Exclusive: Election 2008 – Know Your Candidate!

by WALTER ANDERSON August 13, 2008
Candidate Profiles: Filling In the Gaps
Quite by accident, I ran across the National Journal Profiles on John S. McCain and on Barack H. Obama that were last updated in December 2007. These profiles, while giving great background on each candidate, provide little practical information in the area of votes cast; information on Committee positions held ; group ratings; financial data; and  current happenings and group ratings.
For those of you looking for this crucial information, current financial data can be found at OpenSecrets. Additional biographical information, voting records, endorsements, issue stance, contact data etc can easily be found at Vote Smart . If you are attempting to verify whether or not a statement or accusation may be true, false or misstated, Fact Check is an excellent place to start looking. A similar site is PolitiFact, which uses a slightly different format than Fact Check, but both are easy to read and navigate.
The granddaddy of all that’s political information is a site called “Political Information” (go figure!). It is a compilation of (they claim) over 5,000 carefully selected political and policy websites sorted in a hundred ways and the latest political news from dozens of authoritative sources. This site is indispensable for journalists, political junkies, students and political professionals. It has current and historical information available with a click of the mouse.
While I am at it, if you have an XM Radio subscription, channel 130 is called P.O.T.U.S. 2008, featuring political commentary in a format that appears to be open to all political parties. Some of the replays of speeches, ads, discussion and sound bites from other programs are interesting and maybe something you haven’t heard before. Tune in and see what you think.
Believe me, there are not nearly enough voters who actually know enough about the candidates to make a solid, informed decision. I hope the information I’ve provided will help you along the path to being an “informed voter.”
“Country First”
This is the new campaign slogan that has been set into play by the McCain staff. It seems to play on serving the American public with his military experience and the many years he has spent in Congress. He has begun speaking about the time he was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. (When McCain was in a Vietnam prison, Barack Obama was only five years old.) McCain is “pushing” patriotism as I believe he should. Last week, he spoke at several town hall-style meetings in the Midwest. He emphasized that “this is the heartland of America” and “there is no more patriotic section of the country.” He said he has always placed the country first and will continue to do so as President.
While casting himself as a patriot, and I do believe he is, he has also started a campaign depicting Obama as a typical Democrat big spender and tax raiser. The new ads from the McCain crew are definitely stronger and take a direct hit against Obama. Yet the one thing missing for McCain seems to be a personal identity. Obama has been setting that stage for a year and a half. The entire world knows who Barack Obama is, but do they know who John McCain is?
Belatedly, McCain started to explain, in addition to his policies, his background and who he is as a person. He is also showcasing his support for the surge and placing 30,000 more troops on the ground in Iraq, giving the now somewhat famous line, “I would rather lose a political campaign than a war.” This is exactly what McCain needs and should be doing, as he has a lot of catching up to do in this area. This is where McCain, the older, more moderate and more experienced warhorse, can have an edge in the campaign on Obama, the young, relatively inexperienced, whose policies are more radical and has no history with the military.
The polls show people like McCain and are coming up more in his favor. He has been within the margin of error on several recent polls and only down a few points in others. Obama seems to be dropping points in certain areas that he had considered a lock, and those points are helping to bring up McCain to what I will call an even match. Yet I was reminded yesterday by a friend that ”the only poll that counts is held on election day.”
Not So Great Expectations
Last week, there was a report of a man in federal custody for threatening to assassinate Barack Obama. According to the report, this man also said that he “he hated George W. Bush and wanted to put a bullet in the president’s head.” A search of his hotel and vehicle produced weapons and body armor. He allegedly told the Secret Service that he had mental problems and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (couldn’t you see that coming?). The threat against Obama is a serious one, but one has to wonder why he is not being charged with uttering threats against a U.S. president.
Unfortunately, I have been expecting something like this. The hate being generated in this campaign at times seems to be overtaking the discussion of issues and policies. This is evident on the Internet, in magazine articles and in personal conversations. There is always some nutcase who will threaten the President or presidential candidates, but unless the threats have been kept under wraps, this is the first “verified” threat I have seen against Obama since he requested and received Secret Service protection after racially charged threats in May 2007.
Drill Now!
Well, not exactly, but Barack Obama did say he would be open to the support of “limited offshore drilling” if it would help to get a comprehensive policy for energy efficient vehicles and at the same time go forward with a program for alternative energy sources. This is a reversal of his previous position on offshore drilling and more in line with the McCain change in his opposition to the drilling a few months back. President Bush has said he would approve it as well, but Congress has been unable to come to agreement. The Republicans are in favor of more drilling and the Democrats are claiming it would raise oil company profits and are against it. Maybe the Obama flip-flop  on the subject will get them to do something positive.
Bill Clinton…Back From the “Dead”
Once again, Bill Clinton has come to the front of the pack (so to speak). He has been targeted to speak at the Democrat National Convention on August 27th, just prior to the announcement of the Vice Presidential candidate. Hillary Clinton, who is trying to have her delegates be recognized at the Convention, is scheduled to speak the night of August 26th in a prime-time address to the delegates.
It seems strange that Bill Clinton would be speaking in such an important time slot when he exhibited so much tension and anger during his wife’s primary run against Obama. It just goes to show that there’s no pegging Bill Clinton.
Secret Ballots
This issue has not been widely publicized, not even on the Internet for some reason. Barack Obama has given as his number one promise to unions that the “Employee Free Choice Act will become law in 2009 if he becomes president. This bill would effectively take away employees’ right to a secret ballot vote regarding unionization. Currently, unionization is approved by the employee base if the majority of workers first submit cards requesting unionization, then hold an election by secret ballot whether to allow the union into the company. Under the proposed law (also known as the “card-check bill”), employees could form a union by only collecting a majority of cards signed by employees asking for a union to represent them at their employer. In this manner, everyone would know how the employee voted. So what’s the big deal? It would open the door to pressure and intimidation.
John McCain opposes the bill and has said it would destroy the democratic right of employees to make their decision about unionization by secret ballot.
Union support in the election is critical and both candidates are vying for the union members’ votes. The AFL-CIO announced they made a mass mailing to 600,000 union households to the Midwest battleground states in support of Obama and they have promised a campaign among 13 million voters in August to promote Obama and his support of the bill. It is said the unions will spend $300 million in the elections, most going to support Obama and this bill.
While all this is going on, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is entering into a campaign to educate the workers that this bill would take away the secret ballot rule and their rights to vote privately. They are stressing that the bill could allow intimidation and harassment by unions and by employers as well.
In an unusual stance, George McGovern, who is known as a liberal’s liberal, protested strongly in a WSJ op-ed against the bill saying the “bill was not in the best interest of either management or labor.” This, of course, is causing some concern in the offices of the union organizers and in the Democrat Party as well. I am sure we will hear more about this in the near future!
Until next time…
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Walter Anderson has an extensive background in business, served in the Marine Corps, and is experienced in grassroots political activism. Feedback: editorialdirector@familysecuritymatters.org.

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