Carpetbagger's got a post suggesting that now that it looks like McCain's going to be the Republican nominee that we shift tacks, and instead of focusing on the division between McCain and conservatives, we instead focus on the similarities. And by doing so, we will taint McCain with the Republican disease. And while that's not a bad strategy, that's just not the best one. At this point, I'll just repeat what I said at his place.
I think we need to make him fight for his conservative bonafides and to prove to these people that he’s one of them. That way, he’ll have to make more speeches and platform ideas that conform to what they want to hear. And by doing so, he’ll turn off the rest of the country and make our job easier.
Now Carpetbagger's suggesting that we do that for him. That we attack him for being too conservative, thus making conservatives want to defend him. So then he can focus more energy on showing what a maverick he is, and how he’s not as conservative as the evil libs are portraying him. And while I see some wisdom to this, I don’t think it’s the best strategy.
The best strategy is, as always, to just tell the truth. He’s a lying flip-flopper who says whatever he needs to say to get elected. We contrast his words on the campaign trail in 2000 with what he’s saying now. And we compare his ample praise of Bush and the Iraq war with what he’s now pretending his position was. That’s where the attack is. We shouldn’t let him take any ground, and we’ll deny him the ability to claim either the conservative OR maverick labels. The conservatives will hate him for his words in 2000, his inconsistencies, his maverickness, and his attacks on Bush; while moderates will hate him for his more recent words, his inconsistencies, his conservativeness, and most of all, his support for Bush. And so he’ll be stuck trying to please both groups, while finding it tough to do either.
And let’s not forget: This is the same mistake we made with Bush. We kept trying to paint him as an idiot cowboy who was too conservative; and they kept recasting all our criticism as showing that he’s a regular cowboy who is consistent. And then he could campaign as a moderate while his conservative base was confident he was a conservative, based upon liberal outrage of him. And that’s exactly backwards. Republicans are lying conmen who will say anything to be elected. That’s where the attack needs to be. McCain isn’t too conservative. He’s too big of a phony. And best of all, this undercuts his great appeal: Which is that he’s authentic. It’s not true and we should do our best to convince people of that.
Make him fight to prove he’s not a phony, and he’ll have to take a side and piss off the other. And whichever side he takes, we just attack him for having said the opposite and showing how this proves what a phony he is. That’s what they did with Kerry, and Kerry wasn’t nearly the phony McCain is. Everything we say about McCain must be a part of this bigger narrative of him being a phony. That’s just how it’s done in politics. And best of all, it's the truth.