Was ‘McCain Would be Better Than Bush’ an Obama Gaffe?
In minutes I’ll cast my vote with pride — well at least without holding my nose — in the Pennsylvania presidential primary for Barack Obama. One of Hillary Clinton’s final attempts before today’s primary to exploit a possible Obama gaffe was to disagree with Obama’s statement that John McCain would be a better president than the much despised Chimpy McFlightsuit.
Obama’s exact quote April 20 in Reading, PA:
You have a real choice in this election. Either Democrat would be better than John McCain. And all three of us would be better than George Bush.
Clinton’s response later that day in Johnstown, PA:
We need a nominee who will take on John McCain, not cheer on John McCain.
I’m not finding the clip of the Johnstown speech I saw on TV in which after Clinton said the above she went into a Q&A call-and-response with the audience: She would say something like ‘John McCain wants to continue Bush’s disastrous economic policies. Would that make him a better president than George Bush?’ and the audience would say ‘Noooo!’.
I’ll consider two questions.
Would McCain be a better president than Bush?
McCain could be worse but it’s hard to see how he has it in him. I’m not going to catalog the reasons Bush has set the bar so low it’s cemented to the floor. The topic has been done to death. If you’re not convinced, toss “Bush offenses” into the google or, if you have time on your hands, plow through Hugh’s list of Bush scandals.
I will point you, though, to a recent unscientific survey of professional historians conducted by History News Network in which 61% of surveyed professional historians rated the Bush presidency the worst ever and 98% rated it a failure. I don’t care about the (possible) liberal bias in academia. The numbers are overwhelming. (Besides, Bush is not conservative. He is radical. I’ve made this point to many over the last eight years. I believe “radical” will be the term most frequently used in history books to describe Bush — well, second most frequently after “worst president.”)
By publicly making his statement, did Obama help or damage his campaign?
This is by far the more important question.
I think Obama helped his campaign.
I don’t think this controversy has any effect on Democrats who have decided on one candidate or the other. Undecided Democrats and independents, the latter being the group that will decide the election in November, know in their heart of hearts, in my opinion, that McCain would be a step up, albeit very small, from Bush. I think those voters will admire the honesty of Obama’s statement and see Clinton’s response as disingenuous.
Mind you I don’t disagree with the points Clinton used to refute Obama’s statement (I wish I could find them all). McCain would be a horrible president; if he is elected, I’ll seriously consider emigrating. I just disagree with Clinton’s conclusion.
And if I may snipe a bit (of course I can) …
- In this YouTube video Clinton compares McCain favorably to Obama. Hypocritical, no? And recall Hillary’s March 6 claim that she and McCain have “crossed the commander-in-chief threshold” but Obama has not.
- And how about this intriguing take by Jason Zuniga in The New Republic:
First Hillary says McCain but not Obama has passed the commander-in-chief threshold. But then Hillary goes after Obama for saying any of the three candidates still running–including McCain–would be better than Bush. So if Hillary thinks McCain is better than Obama but worse than Bush, does that mean Hillary thinks Obama too would be worse than Bush?
Yeah, Hillary, huh? Huh?