Sunday, June 15, 2008

McCain the Enabler

This is just too funny, from Jed Report:

As I’ve suggested before, McCain made a big mistake by not embracing the only sensible position he had available: To argue that he’s the competent version of Bush and that he’s the guy people thought they were voting for in 2000 and 2004. That’s a pretty lousy pitch to make, but it was the only one he had. Now he looks even more like a flip-flopper who will say anything to get elected. I'm not sure why Republicans imagine they have the ability to flim-flam everyone, but you really can't do it at the level McCain's trying to when you've already got a record as long as McCain's. It was easy to make Bush look like a "Compassionate Conservative" because he didn't have any record which suggested otherwise. But with McCain on record stating inequivocably that he supported Bush, it makes him look utterly disgraceful.

And even from a strategic standpoint, it's a big mistake. This is part of the strategy that Republicans picked up from the Clintons, where you adopt a moderate version of your opponent's position in order to undercut their arguments. But in this case, they're doing it wrong. This works if the issue is spending cuts, and you can position yourself so that you're asking for more moderate spending cuts than your opponent; or with taxcuts, and you're asking for more moderate taxcuts than your opponent. And it worked for Bush in 2000, when he convinced people that there were no policy differences between him and Gore, and that people should focus on who they liked better.

But this time, they're not using it as policy triangulation as a way to make people focus on his character. They're actually using this as part of his character resume, and that doesn't work at all. Because he’s now running on Obama’s turf and making Obama’s job easier. If both of them are arguing that Bush caused big problems, then Obama’s the guy you’d turn to, not McCain the Enabler.

This isn't about making people focus on McCain's loveable good side by minimizing policy differences. It's to distract people from the fact that he's one of the ones who helped get us into this mess, and the more he distances himself from Bush, the bigger the mess he's admitting he helped make. And that only emphasizes why we need to get rid of Bush and his enablers, which doesn't help McCain at all. As I said, McCain needed to sell himself as The Competent Bush, not the Anti-Bush. And now that he's committed to it, the best he can do is reverse himself again and hope that everyone will forget what he said. They won't.

No comments: