Musing with McCain: ‘If I were dictator…’

October 1, 2008

WASHINGTON – Sometimes it’s hard to tell when John McCain is joking.
Take his interview Tuesday with journalists at The Des Moines Register.
The Republican presidential candidate acknowledged the financial bailout measure before Congress was not perfect, but he said it was unacceptable to do nothing and admonished lawmakers for failing to pass a rescue plan.
Then, without cracking a smile or missing a beat, he added this little nugget: “I’m not saying this is the perfect answer. If I were dictator, which I always aspire to be, I would write it … a little bit differently.”
With the Treasury secretary likely to have a huge amount of power under any bailout scheme, McCain was asked what sort of person he was looking for to fill that job. He said Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson had been doing admirably.
“I think a person along Paulson’s lines,” McCain said. Given the fragility of Wall Street, he added, any candidate “probably has to have a sound grounding in the financial markets and that aspect of America’s economy.”
The Arizona senator said if elected he would recruit the brightest and the best for his Cabinet, Democrat or Republican, in government or in business.
“I’ll go out and ask them to serve the country for a dollar a year,” he said.
He mused aloud about who might be enticed into government service: billionaire Iowa businessman Warren Buffett, eBay founder Meg Whitman, or Fed-Ex chief Fred Smith.

McCain strongly objected when a questioner suggested his running mate, Sarah Palin, was not as experienced as others he named as potential government servants.
“She’s been a mayor. She’s been an overseer of billions — I don’t know how many billions of dollars of natural resources. She’s been a member of the PTA (Parent Teacher Association). She’s been a governor,” McCain said.
He express skepticism when told many people, including now some conservative Republicans, questioned her level of experience.
“Really? I haven’t detected that,” he said.
“Now, if there’s a Georgetown cocktail party person who quote calls himself a conservative and doesn’t like her, good luck, good luck, fine,” McCain added.
“I think that the American people have overwhelmingly shown their approval. Are there people who will be detractors of her? That’s fine. That’s fine. That’s what politics is all about.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder (McCain speaks at Truman Presidential Library  in Independence, Missouri, on Wednesday)


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Holy word bite! Sen. McCain said: “If I were dictator, which I always aspire to be, I would write it … a little bit differently.” he said it with a straight face. The next quote that surprised me: I watched the video, where Sen. McCain said, “when told many people, including now some conservative Republicans, questioned (Gov. Palin’s) level of experience.

“Really? I haven’t detected that,” he said.

I could hardly believe my ears.

Posted by J Anne Baker | Report as abusive

This past week, John McCain showed everyone willing to listen and see, that he
–is too slow on his feet, too petty, and too cranky to be running the USA,
–too hung up on military issues and the war in Iraq,
–completely clueless about the lives and plights of his own countrymen and -women,
–and completely oblivious to the fact that even his beloved military power is not sustainable if the US as a society falls behind our competitors around the world.

After all, this is the same McCain
-–who until a few days ago had stubbornly claimed the economy was “basically sound”,
-–whose chief economic advisor had mocked critics as “whiners”,
-–who for 26 years in Washington had pushed for deregulation of the very speculators, hedge-fund operators, and investment bankers responsible for this financial disaster, and
-–the same McCain who just days ago was hawking his intention as President to get rid of the last remaining protections put in place after the Great Depression.

In fact, if there’s one politician in Washington who over the last 26 years has done the most to pave the way for this meltdown, that politician would have to be John McCain.

In less than 6 weeks, we can put an end to this sickening era of Rove-style ploys, stunts, slime, sleaze, and culture wars, and begin the hard work of repairing the immense damage these thieves and scoundrels have done to our country and our people.

Americans – the future of our country hangs in the balance!

Please get registered to vote today!

Please plan and allocate time to vote on Election Day!


Posted by fbla1805 | Report as abusive

Speaking of Sarah Palin, there are two questions I’d like to see put to Ms. Palin during Thursday’s V.P. debate, or in her next interview (if she ever has another).

Actually, Gibson or Couric (let’s forget Murdoch’s “hired-hand Hannity”) should have already asked these questions:

1.) Why did you as mayor of Wasilla force female rape-victims reporting the crime to pay out of their own pocket for the forensic-kit and exam needed in the work-up (see NYT 9/26/08)?

2.) Was your policy of requiring rape-victims to pay for their own forensic exams a result of your publicly stated belief that even women who become pregnant as a result of rape should be required to carry that pregnancy to full term and birth?

I see no reason why Palin, as candidate for the office of Vice President of the USA, and with a 1 in 3 chance of taking over as President in the next 4 years, should continue to be shielded from answering these questions publicly.

Posted by fbla1805 | Report as abusive

If it was some Austrian politician making this rotten statement/joke(?), it would be all over the media, and he would be forced to clarify immediately. Oh ok, it’s just a U.S. presidential candidate.

Posted by AndyCam | Report as abusive

According to The Nation magazine, McCain and his top advisers have cultivated deep ties with Russia’s oligarchy while promoting the Kremlin’s geopolitical and economic interests.

Posted by politicjock | Report as abusive

Yeah, I choked when I watched this bit on the news. I was in shock and disbelief as he says with a straight face that he always aspires to be a dictator.

Mccain just gave every American the reason to NOT vote for him. He was very serious about his aspirations to be a dictator, and if a willing electorate gives him that opportunity we may just see it happen.

If we wish to continue to be a democratic nation, we as a people need to vote for Obama/Biden come election day.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

I hope we’re looking at the common perspective of a great leader / dictator / and somebody who can assure you of a good economy upfront.

CEO sells you confidence in your own country.

Posted by sanctuary | Report as abusive

I don’t know what he was talking about with the dictation remark, but John McCain was one of the few people who originally called for a BI-PARTISAN oversight board to oversee the 700 billion dollar rescue plan which many in congress were ready to pass in allowing the Bush administration and Paulson unfettered access to all that money (those are not the ideas or ambitions of a dictator). McCain also stated in the video above something similar to , “Paulson seems like a decent man but that is too much power for one man.” (Those are not the words of a man who believes in dictatorship)

People who know John McCain’s real record know that he has a stronger history of working across party lines than many other congressional members in the house and senate. He has hurt his career to also stand against not only the opposite party but also his own party when party greed and party narrow-mindedness have dominated against decency and open-mindedness.

Posted by CJ | Report as abusive

I’m sure the whole aspiring to be a dictator comment will get glossed over and ignored by the right wing nutters out there. But how can anyone vote for that man after hearing him say that.

It’s not a gaffe, it’s not a mistake, he said it plain as day and didn’t bat an eye. The man aspires to be a dictator, words from his own mouth, yet his supporters rally around him saying that’s not what he meant.

If he didn’t mean it, why’d he himself say it?

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

The scary part is that he didn’t even back track and try to explain what he meant by the dictator comment. He actually thinks its just FINE that he wants to be dictator.

Posted by JD | Report as abusive

And speaking of dictating, don’t forget what Obama said at the presidential debate:

when McCain confronted the nation once again at the presidential debate about the earmark and pork barrel project spending problem and vowed to continue working to end earmark spending in Washington. Obama responded by admitting earmarks were a problem but Obama’s response implied that his solution to earmarks is not to stop the process but that as he explicitly stated, he (Obama) will go through final legislation and weed out what he decides is wise to spend money and what is not. Instead of fixing the system and allowing votes on government financing as individual legislation, Obama said HE will decide. Not the people, not the representatives of the people. Obama said he will decide. Those are the words of a dictator.

Posted by CJ | Report as abusive