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McCain on Obama: "He's Centrist"

October 30, 2008

After two weeks in which his campaign has tried to brand Barack Obama a "socialist" and worse, John McCain took one small step back from the specter of the red menace. Appearing on the Larry King show Wednesday, McCain admitted that his Democratic opponent is no socialist. But as Election Day nears, don't expect John McCain to repeat his 2005 assessment of Obama, "he's centrist."
The Republican smearing of Obama has included comical charges that the man backed by Warren Buffett and Colin Powell is "anti-American" (Rep. Michele Bachman), a "socialist" (Sarah Palin), a "communist" (Senator Mel Martinez) and a "marxist" (Tom Delay). Last night, McCain dropped the "red" label while still regurgitating discredited right-wing talking points:

KING: You don't believe Barack Obama is a socialist do you?
MCCAIN: No, but I do believe that he has been in the far left of American politics and stated time after time that he believes in spreading the wealth around. He has talked about courts that redistribute the wealth. He has a record of voting against tax cuts. And for tax increases.

Of course, John McCain knows better. And in December 2005, McCain said as much.
As the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported, Mr. Straight Talk put Barack Obama squarely in what it deemed the "sensible center":

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. and a frequent maverick within the GOP, said: "He's very impressive, he's thoughtful, he's centrist."

In that same article ("Obama shuns limelight, builds record"), conservative Republican Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Mel Martinez sang Obama's similarly praised Obama. Senator Obama had worked with the arch social conservative Coburn on oversight of FEMA reconstruction in the Katrina-devastated Gulf Coast. Obama also reached across the aisle to work with Martinez and Dick Lugar (R-IN) to secure nuclear materials from the former Soviet Union. Their feedback echoed McCain's plaudits:

Obama's approach has mostly earned him rave reviews - from Republicans and Democrats alike - who say he is an open-minded, deliberative lawmaker.
Coburn called him a "phenomenal young man who will go to great heights," while Martinez said he hasn't seemed "dogmatic" or "ideologically driven" on any issue.

That would be the same Mel Martinez who just 10 days ago likened Obama's policies to those of Castro's Cuba (video here):

"Where I come from, where I was born, they tried that wealth redistribution business. It didn't work so good down there. That's socialism, that's communism, that's not what Americanism is about."

McCain's seeming retreat on Larry King came just one day after he refused to repudiate Martinez' communist smear during an interview with a Miami CBS affiliate:

Q: Florida Senator Mel Martinez talked about Barack Obama's "spread the wealth" policies and he described them as "communism." Is that fair?
MCCAIN: Hmmm, I don't know what label you put on it but clearly it's not the way to economic prosperity.

As it turns out, bastions of capitalism like The Economist and the Financial Times - each of which endorsed Barack Obama for President - have concluded otherwise. Of course, back in 2005, before he was looking up at Obama in the polls, John McCain understood why.

2 comments on “McCain on Obama: "He's Centrist"”

  1. I don't really understand my fellow Americans on this blog.
    WHY is it so wrong to call Obama a Marxist or Sociaist or whatever ?
    There is plenty of information out there about WHY he is being called these things. Real information and if you understand history well, its quite obvious.
    So WHY do you have to call it a SMEAR unless y ou are against Communism, etc.?
    AND IF you are against Communism and would rather keep America a strong nation of free enterprise and no big brother government (which I am sure everybody wants) WHY, WHY don't you check out Obama and see that he is interested in Socialism and a ONE WORLD type globalism rather than strong Nation-State ? His Black Liberation Theology (OK, Michelle's) is kind of socialistic to say the least, and VERY nasty indeed. Blames ALL whites for everything.....ugh, racist. And I hate to mention it but there are ideological and historical links between the SS, the Islamic fundamentalists, Communism, and Socialism. I really don't understand why this information is called SMEAR when it's out there for everybody to know about.
    The end result of such ideas is not a modest redistribution like Palin and her oil checks. Its a total CHANGE........starting with bailouts and ending with...what ? Changing the Anthem ? Banning Washington (he was too violent!) Lets use common sense people. Criticism of Obama is not SMEARS, its valid concerns about several points EVERYBODY should think about seriously if they want to use their brain.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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