By on September 19, 2008

Once upon a time, Barack Obama and John McCain actually disagreed about the proposed automaker bailout. Obama took his cues from the UAW and backed the proposal. McCain remained principled– until he realized he had to win Michigan. Now, not only is McCain camping-out in Obama’s rhetorical territory, promising that “change is coming,” he’s also pushing to be seen as Detroit booster-ier than thou. His new ad literally opens on the corporate logos of the Detroit three, while a honey-voiced narrator coos that “Michigan families depend on the auto industry.” But can McCain really win by following his opponent into populist positions? A post over at Wired indicates that not only is he pandering after already-committed voters, but he’s also helping to fuel protectionism, corporate welfare, and jingoistic anti-innovation. Because there is less daylight between the McCain and Obama positions, McCain is coming under increasingly narrow and divisive attacks, the latest based on his opposition to “buy American” stipulations for (get this) secret service motorcycle purchasing. McCain’s opinion that mandating the purchase of Harley-Davidsons is “unnecessary and counter-productive” has caused the Obama campaign to start a “hybrids and Harleys” initiative. At a recent rally in Grand Rapids MI, Hybrids and Harleys for Obama banned all foreign-built hybrids from the parade of vehicles. Er, all non-D3 hybrids, anyway. Canadian Silverado hybrids were welcome, as were Mexican-made hybrid Vues. Holding Americans and their presidential candidates to an impossible standard of driving American-made, eco-friendly hybrids is the result of a lack of substantive debate. When neither side refuses to take a principled stand on an issue, contrast is derived only through pandering and empty symbolism. For two candidates who claim to be agents of change, this is a lot of the same-old tired politics as usual.

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13 Comments on “Bailout Watch 56: Barack Obama and John McCain Offer “Low Contrast” Debate...”


  • avatar
    Engineer

    Nice write-up, Ed. Who would have thought? TTAC shining the light of truth into politics! Nice job!

    Now watch your back. Here comes the Kool-Aid drinkers…

  • avatar
    turbosaab

    Politics as usual. Did anyone expect anything different?

    Too bad this guy didn’t get nominated.

  • avatar
    thalter

    Farago/Niedermeyer ’08!

  • avatar
    HarveyBirdman

    What a breath of fresh air (the write-up, not the presidential campaigns). I can’t hardly turn on the TV without being barraged by ads here in NM. The petty attacks, especially by the candidates’ surrogates and 3rd-party PACs, isn’t scoring any points with me as an undecided voter.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    I knew this would happen! Michigan’s an important state, and Ohio I think also figures into the bail-out calculations at both the pol’s HQs.

    Another side-effect of this mortgage disaster is that at this point, sad as it is to say, $50 billion for auto companies would be “in the noise” of the epic bailout planned for the financial firms. It would amount to something like %5 of the trillion (TRILLION!?) dollar tag being sent up the flag pole right now. “Sneaking” fifty billions into that bill for the auto companies, especially with all the votes at stake, suddenly becomes quite palatable I am afraid to all parties (no pun intended) concerned.

  • avatar
    Qwerty

    Is there anything that the 2000 McCain stood for that the 2008 McCain has not flip flopped on?

    With the trillion dollar bailout, I cannot wait for “dude” and “bro” to be phased out in favor of “comrade.” I hope the bread lines won’t be too long in the new USSA.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Engineer: + 1 for you.

    While it’s clear that winning is the #1 priority for both campaigns, there doesn’t appear to be a #2, #3, #4, etc priority list. They’ll each say whatever they think they need to say to win. To hell with principle.

    All of these ridiculous marketing taglines about change are all garbage. As the late, great George Carlin would say, “It’s all bullshit and it’s bad for you”.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Politics as usual. Did anyone expect anything different?

    Too bad this guy didn’t get nominated.

    The US badly needs an economic conservative and a green liberal candidate. Or rather, they such candidates who stand a chance at winning, and Barr (or Ron Paul) and Nader certainly don’t.

    I wouldn’t expect meaningful change until a significant number of disenchanted Democratic and Republican candidates are so sick of their current parties that they split off en masse. But that won’t happen, because the current system is so entrenched and works so well (if you’re a member of it) that there’s no need to change.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Is there anything that the 2000 McCain stood for that the 2008 McCain has not flip flopped on?

    I’m really tired of the term “Flip-flop”. When did it become a sin to change your mind based on the informed consensus of your team and/or the electorate. Leadership is not a one-way street. If George Bush had “flip-flopped” on a certain number of boneheaded moves, the US might not be in quite the straights it’s in right now.

    There’s a certain value in being able to say “No, you’re right, we’ll change our position, based on what the people and/or our crack team of analysts think. Here’s why….”. I’d respect a leader that said that.

    Of course, this is the same country that gets it’s collective panties in a bunch about what a candidate’s pastor says, won’t vote for someone who seems too smart and well-spoken, or has a significant portion of the electorate who won’t vote for one guy because his name is one letter different from a wanted terrorist’s.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    But can McCain really win by following his opponent into populist positions?

    Sadly, I’m beginning to think “no”.

    A better line for McCain would be to appeal to those who are current on their cars, houses, and bills. And to those who are in the market for cars and houses and have suffered due to housing ‘speculators’.

    Of course, there may not be enough of such people in Michigan to win. Which is one more reason (for me) to ignore Detroit products…

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Is it my imagination, or did he say, “I’m John McCain and I approve this message.” in an exceptionally melodic manner.

    That voice tugged at the very heartstrings of my emotional being. Now I have no choice but to vote for the man who thinks that Sarah Palin is qualified to run the White House.

    Damn! Where is my Barack flavored Kool-Aid? Wait a sec. This is Hillary flavored. No wonder…

    At least I didn’t drink the McKinney Skinny this time. Last time I did that I woke up with three gold capped teeth, a half empty bottle of malt liquor, and a ripped miniskirt.

  • avatar
    Mekira

    “Hybrids & Harleys for Obama” allowing only D3 hybrids to ride in their little “parade”…how childish! Don’t they realize that Obama is all about (at least when compared to who’s been in the White House for the past 8 years) building closer ties with the rest of the world. Knock knock–that goes hand in hand with not sounding too anti-trade & “foreign products suck” with our fellow world citizens. This thinking has got to stop (mainly in Michigan)…that just because a car is built by a foreign-based company it has no right to be thought about or mentioned at all. Globalization gives us choices!

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    “hybrids and Harleys” initiative

    Hmm that is rather odd and sort of counter-intuitive since hybrids are fuel efficient for cars and Harley’s are most definately NOT fuel efficient for motorcycles. I could maybe let the whole American cars only thing slide because they have things in each class even if they are not the best in class. But Harley’s are just cruisers, that’s it. And if you try and squeeze Buell in there you get a little more selection but hardly American made for those models.

    Globalization gives us choices!
    Not if your running for president, or really any high level office, or your branded as unamerican and unpatriotic if your not about protectionism. Funny how outside of Michigan that doesn’t seem to matter.

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