John McCain’s Campaign Woes: The Cheney Factor


I attended a John McCain Mixer at “The Core Club” in New York last year (on an evening I had helped organize a George Soros book party in the same club) and was impressed with McCain’s unambiguous support for stem cell research, his smart views on immigration reform, as well as his candor that he felt America was doing few of the things a nation had to do to reinvent itself and to establish great objectives and pursue them.
But I disagreed with him on his support of the Iraq War and was surprised that he didn’t feel that America’s wrong-headed, military dominant approach to the Middle East had done enormous damage to our national prestige, military capacity, and ability to get things done in the world.
At that time, I chatted with the McCain campaign’s CEO, Rick Davis, who recently has taken over the reins of the sputtering McCain campaign with the firings of John Weaver and Terry Nelson and virtual side-lining of long-time McCain Senate office Chief of Staff Mark Salter.
I expressed surprise to Davis that Senator McCain was allowing a dispute with filmmaker Eugene Jarecki over some content in his prize-winning film, Why We Fight, to get out into the public. Mark Salter, the Senator’s chief of staff, had felt misled by Jarecki on a number of fronts and was angry that the filmmaker had included a clip of McCain criticizing corrupt defense industry practices in Iraq — and was implicitly criticizing Vice President Cheney or at least saying an investigation would be justified in the proliferating cases of no-bid defense contract awards to Haliburton. At the time that McCain said this on film, someone from McCain’s staff interrupted and said audibly that Vice President Cheney was on the phone. McCain looked surprised — and then took the call. It was a hilarious clip, but Mark Salter and Eugene Jarecki were engaged in a fairly public tiff about this.
The bottom line at the time was that Mark Salter strongly supported the war and felt that there should be no gap at all between McCain and Cheney, not to even mention no gap between the Senator and President Bush.
However, Rick Davis — a very smart, savvy political hand — told me then, more than a year ago, that he felt that they should be “running against Cheney.”
Rick Davis is the new head of the McCain campaign, and he was right in June 2006 when he made that comment to me. It’s too bad that the Senator and his core campaign staff did not listen to Rick Davis’s view until now, when it is perhaps too late.
More later.
— Steve Clemons
Ed. Note: I will hyperlink relevant materials to the post above after I return to the U.S. I am posting this from an airline lounge in Berlin’s Tegel Airport, and the system here is not allowing any hyperlinks. SCC
Subseqent Update: the links have been added. SCC


17 comments on “John McCain’s Campaign Woes: The Cheney Factor

  1. Mr.Murder says:

    I’m no McCain fan, though I did joke about offering him the Dem. VP slot just to have a bipartisan ticket, based on him being a good solider to whoever the C-in-C was.
    He’s fighting a Viet Nam strategy in support of a war in the wrong place.
    That is a shame in and of itself, compounded by his own blundering of political capital and treasure on the campaign trail, which reflects our deficit and credibility around the world in the same exact way. McCain is channeling the Iraq Quagmire as best he can. He cannot help but go in replay mode, playing the newsreels over until the good guys win when it isn’t the game he imagines.
    More so tragic because heros are brought down by flaws but still have some noble purpose in their deeds. He said the things that must be said regarding immigrants and the greater contribution of ethnic communities to a better future. Their roots in the Southwest are older than are ours.
    Not that I’m really endeared to the man’s mission in life. He codified wealth and privilege’s ability to influence and shape politics beyond the level it did and we’re supposed to celebrate that? The First Amendment has a price tag? Then like a tragicomedy he stumbles over his own law calling up contributors from within the Senate.
    His redemption would be to repeal the war, he’s still going by the code and isn’t in uniform, itself indicative of a need to see him retire outright and re-enlist for IRR top fight the war.
    That’s beyond his reach, a limitation, salute the man, not the uniform and let him set his prospects for election nationally at ease.
    He can still be called upon to expand the dialog. You have the ability to contact the man. John McCain needs to be given a chance to reiterate his support of the Medical Patient’s Bill of Rights, which he endorsed alongside John Edwards.
    That could allow McCain to impact the greater good regardless of other outcomes. It’s a chance he deserves for many reasons. It might be a point he can justly rally his chances, and ours.
    Chris Murphy


