Commentary Magazine


What Are They Doing?

It is a Friday in August and the Olympics are underway. But the good old days when politics took a breather are long gone. Barack Obama is doing his best imitation of an overconfident candidate and taking off for nine days in Hawaii. (Is this a good idea? Well at least he’s not doing a swank fund-raiser with bigwig donors. Oh, never mind.)

Back on the trail, John McCain continues to hustle for attention and votes in the heartland. (The line about tire inflation being a “public service announcement and not an energy policy” is remarkably on point. Tire inflation is fine, but it’s no excuse for rejecting a try-everything energy plan. Ask Paris Hilton–she knows.)

I think it’s fair to say that the “celebrity” theme isn’t going away anytime soon. The latest John McCain ad makes two points: Obama is an out-of-touch star and he’s going to raise taxes. What is clear is that just as he did on energy McCain thinks he can win on the merits. Drilling beats non-drilling. And low taxes beat high taxes. That’s not rocket science. But then Repbulicans are dumb according to Paul Krugman so maybe the American people in their infinite wisdom will find that protectionism and hikes during an economic downturn on income, corporate, capital gains, payroll and estate taxes are a grand idea.

And finally, following Russia’s actions in Georgia (and in contrast to the “everyone just calm down as Georgia’s sovereignty is being ignored” comment from the White House), McCain calls on Russia to “immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory.” His statement also included calls for the EU and and UN Security Council (good luck with that) to pressure Russia to reverse course, for NATO to assess its options and for a peacekeeping force in South Ossetia. Obama? Sounds like he’d get along fine with the State Department: he’s urging “calm.”

Well, if McCain is going to insist on campaigning hard, sounding resolute on national security and beating the energy drum, then the next nine days might be good ones for him. Nah, the race is already over. You saw the chair, right?