September 25, 2008

The Real McCain?

What's the deal with McCain suspending his campaign?

Greg Cochran suggests, in the mode of Robert Heinlein's Double Star, it's because the actor who will serve as his double on the campaign trail until McCain gets over some undisclosed medical problem hasn't quite recovered from his appearance-altering plastic surgery yet. Of course, in Double Star the elderly politician never recovers, so the 40-something ham actor winds up living an extra 30 years of the statesman's life for him as Prime Minister of the Solar System.

Perhaps when the surprisingly spry UN General Secretary John McCain celebrates his 100th birthday in office, historians will begin to wonder why Kevin Spacey's film career ended so abruptly in the fall of 2008.

But here's my favorite, from david in the comments section:

"Or he's having second thoughts: who wants to be president of a bankrupt country that's soon to disintegrate?

"'I have seen the future, and I quit.'"

To be serious, though, I could imagine that McCain might have had some medical bad news and might want a few days to get second opinions and consider his options. That happened to me a dozen years ago and it doesn't leave you in the mood for public dispay. If so, I wish him all the luck in the world.

Does anybody know what the Republican Party's contingency plan is if a nominee has to drop out late in the race?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

Fall-back plan? Is General Powell too old?

Michael Carr - Veritas Literary said...

Romney? I was no fan of the guy, because of the Mormon element, but this crisis is tailor made for him. He came in and did a great job fixing up the Utah Olympics when they were a mess financially and politically.

But this is a good question. Nobody would want Palin at the top of the ticket; that would be terrifying.

Anonymous said...

Now that - Colin Powell - would be interesting. He was pretty firm about not running last time around, though.

I'm reminded of the joke that circulated in the runup to Iraq about Saddam's reputed body doubles. After his palace was bombed, the doubles were assembled for a briefing.

"Great news!" they were told. "Saddam has survived. The bad news is, he lost an arm."

Anonymous said...

Did you consider the option that McCain is just plain not competent to be president? Your obsession with Obama may have blinded you to that.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he's busy preparing for upcoming debate. More here...

Anonymous said...

"Does anybody know what the Republican Party's contingency plan is if a nominee has to drop out late in the race?"

President Palin!

Anonymous said...

Diagree. McCain's return to DC is just so much posturing, in other words, merely campaigning in a different form.

KlaosOldanburg said...

meh. Mccain's put some effort into to trying to appear to be the "bigger man," like his congratulatory message during the DNC convention. you could even fit Palin into that narrative. it undermines Obama's messianic image. political jiu-jitsui.

the campaign isn't going to be on the news for a few days while they monger fear for the coup. so he also might be trying to save money.

if obama does work himself into the news and uses the crisis to trash mccain, he looks like an asshole and leaves himself open to attacks about his cozy relationship w/fanny execs.

Anonymous said...

I really think McCain should drop out if that is at all possible, since there is good reason to believe he is manifesting Alzheimer's.

Anonymous said...

Would that be General Colin "I was against it before I was for it" Powell?

michael farris said...


Maybe the repubs can draft Hillary?

Jim O said...


Anonymous said...

Well, naturally the VP candidate would run in his place in that event.

Oh, wait.

Anonymous said...


The October Surprise?

Holy cow, even he sounds good compared to this crop.

I think people would like McCain a lot better if he would just quit and give it to Colin. Republican popularity would soar. Flush Bush The Third and elect Sarah and -um- OUR black guy!!

m said...

or he could just be making a patriotic stance or a political gamble... sometimes Steve overthinks things

Country First F#ckers!!!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps McCain is, to use a football term, "icing the kicker," by interrupting Obama's preparation and throwing him off script.

kurt9 said...

I know what you are saying about medical problems and how they completely demoralize you from doing anything. Medical problems suck big time. I don't wish them on my worse enemies.

Although I do not much care for McCain, I wish him a speedy recovery if indeed he does have undisclosed medical bad news.

