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If McCain Had Won

Posted on Jul 15, 2011
AP / Carolyn Kaster

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, salutes the audience at Portsmouth, Ohio, as he campaigned for the presidency in 2008.

By Fred Branfman

(Page 2)

Most significantly, if McCain had won, not only would Democrats be looking at a Democratic landslide in the 2012 presidential race, but the newly elected Democratic president in 2013 might enjoy both a 60 percent or higher majority in both houses and a clear public understanding that it was Republican policies that had sunk the economy. He or she might thus be far better positioned to enact substantive reforms than was Obama in 2008, or will Obama even if he is re-elected in 2012.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in March 1933 after a 42-month Depression blamed entirely on the Republicans. Although he had campaigned as a moderate, objective conditions both convinced him of the need for fundamental change—creating a safety net including Social Security, strict financial regulation, programs to create jobs, etc.—and gave him the congressional pluralities he needed to achieve them. A Democratic president taking office in 2013 after 12 years of disastrous Republican economic misrule might well have been likewise pushed and enabled by objective events to create substantive change.

Furious debate rages among Obama’s Democratic critics today on why he has largely governed on the big issues as John McCain would have done. Some believe he retains his principles but has been forced to compromise by political realities. Others are convinced he was a manipulative politico who lacked any real convictions in the first place.

But there is a far more likely—and disturbing—possibility. Based on those who knew him and his books, there is little reason to doubt that the pre-presidential Obama was a college professor-type who shared the belief system of his liberalish set: that ending climate change and reducing nuclear weapons were worthy goals, that it was important to “reset” U.S. policy toward the Muslim world, that torture and assassination were bad things, that Canadian-style single-payer health insurance made sense, that whistle-blowing and freedom of the press should be protected, Congress should have a say in whether the executive puts the nation into war, and that government should support community development and empowering poor communities.


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Upon taking office, however, Obama—whatever his belief system at that point—found that he was unable to accomplish these goals for one basic reason: The president of the United States is far less powerful than media myth portrays. Domestic power really is in the hands of economic elites and their lobbyists, and foreign policy really is controlled by U.S. executive branch national security managers and a “military-industrial complex.” If a president supports their interests, as did Bush in invading Iraq, he or she can do a lot of damage. But, absent a crisis, a president who opposes these elites—as Obama discovered when he tried in the fall of 2009 to get the military to offer him an alternative to an Afghanistan troop surge—is relatively powerless.

Whether a Ronald Reagan expanding government and running large deficits in the 1980s despite his stated belief that government was the problem, or a Bill Clinton imposing a neoliberal regime impoverishing hundreds of millions in the Third World in the 1990s despite his rhetorical support for helping the poor, anyone who becomes president has little choice but to serve the institutional interests of a profoundly amoral and violent executive branch and the corporations behind them.

The U.S. executive branch functions to promote its version of U.S. economic and geopolitical interests abroad—including engaging in massive violence which has killed, wounded or made homeless more than 21 million people in Indochina and Iraq combined. And it functions at home to maximize the interests of the corporations and individuals who fund political campaigns—today supported by a U.S. Supreme Court whose politicized decision to expand corporations’ control over elections has made a mockery of the very notion of “checks and balances.” The executive branch’s power extends to the mass media, most of whose journalists are dependent on executive information leaks and paychecks from increasingly concentrated media corporations. They thus serve executive power far more than they challenge it.

No one more demonstrates what happens to a human being who joins the executive branch than Hillary Clinton, a former peace movement supporter whose 1969 Wellesley commencement address stated that “our prevailing, acquisitive, and competitive corporate life is not the way of life for us. We’re searching for more immediate, ecstatic and penetrating modes of living”; praised “a lot of the New Left [that] harkens back to a lot of the old virtues”; and decried “the hollow men of anger and bitterness, the bountiful ladies of righteous degradation, all must be left to a bygone age.” Clinton the individual served on the board of the Children’s Defense Fund, promoted helping the poor at home and Third World women abroad and at one point was even often compared to Eleanor Roosevelt.

Although her transformation began once she decided to try to become president, it became most visible after she joined the executive branch as secretary of state. The former peace advocate has now become a major advocate for war-making, a scourge of whistle-blowers and a facilitator of Israeli violence.

But while rich and powerful elites have always ruled in America, their power has periodically been successfully challenged at times of national crisis: the Civil War, the Progressive era, the Depression. America is clearly headed for such a moment in the coming decade, as its economy continues to decline due to a parasitic Wall Street, mounting debt, strong economic competitors, overspending on the military, waste in the private health care sector and elites declaring class war against a majority of Americans.

Naomi Klein has written penetratingly of “Disaster Capitalism,” which occurs when financial and corporate elites benefit from the economic crises they cause. But the reverse has also often proved true: a kind of “Disaster Progressivism” often occurs when self-interested elites cause so much suffering that policies favoring democracy and the majority become possible.

The United States will clearly face such a crisis in the coming decade. It is understandable that many Americans will want to focus on re-electing Obama in 2012. Although Democrats and the country would have been better off if McCain had won in 2008, this is not necessarily true if a Republican wins in 2012—especially if the GOP nominates Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann.

But however important the 2012 election, far more energy needs to be devoted to building mass organizations that challenge elite power and develop the kinds of policies—including massive investment in a “clean energy economic revolution,” a carbon tax and other tough measures to stave off climate change, regulating and breaking up the financial sector, cost-effective entitlements like single-payer health insurance, and public financing of primary and general elections—which alone can save America and its democracy in the painful decade to come.

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By Cliff Carson, July 30, 2011 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

I truly believe that had McCain been elected, the Republican Party would have been a Dead Party walking.

Obama was the perfect strawman for transference of blame.  But Shenonymous is somewhat correct.

The common man would be swimming in the blood in the streets and yes the 1% would be off wherever they chose to be.

Probably China since it will be the next great power as our mortally wounded Nation slowly expires.

They would be there playing the money game and if the Chinese aren’t any smarter than Americans they would also be doomed to repeat America’s experience.

