Better Late Than Never: With 2 1/2 weeks from election day and a touchdown behind in the polls, John McCain should hone his campaign strategy and zero in like a laser what moderates and independent voters fear most. That is a Barack Obama presidency too meek to counter the legislative agenda of the two most liberal Democratic leaders in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. With an expected super majority of Democrats in Congress, only a McCain veto stamp can slow the liberal avalanche of spending programs, many of which are proven losers. The accumulative effect is prolonging an economic recession, assuming, of course, it doesn't totally tank into a global depression. Yes, the strategy is predicated on fear, not fear based on character assassination, but on policy. McCain should argue our government works constitutionally on a checks and balance system and he's the great counter balancer to a runaway Congress. Independents and moderates will decide the election. So far, he's perceived by this group as an angry old man intent on diminishing his opponent's character for past associations with crooks, bigots and domestic terrorists. That fires up his base but his base won't win him the election.
McCain's Conundrum: No question that the third and final debate Wednesday McCain turned in his best performance. "I'm not President Bush," he scolded Obama who continually refers to McCain as voting 95% of the time for Bush policy programs. "If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago." Despite his feisty demeanor, instant polls after the debate indicated preference for Obama by a wide margin. Although the McCain campaign has been all over the map unsuccessfully trying to define Obama as an empty suit, the problem he has is not of his making. It's the financial markets meltdown that trumps everything else in this campaign season. The debate was not a game changer. McCain continues to stoke the flames of his conservative base without convincing independents to move in his direction. Democrat analyst Simon Rosenberg said "In the past few weeks, the American people have ... decided they see a future president in Sen. Obama. In Sen. McCain, they see an admirable but aging politician who seems out of step with the moment."
Fact Check: Both candidates distorted and exaggerated the truth. Obama said 100% of McCain's television ads were negative. University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers did say nearly 100% of McCain's ads the first week in October were negative. However, over the course of the campaign, 73% of McCain's ads were negative compared to 61% from the Obama campaign. McCain said 45 new nuclear plants could be built right away. Although applications for 24 new reactors are pending, it would take until 2015 for the first to go on line. Current economic conditions with tight money credit likely would prevent nuclear construction estimated at $9 billion per plant. Other repeated charges have been reported and clarified in earlier debate postings.
Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Joe, the plumber, Wurzelbacher of suburban Toledo, Ohio, was mentioned 25 times during the Wednesday debate. McCain, who never met the 34-year-old Republican, epitomized him as a victim of Obama's tax plan. He said Joe was poised to buy his employer's plumbing business but couldn't afford the extra taxes because the company earned more than $250,000 per year. Turns out Joe doesn't have a plumber's license and could be sanctioned by the city's plumbing control board. Turns out, Joe's income last year was $40,000 and unlikely to buy the company. Turns out, Joe's boss filed income tax reported earnings of only $100,000 last year and would not be subject to a tax increase under either an Obama or McCain tax plan. Analysts calculated even if Joe bought the company and earned more than $250,000 the increase in taxes from a 35% to 39% rate would be offset by credits for a employee health benefit plan and elimination of capital gains taxes for small businesses. A sublimed Joe Wurzelbacher said Thursday he regretted opening his big mouth and never intended to be subjected to the national limelight. Another McCain miscue.