Wednesday, October 08, 2008


John McCain is being criticized for calling Barack Obama "that one" and what's the reaction in GOP circles?

A Republican official emails, on background:

The most memorable line of the night belonged to John McCain. McCain pointed out that "That One" vote for the 05 energy bill. Look for Republicans to note in coming days that "That One" also voted for higher taxes at least 94 times; "That One" has associations with unrepentant terrorists, etc...

There's your GOP for you -- sure, Republicans want to win elections, but if they're losing, they'd just as soon stop searching for a winning strategy and just stick with what they find emotionally satisfying, which is, invariably, calling the Democrat the Antichrist as obnoxiously as possible.

Or maybe it's that they just can't get their minds around the notion that, in some years, calling the Democrat the Antichrist simply doesn't work -- that's unimaginable to them, even though they lived through 1992 and 1996 and 1998 and 2006. I think that helps explain the much-blogged-about post-debate freakout by National Review's Andy McCarthy:

...Now, as the night went along, did you get the impression that Obama comes from the radical Left? Did you sense that he funded Leftist causes to the tune of tens of millions of dollars? Would you have guessed that he's pals with a guy who brags about bombing the Pentagon? Would you have guessed that he helped underwrite raging anti-Semites? Would you come away thinking, "Gee, he's proposing to transfer nearly a trillion dollars of wealth to third-world dictators through the UN"?

Nope. McCain didn't want to go there....

Memo to McCain Campaign: Someone is either a terrorist sympathizer or he isn't; someone is either disqualified as a terrorist sympathizer or he's qualified for public office....

Er, Sarah Palin has been hammering away at precisely this for days, and it hasn't changed the public's view of Obama one iota. But, hell, it feels good, right?

If McCain has a chance right now, it's by appearing to take a high road -- working the biography, sticking to the notion that he's the battle-scarred guy who's been in the arena and Obama isn't. I don't think it can work, and obviously I don't want it to, but it's still his best bit. Obama has proved this year that the most attention-grabbing approach isn't always what works -- he stayed calm through Hillary's Rosie the Riveter period, he stayed calm through McCain's wave of "celebrity" ads and then through the first few days of Palinmania, and here he is in the lead. McCain's people complain that a not-so-negative campaign didn't move the needle -- but maybe it would have eventually. People liked the noble-maverick brand, even if it was poppycock. But McCain and Steve Schmidt were too antsy and impatient to stick with it.

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