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By Shenonymous, July 20, 2011 at 7:13 am Link to this comment

If a frog had wings, it wouldn’t bump its ass.

The ramifications would have been thunderous.  Most Americans
would be dead.  The 1%ers however would be thriving.

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By CJ, July 19, 2011 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment

This by Branfman is one of the best, if not the best, recaps of the Obama period
and style I’ve read anywhere. Exactly on target, particularly regarding the actual
lack of power any president possesses. (Which is not excuse for Obama, who’s
had his opportunities, kinda.)

Nader called him a “coward” this morning on Democracy Now with reference to
his failure to back Warren, among other things. A month or two ago, Sy Hersh
reported on the same program that Obama’s been captured by the military,
also true I think, and along the same lines as Branfman’s and Nader’s thinking.

Does the president know how miserably he’s failed, or does he not regard any
of it as failure? Probably not anymore than does Clinton, whom I can’t believe
was ever compared to Eleanor Roosevelt. But nice commencement speech. A
shame none of these people ever means what they say, but insofar as they write
or speak the words do know perfectly well that they’ve become sell-outs of
their own principles.

There’s no action on the part of a human being worse than that kind of selling
out. There’s no excuse of passion, there’s only calculation, John Dean’s “Blind
Ambition.” Obama is blind ambition, I think, nothing more. Whatever words are
necessary in the interest of getting ahead he’ll say with a talent for oratory
sadly wasted. He’s in the Bill and Hillary mold that way, what appears to have
become the Democratic Party mold but for a few exceptions.

In that sense, Democrats are even worse than Republicans. Pathetically worse,
like Labor in Israel. Now you see it, now you don’t. It was never there, not even
intent. Those who voted for Obama (I did not) are left to speculate on the truck
that just ran them down.

Obama’s presently working on another give-away to the tea party types,
actually a front for big biz. He was first captured by big biz, and then by the
military. Naturally—practically by definition—big biz continues to claim to he’s
anti-them. He’s not, never was. (Not that Wall Streeters are any too bright, nor
so clever. They’re just wealthy, which does not signal intelligence. Usually on
the contrary, especially among the petite bourgeois.)

Branfman’s conclusion is interesting, maybe the case, “disaster progressivism.”
Not too sure about that. America is on the way down, rather unlike pre-WWII,
obviously now with far more military might than then. So what? That’s useless,
all the more so when militarism results in or, rather, takes the place of social

These people in charge, whether out front as pols or behind the scenes as
CEOs/board members and large shareholders, are a dangerous lot willing to
sacrifice possibly their own children for the cause, which is building walls to
protect themselves from the world at large. Insecurity is what motivates. 9/11
was perfect for them, which is one reason some believe it was the outcome of
conspiracy. Easy to see it that way, though hardly likely.

Which doesn’t mean the event wasn’t immensely useful for elites, for whom
political affiliation hardly matters, so long as class division is forever secured.
Whether bright or not, they DO know the score, as Vidal used to note. Hell, they
keep the score.

Obama’s blind ambition was to join in, and at that he’s succeeded very nicely.
And for that, no matter what else, he ought be sent packing come next year.
Maybe that will contribute to something like “disaster progressivism, albeit at
terrible, and even worse, unnecessary—compared to what could have been—

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By Peetawonkus, July 19, 2011 at 7:30 am Link to this comment

I voted for Obama. But then after eight years of Bush
I would have voted for a monkey wearing a fez and a
sequined vest if that was who was running against a
Republican. And let’s call that Republican “McCain.”

This article is basically the argument that the
Democratic Party is better at being the outsider than
the insider because being the outsider makes you
stronger. The argument is cinched with the statement
“...a kind of “Disaster Progressivism” often occurs
when self-interested elites cause so much suffering
that policies favoring democracy and the majority
become possible.” This resembles the old Trotskyist
arguments: let’s work to get the worst possible
people elected because if things get bad enough then
the conditions for revolution will become actualized.
This is rather like shooting yourself in the foot to
get over cancer.

But sooner or later the outsiders have to sieze the
day. This is precisely where the Democrats fell to
pieces. A Democrat in the White House and both the
Senate and House of Representatives strongly in the
Democrat camp—and still the Democratic Party
couldn’t get anything done. Two years of Democrats
versus Democrats and a great deal of that was (is)
Obama’s fault for failing to provide leadership and
vision. At this time in American history We
desparately needed an FDR—and got Millard Fillmore.

The Democratic Party lacks a coherent political
vision. Much has been made of the fault lines inside
the Republican Party but the Democratic Party has its
fissures as well. One smallist group of Democrats
represents its Liberal and Progressive wing and the
rest are essentially Republicans of the Jack
Kemp/George Bush Sr. variety. Obama is of the latter.
One useful point this article tries to make is that
regardless of who is President, the same elites still
dictate the overall shape of American policy. In
other words, essentially Obama IS McCain—without the

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By tedmurphy41, July 19, 2011 at 1:48 am Link to this comment

President Obama, although a great disappointment to many of his supporters, is not a one-man band.
The Democratic party make-up, including Hilary Clinton and the entourage making up the rest of his team hold much of the responsibility for the way this party performs, down to those Democratic representatives around the States of the Country.
Radical policies, which could transform the fortunes of the general American population, are not being implemented, and any that may have potential are watered down before introduction, to such an extent as to be ineffective, but the financial and corporate interests are still able to keep their positions of unjustifiably unfettered power and prestige, which is not and has not been addressed by this President or, perhaps, the truth of the matter is that he is prevented from doing so by his “trusty advisors”.

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By ocjim, July 18, 2011 at 9:21 pm Link to this comment

Fred, your arguments are seductive for progressives who are bitterly disappointed with Obama, but specious just the same. After the 8-year nightmare of George W. Bush and with the miscreant Republicans showing up to thwart every move back to a country with a heart, I don’t give much credence to any emotional argument.

