kurt's nightmare

Generally, I post once a week. Topics are randomly selected and depend mostly upon whether it's baseball season or not. Other topics will include sex, politics, old girlfriends, music, and whatever else pops into my little brain. If you'd like to read, or ignore, my blog about China: http://meidabizi.blogspot.com/

Location: Dayton, OH, Heard & McDonald Islands

I'm an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dayton. I represent no one but myself, and barely do that. I'm here mostly by accident.

Friday, December 05, 2008

My Friends

John McCain, in 2000, was a serious challenger to George W. Bush. He was attacked from the right, for all sorts of things, including some incredibly nasty push-polling in Michigan and South Carolina. He lost.

There is nothing new below, but after ruminating a bit, here’s the concession speech the John McCain of 2000 could have offered in November of 2008. That he didn’t is just one more indication of why he lost on his second go-around.


My Friends:

I used to talk the talk, and walk the walk. I have tried to reach across the aisle, and working with a serious liberal, got McCain-Feingold passed. At attempt, however feeble, to at least start thinking about campaign finance reform. As a Senator from Arizona, I know a bit about the challenges of immigration and its reform. I have spoken out in favor of that reform. I’ve taken other positions out of step with neo-conservatives and those who claim the mantle of Ronald Reagan.

My friends, the response from Republicans and conservatives was deafening. Indeed, in spite of the fact that I actually won the nomination, they pretty much still hate me. Romney lost because, as Huckabee put it, he looks like the guy who laid you off. He also seems not to believe in anything. Tancredo believed in some things; mostly that saying nothing about anything but the threat of immigrants was a winning platform. He was wrong. Huckabee as probably as nuts as Tancredo, but with a sense of humor and with a sharp sense of self-awareness. Giuliani supported, relatively speaking, gay rights and gun control, had some issues with adultery, and is about as much a Yankee as you can get: not happening. Thompson didn’t seem to want even to run for, let alone be, President. James Gilmore, Sam Brownback, Tommy Thompson? Sure. And Ron Paul, well, the Republicans really don’t want radical fissure between their conservative wing and their libertarian wing exposed so baldly.

My friends, the campaign I ran sucked. Rather than dealing with the evangelical and conservative base of the Republican Party as Democrats traditionally do with their base (liberals and/or African-Americans), and say “Who the hell else are you going to vote for?,” I chose another strategy. I appealed to that base. I embraced those I had once called “agents of intolerance.” (They didn’t change; I did.) I let my proxies call my opponent a Socialist, one who “pals around with terrorists.” I didn’t play the race card so much, but when it got played, I looked the other way. When my campaign went over the top, I once or twice grumbled, but my heart didn’t seem to be in it. Somehow, I decided that the immoral tactics to which I succumbed in 2000 were now appropriate.

My friends, I cemented this strategy by nominating Sarah Palin, a know-nothing with a family that looks like the target of Republican ads, a tendency to ignore questions or, worse, answer them and reveal her profound silliness, and with experience that made Obama look like Henry Clay.

My friends, I also made sure to say, early on in the campaign, that I didn’t know much about the economy, but that I was reading Alan Greenspan’s book. Oops.

My friends, the only way I could have won this election, given the disaster that was in the office I sought, was to appeal to suburban voters, soccer moms, Reagan Democrats, and put together a coalition along with those who had no other place to go. Instead, I chose to insult those potential supporters by thinking Palin would be an asset, and by insisting how proud I was of putting such a person so close to the most powerful political position in the world. I confirmed this kind of strategic foolishness by generally having little to say about health care, the economy, education, or the environment: issues those potential supporters care about.

My friends, I ran a campaign with no ideas, and gave very little indication that the standard rap—Bush’s 3rd term—wasn’t pretty damn accurate. I didn’t do well in the debates, I’m not a good stump speaker, I misspoke on occasion reinforcing worries about my age (compounding the Palin factor). My experience was enormous, relative to Obama’s: but that argument’s wind was taken out of its sails by Obama’s riposte that it was those—Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Phil Gramm, etc.—with vast experience that had gotten us where we are today. And I clearly didn’t think experience was all that important, given that I selected Palin. Yes, the rumors are true that the right wing of the GOP vetoed my preferred choice: Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge. I succumbed to that veto. Perhaps things would have been different had I chosen one of them, or convinced Condoleezza Rice to run with me.

My friends, the Republicans had to come up with someone interesting, who brought new (but good) ideas, and challenged the status quo. Someone who energized people. Someone who really did stand for change. I wasn’t that person. The conventional wisdom was that given the facts on the ground, it would have been hard for any Republican to win this year: the conventional wisdom was right. In fact, I’m surprised I did as well as I did, and I don’t here want to go into the worries I work hard to suppress about why that is.

My friends, if you were someone who might have voted for me but didn’t, perhaps you’re worried about your mortgage. Perhaps you’re worried that we’ve wasted trillions in Iraq. Perhaps you’re worried about a catastrophic illness, or being able to send your kids to college. Perhaps you’re just sufficiently worried about your financial future, and your children’s prospects, that you no longer view Mexicans coming to the US to work, or two lesbians getting married, as the potent threat it somehow used to be.

My friends, I lost because I deserved to. And because I say “my friends” too much.


Blogger Bazarov said...

Did you write that speech?

2:45 PM  
Blogger kmosser said...

of course. who in the hell did you think would?

4:11 PM  
Blogger Bazarov said...

I reckon you captured his tone so well that you fooled me. "There is nothing new below..." threw me too and I didn't know if you just took an existing speech and changed it up a bit or created one whole cloth. Good speech and oratory mimicry, or as I like to call it-- sporamimicry.

5:27 PM  
Blogger kmosser said...

Thanks. I think.

10:29 AM  
Blogger bmackintosh said...

I agree with Bazarov,it is such a good rendition that I wonder if it wasn't bits of any actual McCain speech. Good work.

Though lately I am getting the feeling that McCain actually won this election when I look at the cabinet the President-elect is forming. Gates? So much for change I can believe in. I'd call that status quo.

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