Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stop Copying Me!

I usually tend to shy away from “Breaking News” in this blog, tending instead to let thoughts percolate for a long time so as to fully grapple with the issue. Today I have to amend that to answer a pressing question from last week’s Presidential Debate. The constant refrain from Senator McCain during the first debate was “Senator Obama doesn’t understand…” and I can see why he would want to belabor that point seeing as though he thinks he has the upper hand on “experience”. Sadly it feels like I’m listening to a broken record.

The same repetition happened again last night, but it wasn’t the same refrain. Instead whenever Obama answered a question first, McCain would repeat the basic premise of Obama’s answer or at least use key phrases that Barack had used mere moments earlier. Why? Just because the audience liked Obama’s answers, you can’t just copy them and pretend like they’re your own!

This seems like a constant campaign strategy for McCain. “Whatever Hillary said, we’re going to say.” “Whatever Barack’s message is, we’re going to copy it.” “Whatever works, we’re going to pretend we came up with it.” Seriously, the first example is understandable. Who wouldn’t use an opponent’s opponent to justify your own criticisms? What baffles me is that it didn’t stop by pandering to Hillary supporters. Suddenly McCain seems to have understood that Hillary lost because her message didn’t resonate with the voters as much as Obama’s message of Change. Then almost overnight McCain became the “change” candidate simply because it was popular. He began talking about his ability to “shake up” Washington and the fact that he would “stop the special interests,” almost verbatim of Obama’s themes.

Last night there was one particular example of this phenomenon. When Obama began talking about fighting lobbyists, McCain stood up and used almost the exact same phrase to describe how he was about to “fight lobbyists” until Barack mentioned that the person who is running McCain’s campaign is in fact a lobbyist.

It seems as though everything Obama says, McCain repeats like a small child playing that irritating game, “Stop Copying Me!”

It appears to be a theme throughout the campaign. First he copied the message of change, then as soon as the campaign became ugly and many commentators (Karl Rove included) began to say that McCain was waging unfair attacks against Obama, Cindy McCain comes on the news and starts saying that Obama is waging the dirtiest campaign in history. Excuse me? I am the first one to admit that Obama has weaknesses, but you can’t just start criticizing your opponent for the same reasons everyone else is criticizing you!

Then during the economic crisis a steady stream of articles came out saying that while McCain was looking desperate and reactionary, Obama was looking steady and in control. Suddenly McCain makes this push about how he has a “steady hand at the till”. Does he just make this stuff up? I can’t believe that people would buy these arguments just because he starts making them.

You know, looking back, maybe it’s not so much irritating repetition as blatant hypocrisy. I always held disdain for politicians who would expect the populace to buy their stump speeches without making a coherent argument and McCain is no different in that regard.

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