The bottom line is that the people are so ignorant that they keep electing ignorant creeps like the 60 Tea Party Republicans in the House and some 50 more that left their ethics and morality at home, not to speak of radical right-wing governors.

There is not much hope that people are going to permanently wise up any time soon, especially with the conservative focus on dumbing down people in every way.

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By Williemc1, July 18, 2011 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ok, I’m an outright lefty! But this is pure B.S. The Democratic party is stronger for
the election of Obama not weaker. If Bombomb McCain had become president
absolutely no health care reform would have been attempted and social security
would be under attack from two ends of the Capital. Nader was correct if the
Democrats could not win this last time they should fold their tent and slink off in
to the setting sun.
The ignorant mistake most people make is believing there will be some great shift
in foreign policy. Naaa! That is all Pollyanna horse pucky. Unfortunately the left
has not learned anything in thirty years beyond “yes but.”

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By diamond, July 18, 2011 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

“Having been fired in the crucible of human suffering, and living to tell about it, such a trial could not help but have an effect on someone- “what’s the worst that they can do to me?”

Maybe so. But that didn’t stop him knocking a man in a wheelchair on to the floor in his rush to escape families of soldiers still missing in action in Vietnam. He lost his temper big time and after giving vent to his rage and impatience with the huddled masses he fled the scene. I wouldn’t trust McCain with a piggy bank, let alone an entire economy. And I wouldn’t trust Palin with a pet pig, whether it was wearing lipstick or not.

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By Night-Gaunt, July 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment

I disagree in just one small area, that Obama couldn’t be a willing participant and that his Liberal act was just a pose. That somewhere in his life he was turned to the corporate fascist way. Just like Hillary was. The fact that Obama didn’t even try to fight for any kind of gov’t back up for health coverage says volumes. He didn’t try. Then he got angry at his base for mentioning it? Liberal? Neo-Liberal is what he is. Just a DINO but really part of the crypto-fascists, whether he knows it or not, that want to bring down the rest of our Republic but the death of a thousand cuts. (Read Naomi Wolf about how other countries went down the road from more liberal to authoritarian in stages from Germany to Argentina to Russia.) And its working too. I wonder just how much worse it would have been? I’m betting it wouldn’t have been much worse or even slightly better. Not for the GWOT but for us, maybe.

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By morongobill, July 18, 2011 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment

I can’t help but wonder if the “Maverick” McCain as president might have forcefully objected at some point to the bankster takeover of this country.

Having been fired in the crucible of human suffering, and living to tell about it, such a trial could not help but have an effect on someone- “what’s the worst that they can do to me?”

And who else would be better to address the torture issue?

The current occupant of the oval office on the other hand(who I did vote for) is untested in any real and significant way, and obviously is totally lacking in negotiating savvy, unless as some have said he is channeling his inner Herbert Hoover, seemingly determined to out- republican the republicans.

In hindsight, perhaps as the article suggests we might have been better off as a party with McCain.

In response to the coming attacks, I flat out don’t believe anything McCain/Palin would have done could be any worse than what this so called liberal demokratic administration has perpetrated upon the world and upon the american public.

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By i, July 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Had McCain won, we’d have the prospect of a President Palin in 2015 with control of nuclear weapons.

Seriously, this had to be avoided at ANY cost.

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By EmileZ, July 18, 2011 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

@ BobZ

Obama, McCain, or Palin there is a militarist in office. That we can say for absolutely sure at the very least.

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By BobZ, July 18, 2011 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment

Well for starters there would be no health care or financial reform had McCain
won. And what if McCain dropped dead and Palin became president. That one risk
alone was reason enough to vote for Barack Obama. There would also be no
consumer protection bureau or progress on women’s right or repeal of DADT. And
McCain just might have gotten us into another war with an attack on Iran. No
thanks, we don’t need another militarist in office.

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By EmileZ, July 18, 2011 at 6:47 am Link to this comment

I have been thinking along those same lines for a long time now, but at least now we know that there is no cheap easy way to change things (even a little).

Perhaps we should give up entirely on presidential politics and concentrate exclusively on influencing the congress. I dunno!!! It would certainly be a more democratic grassroots approach. Even in writing that, I feel like an unrealistic naive utopian idealist. AAARGH!!!

Did Pelosi try to impeach Bush??? NO!!!

However, after the global financial crisis fiasco, with McCain in office, a great many more people might have not only “woken up”, but gotten pissed off enough to organize. Obama’s victory, in effect lulled us into a hopefull stupor, then distracted us with his bullshit healthcare plan, then came the Bi-partisan deficit commission, which is playing out now.

The mainstream media really dictates our reality. We still have ASSHOLE business leaders on the sunday shows farting about the uncertainty of regulation and the uncertainty of demand in between Boeing commercials telling us “why we’re here”.

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By Bruce, July 18, 2011 at 3:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If McCain had won… that would have been depressing.  One thing you could be certain of, the Truthdig nasal gazers would still be very very unhappy.

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By ??????, July 18, 2011 at 2:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If..? it really dont intersting.
McCain didnt win !

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By christian96, July 18, 2011 at 1:19 am Link to this comment

DaveZx3—-Your words sound like you know the Bible.
Then, you know about the beast in Revelation 13 which
requires people to take a mark before they buy or
sell.  Without the mark you won’t be able to buy or
sell.  If you take the mark you will be denied
entrance into the kingdom of God.  Jesus told us our
enemies are not flesh and blood but spiritual.  Someone spiritual wants your worship.  Since he
tempted Jesus in the wilderness that spiritual
character who wants to be worshipped is Satan or
Devil.  This move towards a one world government
with a one world currency apppears to be setting up
the world to accept the mark of the beast somewhere
down the line.  This will occur before Christ defeats
Satan and sets up his eternal kingdom on earth with
peace and no war.  We apppear to be getting very close to the mark of the beast.  I thought it might
come out of America but as the American Empire seems
to be crumbling I believe the mark of the beast may
come out of the European Union.  If so, I hope America can remain independent of the one world gov’t
and monetary systems set up by the European Union.

