Tuesday, September 30, 2008

McCain's Ancient History

One last point on Friday's debate that I forgot to mention in yesterday's post...

McCain consistently referred to historical events--both as an example of success and as an example of failure--in framing his answers to a number of policy questions. While I appreciate a good discussion of history, I wonder if his points resonated at all with large segments of the public. Here were three that stood out while I was watching:

I won't repeat the mistake that I regret enormously, and that is, after we were able to help the Afghan freedom fighters and drive the Russians out of Afghanistan, we basically washed our hands of the region.

Back in 1983, when I was a brand-new United States congressman, the one -- the person I admired the most and still admire the most, Ronald Reagan, wanted to send Marines into Lebanon. And I saw that, and I saw the situation, and I stood up, and I voted against that...

The point is that throughout history, whether it be Ronald Reagan, who wouldn't sit down with Brezhnev, Andropov or Chernenko until Gorbachev was ready with glasnost and perestroika. Or whether it be Nixon's trip to China, which was preceded by Henry Kissinger, many times before he went.
The problem is that to many of the viewers, the events McCain referenced might as well be ancient history. Someone who was voting age in 1980 when the Afghan-Soviet conflict was at it's height would now be at least 46 years old today. Someone of voting age in 1983 when Lebanon and the Soviet dictators listed would be at least 43. A listener who might have been making political decisions in 1973 when Nixon was visiting China would now be at least 53.

How many voters are going to hear those examples and think "Yeah, I remember what that time was like."? Some will, but McCain probably already has many of them. Unless a voter of my generation was paying unusually close attention for a 12-year old or studied this stuff in college, these examples are meaningless. For most people under 35 or so, most of what they know of these events would be based on the commentary of Rich Eisen or Mo Rocca on I love the 80s.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Post a Comment


No Drumlins Copyright © 2009 Premium Blogger Dashboard Designed by SAER