Anonymous said...

Wow, if McCain drops out and Palin ends up being the nominee and winning it would be like every Hollywood movie ever made about some poor hick getting snagged from the middle of nowhere and ending up in power through a crazy turn of events. I don't watch many movies, but previews I've seen remind of this. I think it happened to Chris Rock and Robin Williams before.

Anonymous said...

"Does anybody know what the Republican Party's contingency plan is if a nominee has to drop out late in the race?"

The contingency plan is to let Obama win and then purge and reform the GOP into something, anything other than their current incarnation.

Anonymous said...

Luke Wilson, not Kevin Spacey. The resemblance is eerie.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Sailer, there's an interesting spice for the campaign: imagine both candidates trying hard to lose. Wouldn't that be a show? They could even start telling the truth!

Tsoldrin said...

I can't find anything in the convention rules detailing a contingency plan. While I'm sure McCain would attempt to pick his own replacement, I'm not so sure he actually has the power to do so. Legally I suppose Palin and Ron Paul both have good claims to the nomination. Paul has the next most delegates at 15 because Romney and Huckabee both released theirs and all but two Romney ones voted McCain. Palin may even be precluded because she is the Vice nominee. Paul/Palin ticket?

I actually don't think McCain is sick, he's just losing badly. If he were smart, he'd reject the bailout outright and probably scoop up more than enough independents to push him over the top. If he's not smart enough to do that, he probably shouldn't be president.

Anonymous said...

The base would want Palin, although any of the primary front-runners might have a shot. Powell has the stature, but he's neither a full conservative nor a party line Republican, so I don't see that happening. Not without a moderate/country club coup in the RNC, which I also can't see given Bush's low numbers. (Not that Powell is in Bush's camp, but he'd have to draw on some of the same support Bush had.)

I think this is over-elaborate, though. Much as I dislike McCain on policy, its entirely plausible that he means what he says on suspending his campaign for the crisis. And he or someone on his staff might just be smart enough to be using the honest truth strategically, in an attempt to put Obama on the spot.

I also don't think you can underestimate McCain's desire to be President. He was thwarted in 2000 by a man he had some serious disagreements with, and despite his age and health record he's refused to commit or even hint at limiting himself to one turn.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I've heard that Powell may be an Obama supporter. Anyway it would be pretty odd to see not just 1 but 2 black guys running for president. (in other words, not gonna happen.)
In the unlikely event that McCain steps down as the nominee, I guess the VP nominee could take over. The prospect of either McCain or Obama as president is scary, but the thought of Sarah Palin as president scares me more than those 2 guys combined.

Anonymous said...

I think the idea is to keep the Obama campaign off-balance, not to recalibrate based on a cancer diagnosis. McCain will show up at the debate and probably give a blistering performance there; he will take the initiative and surprise Barrack with a number of direct, pull no punches hits. The McCain campaign knows that the look and feel of the candidates in the first debate may be worth +/-1% of the vote. They will not make the foolish choice of McCain 2000, when he was telecast in to a debate with Bush before the California primary. At the time, McCain should have known he was going to lose the republican nomination and, as his campaign was building steam up to that point, should have showed up to build his brand for the future. This history may heighten the possibility of a cancellation in the minds of the Obama camp. The McCain campaign has a saavy grasp of the importance of motivation (of campaign workers, voters, and candidates on both sides) to outcomes, and presumably Barrack will not be as sharp if, in the preceeding few days, there is doubt about whether or not the debate will happen.

Also, the "suspended campaign" seems to be getting a lot of media attention while casting McCain as important to the bailout process.

Anonymous said...

"Does anybody know what the Republican Party's contingency plan is if a nominee has to drop out late in the race?"

Alan Keyes!

Steve Sailer said...

Luke Wilson as President?

Uh-oh, we've seen _that_ movie ...

