McCain now leads Clinton and Obama in the polls. This is me scratching my head.
McCain has basically embraced Bush's record. If that is not an indictment of the man, I don't know of one. 81% of the country thinks that we're on the wrong track. 81% makes up everyone but the illiterate, those recovering from traumatic head wounds, and people who still think that all-you-can-eat buffets represent the pinnacle of progress. Another poll (graph to the right) indicates a sharp increase in the percentage of Americans who feel they are worse off than in the past. In fact, this is the sharpest increase in the number, and the highest value it has reached since 1964.
Meanwhile, Bush has ignored the environment and spent billions to create enemies in Iraq. I challenge anyone to find a positive trend that Bush has nursed along rather than de-railed. Having Bush watch over our national affairs has been like having a crack addict watch the kids. Even the frat boy cheerleader may be gradually realizing that he is in over his head. His performance might lead one to believe that there is more to being a good president than staying sober. Sadly, this does not seem to be the case.
We now have McCain, who has largely done what he can to smooth over differences between his policies and George's. And once again I feel utterly baffled. Does no one see a connection between policy and the conditions we live in? Is there a huge swath of the electorate that considers an executive successful as long as he keeps his pants zipped? Do they have no clue? Really?
As I've said before, McCain represents a huge step up for the Republican Party. But his policies are little different, his priorities often the same, as George's. And his level of understanding about Iraq - a country in which he's game to invest 10 trillion ($100 billion X 100 years) - shows the same kind of superficial curiosity that made George such a disaster. (McCain has more than once revealed his confusion of Shiites and Sunnis - a confusion for which casual citizens might be forgiven but is, for policy makers, the equivalent of a doctor confusing the knee and ankle in surgery; it makes a difference. Sure, it is all leg and they are all Muslims, but when it comes down to action, one would like the one performing an operation to be able to distinguish between them.)
One can only hope that McCain's surge in popularity traces back to the fact that he can look presidential - no longer forced to sling mud back and forth with Mitt, Mike, and Fred. This is the campaign that keeps on giving - I'm sure it has yet to reveal its last twist.
For me, the job interview for president ought to start with one simple question: do you think that George Bush has done a good job? If a candidate answers with anything other than a decisive "No!" he ought to be dismissed. Why 81% of Americans can't agree with that is beyond me.