February 26, 2008


The Real McCain: Any decent person who looks at John McCain's record sees that while he has faltered at times, he has also battled concentrated power more doggedly than any other legislator. (David Brooks, 2/26/08, Der Spiegel)

You wouldn't know it to look at them, but political consultants are as faddish as anyone else. And the current vogueish advice among the backroom set is: Go after your opponent's strengths. So in the first volley of what feels like the general election campaign, Barack Obama has attacked John McCain for being too close to lobbyists. His assault is part of this week's Democratic chorus: McCain isn't really the anti-special interest reformer he pretends to be. He's more tainted than his reputation suggests.

Well, anything is worth trying, I suppose, but there is the little problem of his record. McCain has fought one battle after another against lobbyists and special interests. And while I don't have space to describe all his tussles, or even the lesser ones like his fight with the agricultural lobby against sugar subsidies, I thought that, amidst all these charges, it might be worth noting some of the McCain highlights from the past dozen years.

The Left, not atypically, took away the wrong lesson from the Kerry campaign. They believe that the swiftboating of the Senator relied on taking his strength, Vietnam, and turning it into a weakness. So they're going after Maverick where he's strongest.

The reality is that Mr. Kerry's Vietnam record was a weakness all along. Americans, though they may not have enjoyed the war much, despised the anti-war movement for which he became a spokesman. That's why his opponents were so happy to keep it the main topic of conversation.

If Democrats really want to keep Senator McCain's record on special interests, campaign finance, and budget goodies at the center of this campaign they'll just drive independents further towards his side.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 26, 2008 11:50 AM

We cannot, cannot, cannot participate in the farce of allowing "swiftboating" to become a neologism for political smearing or criticism of a candidate. Stop it.

Posted by: b at February 26, 2008 12:11 PM


I agree, but I was wondering whether you read this article.


Why risk underestimating Obama?

Better to overestimate, and crush.

Posted by: Bruno at February 26, 2008 1:02 PM

"Swiftboating" is best defined as "spreading vicious truths about a political opponent."

Posted by: Ralph Phelan at February 26, 2008 1:53 PM

Amen, Brothers.

While Democrats complain bitterly about the questions raised concerning medals and visits to Cambodia, in fact only a fraction of the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth critique had anything to do with John Kerry's activities while actually in Southeast Asia.

Most of their critisism focused on Kerry's activities after his return: His Congressional testimony calling his "Band of Brothers" war criminals, treating with the Communists in Paris, and other Winter Soldier efforts. His leadership of the anti-war movement, and his three-decades-long opposition to anything that would remotely contribute to the defense of our nation, were the easily substantiated ammo that sank his candidacy.

American's may not like a particilar war. But they are suspicious of anti-war "peace" movements. And they hate to lose.

Kerry was simply a loser.

Posted by: JonSK at February 26, 2008 3:39 PM


Looking back on it, even if you think they were incorrect, you can still respect folks who opposed that war on grounds like "Not our business," "Not our problem," or "We're losing this fustercluck, let's bug out already."

It's the folks who claimed the Communists were the good guys who look even more stupid and evil now than they did then. IOW the ones who weren't really "for peace," they were just on the other side.

Posted by: Ralph Phelan at February 26, 2008 4:36 PM


The notion that Reagan was an unknown who snuck under the radar defies comprehension.

Posted by: oj at February 26, 2008 5:29 PM

Swiftboating is perfect shorthand for criticizing a candidate.

Posted by: oj at February 26, 2008 5:31 PM