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By NZDoug, July 18, 2011 at 12:01 am Link to this comment

If the Republicans got in, surely we would have robot AIRCRAFT ON OUR HOME
BORDERS, defending homeland security against the teaming hords of drug addled
refuges jumping the Taco Curtain….

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By DaveZx3, July 17, 2011 at 11:53 pm Link to this comment

Another one of those republican vs. democrat articles which Truthdig is committed to push constantly to ensure the rabble are forever roused. 

What is the purpose of this intense desire amongst the media to convey the idea that average Americans are severely divided along partisan lines regarding the larger issues?  The way the media manipulates this division is so obvious, it’s pathetic to observe. 

Some recent polling techniques have shown that average republicans and democrats are not that divided on the really big issues, like debt, jobs, war, love of America, etc.  In spite of this, there is this portrayal by the media and government types that there is a “to the death” battle going on between average republicans and democrats.
To whatever extent this may actually be happening, it is because it has been fabricated and manipulated for a purpose, in my opinion.

I think it is all part of the globalist’s desire to destroy America because of the threat she poses to their global empire agenda.  They manipulate everything else to push this agenda.

I am not saying that there are not a significant number of ultra-wealthy and other, not-so-wealthy, kiss-ass, so-called Americans that are part of this globalist scheme, but it is not basically an American effort, actually much more an anti-American, anti-British, anti-Israeli effort.

I would actually have to portray the real division as one of Christian vs. Anti-Christian, with Israel being included in the Christian group, mainly due to the fact that Christ was a Jew.  Catholics are not necessarily included in the Christian group, due to their significant anti-Christian traditions, but not to say there are not some individual Catholics who are true Christians in their heart, which is to say, people who do not hate, do not kill, do not fight, and they love their neighbor as themselves. 

There are Christian repubs and Christian dems, and these people do have some minor disagreements, but nothing which would cause intense hatred.  The divisions are complicated by the fact that many of the anti-Christian numbers masquerade as Christians, consciously or subconsciously. 

But wherever you see intense hatred and bitter arguing, it is most likely that Christ is the source of the division.  Christ is the great divider, and always has been.  He is the true source of all political polarity.

Though the words of The Lord’s Prayer, “thy kingdom come” are definitely political words, Americans pretend to have separation of Christ and state, for fear of offending the anti-Christians, who would have major problems if Christ returned as king of the world.  Where would that leave their global empire?   

It is unfortunate that so many of those who intensely argue for Christ show this hateful, anti-Christian element of their personality.  This also makes it hard to tell who is who. 

You would think that Americans would unite to save America, but somehow, I think this is not going to happen, because so many have been deceived into hating America and each other, basically for what a mostly un-American bunch have been guilty of.  It is all so complicated.

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By SteveL, July 17, 2011 at 9:06 pm Link to this comment

We would have had silly Sarah Louise Palin as Vice President.

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By OldUncleDave, July 17, 2011 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment

The reason a McCain presidency would look so much like the Obama presidency is because the gov’t of the us serves the owners, not the people.  If Obama dared to be his own man, the owners would have him removed like the last president we had who dared to challenge the power of the MIC.

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By christian96, July 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm Link to this comment

Diamond—-Amen!  You are 100 per cent correct.  I
wasn’t going to vote in this coming election but
after reading your comments I’ve decided to vote
democratic.  I just wish we could find enough
democrats with the backbone to stand up to the
wealthy Christian Republican bullies. Of course,
I’m being “facetious” when I call the Republicans
Christian.  They are about as much a Christian as
I am a nuclear physicist and I “ain’t” no nuclear

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By Cynthia, July 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Do you mind if I call you Fred?

“...If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And - which is more - you’ll be a Man my son! ”  Rudyard Kipling

If you gave more thought to what a McCain-Palin* administration would do to this country, you would not have hit save/send/publish. 


*McCain:  maverick, maniacal, mercurial
*Palin:  dangerous, deluded, deranged.

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By LocalHero, July 17, 2011 at 4:11 pm Link to this comment

All these insufferable bastards are War Pigs.

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By Allan Krueger, July 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment

Obama won and we (the people) lost!

If McCain would have won, we (the people) would have lost!

In 2011, for the Republicans to try and paint themselves as physical conservatives is fucking ridiculous!

However, Murdoch and the rest of the MSM are controlling what the Dancing With The Stars crowd sees and hears!

In other words friends, we are fucked!

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By diamond, July 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm Link to this comment

Amen to all that ITW. You’re absolutely right. The entire mess that Obama has inherited was created by the Republicans. In 1997 Bill Clinton signed a balanced budget for the first time in a generation and the debt clock was turned off and covered up. Clinton’s plan (and Paul Volker’s) would have created surpluses for the next 25 years. The Bush administration not only put the budget back in deficit but they doubled the deficit over their term of office by cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans and fighting wars of choice. Ronald Reagan did the same thing through the eighties, so when he left office the debt had risen to $4 trillion.

To put this in perspective, after World War II, US debt was $200 billion. After the War of Independence it was $75 million which was quickly paid down and in 1835 America had no debt. But then 1861-1865 came the Civil War which pushed US debt to $1 billion for the first time in US history. However it was Reagan who really did the damage, leaving a multiple trillion dollar debt by giving constant tax cuts to the wealthy and fighting wars of choice, not necessity. The Republicans always hand their disasters to the Democrats and then they use every trick and lie they can to blame the Democrat for what they themselves have created.

The Treasury Secretary in the Bush administration, Paul O’Neill, made the mistake of saying, in 2002, that giving yet another tax cut to the rich might not be a good idea. For this he was fired and as Dick Cheney was firing him he said, ‘We don’t need to worry about deficits’. O’Neill was so appalled he immediately got in his car and drove away and left them to it. And they don’t need to worry about deficits, do they? No, Roosevelt, Carter, Clinton and Obama need to worry about those, don’t they? And they have to fix it while the Republicans gnaw on their ankles like rabid dogs and throw every spanner in the works that they can lay their irresponsible hands on. To call the Republicans economic sociopaths is letting them off the hook and since McCain is a Republican his election would have been a continuation of an unmitigated disaster and would have helped no one, especially American voters. If you get a chance watch a documentary called ‘I.O.U.S.A’ which is an eye opener to say the least.