  2. Sandy says:

    I’ve been angry at Ralph, too, Jon S. but removing him from the picture for the moment (you may want to rent the Netflix, An Unreasonable Man about Nader, it’s great)….I think it’s a mistake to take the focus off the GOP machinations — in particular vote “caging” ….suppression of votes, illegally ….that would have made the difference for Gore and Kerry in 2000 and 2004.
    Please direct your anger there — and publicize, publicize, publicize what the GOP did — illegally — to “win” those elections.
    THAT is the real reason we got stuck with Bush/Cheney and 3600+ of our soldiers, marines, airmen, sailors …are dead….and thousands maimed and horribly injured.
    When there is truly rape involved….don’t blame anyone but the rapist, please.


  3. Jon Stopa says:

    Without Nader we would not have the Iraq War. Thanks Ralph. How do you sleep at night?


  4. Sandy says:

    Thanks, Kathleen, I’ll head on over there. Appreciate it!


  5. Kathleen says:

    Part 2 of the Cheney article is up at Truthout today. I think you’re right about Mrs. MacCheney.
    Carroll, I agree… NeoNutzis feel inferior and their insecurity manifests itself in their bullying. Sickos.
    On how to feel good about oneself in the world??? Try being a decent person, Darth or did your DNA skip the decent gene for a generation?


  6. JonU says:

    Too bad for whom?
    Too bad for McCain? Sure.
    But not too bad for our country to have revealed that much of McCain’s “straight-talk” image was just that. Image. Not reality.
    In reality he quickly and easily dropped it all to pander to the ultra-conservative base. And became a knee-jerk neocon apologist in the process, which is the absolute worse of all worlds.


  7. ... says:

    the chimp figures the libby/cia outing saga has ‘run its course’… that is a far cry from ‘someone will be held accountable’. someone ought to tell him, he ran his course a few minutes after he got in the oval office, and it is past time he was impeached… wimps are running the dumbo party. chimps in power and wimps in opposition… great 2 party system that is.


  8. Carroll says:

    I think this part about Cheney can be applied to most if not all of the neo’s mentality. It’s a bully mentality born of inferiority feelings and fear of their weakness defining them to others.
    According to how much power or postion they have they compensate by projecting their bulliness on the world.
    “We believe his hostility was partly an overcompensation, the weak-feeling tough guy teasing someone smaller. It was also probably a reaction to his situation. One of the key issues for each of us in the evolution of our psychology is, “How do I feel good about myself in the world?”


  9. Sandy says:

    Wow, Kathleen, thanks so much for the heads up on the Cheney article at Truthout! Turns out it is by John Briggs and his son…the latter is the author of some of my favorite books…on chaos theory, fractals (still get tears in my eyes looking at those incredible fractals), complexity, etc., a huge interest of mine (as well as quantum physics…)
    Interesting confirmation about Cheney and his sick personality. I assumed it was Lynne who — when he was heading up the “search” for VP — told him to submit HIS own name….how good it would be for them. They say it was Bush 41….to look after Chimpy. Appears they are all just as dumb….out of touch….and ruthless….as the other!
    For me the big news today is watching Chimpy at his TELEVISED national press conference — admit to the world — that someone in his office DID reveal Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity.
    Otherwise known as …… T R E A S O N. Not to mention OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE.
    hahahahaha What a dumbass. The Wilsons and their lawyers must be celebrating….how “helpful” (!!) this will be for their civil suit! Among other things.
    We truly live in Bizzarro world, eh? 🙂


  10. Carroll says:

    Maybe I haven’t been paying attention but I haven’t heard McCain talk about any “great objectives” for the US except more war in Iraq and more war with Iran.
    Maybe I just missed it, but it doesn’t matter I am not voting for any “panders” to any special interest anyway no matter what else they say. I did pay attention when all the presidential contenders first came out but the pandering right out the gate to every special interest group and the “spinaroo” answers to real questions so turned my stomach I can’t listen to them any more. It just makes me too furious.


  11. WhatBillOfRights says:

    I watched the firefighter union “Guililani: Urban Legend” video linked here:
    Good on the NYC firefighters’ for attempting to stop Benito Guiliani. Every voter needs to see this video, even though it did not go far enough on Guiliani’s role in the devastating health problems that 9/11 rescue workers are suffering from today as a result of his lies.
    But here’s another article talking about how Guiliani is trying to take on McCain’s “Straight Talk Express” B.S. mantle.
    Guiliani Seeks McCain’s Voting Base,0,5474315.story?coll=ny-leadnationalnews-headlines
    Both McCain and Guiliani should have R-Likud behind their names.