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps when the surprisingly spry UN General Secretary John McCain celebrates his 100th birthday in office, historians will begin to wonder why Kevin Spacey's film career ended so abruptly in the fall of 2008."

Maybe they can use some ral plastic surgery magic and get one of the kids from High School Musical or something like that and we can have McCain around when he is 130 or so!

Anonymous said...

That's a dumb idea Steve.

McCain's getting hammered in the polls over the economy, so he needed a game changer to make Obama look bad.

Add: one heaping helping of "bipartisanship" plus two big spoonfuls of "leadership" and another big helping of "country first" and he at least stops the bleeding.

McCain's problem is that even though he (and Bush, to his credit) opposed Fannie/Freddie's free-lending no margin ways, voters blame THEM not Dodd, Frank, Obama etc. who were behind most of the mess. Obama can just skate, with the media's blessing, and talk and do nothing but offer a "throw the rascals out."

Obama's one big weakness is his inability to act decisively and lead people. He's a man most happy in the lonely position of talking to a huge crowd.

This only stopped the bleeding, it's not a game changer. I imagine McCain's big game changer will be to require for the bailout that every taxpayer gets a check 7 years from now, for xx amount of dollars, relative to how much is loaned out. Along with his previous call for caps on the exec pay.

People are ticked off. They are angry at Wall Street, and figure (wrongly) Reps not Dems are the party of Wall Street (wrong since at least Clinton's term). McCain is doing what he has to in order to first buy time then make a game-changing play.

Obama was up around 3-6 points, one poll at 9. Now he's dead even or only up 1-2. So stopping the bleeding worked for a while. Now McCain needs a populist edge.

McCain's in surprisingly good shape, the guy who gives me worries is Obama. He has a past history of coke use, by his own admission. Some have suggested his Columbia years were spent snorting it, accounting for no one remembering him. He has these long spells where a 48 year old man "rests" instead of doing things.

Biden has a history of aneurysms. Palin seems healthy.

The question is ... god forbid, if McCain leads in the polls, and AQ knocks him off to gain a "win" with Obama (who would surely sign a "peace treaty" with them) what then?

Don't count guys like Osama bin Laden out. They may be weird with weird backgrounds (Osama has 56 siblings). But they know a lot about killing for political gain -- it's why Osama does what he does -- to ultimately rule Saudi Arabia in a super-sized version of the abortive 1979 seizure of the Kabaa in Mecca.

Anonymous said...

Obviously he's trying to delay the Vice Presidential debate. Palins sub-100 IQ just can't handle a debate.

Anonymous said...

I said, 'Sir, have you always been a puppet?'
He said, 'I am not, even now, completely a puppet. My skin and the bones of my hand are perfectly real. The rest was boiled off by doctors fifteen years ago in the operation that made me immortal.'
I said, 'Was it sore becoming immortal?'
He said, 'I did not notice. I had senile dementia at the time and for many years before that I was, in private life, vicious and insensitive. But the wisdom of an emperor has nothing to do with this character. It is the combined intelligence of everyone who obeys him.'
The sublime truth of this entered me with such force that I gasped for breath. Yes. The wisdom of a government is the combined intelligence of those who obey it. I gazed at the simpering dummy with pity and awe. Tears poured thickly down my cheeks but I did not heed them.
-- Alasdair Gray, Five Letter from an Eastern Empire

Let the U.S. lead the Western nations in adopting the superior ways of the Orient!

Anonymous said...

"Or he's having second thoughts: who wants to be president of a bankrupt country that's soon to disintegrate?"

No way, McCain would love to be President next year. Think about it: we're three years out from the peak in the real estate bubble, that means it will probably bottom out within the next year or two. By the end of his first term, things will be looking up.

Next, no one cares about it now, but we actually seem to be winning the war in Iraq, in the sense that a reasonably democratic, stable Iraqi government is taking over there. McCain is the one guy who can pull most of our troops out of there and wind that down without looking like a wimp. He can turn the U.S. presence in Iraq into a Korea-like commitment by the end of his first term. That will free up military capacity to take on Iran. McCain won't invade them, he'll just bomb the shit out of them like Reagan did to Libya in the 80s. After Iraq, Americans will be grateful for another air war.

