Unable to utter the words "middle class" throughout an entire presidential debate, GOP presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain, managed to regurgitate the words 'Joe the Plumber' almost two dozen times in the final debate. In his long, harried and haphazard campaign without a theme, or coherent message, Joe the Plumber became John McCain's standard-bearer.
In an economy wherein retirement investments have withered away, high and low income jobs have gone kaput, foreclosure has become the latest four letter word, and usurious credit card companies are on the verge of driving a stake through the middle class heart, John McCain chose a man looking to purchase a $250,000 company to deliver his message. Having flushed that message down the toilet, it is doubtful that the American voters will be calling Joe the Plumber to unclog the drain. And having finally achieved the sought after title of GOP presidential nominee, the real John McCain finally showed up on the evening of Nov. 4th - to deliver a concession speech.
Media proclaimed "maverick," John McCain, became a weekly walking contradiction seemingly unsure of what constituency he needed to speak to. And being totally unsure of his Republican/Conservative base, his VP choice was made, not with the careful consideration, insight and unquestionable qualities of competence and readiness, but by throwing a wobbly, 80 yard Hail Mary pass to Wasilla, Alaska. The extremely likable and drop-dead charming Gov. Sarah Palin did indeed shore up McCain's base. However, the moderates and independents that were always a solid, unwavering contingent of the Arizona Senator's support abandoned him in droves after much maligned CBS News anchor, but reliably solid interviewer, Katie Couric, asked what periodicals the governor read and Mrs. Palin was loath to mention whatever newspaper most Wasilla residents read with their morning toast and coffee. Add to that, a simple question about Supreme Court cases, other than Roe v. Wade, and it is difficult to imagine a presidential ready conservative not mentioning the Miranda decision. But then, maybe the governor's cable service does not get three different versions of LAW & ORDER, CSI, or reruns of HILL STREET BLUES. Subsequently, Senator McCain's message, whatever it happened to be at the time, was repeatedly muddled by having to answer questions about his VP choice. Even with his VP's gaffe of the week firmly on display, Sen. Obama never had to answer questions concerning Joe Biden's competence and readiness. And by labelling her inability to answer the simplest questions as "gotcha journalism," Sarah Palin exposed a public distrust in her ability.
The irony of McCain's choices to appeal to the more conservative wings of the Republican Party is that they had soundly and repeatedly vilified him all throughout the primaries as though he was a moose in Sarah Palin's crosshairs.
Sadly, when asked about Osama bin Laden by a late night TV host, Sen. McCain displayed a false bravado in declaring, "I will get him, my friends." But if there is one example that proves Sen. Obama's campaign theme that Washington does not work to benefit what is important to the American people it is the very threat of Al Qaeda and it's waves of international terrorism. During the Clinton administration, the Senate Intelligence Committee, on which McCain sits, should have been intimately involved in White House meetings with the CIA regarding Al Qaeda. Also, the Armed Services Committee, on which Sen. McCain also sits, should have been heavily involved with the White House and the Defense Department on how best to exterminate the terrorist threat when the opportunity became available. Instead, we saw the irresponsible decimation of the military at a period when American interests were repeatedly under deadly attack, and we saw the endless stroking of Bill Clinton's ego after eulogizing the Americans returned in flag-draped coffins. If true to his word, President Obama, will gather these factions and compel a sensible and responsible strategy.
As the sun sets on Election Day 2008, and America prepares for a most historic transition, one can't help but imagine the ghost of the late Timothy J. Russert hovering over one specific domicile in Chappaqua, New York. After months of insisting to neutral and Democratic Party fence-sitters that "Obama can't win," presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was confronted by Russert on national TV on whether she really believed Obama could not win - she responded, "Yes, he can!"