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By blogdog, July 17, 2011 at 11:45 am Link to this comment

RE: “McCain DIDN’T win!” Right, and neither did the Puppet POTUS. As usual, he
was installed; as usual recycled Plutocrats appointed; as usual the Global Finance
Oligarchy served; as usual their hegemonic Global War OF Terror advanced.

What to do? Short of wholesale criminal investigations, indictments, prosecutions,
penalties, incarcerations, executions… nothing much will change. Demand
transparent legal remedies and hope the legal team is untouchable.

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By christian96, July 17, 2011 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

IF?  IF my aunt had balls she would be my uncle.
McCain DIDN’T win!

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By Tex Shelters, July 17, 2011 at 10:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I wrote about this last November.

A McCain Presidency would have been better for the Democratic party.

But perhaps it was time the Democratic Party’s true colors, or at least the
conservative leanings of many or it’s members in Congress in nationally, was

Check out my post on the matter.

Tex Shelters

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By Beltwaylaid, July 17, 2011 at 7:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If the Reprehensible Party ticket had won in 2010 we’d all be SO focused on Sara and her charge of brats.

Wingman John would now know a crash he will not survive.

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By upgradeyourlife, July 17, 2011 at 7:21 am Link to this comment

There should be less attention paid to who is president, this isn’t a monarchy. But it would be a start if people would stop voting for the two parties, at least that would show a lack of faith in the system. Until that comes I can’t see people getting serious about changing the government, at least until there is a catastrophe.

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By RayLan, July 17, 2011 at 7:18 am Link to this comment

Obama is a corporate bitch, McCain is a corporate pitbull.

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By jmndodge, July 17, 2011 at 6:24 am Link to this comment

The basic premise seems to be, there isn’t much difference between what Bush started and Obama has continued, therefore the democratic opposition voice has been silenced and this has resulted in a weakening of the liberal position and greater right wing political power moving toward the corporation and elite.  While it is hard to argue against this dangerous movement of power and wealth to the corporation—the military industrial complex power surge, and the decline of jobs, as well as social support systems, it is far more difficult to assume that these changes would be do worse under different leadership.  The reality is that we can’t really know what would have happened.  Far more important is actually communicating the danger of our present situation. Do we no longer remember the truth of the statement,  “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”  This of course applies to the president, the chief justices, our elected officials,  but also extends to members of our society as a whole. Workers, teachers, parents, all must move beyond our prejudice, fear and greed and reclaim a passion for justice, freedom and hope.

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By falken751, July 17, 2011 at 6:16 am Link to this comment

I read this last night.
\“Obama Eliminates Warren as Consumer
Protection Agency Head\”.
I have been giving obama the benefit of
doubt, but now his true colors have come
out. He is a weasel, a lying weasel. He has
been giving in to the republicans and the
banks and wall street all this time, but
for me, this is the last straw. He has been
lying to us all this time. Warren is the
type of person I would like to see as
president, with high standards, someone
that talks straight, who doesn’t back down
to lying republicans and who would get
things done. I am so p—-ed off I cannot
even express myself properly.

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By Inherit The Wind, July 17, 2011 at 6:01 am Link to this comment

Too much importance is attributed to who names justices to the Supreme Court. Most of the harm done to the nation comes from the laws enacted by
legislators way before a case goes to the Supreme Court, and from the corruption of government agencies. Laws are not written or enforced by the S. Court.


Where have you been the last 55-60 years? Especially the last 8. The Bush appointees have opened the flood-gates to corrupting the political system, ruling that corporate donations to candidates cannot be regulated as it’s free speech (despite the fact that there’s ALWAYS a quid pro quo—the definition of corruption). 

They WILL overturn Roe v. Wade if it gets before them.  They have totally ignored the ancient tradition of Stere Decisis to forward the TeaParty agenda.

They recently ruled that Texas state law to execute a Mexican citizen supersedes a ratified treaty, recklessly endangering ALL our treaties, which, for over 220 years had the force of Constitutional Law.

The last time the Court was so biased they made decisions favoring the South that led to the Civil War.

The Court’s ruling reverberate for decades and longer.  Legislation can be repealed or ruled Unconstitutional, but Court decisions are virtually IMPOSSIBLE to overrule until the Court itself overrules it.  Stere Decisis is the rule that says “we” (the Court) don’t change previous decisions unless we find there were serious problems with the legal foundation of that ruling.  This Court has no such compunctions. 
They rule for the State over the citizen every time.
They rule for the Corporation over the citizen every time.
They rule for the Corporation over the State every time.
The Constitution, the Law, and Legal precedent are irrelevant to them.  THIS is the legacy of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.

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By Jaded Prole, July 17, 2011 at 5:41 am Link to this comment

The primary difference, had McCain won, is that the liberal/progressive opposition would have been much stronger than it presently is. Unfortunately we will not be able to unite behind even the bast possible progressive alternative because a significant percent of us will insist on supporting Obama against whoever the Teapublicans run against him. Personally, I’ll probably write in Bernie Sanders because I will not vote for another corporate stooge for President.

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By blogdog, July 16, 2011 at 11:44 pm Link to this comment

I know serious responsible liberals who feel so betrayed they report that they’ll
never vote again - Obomber has succeeded in essentially cutting the political
heart and soul from such folks.

Against McCain anti-war fervor would have reached fever pitch - now its virtually
residual, as the empire expands to 6 wars and declares carte blanch freedom to
shoot on sight and bomb with impunity any so-called ‘suspected’ terrorist or
terrorist enclave - and where’s the protest?

