Reading some of the e-mail responses today from those who did not like our McCain endorsement, and thinking about what those complaints had in common with some of the feedback I’d already gotten here on the blog, I suddenly arrived at the simplest theory for explaining the difference between McCain supporters and Obama supporters.
This is going to seem not only simple, but painfully obvious — but it didn’t occur to me until today to put it this way. Here goes:
- McCain supporters are all about his record, NOT about what’s happened in the campaign.
- Obama supporters are all about what we’ve seen in the campaign.
No, this doesn’t explain everything. For instance, for some of those on the right who never liked McCain before, but will vote for him because of Sarah Palin (rather than in spite of her), it’s about the campaign. And for those who will back Obama because of Joe Biden are looking at Joe’s record.
But for an awful lot of us who are swing voters, who are neither of the left nor the right, my little epiphany explains a lot.
It certainly explains why there’s such a divide between me and those who just can’t understand (at least that’s what they keep saying) why I don’t even get into the such subjects as Sarah Palin in the endorsement. Basically, I’ve watched McCain over the years, and have liked what he actually does in office. If I didn’t have that to go by, I’d probably be for Obama, too. There’s no question that Obama is the better campaigner, far better at presenting himself in a positive light than McCain is. McCain the campaigner has been a pretty sad spectacle, compared to his proven record in office.
And that’s a good thing for Obama, because the campaign is about all the voters have to go by with him. Basically, there’s that, and the fact that he picked somebody with the experience he lacks to be his running mate, and that’s it. And because it IS about that for Obama supporters, they just don’t get how it’s not all about that for ME. But for me, what’s happened in the last few months (or even, for those focused on the general, the last few weeks) can only have a limited impact upon an impression based on a decades-long record.
Would it make y’all happier if I said that I’d be with you if it were all about (for me) Sarah Palin, or McCain’s message in his recent ads? But for me, it’s actually about having been right about Iraq (which is a genuine point of disagreement between me and some of you), and the demonstrated ability to work across the aisle on judicial appointments, the willingness to take huge political risks to act intelligently on immigration, years of fighting against the undue effect of money in political campaigns, and so forth. Not to mention having proved he puts "country first" in ways that few living men have, in ways so profound that it vastly outweighs the carelessness about his country’s future that so many see in his choice of Sarah Palin.
So it is that I can laugh at Tina Fey’s send-ups of Gov. Palin, but endorse McCain — something that seems to perplex some of y’all no end.