August 25, 2008
It seems to me that the tenor of commentary on Obama and attack ads has been shifting. During the primaries he was questioned for not responding to Clinton’s attacks on him. His grit and ability to withstand Republican attacks was questioned. “You must defend yourself,” he was told. As time passed Kerry’s failure in 2004 became increasingly attributed to his failure to respond to the reprehensible Swift Boating campaign. His failure to articulate a rational response to questions about the war and the like was pushed farther and farther back in discussions as Swift Boating became the explanation of choice for the election results.
McCain predictably has launched attack after attack (in response McCain first for Obama attacking his wife by saying that they have 7 houses. I learned from the Republican Party four years ago that Kerry had 6. More recently McCain said these ads were caused by Obaba’s refusal to agree to the twon meeting debate format that he proposes.)
Obama does not let a day go by without responding directly to a McCain attack and pointing out its errors. He does this while condemning the sleazy tactics that force him to reply.
But the Democratic breast beating continues! Unless I am reading this wrong, Obama is no longer being admonished for failing to reply, but for failing to respond in kind. Many Democrats seem to want Obama to out sleaze McCain! This would pretty much rule out arguing against the end justifying the means. Change is fine, but wait until you get in the White House before you try it.
I admit I have a healthy dose of political cynicism. (I shutter to think what military adventures await us in October.) Nonetheless, I have to say that my respect for Obama goes up as Democrats get more frustrated that he will not stoop deeply in his campaign.
June 26, 2008
I puzzled overnight how Rob McKenna could within a very short period of time issue apparently wildly contradictory statements. He says the courts are out of control with damages and the legislature needs to step in and impose limits. He also argues that courts should be able to disregard legislative limits on damages and he supports enormous punitive damages.
My problem in trying to figure this out was that I presumed that there was an over arching doctrine that somehow melded these two opposing positions.
No, the answer lies in the reason for espousing them. Tort reform, however unsupported by actual evidence, is a Republican campaign cornerstone. As a Republican candidate for Attorney General, Rob McKenna embraced the issue. The issue still has currency and Mr. McKenna uses the issue to gain publicity.
The Exxon Valdez case is internationally known and public sentiment lies almost entirely on the side of the victims of this environmental disaster. Mr. McKenna claims to have inserted himself into this case to rally other states into participating as advocates of the victims.
He took the politically popular position of advocating for exactly the opposite result from the one he had campaigned on. Governor Gregoire’s signature, high profile case was the suit against the tobacco companies. The tide of approval for this effort washed her up on the shores of the governor’s office. The Exxon Valdez case has the same sort of <i>cache</i> as the tobacco cases and could perhaps advance McKenna’s career in the same way.
McKenna, trying to have it both ways, publicly continued to speak out for tort reform while while using his office to seek the opposite result in the Exxon Valdez case.
He is trying to appear to be a big business tort reformer (the only real benefactors of this position are insurance companies and big businesses) and at the same time appear to be a hero to tort victims. The the notoriety of the Exxon Valdez case promised enough political advantage to compensate for whatever losses their might be from his big business base.
That’s the only coherent answer I could find. The principle that one derives from this is that Rob McKenna will say and do anything to advance his career.