The more he can do to equate McCain and Bush, the better. I think we’ll start seeing Obama’s political chops now that we are (effectively) past the primary stage. Now that he can debate someone with whom he has significant policy differences, I think we’ll get more in terms of specifics. Hopefully Hillary will have toughened him up a bit as well.
The war puts McCain in a very sticky position, rightfully, because he has wholeheartedly supported it during every step of the way. He can use Rumsfeld as a safe and convenient punching bag all he wants, it won’t change the fact that he has not admitted that it was a mistake, or a deception. And he won’t. Bush has one of the lowest approval ratings in history, McCain needs to distinguish himself from Bush, not equate. Although, I can’t say that I mind the hole he is digging for himself.
For what it is worth, I will say that this general election is going to be between two people for whom I have some respect. This is definitely a first in my lifetime. As much as I disagree with McCain in terms of policy, I can’t say that these measures would be unwelcome:
“My administration will set a new standard for transparency and accountability. I will hold weekly press conferences. When we make errors, I will confess them readily and explain what we intend to do to correct them.”
Turning to a prime ministerial ordeal greatly admired by the US political class, Senator McCain said: “I will ask Congress to grant me the privilege of coming before both houses to take questions and address criticism, much the same as the Prime Minister of Great Britain appears regularly before the House of Commons.”
But aside from the many policy differences I have with McCain, I don’t think I could find it in my heart to vote for someone who supported the war, hence my comparable disdain for Hillary Clinton.
And while I’m at it, I should mention that there are plenty of things that annoy me about Obama. As Andrew Sullivan points out, his support for Civil Unions rather than Gay Marriage is cowardice, plain and simple. You cannot hold that position without believing that Civil Unions is a second-class citizen institution. I also believe his Iraq withdrawal proposal is reactionary. Ironically, I find myself more in line with McCain’s 100 year position, not because I want the U.S. to be there for 100 years, but because we committed to this dumbass war, and we should have to pay whatever exorbitant financial and human cost necessary to clean up our mess. Overall Obama is also a bit too much of a paternalist for my taste. He wants to help us, guide us, pull us out of our sad little lives into a bright new future. Yeah, that sounds… ok, but many of us don’t think that the government should get too deep into the morality game, whether it is Christian or altruist.
But I’ll vote for him, for one reason: he seems to be both intelligent and not evil. That’s sure as hell a first for a presidential candidate, at least in my lifetime.