Voters Notice McCain Going Negative

John McCain has been running a negative campaign, and possibly benefiting based upon his recent improvement in the polls. Considering how little predictive value pre-convention polls have had in the past, it is questionable whether this gain means anything at all. On the other hand, general percenptions of the candidate can last and ultimately might have an impact on how people vote, and voters are seeing McCain as the one who is going negative:

By a nearly six-to-one margin, voters say Republican presidential candidate John McCain is running a negative campaign against his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

Nearly three in 10 voters, 29%, pointed to McCain as the candidate running a negative campaign, compared to just 5% who said Obama is running a negative campaign. McCain’s 29% rating is the highest of any one candidate in the previous two presidential elections according to the WSJ/NBC News survey.

The challenge for Obama will be to turn this against McCain while still taking the offensive and  highlighting the differences between them, as Obama reportedly intends to do at the convention. Obama will especially benefit if the comparison is changed from whether the candidates are negative to whether they are honest and fair in their criticism. As I’ve discussed before, there is a tremendous difference here. Criticism of the other candidate over areas of disagreement might be negative but is fair game. Lying about the record and positions of the other candidate, which was done earlier by Hillary Clinton and now is being done by John McCain, is an entirely different matter. Hopefully the voters will realize that candidates who resort to such dishonest tactics to get elected are likely to continue to engage in such dishonest once in office. We’ve seen the consequences of this as Rove-style politics led to Rove-style government in which the country was lied into a foolish war.

McCain and the Draft

The big question today is whether John McCain would reenact draft. The question arose during a townhall meeting today in which someone made a long comment including, “If we don’t reenact the draft, I don’t think we’ll have anyone to chase Bin Laden to the gates of hell.” McCain responded by saying ” Ma’am, let me say that I don’t disagree with anything you said.”

The woman said a lot and it is certainly possible that McCain was not paying close attention to every detail, leading him to give a vague reply such as this to maintain the woman’s support. I’m hoping that a reporter can get in a follow up question and specifically ask him about whether he would reinstate the draft and under what circumstances. In the past he has said it would take an “all-out World War III” for this to  happen. This sounds reasonable but right wingers often compare the “war on terror” to a World War. On September 29, 2007 he has also said, “I might consider it, I don’t think it’s necessary, but I might consider it if you could design a draft where everybody equally could serve.”

Whether McCain would reinstate the draft is important for a number of reasons, including both the individual liberties ramifications and in interpretation of his statement on remaining in Iraq for one-hundred years. A valid objection to the Move On ad, in which a mother criticizes McCain for potentially sending her child to Iraq in the future, is that in an all volunteer army the child would not go unwillingly. It is a totally different matter if McCain would use a draft to send more people to Iraq involuntarily.

Update: Marc Ambinder’s take on all this is that McCain does not support a draft. I’m still hoping a reporter follows up on this and gets a more definitive answer as to what circumstances he believes would necessitate a draft.

Mistakes of the Stupid and Famous: John and Rielle

John Edwards’ stupidity in engaging in the affair with Rielle Hunter is quite obvious. Beyond all the usual considerations on how this would affect his family, for John Edwards it was also ridiculous to risk the possibility of becoming president. But who is the more stupid one–John or Rielle? New revelations from The National Enquirer make this a very difficult one to judge:

The ENQUIRER has also learned that Hunter’s own lawyer advised her to allow Edwards to take a paternity test but she refused out of misguided belief that Edwards will marry her after the death of his cancer-stricken wife Elizabeth.

So Rielle is one more naive mistress who believes that they have a shot of marrying the married man. Maybe her chances are better since Elizabeth will not be around forever, but somehow I still doubt this is a wedding we will ever see. At least Rielle is getting something out of this. The Enquirer also reports how Hunter and her daughter were flown to St. Croix in a private jet on the day before Edwards’ confession of their affair. She is also receiving a number of other perks paid for by friends of John Edwards:

None of this is paid for by Rielle.  The money continues to come from Edwards’s network of loyal supporters, with no explanation from Edwards why he is having his friends continue to support Rielle now that the affair has been made public.

Edwards is not only aware of the hush money payoffs but orchestrated it with his team of former campaign advisors and now The ENQUIRER has discovered that a team of six more lawyers have been involved in the coverup and are funneling payments to Hunter, who has no money and no means of support.

The Enquirer also reports that there were numerous secret rendezvous between the two even after John told Elizabeth of the affair. Well, maybe she does have a shot at him after Elizabeth is gone, but could she ever trust him to be faithful to her?

Michael Moore Suggests Caroline Kennedy For VP

Michael Moore is receiving some attention today after calling on Caroline Kennedy to pull a Cheney by recommending herself for the vice presidential spot. This isn’t the first time the idea has come up. I discussed it back in June after Kennedy was placed in charge of the search. Moore writes:

What Obama needs is a vice presidential candidate who is NOT a professional politician, but someone who is well-known and beloved by people across the political spectrum; someone who, like Obama, spoke out against the war; someone who has a good and generous heart, who will be cheered by the rest of the world; someone whom we’ve known and loved and admired all our lives and who has dedicated her life to public service and to the greater good for all.

That person, Caroline, is you.

I cannot think of a more winning ticket than one that reads: “OBAMA-KENNEDY.”

Caroline, I know that nominating yourself is the furthest idea from your mind and not consistent with who you are, but there would be some poetic justice to such an action. Just think, eight years after the last head of a vice presidential search team looked far and wide for a VP — and then picked himself (a move topped only by his hubris to then lead the country to near ruin while in office) — along comes Caroline Kennedy to return the favor with far different results, a vice president who helps restore America to its goodness and greatness.

Caroline, you are one of the most beloved and respected women in this country, and you have been so admired throughout your life. You chose a life outside of politics, to work for charities and schools, to write and lecture, to raise a wonderful family. But you did not choose to lead a private life. You have traveled the world and met with its leaders, giving you much experience on the world stage, a stage you have been on since you were a little girl.

Obviously it will never really happen, which makes it easy to consider the attractive aspects of such a ticket and ignore all the reasons against it for the moment.