Sunday, August 3, 2008

McCain's strategy

Chuck Todd of MSNBC wastes a lot of words en route to a valid point:
The McCain campaign has found a good way to begin undermining Obama's
credentials to be president and to try to turn his strengths into weaknesses. The problem is that McCain isn't comfortable running this campaign. You can tell by the tenor of his own defense of his tactics.
It is obvious to me, if to no one else, that John McCain is not comfortable with attack politics -- at least not against a liberal Democrat. He's never had any problem attacking fellow Republicans, but he's never been in a truly competitive election against a Democrat. This is a weakness, but perhaps not a fatal weakness for the Republican, if he can keep up the pressure on Obama (who's never been in a competitive election against a Republican). On the other hand, Todd's problem is that he's bought into the myth of Obama's inevitability:
Will the pundits say McCain was the best candidate to prevent a landslide but not the best candidate to provide the necessary contrast to topple Obama?
Which is to say, Todd assumes that Obama will win, that his route to victory in November will basically be a replay of his route to winning the primary. But there are no caucuses in a general election and no superdelegates, either. It is this assumption of Obama's inevitability that prevents Todd from recognizing the possibility that Obama may yet experience a McGovern/Dukakis kind of meltdown.

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter makes similar assumptions:
Maybe convincing nervous white voters that Obama is another Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson in his use of racial grievance politics will carry McCain to the White House.
But this is not 1988, when Vice President George Bush turned Michael Dukakis into an unpatriotic coddler of criminals. (Bush that year had a popular president and a strong economy behind him.) And it's not 2004, when his son Swift-Boated John Kerry. (The president would have likely won anyway by playing on post-9/11 fear.) This year, McCain is running under a tattered Republican banner, with more than 80 percent of the public thinking the country is on the wrong track.
See? Liberals are so euphoric over GOP "brand damage" that they whistle right past the graveyard, refusing to acknowledge Obama's weakness as a candidate.

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