Finally, if this bailout goes through, he could have a windfall to spend in his second term when the government gets to unload all that paper in a rising market, or cashes in on it at maturity.

- Fred

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think he wanted to draw attention away from those awful Palin-Couric interviews, which made Palin look frighteningly stupid.

For all my reservations about Obama, there is no way that I'd want to chance a Palin presidency.

Anonymous said...

Im not sure anyone believes McCain is competent to be President.

Thats practically a given.

Its about weighing up least-worst scenarios.

KlaosOldanburg said...

Luke Wilson as President?

Uh-oh, we've seen _that_ movie ...

if only a time-traveler from centuries past would save us from our impending crisis.

Has anyone seen Ron Paul's birth certificate?

Glaivester said...

Does anybody know what the Republican Party's contingency plan is if a nominee has to drop out late in the race?


Anonymous said...


Whatever happened to Occam's Razer? I hope you're just running a thought experiment here as I've seen no data suggesting McCain is ill.


Osama bin Ladin assisnating McCain? You're as whacked as you think bin Ladin is. If anyone is going to assinate any major political figure in the US it will be done by powerful Western interests, not some hidden cave dweller in mountains on the otherside of the world.

This was a smart move by McCain. It stops the incessant negative GOP MSM coverage and gets everyone to focus on McCain as a leader in an area where he once professed weakness. Obama can only appear as a weak follower at best.

master_of_americans said...

I had been operating under the assumption that the Republican National Committee has the authority to choose a new presidential nominee if the one the convention selected quits the race or becomes deceased or incapacitated. Looking at history, there has never been a case where the presidential candidate of a major party died or quit during the campaign. Horace Greeley died after the popular vote but before the electoral vote in 1872; however, that election was atypical for a few reasons, and it was a long time ago. What's more relevant is that the Republican vice-presidential candidate died a few days before the popular vote in 1912. In that case, the Republican National Committee did indeed choose a new candidate (they did not win the election).

I have also been assuming that the RNC would be legally able to choose anyone they want, but also that they would be under a lot of pressure to choose the current vice-presidential candidate. However, in view of Sarah Palin's blatant lack of qualifications, perhaps that would not necessarily be so. If he was willing to serve, Colin Powell might really be able to step into the breach, although it's understandable that people might call for someone younger.

Anonymous said...

By delaying, getting caught lying to David Letterman, and rushing to Washington right as the deal broke down, McCain has appeared to be galloping into another quagmire. His judgment and timing are terrible. Something is seriously wrong with his campaign and the more he flails around, the more he makes Obama's level-headed (low metabolism?) "wait and see" approach look like the right one.

Regarding Powell, why do people keep throwing his name around even though he has indicated numerous times he's not interested in the job?

Anthony said...

Halfbreed mostly gets it right. Apparently Paulsen asked McCain to twist some Republican arms, which has to be done in person. But McCain has spun it in a way which makes him look good, especially after Bush summoned Obama back to D.C., too.

If all McCain had to offer was his idea of what to do, he could do that on the campaign trail. But the nitty-gritty of the bill's details, and of rounding up votes, is a task which can't be done by remote control.

Anonymous said...

The Dems control both houses of Congress, so they could pass the bill and the president would sign it. What's the hold up? If they want a bipartisan bill to give themselves political cover, then they'll have to comprise and McCain gets credit for bringing both sides together. If they pass the bill and SIDE WITH BUSH without Republican support, then McCain could vote against the bailout, the Dems, and Bush.

Of course, both scenarios could fail to materalize, but it's still a bold move by McCain, regardless. Obama can continue doing nothing and let his acolytes in the media spin how McCain is behaving erratically while Obama abides.

Brett said...

