Thursday, February 08, 2007

McCain's Blogger Problem

There are many interesting trends to follow in the upcoming election season. One that I like to look at will be the influence of the blogosphere on the upcoming contests, and what that will mean to future elections. Currently, I believe the influence is minimal, especially in the general election process, but it is growing and could become a factor, especially in the primaries.

That being said, the blogosphere clearly has an issue with John McCain. Take for instance the online polling done by pajamas media. This site, I would argue is pretty representative of the general state of right leaning bloggers, and is not made up of conservative fire eaters. McCain polls at 2.7% That has to be disconcerting.

Now do a search for a McCain blog. I googled "McCain Blog" and I get a site that auto-gathers McCain-based news feeds, a bunch of anti-McCain blogs, and one that looked promising until I checked the date of the last posting. Indeed, our area's own Thinkright Arizona and Political Mafioso are about as prominent as can be generally found touting McCain, and even they give other issues more or equal time to their McCain coverage.

McCain has recognized this of course, and hired a blogger, which seems to be the "in" thing to do (although I am not expecting any pay day soon.) Although Patrick Hynes has a good pedigree, I'm not sure that he has the stature to combat the problem that hurts McCain with bloggers.

What are these problems? I believe that they are twofold.

1. McCain-Feingold. Many bloggers, wrongly or rightly, equate this bill with the crushing of free speech and liken it to an "incumbent protection program." They believe it unfairly tilts power away from the average citizen in favor of the news room who is free to run any article or opinion about an issue or candidate right before the election, while a private citizen is not allowed to do the same. Issues about free speech as pertaining to blogs also appear every once in a while, and McCain is usually linked to them in some form, again, rightly or wrongly.

2. McCain's relationship with the press. If you show up on Meet the Press so much you have your own coffee mug, the blogosphere will not like you. There is an inherent distrust of the major media outlets, which many bloggers use as their justification for even being bloggers. There are very few candidates who can bridge the gap between Media darling and Internet icon. McCain is an example of the first, Howard Dean is an example of the second. Note that this can go both ways. Look what the Mainstream Media did to Howard Dean after his defeat in Iowa.

Now, as I was preparing to write this article, I thought to myself that I was making a mountain out of a molehill. However, it appears that Team McCain is on the same page and is attempting to do something about it.

Keep in mind, however, that the blogosphere is not as powerful as many of us would like to believe. It is very possible that McCain's major media starpower will simply be too much to be dimmed by a pesky pack of bloggers. After all, the mainstream media is mainstream for a reason. It is likely that a plurality of the voters who decide the primary and general election have never read a single blog, and have no plans on starting. It is my opinion, however, that McCain needs to continue his outreach.

After all, should it come down to the general election, who would a good Republican candidate rather have covering his back, a dedicated, perhaps fanatical network of bloggers, or the Mainstream Media?


Rex Scott said...

Framer, don't you think that the problem McCain has with EVERYONE across the ideological spectrum who does not like him is TRUST?!

I was still a Republican in 2000 and bought into all of McCain's maverick BS and his "I'm the new TR" rhetoric, thinking he could save Republicans from becoming an increasingly narrow and exclusive bunch. Now, I wish I could have my vote back, along with the money I put into the so-called "Straight Talk Express."

Conservatives are right to distrust McCain and to be suspicious of the pleas for support coming to them out of his camp. He is the classic opportunist and no one in public life exemplifies one more, other than perhaps turncoat football coach Nick Saban. He will say anything, suck up to anyone and embrace any cause just to win an election. If you have the audacity to suggest that he engages in chameleon-like behavior, you get a blast of his famous temper, as innumerable colleagues and media members have discovered.

McCain will not be the Republican nominee in 2008 because he is unworthy of trust, the essential ingredient in any recipe for political success. He blasts the religious right in one election because it suits his purposes to do so...and then speaks at Liberty University's commencement ceremony because the dictates of expediency have changed in the run-up to the next election. John Kerry seems firm and steadfast in comparison to McCain, who is happy to get on his knees to beg for help from people who once disparaged his time as a POW, his wife and his adopted child.

If people of any ideological stripe feel that you are a person unworthy of trust, you will not develop a core of support outside your own cult of personality. McCain will get trounced in Iowa because Hawkeyes see though his lame attempts to go back on the reasons he skipped their state eight years ago. He will also lose New Hampshire because the independents who voted for him in droves in 2000 will not be enamored of the 2008 McCain model. In both states, conservatives will avoid him for all the reasons cited above.

Thus, McCain may like to posture and preen in front of his mirror or Tim Russert, but the only place he will ever be president is in his own mind.

thinkright said...

thanks for mentioning me, but I don't remember touting McCain anywhere. Kyl is my main man and I am still open to Rudy, Mitt & McCain and currently leaning toward Rudy...but I have an open mind at this time.

Framer said...

I apologize, I thought you had announced for McCain a while back.

Let's see some good Rudy info then. I hear he is having a fundraiser soon.

Thank you for the clarification.

Anonymous said...


What part of Rudy’s gun control, abortion-on-demand, homosexual agenda record do you like most?

rightwing said...

I couldn't have said it better than rex scott. Opportunist is the word. We can't trust him on immigration, taxes, judges, 1st Amendment, 2nd Amendment, Global Warming politics, etc. McCain is a RINO in the truest sense of the word. I would vote for Leiberman before I would for John.

If Hillary runs against John, I will vote for Hillary. At least I know what I'm getting.

Kralmajales said...

Yeah...I am surprised by the social conservative love for Rudy so far. Given what anon said above. However, in the sat. NY Times, they discuss how Rudy is triangulating within his own party on the life issue saying such things as he doesn't support banning late term abortions, when he SURE DID a few years back. Also, how he keeps saying he supports strict constructionist judges who interpret the law and don't make it when asked about abortion.

