Sunday, October 19, 2008

McCain's Decision Making - Ignores Advice Like Bush

When evaluating someone’s decision making ability, there are a few things you can look for. How do they handle stress? Who do they look to for advice? When they get advice, do they take it under consideration? When advice comes in that challenges an individual’s existing views, is the information considered or just dismissed as out of hand? This last one is a biggie for me. All humans face the challenge of confirmation bias – or the propensity to seek out and only listen to information that confirms existing beliefs while dismissing anything that contradicts existing beliefs.

We’ve all been in this situation. You have a theory or an opinion about a particular topic. When you see information that supports your idea, you embrace it. When you see information that is counter to your beliefs, you keep looking until you find something new. Wikipedia has a decent discussion of the phenomenon here.

How does this impact the presidential race? Follow me below for a discussion of McCain’s response to recent criticism.

Over the summer, at the Faith Forum hosted by Rick Warren, John McCain was asked “Who were the three wisest people that you know that you would rely on heavily in an administration.” John McCain answered with the name John Lewis as follows:

I think John Lewis. John Lewis was at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Had his skill fractured. Continues to serve. Continues to have the most optimistic outlook about America. He can teach us all a lot about the meanings of courage and commitment to causes greater than ourself.

McCain also refered to Lewis in one of his books.
Last week John Lewis, commenting on some of the inflammatory remarks coming out of recent rallies, said this about John McCain’s campaign.

"What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse," Lewis said in a statement.

"During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama," wrote the Democrat.

How did McCain react? He issued this statement available on his website:

"Congressman John Lewis' comments represent a character attack against Governor Sarah Palin and me that is shocking and beyond the pale. The notion that legitimate criticism of Senator Obama's record and positions could be compared to Governor George Wallace, his segregationist policies and the violence he provoked is unacceptable and has no place in this campaign. I am saddened that John Lewis, a man I've always admired, would make such a brazen and baseless attack on my character and the character of the thousands of hardworking Americans who come to our events to cheer for the kind of reform that will put America on the right track.
"I call on Senator Obama to immediately and personally repudiate these outrageous and divisive comments that are so clearly designed to shut down debate 24 days before the election. Our country must return to the important debate about the path forward for America."

He then said this in the final presidential debate:

And the fact is, it's gotten pretty tough. And I regret some of the negative aspects of both campaigns. But the fact is that it has taken many turns which I think are unacceptable.
One of them happened just the other day, when a man I admire and respect -- I've written about him -- Congressman John Lewis, an American hero, made allegations that Sarah Palin and I were somehow associated with the worst chapter in American history, segregation, deaths of children in church bombings, George Wallace. That, to me, was so hurtful.

So, rather than consider the possibility that his conduct has been less than honorable, rather than considering the possibility that the message from John Lewis was spot on, John McCain rejected it as out of hand. Further, he stepped up his smear campaign by starting Robo Calls attacking Obama.

You can make your own judgment about the tone of McCain’s campaign. But, just today, another man who McCain claim’s to respect, call McCain out for his tactics while offering his support to Barack Obama:

This will give us another opportunity to see how McCain reacts to “advice” coming from people he claims to admire. My guess…he will continue to reject the advice when it flies in the face of his own views rather than give them the consideration they deserve. So far, I am afraid McCain continues to ignore the advice:

WALLACE: But senator, back, if I may, back in 2000 when you were the target of robo calls, you called these hate calls and you said —
McCAIN: They were.

WALLACE: And you said the following: "I promise you I have never and will never have anything to do with that kind of political tactic." Now you've hired the same guy who did the robocalls against you to, reportedly, to do the robocalls against Obama, and the Republican Sen. Susan Collins, the co-chair of your campaign in Maine, has asked you to stop the robocalls. Will you do that?

McCAIN: Of course not. These are legitimate and truthful and they are far different than the phone calls that were made about my family and about certain aspects that — things that this is — this is dramatically different and either you haven't — didn't see those things in 2000.

WALLACE: No, I saw them.

McCAIN: Or you don't know the difference between that and what is a legitimate issue, and that is Sen. Obama being truthful with the American people. But let me tell you what else I think you should be talking about and the American people should be talking about. In the debate the other night, I asked Sen. Obama to repudiate a statement made by John Lewis, a man I admire and respect and have written about that connected me and Sarah Palin —
WALLACE: This is the congressman, civil rights leader.

MCCAIN: Civil rights leader, American hero. That connected me and Sarah Palin to segregationists, to the campaign of George Wallace, and even alluded to the bombing of a church where four children, four children were killed, and I asked him to repudiate that statement. I have repudiated every statement made by any fringe person in the Republican Party. And it has come up from time to time, and it probably will. The fact that Sen. Obama would not repudiate that statement I think is something the American people will make a judgment about. That robocall is accurate. It’s totally accurate. And there is no comparison between it and the things that were done and said in South Carolina.

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