Debate part 1: McCain tells the truth and lies at the same time
Let me briefly hit the big picture on the debate. The two insta polls out, from CBS and CNN, show that McCain lost by a large margin, by 13 percent or so. That large a gap means independents in particular didn’t like his performance (by 22 percent in this poll). And that is no big surprise since for independents, who fundamentally don’t like partisan politics — that’s why they aren’t a member of either party — repeatedly showing contempt for one’s opponent is a highly visible and undesirable quality in a potential president, especially someone who is supposed to be a reach-across-the-aisle bipartisan guy.
On the energy front, McCain continues to push a lie that has been so well debunked factually, you simply have to wonder what is going on inside his head:
I have voted for alternate fuel all of my time …
No one can be opposed to alternate energy.
I don’t know which is of those statements is more disturbing. The first is a staggering lie as the voting record demonstrates irrefutably.
The second sentence presumably means “no one in their right mind can be opposed to the obvious energy solution for this country” or, more simple, “support for alternative energy is just plain common sense.”
It is a shockingly delusional line from someone who has one of the longest and strongest records against alternative energy in the Senate. It is also frighteningly similar to the equally earnest, but equally delusional defense he offered at the Aspen Institute when asked about the eight straight votes he missed on extending renewable energy tax credits in the past year:
I have a long record of that support of alternate energy. I come from a state where we have sunshine 360 days a year … I’ve always been for all of those and I have not missed any crucial vote.
In fact, during the debate, McCain said: “No one from Arizona is against solar.” Sure, it’s only common sense that someone who comes from such a sunny state would support solar energy. And yet McCain doesn’t — which ought to tell you all you need to know about him.
With apologies to my regular readers, it simply bears repeating that McCain voted with Inhofe and against clean energy and the environment a staggering 42 out of 44 times since the mid-1990s — even ignoring the votes McCain missed where he would have sided with Inhofe. This decade alone he has cast a vote after vote against clean energy incentives and “renewable portfolio standard” (RPS):
- Tax credits for clean energy R&D (2001)
- Require a 20 percent RPS where utilities buy 20 percent clean energy (’02)
- Reduce 20 percent RPS requirement (’02)
- Waive 20 percent RPS if utilities balk (’02)
- Increase clean energy R&D funding (’05)
- Clean energy incentives (’05)
- An RPS to require utilities [to] buy some clean energy (’05)
- Tax oil companies windfall profits to fund clean energy (’05)
In every case, McCain voted against renewables, as did James “Global warming is ‘the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people'” Inhofe.
McCain is at best an out-of-touch greenwasher and at worst simply a pathological liar.
Finally, as someone who is a student of strategy, who was the final editor for the Department of Energy strategic plan in the mid-1990s, it is really, really worrisome that a man seeking the highest office in the land not only doesn’t understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy, but he actually has also taken to lecturing others that they are the one who don’t understand.
This isn’t hard. Strategy is the overarching goal, while tactics are the ways (the operational plans) you employ to achieve that goal. The surge is almost the very definition of a tactic, since it was a short-term boost in troop numbers. The key initial strategic decision was whether or not the threat posed by Saddam Hussein justified going to war in the first place.