The Left Cover for uninterrupted advance of the globalists’ hegemonic agenda for
which he was hand-picked and tasked to achieve, he has done while merely
stirring the infighting among the underclasses - finally, it really is Mission

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By gerard, July 16, 2011 at 9:54 pm Link to this comment

Branfman presumes that: —“anyone who becomes president has little choice but to serve the institutional interests of a profoundly amoral and violent executive branch and the corporations behind them.” This is true to a point, but not ultimately, when and if push comes to shove and the executive finds it necessary, in order to “do right by” the country, he/she has to push aside the pressures of re-election and expediency and chose to lay out the best possible road ahead. (Obama faced a situation of political and moral devolution which had gone far beyond “compromising.”) 

Every President has the “bully pulpit” at any time to go before the people and propose and advocate people-oriented solutions to the country’s problems based on reason and tradition—two of the most potent persuaders in politics. He has powerful sources of information and tradition to support him in his advocacy.  If he doesn’t use them, no one else can -and it is unlikely noone else will try.
The vacuum is then taken up by fear-mongers and demagogues.

At a time when the country is facing a number of serious moral dilemmas (highly mechanized wars of choice with dubious aims, use of torture, excessive surveillance, failure of fair distribution of wealth, and massive disinformation) if the President does not speak out strongly and present a reasonable moral pathway ahead, no one can do it for him.  And chances are, no one will.

What else is a President for?

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By Mo Rage, July 16, 2011 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sure, it’s easier to be more solidified if you have an enemy, as we’ve found now that the Soviet Union has long ago fallen apart—we’ve taken to attacking each other, Americans, instead of “Communism”.  But the fact is, besides health care reform, we’ve gotten more than at least 114 different things from this Obama administration that we absolutely wouldn’t have gotten with a McCain (shudders) administration.

Could we get better?  Maybe.  Possibly.  But possibly not, too.  President Obama has pushed for a great deal, poor negotiator or no, and they already thought he was “Satan”, the devil incarnate, the “anti-Christ” (I saw a Tea Party sign/poster saying as much) and “Communist” and “Socialist”.  He can only go so far and the rest of the country does have to go along with him, you know.

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By PatrickHenry, July 16, 2011 at 5:56 pm Link to this comment

If pigs had wings they’d be eagles.

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By cnico, July 16, 2011 at 5:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Oh yes… And Mr. Branfman…

excellent premise for an article… well done… nothing could lay out Obama’s
straying from the course more clearly.

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By MeHere, July 16, 2011 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment

Although it was obviously impossible to predict what would have happened if
McCain had won, Obama voters were also unable to predict that their candidate
would turn out the way he did.  A minority of voters predicted they wouldn’t be
represented by Obama and the Democrats or by Republicans so they didn’t vote
for either of them.

Branfman’s article does a good job at pointing out how little can be expected
from the two parties. It’s almost as if when anything good happens is due to pure chance.

Too much importance is attributed to who names justices to the Supreme
Court. Most of the harm done to the nation comes from the laws enacted by
legislators way before a case goes to the Supreme Court, and from the
corruption of government agencies. Laws are not written or enforced by the S.

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By cnico, July 16, 2011 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@copeland… simply stunning writing… and sadly so true…

“He is the
overseer on the plantation of disaster capitalism. He is the very oiliness of the
surveillance state. His words have become the seamless articulation of a
transformation in our society in which we all learn to get along with corporate
Obama is helping the republicans bury our birthright as citizens; and we should
look to our humanity before it is too late, to reject and resist this theft and this
cruel mutilation of our country, this fraud that demands that we become
oblivious to crime as they are, and forfeit self-respect.”

The first two sentences are so right on… I am crying.  The last time I cried over
politicians was W during the Iraq war. 

It is all so tragic… this gentle slide into complete dominance by the monied

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By Memory Stick, July 16, 2011 at 5:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And how did these magnificent “liberals” Kagan and Sotomeyer vote on the recent case regarding warrantless searches?

“In an 8-1 decision [PDF], the nation’s highest court said the warrantless search of an apartment in Lexington, Kentucky was legal because of “exigent circumstances,” which permits law enforcement officers to conduct a warrantless search if there is a strong likelihood of destruction of evidence.”

this bs is beyond absurd at this point.

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By gerard, July 16, 2011 at 5:11 pm Link to this comment

Cheers for Copeland.  I couldn’t say it as well:

“In the everyday function of the Empire, life becomes cheap, becomes
coarsened, wherever and in whomever it can colonize itself.  Obama is the
steward of authoritarianism and the salesman of robotic warfare. He is the
overseer on the plantation of disaster capitalism. He is the very oiliness of the
surveillance state. His words have become the seamless articulation of a transformation in our society in which we all learn to get along with corporate governance.
“Obama is helping the republicans bury our birthright as citizens; and we should look to our humanity before it is too late, to reject and resist this theft and this cruel mutilation of our country, this fraud that demands that we become oblivious to crimes as they are, and forfeit self-respect.”

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By diamond, July 16, 2011 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

Oh, of course. It would have been so much better for everyone if a man who sang ‘Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran’ for a joke became president. And can you imagine how he would have dealt with the global financial crisis? Doesn’t actually bear thinking about that this grotesque old fascist could actually have been president. Just watch the behaviour of the Republicans over lifting the debt ceiling and raising taxes and their total lack of responsibility towards their fellow Americans and you can get a pretty good idea of how big a bullet America dodged when this idiot and his fellow idiot Sarah ‘Undefeated’ Palin didn’t get the gig.

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By LT, July 16, 2011 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When are the self-described Progressives and liberals (and not neo-liberals) going to realize the Democratic Party is trying to purge them?

(But don’t mind squeezing money and passion from them)

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By Michael, July 16, 2011 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Democrats might even have achieved the long-desired 60 percent majority needed to kill the filibuster in one or both houses.”

There is no filibuster in the House.

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By Don, July 16, 2011 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

First part of your article was right on then you lost
all moral courage when one, you said he found
presidency is not as powerful as one would think, au
contraire, it is tremendously powerful when someone
with beliefs and guts uses it, and you after one page
of telling us what the Obama is really like trying to
justify because he was a professor of sorts had all
these great libertarian ideals when he had no such at
all. How do you account for his not rescinding the
Patriot Act. get a life, this man is a right wing big
business monster. How would he feel if Pakistan
dropped a Drone on his daughters as he does nightly.
Monster is too nice a word for this psychopath.