Problem is this...for social conservatives not me...Justice Souter said the same thing and adhered to it. It was just that the Republican Senators where too silly to know what he was saying.

A strict constructionist definition...would uphold Roe v. Wade and the language of Casey. That what you all want?

Kralmajales said...

Oh...and the reason a true strict constructionist would uphold Roe is this...

Roe and Casey are precedent. They are the law of the land. To change it would be an activist move by an activist judge. A strict constructionist follows precedent. Unless the meaning of interpret happens to actually be...interpret the law the way you see fit.

Framer said...


There is a tremendous difference between case law and what is laid out in the constitution. Bad precedents are made all the time, "Plessy vs. Furgeson" comes to mind.

Any time an invisible "penumbra" is invoked, the constitution screams in agony. It is quite permissible to be pro-abortion and think that "Roe vs. Wade" is bad law, because it is. It is outcome-based with little foundation in constitutional theory. I would feel the same for a court case outlawing abortion. It is not a judicial matter.

Outcome based reasoning is fine for legislation, dubious at best for court decisions.

Speaking of this, I keep hearing that a vast majority of Americans are pro-abortion. That being the case, I would suspect that legislation resulting from an overturn of Roe v. Wade would result in the overwhelming support of pro-abortion law, correct?

Kralmajales said...

Hey there Framer, thanks for responding.

My point was this, maybe a strict constructionist would not have interpreted the law in the way that Blackmun did in Roe. Maybe...they do interpret vague constitutional provisions all the time. In fact, one of the best pieces of research on the Court in a long time declared the Rehnquist, conservative dominated court, "The Most Activist Court in History" and with incredible evidence.

But I digress. A strict constructionist would NOT overturn Roe because they thought someone made a mistake. That would be activist. The entire point of strict constructionist thought is following precedent, following the law, and deferring when possible to the popularly elected branches (when it doesn't conflict with the constitution). The other purpose though is why conservatives back it (understandably). That is that it leads to consistency in what the law is so people can understand it and base the decisions of their life on it.

As to the point about what would happen if Roe was overturned, I agree. There would be a backlash, but not all states would react the same. We both know that legislation is not based on the will of the people, it is based on who your representatives are and how they cowtow to interests. If Roe were overturned there would indeed be a massive political movement because an existing constitutional right would have been removed. However, some states like Louisiana probably wouldn't act all that fast on that question...nor would Georgia...South Carolina...etc. They have conservative legislators and the right to choose would not trump the majority Christian's use of its power to stomp on the rights of individuals who want one.

Anyway, my overarching point is that this is total doublespeak by have to admit. He is not saying he would appoint judges that would overturn Roe. He clearly supports Roe....always has, always will. By saying he wants strict constructionists, he means judges that follow the law of the land...and Roe...IS the law of the land.

Cheers...your posts are always interesting.


Kralmajales said... the way...are you arguing that the Constitution essentially means what it says? Referring to the penumbra comment you made and the screaming.

The reason I ask is what pray tell is the meaning of "cruel and unusual" punishment? Isn't it, by our Constitution and by Article 3, within the granted power of the judiciary to decide what the Constitution means? It isn't Congress's is the courts power. And when Constitutional rights are asserted by courts, they trump legislatures...until the checks on courts kick in and we have a national conversation about whether the decision was right or not.

Like it or not...our constitution gives our judges the power to read between the lines and to say what vague terms like "cruel and unusual mean" and even...yes...what the 9th Amendment means.

I find what was done in Roe to be completely consistent with the Constitution. Judges were given the power to decide if the law passed in Texas was constitutional. It was found to violate freedom, liberties, and rights...things that we are ALL about over here in America. And we should thank god that we had Framers "Framer" that were smart enough to worry about government run amok.

Framer said...

"Cruel and Unusual" is in the constitution, and therefore ripe for debate and interpretation.

The "penumbra" was made up out of clean air. There is a difference between "reading between the lines" and trying to justify an gut decision by building the opinion after the decision is made. Plessy did that as did Roe. Both are bad case law. Perhaps popular (in each instance)case law, but bad case law.

Lately, the court has latched on to "international law" to replace the penumbra which I dislike as well.

Framer said...

And by the way, lest any confusion arise, I chose the name "framer" after a former profession. Think sweaty guy with a hammer.

I will have to point that out on the Radio show lest some think I am pretentious.

Kralmajales said...

Oh...I didn't think you were at all pretentious with your name, Framer. I was just use a play on words that seemed to fit with what I was saying.

Good luck on the radio show...I am sure you will do well.

Now, as for penumbras and such. The beauty of getting rid of Plessy was that times changed and the Court got it right with activism. That comparison only furthers my point. If indeed socieity changes and legal culture (people attitudes about law) change enough to make Roe dead law then it would be my bet that some use of legal authority (activist at the core) would break with precedent as did the great Justices in Brown v. Board.

Courts are not that dangerous. I hate that they are bashed. They are indeed, as Hamilton put it, the Least Dangerous Branch. They can make decisions, but if the legal culture is not their to support them, then errors in law and errors in reasoning will be corrected. There are numerous checks on the courts that are indeed powerful.

My sense with Roe is that it is accepted by the dominant legal culture and that even some conservatives want and need this case around. Without it, if overturned, you would have a political-legal movement that would smash attempts by the government to take away this right.

I mean, look what happened in South Dakota. It wasn't a court that destroyed that legislative provision overturning Roe, it was actually a initiative by the people...and in one of the most conservative states in America.

Anyhow...cheers again...and great luck to you in the radio! I will try to tune in if you will tell us the time.

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