April 16, 2008
10 things I learned from John McCain's visit
10. Sen. McCain supports nuclear power. At a glance, this seems like a bad idea. But McCain points out that 80 percent of France's power comes from nuclear plants, and they seem to like it quite a bit. I suspect nuclear waste is still an issue, but so is pollution from coal plants.
9. McCain doesn't seem to have much trouble asking difficult questions. He put two powerful CEOs on the defensive in front of a lot of television cameras and newspaper reporters, and it was his own event. McCain asked the head of the Medical College of Wisconsin why technology improvements in the medical field lead to cost increases, compared to decreases elsewhere. He later told the head of a national mortgage company that the industry was at fault for the subprime mortgage crisis. Not bad ... dare I say, that was 'straight talk'?
8. I don't like how McCain uses that phrase, "straight talk." OK, we get it, you're a maverick. But it doesn't seem to take much these days to be a maverick. Yesterday, McCain called out some CEOs for pocketing huge sums of money while their companies (and customers) fell apart. Interestingly, the head of MGIC (a national mortgage company) noted in his bio of panel members that he took a 52 percent pay cut last year. Hmm... I wonder why? If momentary flashes of common sense count as "straight talk," then most people I know are "straight-talkers."
7. The event came in sharp contrast to the Democrats' donnybrook that's passing as a campaign these days. McCain calmly goes about his business, building consensus, gaining solid, if not spectacular, media coverage along the way. Meanwhile, Obama and Hillary are slugging it out on the fronts of web page's everywhere, yammering on ad nauseum about who cares what. By November, McCain may roll to victory because everyone's so sick of the other two.
6. McCain is not dynamic. It's not a criticism, but he's definitely not Clinton or Obama in the oratory department. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in the debates.
5. I'm not really buying McCain's (or any of the candidate's) plans to help people who are losing their homes in the subprime lending crisis. I know, I know, they should have done more research on safe borrowing practices. But the lending institutions knew they were offering risky products and still kept putting people in homes. I wish something could be done to help people come out of this mess with some financial stability, but Congress isn't good at reacting to issues like this. I don't think McCain has worked out a way to make meaningful help possible.
4. There wasn't even an attempt at diversity at the event. Carly Fiorina was the only non-white male at the summit, and there were maybe 10 minorities in the entire crowd. Are white men really the only people who have valuable input on the economy?
3. McCain is a bit crazy when it comes to campaign security. Somebody should tell him he is one of three people in the world who could be president of the United States in less than a year. It's almost uncomfortable seeing him walking around without noticeable Secret Service protection. I get that he's a veteran and a really tough guy, but it just doesn't seem smart.
2. Bucyrus' manufacturing space is enormous. Apologies for getting too geeky, but I kept thinking of the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" when I stepped inside of their manufacturing space. Seriously, it was like you could build a planet in there.
1. The McCain campaign offered free coffee and bakery to reporters and photographers. I didn't take anything, but that was a very nice touch. If anyone is wondering, the media can be bought with ridiculously small quantities of sugar and caffeine.