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Alexander Cockburn
Alexander Cockburn
13 Jul 2012
The End of America's Armies

Retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, bounced out of his job for revels in Paris as witnessed by Rolling Stone, … Read More.

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29 Jun 2012
The Affordable Care Act: Decision Effects

It's tempting to say the Affordable Care Act decision spells the end of the Romney candidacy. The Mormon … Read More.

Into the Home Straight


The morning of the third presidential debate, a friend in Landrum, S.C., conducted an informal survey of voter sentiment in this rural town in the heart of Dixie. He pulled over at a convenience store-cum-coffee shop and walked in with a wad of McCain/Palin stickers. "Don't you bring those things in here," said the man behind the register. Our friend strolled around among the regulars sipping their coffee, most of them retired, and could find no takers. "Not one, and these were people who voted 100 percent for Bush in 2004," my friend said. "They're angry."

Why? After a terrible summer of soaring gas prices and plunging stock portfolios, "a lot of them have lost their retirement funds and health savings." Our friend said that at a local nursing home — an upscale place near Tryon – some residents are telling staff they can't afford to stay. He added that all the talk about Obama's links to terror, to Islam, and to bombers has also had the effect of intimidating elderly Republicans from even putting McCain-Palin signs in their yards.

My friend's experience in Landrum came amid the inglorious tailspin of the disastrous strategy of trying to sink Obama by hanging former Weatherman Bill Ayers round his neck. When Republican consultants like Mary Matalin and Steve Schmidt first pondered this tactic in the late summer, it must have seemed to them like a no-brainer — a reprise of the way George H.W. Bush finished off Michael Dukakis in 1988. Lee Atwater, Bush's smear-manager, picked up Al Gore's use of Horton — the black rapist furloughed for a weekend under a law passed by Dukakis — and retooled it, throwing in slurs about Dukakis being some foreign outsider. So, in the final weeks of Campaign 2008, Barack Hussein Obama would be hit with similar accusations (actually first aired by Hillary Clinton last April) of being an alien radical with intimate ties to a man who had tried to blow up Congress and the Pentagon.

It might have worked but for the fact which apparently escaped the notice of the well-paid consultants running the McCain campaign — that America was engulfed in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

There was a total disconnect between the financial hurricane hitting America and some archaeology about a '60s radical sitting with Obama on the board of the Woods Fund.

It could have been different. McCain could have gone into the first debate attacking Obama for his support of the bailout. He could have sent Palin round the country denouncing Wall Street greed and predatory bankers, as she did in her debate with Joe Biden. Unlike McCain, Obama and Biden, Palin had no Wall Street cash showing in her campaign war chest, filled only with virtuous mooseburgers.

McCain chickened out, as he always does. He played a feeble role in Washington and voted meekly for the bailout, and thereby threw away the chance to put Obama on the defensive and to allow Palin to taunt Biden for his vote when she faced the paid agent of the credit card companies in St Louis.

Will Obama changed the political landscape? On Sept. 23, he stated on NBC that the crisis and prospect of a huge bailout required bipartisan action and meant he likely would have to delay expansive spending programs outlined during his campaign for the White House. Thus did he surrender power even before he gained it. The next day, he told reporters in Clearwater, Fla., that "issues like bankruptcy reform, which are very important to Democrats, is probably something that we shouldn't try to do in this piece of legislation." In addition, he said that his proposed economic stimulus program "is not necessarily something that we should have in this package." Then he worked the phone, hectoring recalcitrants in the Congressional Black Caucus to vote for the bailout, whose paramount importance was as a show of force as dramatic as 19th century cavalry cutting down demonstrators at Peterloo.

As an instigator of beneficial change, the Clinton administration was over six months after Election Day 1992, when Clinton and turned to Al Gore and said, "You mean my reelection hinges on the Federal Reserve and some f——— bond traders?" Gore nodded, and Clinton promptly abandoned his economic plan to follow the dictates of Wall Street tycoons like Robert Rubin, now a top adviser to Obama. Assuming he wins, Obama beat the speed of Bill Clinton's 1993 collapse by almost seven months.



6 Comments | Post Comment
The criticisms of the candidates made here are valid, but that shouldn't be interpreted as meaning that both candidates are equally bad or good for the country. In Obama's case we need to fear he will compromise too much toward the center. In McCain's case we need to fear he will no move nearly enough toward the center, that he will be Bush reincarnated. Obama appears more stable and calm. McCain appears quite angry and erratic. And, then there are the age and health issues, and the differences in the vice presidential candidates they picked. Criticism alone is not much help without weighing the worth of each candidate relative to one another.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Elwood Anderson
Thu Oct 16, 2008 10:29 PM
Sir;...With what alarm should I take the news that the republicans may not side down hill into the white house on a scum of slurs, and mud, insults and lies. I swear, democrats must be born with targets or kick me signs on their backs. They can't seem to fight back. They can't seem to get angry, or call a spade a spade. I think the American people would respect the democrats better if they would tell the voters how the republicans were using them. The only thing is, both parties keep the people powerless, begging every good from government, and getting only what they get. Neither party supports education because the people are powerless to demand education, and one side actively promotes ignorance. Educated people are human capital, but human capital deep in debt are the slaves of their paychecks. The rich can import that sort of capital at minimum wage. Why should they pay more to see people educated when so many educated people vote democratic??? No; neither side supports the population. Each party realizes some one has to win, and those who win have got to do some good, at least. They take turns misleading the country, and all the people can do is vote against the pain. But, God bless them, the people know what they hate, and even if they can be tied in a knot fighting their demons nothing will improve, and the demons can always be resurrected, every election year... So what if the slime isn't working this year, and people have fears of the future so great that they do something crazy like voting democrat??? They'll get 'em next time. They won't cooperate. They can poison the process if they can't steal the election. As you can see... I've seen it all before...But while they fiddle, the economy piddles......Thanks....Sweeney
Comment: #2
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Oct 17, 2008 6:39 PM
It's a nice simple tale, Cockburn, but not worth much. What are you and Nader going to do to have an impact for any purpose other than politically correct vanity?
Comment: #3
Posted by: Masako
Sat Oct 18, 2008 8:11 PM
Re: Masako;...Sir, I think Mr. Cockburn as discovered that the republicans need a weatherman to tell them which way the wind blows. They know a lot about wind... I think over the years they have blown enough sand up my yas to cover a beach.  I wonder how many back aches and hemorrhoids I have suffered in my life to put money in republican pockets. I only wish I could say that it is all behind me. And it might be if I could die quick, because if  I don't die quick, I might be dieing broke. What do you think? How much over 250K are you??? I'd vote with my wallet,  but my wallet is too thin to hold an opinion. It's as skinny as a snake on meth...Kind of like the republican plan for the future...Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #4
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sat Oct 18, 2008 9:54 PM
Re: James A, Sweeney: All true, and none of that's news to Cockburn. But you know me, just trying to work with what I got, and I still can't get my mind off the initial victory of Bush that was aided and abetted by Nader (and, of course, the Supremes). Sometimes it really matters who gets elected, and now is one of those times. Cheers. Masako
Comment: #5
Posted by: Masako
Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:26 PM
Okay, let me try again. Mr. Cockburn, if we can't look to you, how bad off are we? Why don't you articulate what the nation should be doing right now, you old fool? Remember the lyrics from the old "The Who" song: "then I'll get on my knees and pray, pray, pray, we don't get fooled again?" Tell the world what we should do. This is a time when the rules of wealth and how it is shared can be redefined.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Masako
Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:03 PM
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