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By Alan, July 16, 2011 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yeah, so how the hell is it that there’s been no
movement for an alternative Dem candidate for 2012?
Obama is more Republican than Clinton, and Clinton was a card carrying Republican (he only showed his party
card at fundraisers)

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By Copeland, July 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment

In Obama the republicans have a willing collaborator. The republicans’ main
disadvantage has been their crudeness, their blundering and lack of
sophistication. But in contrast to them, Obama has the surgical skill to prevail
and more effectively serve the interests of the elites than they can. He fully
utilized the myth-making power of the media that Branfman writes about. The
president’s methods are indeed sophisticated; but the election of someone like
him is proof of the corruption of the system and the psychological vulnerability
and exhaustion of voters. Branfman is also correct in observing that those who
are embraced by the executive branch, and lust after its impunity and raw
power over life and death, are visibly coarsened and undergo a severe decline
of their humanity.

In the everyday function of the Empire, life becomes cheap, becomes
coarsened, wherever and in whomever it can colonize itself.  Obama is the
steward of authoritarianism and the salesman of robotic warfare. He is the
overseer on the plantation of disaster capitalism. He is the very oiliness of the
surveillance state. His words have become the seamless articulation of a
transformation in our society in which we all learn to get along with corporate governance.

Obama is helping the republicans bury our birthright as citizens; and we should look to our humanity before it is too late, to reject and resist this theft and this cruel mutilation of our country, this fraud that demands that we become oblivious to crime as they are, and forfeit self-respect.

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By Lori Wallace, July 16, 2011 at 11:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I also agree with Not One More AND I would like to point out that there is no way in hell that Palin would have been muzzled by President John McCain.  She has proven over and over again that she is physically and mentally incapable of being muzzled.  And that for me is a good enough reason not to entertain the rest of your “If” thesis.

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By ribbie149, July 16, 2011 at 9:42 am Link to this comment

The premise of this article is completely flawed as are
its conclusions.  Can you imagine how much worse the
economy would have been with another do-nothing Herbert
Hoover presiding over it?  Criticisms of Obama are
certainly warranted, but this exercise in sophistry is

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By Karl, July 16, 2011 at 9:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Your point is excellent - Obama has done tremendous damage to Democrats by making Bush’s way, effectively the Democrats way. This is why I would take Bachmann over Obama. If we are going to get government of, by and for plutocrats, then we may as well have it associated with crazy people.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, July 16, 2011 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

“What If’s” are so nice, aren’t’ they?

What if TruthDig actually found decent and objective writers, instead of bozo writing “If” articles.

“If” McCain would have won the (s)election of Amerika, only the names, dates and slogans would have changed…. but the narrative, revision and policy would be the same.

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By Shorebreak, July 16, 2011 at 8:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In reality, President McCain probably would have suffered a incapacitating heart attack, or stroke, and Sarah Palen would have become President. In the end, we would have either all perished by now in a nuclear holocaust she precipitated or all be enslaved in concentration camps for thought crimes. No thanks.

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By phreedom, July 16, 2011 at 8:16 am Link to this comment

Thank You Fred,

Though in an insane culture it is considered quite odd, but I suspect many of us have considered, as a bizarre alternative to having elected Obama, to have conspired to make sure a nasty republican got elected so the full blame could rightfully be mustered against the bastards. And just as bizzarre-ly, we planned an democratic led assault, no holds barred, against a republican president sitting duck.

As long as the immense buffer of having the wrong party, the less guilty party in office, at the wrong, time prevails as a means to “bizzarre-ly, and it is bizzarre, well, to “bizzarre-ly” entrench and assure the status quo of economic inequality and political militarism remains in tact, and is furthermore, always strengthened, well it does seem electing a new party because of the failed policies and dubious intentions of the other, well, is useless and counter productive,,go figure??

What little I could absorb from my economic courses while I was at Tufts, in the day, and actually more in a frat at Tufts than at an institution of higher learning mind you, well, even I understood that in a system like ours, only a dreadful economic disaster,, combined with the results of a hugely resource eating, major military conflict that was riding piggy back, well, could cause the social and moral change required by most enlightened human beings.

People need to get, that what Bernanke, and crew meant, when they say they studied the last great depression, that they we authorities on it, experts on it, well, is that that they were determined to avoid the results of the last of the great depression, a result, that you point out was a good thing for the people.

There has never been any intention to avert an economic meltdown, only the intention and effort to avert a “better deal”, same as the “new deal”, but better. If you follow what has has happened, bailout, etc…, these were very smart strategies, based on lessons of the last great depression’s “results”, in terms of government assisting its’ citizenry in an uneven and stacked economic game, and furthermore, regulating that imbalance in an ongoing and perpetual manner so the game could not then be easily gamed by gaming the regulations.

Should we ask Obama to concede, and purposely hand over the republican problem to the republicans, in the form of the executive branch, the next election, so we can stage a righteous fight against the guilty at the scene of the crime? Sounds crazy?  Well, it should be considered, considering your insight Fred, or obvious articulation of our system’s state, a state of bizzarre-ness, keeping social and economic justice always just out of reach, by perpetrating impossible political paradoxes.

Boy, would it not have been great to see the energy wasted in the last election, in terms of those who voted democrat, well, to have utilized that energy instead in a real fight against those who have destroyed our country? Just imagine, a no holds barred fight, against those, who furthermore, have led us so far away from the possibility of true democracy and justice.

That all being said, it has been too long that this society has been without a hero that is in a position of power and influence, a hero who is willing to sacrifice their personal prospects and prosperity for the good of a nation people. Of course, a hero in our society is now defined as somewhat of an idiot, isn’t he, or mentally unreliable or unstable.

