The Democrats have used one standout statistic repeatedly to attack Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) in their speeches this week at their convention in Denver: McCain has voted with President Bush 95% of the time. That record leaves little room for McCain to claim he's a political maverick.
In accepting the party's vice-presidential nomination Wednesday evening, Sen. Joe Biden (D., Del.) demonstrated exactly how the Democrats plan to attack McCain in the run for the White House this November. Their argument is that McCain has become President Bush, and if he were elected to the succeed Bush as president Americans would be stuck with "more of the same."
Biden began his address by assailing McCain for agreeing with Bush on the strength of the economy. Biden said:
"John thinks that during the Bush years 'we've made great economic progress.' I think it's been abysmal. And in the Senate, John has voted with President Bush 95% of the time. And that is very hard to believe.
Biden continued by noting that Bush's tax cuts and the cuts proposed by McCain favor large corporations and the wealthy:
"And when John McCain proposes $200 billion in new tax breaks for corporate America, $1 billion alone for just eight of the largest companies, but no, none, no relief for 100 million American families."
Biden contrasts these incentives with Obama's plan to give the average American a tax cut. Obama's tax cut would amount to about $1,000, and he also plans to offer $2,500 in tax breaks to purchase health care.
Biden's area of expertise lies in foreign affairs. He made the case Wednesday that military experience can take you only so far, and it has to be mitigated with sound judgment. Biden praised McCain's past military service for the nation, but he hit the veteran hard by saying: "These times require more than a good soldier. They require a wise leader."
Biden hammered McCain for getting it wrong on Afghanistan. He said:
"The fact of the matter is, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the people who actually attacked us on 9/11, they've regrouped in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and are plotting new attacks. And the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has echoed Barack's call for more troops ... John McCain was wrong and Barack Obama was right."
, the worsening situation in Afghanistan favors Obama's longstanding position that we need more troops there to capture Osama bin Laden and to fight Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Biden made the case that it is time to withdraw our troops from Iraq. Not only have the Bush Administration and Iraq agreed on a timeline as called for by Obama, but also the Iraqis have $80 billion sitting in the bank to help rebuild their country.
Moreover, the Bush administration has modified its stance on Iran, opting to engage in diplomacy. Biden said:
"Now, after seven years of denial, even the Bush Administration recognizes that we should talk to Iran because that's the best way to ensure our security. Again and again, John McCain has been wrong and Barack Obama has been right."
Clearly, the Democrats have had the limelight this week. They have attacked McCain with little media response from McCain. The presumptive Republican nominee for president will get his chance soon, however. He plans to announce his own vice presidential choice Friday morning and tour several states leading up to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. You can bet that McCain will return fire once he has the spotlight.
Biden wrapped his speech on a positive note, appealing to the working and middle classes -- a voting bloc where Obama needs to improve. Speakign of the Obamas, he said:
"When I look at their young children -- and when I look at my grandchildren -- I realize why I'm here. I'm here for their future. I am here for everyone I grew up with in Scranton and Wilmington. I am here for the cops and firefighters, the teachers and assembly line workers -- the folks whose lives are the very measure of whether the American dream endures."