway.
Whatever, it looks like the Democrats are going to run this campaign on the basis of whether the voters believe the Republican fantasies or their own personal experience augmented by a clear definition of who McCain really is. This is from The Hill. laying out what the reporters believe that the DNC Chair Howard Dean is saying:
DNC Chairman Howard Dean and Democratic pollsters said the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is vulnerable to charges he is not the independent voice he claims to be, criticized the Arizona senator for changing his position on key issues and claimed he is ignorant of the economy.

Dean and the pollsters said McCain has been “wishy-washy” on both immigration and the Bush tax cuts. Their polls showed people do not think McCain is an independent voice when they are told of his relationships with lobbyists affiliated with his campaign.

Dean argued McCain would have been a threat to compete for independent swing voters had he won the GOP nomination in 2000. Since then, he has changed on too many positions and tacked too far to the right to win their votes now.

“He has damaged his own brand dramatically since 2000,” Dean said. “Many of his wounds are self-inflicted.” [Snip]

Dean has focused much of his criticism on McCain’s assertion that he would not be opposed to an American presence in Iraq for the next 100 years. “When you mention 100 years and Iraq in the same sentence [to focus groups], it doesn’t matter what John McCain’s qualifying statements are, it just killed him. It just killed him,” Dean said on Thursday.
These reports make it appear that the Presidential race is going to be run based on the character of the two opponents, with the reality of what Americans are facing (and what the voters expect the President they directly elect to deal with) as the environment within which they evaluate the candidates for President. That makes character (as defined by the media and by the advertisements, primarily TV) into the primary issue that drives how voters choose.

Character is defined by many voters, recently a majority, as someone who quickly recognizes the nature of the problems and immediately starts to solve it. Threat to America? Bomb them and invade if that's not enough. That worked in 2004, but by 2006 enough voters recognized that more combat was not solving the problem caused by the invasion of Iraq.

Now we have the economic crisis. That's the crisis that Bush and his boys don't want to deal with for fear of causing more problems than they solve. That's the Herbert Hoover solution. John McCain agrees. The bankers and elite rich need to be bailed out, but everyone else is left on their own. That's the YoYo solution. You're on your own. No government will step in, since you aren't rich or a banker.

Can the myth of McCain's war hero status allow him to skate on solving the economic problems the middle class are having be enough? I have my opinion, but we won't really know until November 5th.

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