McCain Puts Lincoln’s Theory to the Test

Sure today’s most famous citizen from the great state of Illinois is its junior senator, Barack Obama. But for the 150 years before anyone other than a handful of people even heard the Obama name, the best known citizen of Illinois was a one time state legislator named Abraham Lincoln.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Honest Abe of late. He famously said, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all of the time.”
Well the merrymakers who are running the McCain campaign are pushing that theory to the test like it’s never been tested before. They’ve left Nixon, and W in the dust when it comes to unabashed cynicism.

The first audacious act was to pull Sarah Palin out of a hat. Following their logic that any woman seeking high office is the equivalent of any other woman, this pack of Madison Avenue dreamers and schemers decided that they would take advantage of the disappointment many women felt in seeing the Clinton candidacy fail, and Barack’s decision to not pick her for the number two slot, by elevating Sarah Palin to national prominence. When Palin became an overnight media sensation this pack of later day P.T. Barnums must have been busy congratulating each other. The only thing they didn’t consider was after a week of high fives what would come next.

Adlai Stevenson, another great citizen of Illinois, who was twice nominated by the Democrats for the nation’s highest office, warned in 1956 that if the media handlers had their way, future national candidates would be packaged like “breakfast cereal.”

If only Stevenson had lived to see the likes of Sarah Palin.

The second audacious act of the McCain handlers came this week when in the midst of quickly sinking poll numbers they suggested that McCain suspend his campaign, request that the national presidential debate be “postponed,” and that everyone rush back to Washington to put out the fire threatening to destroy our economy.

McCain, following the lead of his merry band of mythmakers did just that and spiced it up with a bit of trite naval malarkey, saying “It’s a time for all hands on deck.”

Where’s there sense of humility?

After 26 years in Washington, McCain has accumulated a dismal record on economic policy. His steady diet of deregulation has been instrumental in leading us into this financial meltdown in the first place.

So one of the leading arsonists is now running back in to save the burning building.

I have no doubt that between now and November 4 these two great acts of political dishonesty will be followed by audacious acts three, four, and five. And in this atmosphere of political deception lies the true test of Lincoln’s theory. Just how many people can you fool? I suspect far fewer than McCain’s handlers are counting on.

Palin, I liken to a spare tire slapped on quickly with three lug nuts, instead of the usual five. Although, in watching her recent performances, I’ve revised that estimate down to just two lug nuts. At first everything seems fine, but then the steering wheel begins to vibrate, and things go downhill from there. Palin was a cynical gamble that is now blowing up in the faces of McCain’s wise guys. Just how long did they think they could keep Palin from answering questions posed by journalists other than the staff of Fox News? Her interviews with Charlie Gibson and now Katie Couric have been flashed around the Internet as proof positive that this is someone no where near ready to be one heart beat away from the presidency.

As for suspending the campaign, that ploy is already unraveling. For one thing McCain rushed back to the capitol just in time for the compromise agreement to be announced, and then for it quickly to unravel just as McCain put his inexpert hand on the wheel. For another, the media has been quick to label the debate dodge as coming at a time when the economic news has caused McCain’s poll numbers to plummet.

Now I have no doubt that the same group of Americans who think that Palin is the new “it” girl, can clearly see that McCain is showing great grit by “suspending” his campaign, but again you have to wonder is this some of the people and some of the time, or all the people and all of the time.

I’m putting my money on Honest Abe. McCain’s handlers will wake up the day after the election, shake off a bad night, and think it’s time to get a new act and start scheming about a new approach for “Decision 2012.”

Martin Brown – Money Editor