‘We cannot spend the next four years as we have much of the last eight, hoping for our luck to change at home and abroad.”
Quick: Which presidential candidate has added this line to his speeches? Barack Obama, right? No, that would be Republican candidate John McCain, hoping to change his luck at home in the final stretch of Campaign ’08.
Ever since reminding Obama that “I’m not President Bush” in the third debate, McCain has tried harder to distance himself from our unpopular commander in chief.
And who can blame him? For nothing is driving voters to the polls more than eradicating the Bush administration from our future.
“Bush is just radioactive at this point,” explains Drew Westen, author of “The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation.”
I caught up with Westen 10 days before the election, as the poll numbers continued to widen.
“The ironic thing for McCain was that he was beaten in 2000 by George Bush with Bush’s smear campaign, and he’s being beaten again by him in 2008 by the absolute poverty of Bush’s policies both home and abroad.”
Caroline Adelman, spokeswoman for the Obama campaign in Georgia, finds that money matters weigh heavily on the electorate.
Yet she agreed when I suggested that the president isn’t far from voters’ minds, on this issue or any other:
“They realize now that they need to vote against everything that Bush and McCain stand for,” she told me.
Do Bush and McCain stand for the same things? One of the most frequently quoted statistics in this campaign would seem to indicate “yes.”
“If you voted with Bush over 90 percent of the time, you can’t proclaim you’re a maverick,” Westen explains, echoing an assertion that resonates strongly with those heading to the polls.
Near the end of our conversation, Westen paused in his thoughts on voters to consider how this incriminating branding affects the candidate himself.
“I think McCain’s an angry man anyway,” Westen declares. “But – provided there isn’t a terrorist attack that throws him the election – on Nov. 5, he’s going to end up enraged that Bush got him again.”