  12. WhatBillOfRights says:

    A little OT but McCain’s biggest fan in the 2000 election was Bill Kristol, who is now “predicting” that the U.S. will attack Pakistan, most probably without warning our ally Musharref.
    Here’s an article on it as well as a clip of Kristol:
    Geez these neo-cons have some chutzpah…
    The sad part is between Chertoff’s “gut feeling” that the U.S. will suffer a terrier attack this summer (now, how would you know that Mikey? Got some Mossad pals making plans, do you?) Podhoretz/ McCains’ campaign to Bomb,Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran, and Kristol seeming to know an attack on Pakistan is imminent, we will most probably see World War III before Labor Day.
    So party up kids! I personally plan to go sit by the pool with a margarita (or perhaps a pitcher) every day between now and then…carpe diem for tomorrow we die.


  13. WhatBillOfRights says:

    For all of my fellow uni-party haters, here’s yet another article proving that the Dems are nitwits and that there’s not “a dime’s worth of difference” between the Dimocraps and the GOP.
    In the 2004 race the Dims decided to go after Nader in FL rather than get the Bush campaign for filing late in that state. DUMB, DUMB, DUMB.
    Ralph, you have my vote.
    Pennsylvania Democrats want Nader to pay for Bush’s election
    McClatchy Newspapers 7/11/07
    WASHINGTON – Ralph Nader, the independent presidential candidate Democrats love to hate, is afraid that Pennsylvania authorities trying to dun him for $61,000 are about to freeze his personal bank account.
    Nader ran into a buzz saw when he tried to get on the Pennsylvania ballot in 2004 as an independent presidential candidate.
    Democratic activists kept him off the ballot, beat him in court for turning in fraudulent signatures his campaign had collected and are on the verge of getting officials in his home city of Washington to attach his assets.
    Full article at the following link:


  14. ... says:

    mccain needs to get out of the usa and interact with otherd rather then the folks in bush admin -cheney and bush in particular… the bush admin has been an unmitigated disaster. most folks outside the usa see this.. many in the usa seem to have caught on also… expect nutbar warmongering politicians to be the last to figure it out.


  15. JohnH says:

    McCain is not the only one who refuses to address the war profiteering issue. Few of the current contenders will talk about it, either. John Edwards campaigned on it in 2004, but Kerry promptly buried the issue once Edwards became his VP candidate.
    But if you want evidence of perverting policy for the benefit of a couple industries, it’s the Cheney family: wife Lynn served on the board of Lockheed while hubby was CEO at Halliburton. Cheney’s son-in-law, registered Lockheed lobbyist. Cheney’s elder daughter, Elizabeth Cheney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Middle Eastern (oil) affairs.
    The results: defense spending and oil prices doubled since Bush took office. Exxon profits up 67% 2003-2005, Lockheed profits up 73% in the same period.
    Larisa Alexandrovna elaborates:
    If there was ever a no brainer for someone seeking votes, it’s running against Cheney and war profiteering. But the leading candidates have all tacitly agreed to avoid an impressive list of critical, “sensitive” subjects, like oil motives in Iraq, AIPAC influence, pharmaceutical industry profits, the failed drug war, etc, etc.


  16. Kathleen says:

    The maverick image was a facade and difficult to maintain. McCain co-sponsored Feingold’s campaign finance reform legislation, but campaigned in the same grubby greasy palmed way. I think he used campaign finance reform as an excuse to challenge Dopey for the nomination, but it wasn’t something he really beleived in like Feingold, who actially observes the standards set in the legislatio0n when campaigning.
    As for “Cheney” TruthOut has a new psychological series on the man in the shadows.
    It seems I’m not the only one who thinks Darth is a ventriloquist which is the least negative thing I can say about him.


  17. carsick says:

    He destroyed the “Maverick” brand just when he needed to capitalize on it.
    Considering his voting record the brand was mostly hokum but the campaign to build it was masterful. Yet he seemed to very publicly dismantle it. Strange.


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