Both Barack Obama’s and John McCain’s presidential campaigns are relatively in a standsill. Some people are rather disappointed of that because they feel that the only time when the two biggest presidential hopefuls come out and speak is when it is actually time to vote. However, I cannot fully agree with such thinking. What can John McCain and Barack Obama do right now? Both parties’ national concentions haven’t passed yet so it is too early to flex their political muscles as intensely as they are about to in a month or so. Now the only thing that they have to do is remind from time to time of their political and social record and of their stands on the issues. In my opinion, they are currently saving their energy for after their parties’ national conventions, so you can definitely expect debates and countrywide tours similar to the ones that took place during the primaries.
That’s a very good question that needs to be analyzed carefully. On some aspects, Senator Obama is having an advantage, and on other aspects it is Senator McCain the one that is more consistent.
John McCain is ahead of Barack Obama in terms of attraction of one’s core electorate. It can hardly be otherway since the Arizona senator locked up his nomination 2-3 months before the end of the primaries and caucuses, whereas Mr. Obama had to fight for his nomination with Hillary Clinton till the end even though it became almost entirely clear that he was going to be the Democratic presidential nominee right after he took the lead in the superdelegates. The former First Lady made him spend too much money on primaries and caucuses instead of letting him focus more on attracting the party’s core supporters and independents and Republicans afterwards. Of course, I don’t mean to blame her for anything because she was having certain chance to get the nomination after all, but voters in the last 5-6 states that cast their ballot on the Democratic primaries or caucuses could have voted without pondering that much – just like the voters in the Republican primaries and caucuses that took place after Mike Huckabee said that he was done with his presidential campaign.
The result: A comparatively great percentage of Hillary Clinton supporters would not vote for Barack Obama in November. There is always a percentage of supporters of a politician, who lost the primaries, that decide to vote for their party’s opponent. However, in the very beginning of a campaign for general elections this percentage is not that big. Because of that and because of the fact that John McCain could attract even more Hillary Clinton supporters in the course of the campaign I can say that Barack Obama is in a bad position right from the beginning of a campaign. This beginning, I repeat, is attracting your core electorate.
Barack Obama praises himself for being a defender of workers’ rights when Hillary Clinton was working as a corporate executive in Wal-Mart. He also praises himself for being a child of different parents: a mother from Kansas and and a father from Kenya. He often tells us stories of his childhood. Those stories are often connected with his race and also with patriotism. Unfortunately, he has to deal with racial issues, and people who question his patriotism, which takes him much time instead of focusing on the issues. There is still racism in the United States so there are some people who are not going to vote for Mr. Obama because of his race even though they do not confess. It is the same with Hillary Clinton’s gender. In terms of age, both candidates have disadvantages: some say that Senator McCain is too old, others say that Senator Obama is too young, inexperienced and naïve.
Another disadvantage in Barack Obama’s reputation is his name. I read once an article in Yahoo that presented results concerning his name. Too many people admit that when they hear his name the first thing that comes to their mind is terrorist or Islamic fanatic. Moreover, a relatively high percentage of American voters still think that Barack Obama is Muslim although he reiterated his Christian faith by mentioning that his daughters were baptized and by being a member of a church. This church, however, did him more bad than good.
And I cannot miss the scandal that involved his house and garage in Chicago that was bought for too low a price with the help of Antoine ‘Tony’ Resko – a person with bad reputation who also helped him with his state Senate campaigns. Barack Obama admitted that his connection with Mr. Resko was a boneheaded mistake but in my opinion it will definitely be used by the McCain campaign later on.
Meanwhile, Senator McCain’s reputation is not as bad-reputation-free as you might think it is. He may have locked up his nomination early compared to Barack Obama, and he may have had most Republican voters on his side, but to me he is alienating himself from his spiritual colleagues (the veterans of the war in Iraq and their families), indepentents who want the troops out of Iraq and liberal Democrats who support gay rights and abortion. Of all those electorates, I think he should be sorry for losing a big percentage of the veterans’ electorate by voting against the New GI Bill, i.e. the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008, that became law. He called the bill too generous but let’s not forget that its generosity accounts most for soldiers who have been there for at least about 36 months (see page 1 of the factsheet: http://www.gibill.va.gov/S22/Post_911_Factsheet.pdf or go to http://www.gibill.va.gov/ for mor information). The less a post-9/11 veteran has served the less percentage of the total amount of money per person.
Another thing that the Obama campaign will attack is his speech about the veterans having come home from Iraq in 2013 as victors. Those ones of you who watch Countdown with Keith Olbermann know what I mean – John McCain has had different statements about the end of the war in Iraq for the past 2-3 years. He even hinted once that the war could last for decades to come. What is your final statement about the end of the war, Mr. McCain, and what is your comment on your previous controversial statements? That’s what the American people want to hear from you, not a speech whose target is the naïve independents.
Issues – which one of the two is more consistent
The war in Iraq: Barack Obama! Barack Obama because he has been consistent in his standing against the so-called War on Terror from the very beginning. Hillary Clinton voted for the war in the past and that automatically made her a loser in this issue in the Democratic debates. John McCain has several different statements when it comes to the war’s end and although he is consistent in his standing for it.
Energy policy: I believe that John McCain is more consistent but it is controversial! When it comes to addressing climate change, protecting environment, developing new technologies, producing cars (fuel efficient and the futue electric ones) and imposing requirements for buildings, both John McCain and Barack Obama have comparatively the same stands. Although it is completely disputable, I support John McCain because he stands for energy independence.
Energy independence could be good and could also be bad because:
1. Dollars will not be given abroad that much. Thus it could prevent the currency from devaluation.
2. We don’t know for how long USA could deal with being energy-independent. In other words, we don’t know how many oil resources the U.S. have.
3. It is unclear whether or not nuclear power plants, what Mr. McCain stands for, are environmentally acceptable. I am not an expert and I cannot tell for sure.
Also, when it comes to windfall profits tax Barack Obama’s plan of imposing windfall profits penalty on oil selling at over $80 per barrel is too ambitious to me. Who is going to sell oil at under $80 per barrel with current oil prices at about $120 per barrel? In my opinion, windfall profit tax will not scare oil sellers and prices will increase as a result of those windfall profits.
Those are two extremely important issues. If I analyze the rest of the issues, this article will be rather long, so here I finish.