"I've seen no data suggesting McCain is ill."

What, you haven't been exposed to his birth date? At McCain's age, everyone is "ill", the only question is which conditions are chronic, and which are acute. Doubtless he's got several fatal diseases at this point, it's just a race between them to see which kills him.

Seriously, did you think old people die spontaneously, rather than from medical causes?

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think he wanted to draw attention away from those awful Palin-Couric interviews, which made Palin look frighteningly stupid.

I don't have TV so I didn't watch them. A friend who did agreed. His impression was she has simply never thought of national and international policy--she's a PTA mom and small town mayor.

His hypothesis is McCain is trying to push the VP-nom debates over the election day horizon because Palin is just not ready.

--Senor Doug

iridescent cuttlefish said...

"Maybe the repubs can draft Hillary?"

Great point, michael farris.

For all the highly engineered tensions between the "Left" and "Right" wings of the Party, and despite the pseudo-histories rammed up our poop-shutes by all those sadistic corporate textbook factories--histories which paint FDR as a man of the people(*) and JFK as some sort of liberal(**)--the veneer wears painfully thin every so often. So thin, in fact, that it's only through relentless adherence to the Script of Hot-Button Phrasings that the illusion of democracy is maintained in "troubled times."

Throughout this whole first debate the true colors of the Duopoly kept bleeding through, intentionally, of course. There was a reason that Jim Lehrer kept toying with us, daring the duelling Manchurians to talk about the failure of capitalism (wait, is it legal to say that now, or merely blasphemous, and is there a difference when our most fundamental fundamentalism is the universal belief, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, that free trade equals freedom?)

In keeping with the spirit of American thought, let's use a sporting analogy here. While the domino theory was apparently compelling enough to incite & excuse the invasion of Southeast Asia, the greatest adventure in democracy of the 20th century, we're going to need something, well, entirely similar, to explain the current pivotal moment in our proud history. Nothing too manly, as football & ice hockey might remind us of the essential violence of our national character and that could result in dangerous levels of introspection and contemplation. Crikey, some smart ass might even begin to question the Disneyverse and God knows where that could lead!

On the other hand, it doesn't really matter; the Owners of the Disneyverse are so confident of their mastery (as evidenced by this latest parody of a debate, not to mention the long line of crooks, deviants & bad actors they've had the balls to pimp as "presidents" since they officially took control of the country on July 26, 1947. That's why they're rubbing our faces in it; it confirms and reaffirms their ascendancy in our timid ilttle minds.

Watching these spectacles, taking part in them, "voting" and discussing the details of the stupid drama is just good grooming.

When we stare at the boob tube, watching the candidates reading the tele-prompters (or recite their lines if they're able), we know it's bullshit and they know that we know that they know it's bullshit too.

Because the assumptions that any hypothetical "truth-seeker" ultimately challenges are his own and that's an awfully uncomfortable sensation. Sure, those assumptions were constructed by the largest and most sophisticated propaganda campaign the world has ever known. Hollywood, the "free" press, all those stentorian talking heads and, most effectively of all, Madison Avenue combine to make it all look so real. (Most of the time, if you squint just right.)

There's even "dissent!" Well, in certain locations and in compliance with certain guidelines, naturally; we wouldn't want some nut who's not even registered with the loyal opposition to go around poking holes in the scenery, now would we?

Really. Who wants to admit that they've been fooled and that they've gone along with their own deception? And that includes all of us who think we're "liberals" and "radicals;" has Noam Chomsky ever really challenged the scarcity paradigm, this Hobbesian, dog-eat-dog model that our intellectuals so consistently confuse with the reality that the model purports to represent?