So many tangents this topic, this bizarre situation, beckons, but alas, I will stop myself there, and go back to knowing what must be done cannot be done,,, the American way of life, as we know it, what a way to go?, bizarre.

So again, bizarre-ly, Obama has no real excuse, once we collude that he does have an excuse we simply justify a system that is broken, or some may say “fixed”.

Time for a hero?

Rhuen Phreed
231 Park Drive, #40
Boston, MA

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By Rodney, July 16, 2011 at 7:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

With McCain and Palin, America would be back in the
1950’s with judges being appointed overturning every
civil rights law since slavery. The Republican
Governors that won became mini McCain’s and have
taken away women’s productive rights, voters
rights,and worker’s rights. McCain would be doing the
very same thing on the federal level.He and Palin
would have made Bush and Cheney look liberal. The
only rights anyone would have received would be the
cowboys and their gun rights. McCain would have bomb
bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran and had this nation on the
verge of World War 3 without paying for it. At least
Obama is trying to do what he campanged to do.
Attempting to heal the bipartisan rifts that exist
between the Democrats and Republicans. It is proving
very difficult when the Republican Party are filled
with birther tea bagging racists who question his
legitamacy and disrespect him as President of the
United States of America.

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By Dr Bones, July 16, 2011 at 7:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I recall Reid and Pelosi saying in 2006, if you give us the Senate and the House, we’ll end funding Bush Wars.  And then once we gave them Congress, Martha who had been crying about how Bush was breaking the back of military, became silent. 

Liars are pathetic so that is why politicians are less respected and trusted than prostitutes.

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By Inherit The Wind, July 16, 2011 at 6:01 am Link to this comment

I hate stupid articles like this that ignore the most obvious:

McCain would never have appointed Kagan and Sotomayor.

He would have appointed another Roberts and Alito and ANY hope of just USSC would be over for the next 30 years. Ginsburg may well retire this term or next, and then McCain would have had an 8th reactionary on the court.  It was such reactionaries with Dred Scott decisions and others that led us down the sink-hole to the Civil War.  And McCain’s appointments WELL might have been the match for a second civil war.

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By balkas, July 16, 2011 at 5:39 am Link to this comment

alas,supremacism [personal first of all, but also
others] is till with us and unchanged since it
first arose in egypt/mesopotamia.

this,the greatest evil that had befallen us thus
far had spawned other great evils:organized
religions, meritocracy,modern/ancient ‘nobility’.

for proof how evil just meritocracy is, just
remember wmd and global warming; each of
which may destroy much or all life on this

the cause for both these possible or even
ergodic events is meritocracy/supremacism. tnx

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By balkas, July 16, 2011 at 5:26 am Link to this comment

da,da,da! u can tell me uncle sam has two
agents to represent him: one much/completely
against him and the other much/comletely for
and two cias: one terrorizing the whole
nonwhite world and the other desperately
promoting peace/understanding and
interdependence on
personal,ethnic,imperial,cultural,and religious
levels. tnx

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By David J. Cyr, July 16, 2011 at 5:08 am Link to this comment

QUOTE, Fred Branfman:

“Furious debate rages among Obama’s Democratic critics today on why he has largely governed on the big issues as John McCain would have done. Some believe he retains his principles…”

Obama does still have the principles he had before becoming POTUS, and all those who voted for him still have the same principles that they had before the 2010 election. We can have no expectation that the next “most important election ever” might change the liberals’ principles.

The “Principles” of Liberal Voters

Democrats only exist to do what they’ve always done; to ensure that either none or the least possible change for good ever occurs.

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By monkeymind, July 16, 2011 at 4:30 am Link to this comment

“are traitors to our nation by their actions and deeds”

What Nation?
There is no nation left.

Ours is an era of structural crisis both caused by and leading towards new phase of capitalism characterized by: (1)stagnation in old economies like the US, (2) the drift to finance as the only tool for both growth and maintenance, (3) the unfettered movement of capital across borders to the extent that tax exempt corporations will dominate economies until the possibility of continued profit diminishes. Then the corporations will have to search for new markets for investment, outside their traditional fields of operation, leading to the takeover and privatization of key elements of the state economy. Tethers of interest laden finance, sown from corporate silos like IMF and World Bank, will require privatization on an unimagined scale rendering the once sovereign to a new debtor species.

Sadly, most of the “wills” above are ‘NOWS’.

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By Jeff Winchell, July 16, 2011 at 4:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The article seems about correct except for one dramatic omission - the Supreme Court.

There would have been 1 or 2 additional conservative judges on the court, Roe v Wade would already be overturned, and numerous much more conservative decisions would come from the court for at least a decade beyond his presidency.

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By Frosty46, July 16, 2011 at 3:17 am Link to this comment

I agree with “Not One Morel”  oh gosh sorry that was “Not One
More!” I forgot my glasses.  Wish folks would have the courage
to post with their true names rather than hide like little
frightened children—————-

Yes I agree with “Not One More!” except for one minor detail——
Republicans, and that’s everyone of them, are traitors to our
nation by their actions and deeds.

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By Shawn, July 16, 2011 at 1:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What a waste of time. The only “What If?” scenarios worth reading are those old
Marvel comics. Why dwell on something that we cannot change?

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Not One More!'s avatar

By Not One More!, July 16, 2011 at 12:47 am Link to this comment

While the scenario the author describes is accurate, that there is no significant difference between McCain’s policies and Obama’s; he fails to recognize that it isn’t just Obama who fails to protect the public trust.

Just about every democrat in the senate and congress fails us, just like their loud mouth republican colleagues. But the democrats are worse, they tell you that they are trying to protect you more then a republican. That is the great lie. They will, had, and are failing to protect the public trust.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool my over and over, call me a democratic party supporter.

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By thectw, July 16, 2011 at 12:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

the fact of the matter is that, at this point, even random acts of violence (within the US borders) should be tolerated and, frankly, encouraged. anthying else is just talk. i know many of these “elite,” and what they do most of the time, other than spend your money, is wonder, very honestly, why the masses do not revolt. they literally laugh at the non-revolt.

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