I wonder if the audience would even have noticed if, when Lehrer (whose name means "teacher," btw) taunted the two dopes about the current crisis of capitalism, some inspired hacker had replaced one of the Manchurians' dialog box with some text like Henry Giroux's Slouching Towards Bethlehem:
The New Gilded Age and Neoliberalism’s Theater of Cruelty
? I mean, Candidate B did say something about the foolishness of trusting in the free hand of the market to goose us just right, a minor bone tossed to the left wing of the left wing of the Party, a direction in which he could go no further--you could see the leash straining--but what if the words coming out of his mouth were written by someone who wasn't cleared to write them?

(A sample follows, but first those asterisks: * FDR never betrayed the interests of his class; his feud with the Du Ponts was window dressing for the bare-bones social net he instituted to stave off food riots. ** There was no more fervent anticommunist than JFK, with the possible exception of his brother Bobby; his feud with Castro is just another illustration of the fact that we become the means that we employ, regardless of all our justifications.)

So, put yourself back in the audience last night. Here's an alternate universe Manchurian unexpectedly channeling Henry Giroux:

As Fredric Jameson argues in The Seeds of Time, it has now become easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. The breathless rhetoric of the global victory of free-market rationality spewed forth by the mass media, right-wing intellectuals, and governments alike, has found its material expression in both in an all-out attack on democratic values and in the growth of a range of social problems, including virulent and persistent poverty, joblessness, inadequate health care, racial apartheid in the inner cities, and the increasing inequalities between the rich and the poor.

Such issues appear to have been either removed from the inventory of public discourse and social policy or factored into talk-show spectacles in which the public becomes merely a staging area for venting private interests and emotions.

Within the discourse of neoliberalism that has taken hold of the public imagination, it becomes increasingly more difficult to talk about what is fundamental to civic life, critical citizenship, and a substantive democracy. In its dubious appeals to universal laws, neutrality, and selective scientific research, neoliberalism “eliminates the very possibility of critical thinking, without which democratic debate becomes impossible.”

Hence, neoliberal policies that promote the cutthroat downsizing of the workforce, bleeding of social services, reduction of state governments to police precincts, the ongoing liquidation of job security, the increasing elimination of a decent social wage, the creation of a society of low-skilled workers, and the emergence of a culture of permanent insecurity and fear hide behind appeals to common sense and alleged immutable laws of nature.

When and where such nakedly ideological appeals strain both reason and imagination, religious faith is invoked to silence dissension. Society is now defended not as a space to nurture the most fundamental values and relations necessary to a democracy but rather as an ideological and political sphere “where religious fundamentalism comes together with market fundamentalism to form the ideology of American supremacy.”

Similarly, American imperial ambitions have been legitimated by public relations intellectuals as part of the responsibilities of empire building, now celebrated as a civilizing process for the rest of the globe. A culture of force buttressed by notions of “full spectrum dominance” and a permanent war on terror are not seen to function “in the service of spreading liberty and democracy.”

Neo-conservatives join hands with neoliberals and religious fundamentalists in broadcasting to the rest of the globe an American triumphalism in which the United States is arrogantly defined as “[t]he greatest of all great powers in world history.”

Money, profits, and fear have become powerful ideological elements in arguing for opening up new markets and closing down the possibility of dissent at home. In such a scenario, a new kind of coercive state emerges as “authorized power is [sanctioned as the only type of] credible . . . [and] state appeals to fear [become] the only effective basis for obedience.”

This becomes clear not only in the passage of repressive laws such as the USA PATRIOT Act and the Military Commissions Act of 2006, but also in the work of prominent neoconservatives such as David Frum and Richard Pearle who without any irony intended insist that “[a] free society is not an un-policed society. A free society is self-policed society.”

In what could only be defined as an Adam Smith joins George Orwell in a religious cult in California scenario, markets have become sacrosanct temples to be protected while citizens-turned-Army-of-God are urged to spy on one other and dissent is increasingly criminalized. At the same time, democratic politics is increasingly derailed by the intersection of a free-market fundamentalism and an escalating militarism...

(Personally, I find even Giroux more than a little naïve...what "democratic politics"?! Sorry about the dump, Steve.)