William Kristol Begs: Let McCain be McCain

In his NY Times Column this week, William Kristol wants McCain to fire his campaign staff and work from the gut. He writes:

The McCain campaign, once merely problematic, is now close to being out-and-out dysfunctional. Its combination of strategic incoherence and operational incompetence has become toxic…. 

…What McCain needs to do is junk the whole thing and start over. Shut down the rapid responses, end the frantic e-mails, bench the spinning surrogates, stop putting up new TV and Internet ads every minute. In fact, pull all the ads — they’re doing no good anyway. Use that money for televised town halls and half-hour addresses in prime time…

The problem of course with this line of reasoning is that it somehow separates McCain from the campaign he is running. Kristol seems to believe a more coherent, more economically learned candidate is buried within the McCain campaign somewhere. That deep down America really wants John McCain, they just don’t know it because the spin masters have done such a terrible job. Kristol would have us think that the wild machinations from “the fundamentals are strong” to this being economic armageddon don’t instill a lot of confidence in most voters even if Sarah Palin calls them “Joe Six-Pack.”   

Or maybe Kristol is doing what pundits always do, blaming the campaign staff for their candidates slide, instead of the candidate himself. McCain’s campaign has made some missteps, but we will never know which were generated by Rick Davis and his team and which came from McCain himself. This election was supposed to be all about Obama, yet McCain can’t seem to keep himself out of the spotlight and out of the realm of judgment. The non-suspension of his campaign is the biggest case in point. Only John McCain could decide it was time to make himself the center of attention during an economic hurricane. And we’ll never know if it was the campaign or John McCain that decided Sarah Palin would be the Hail Mary Pass that would win this game. What we do know is McCain approved it. 

The real problem the McCain campaign is up against is there’s no good way to couch his economic message, foreign policy views, or general shoot-from-the-hip demeanor as anything other than very similar to George W. Bush. Sure people may see McCain as more competent, but on policy there is little separating the two. That’s not spin, it’s fact. 

If anything a candidate with such a flawed platform in these times needs to commend his staff for keeping it this close. I thought Obama was supposed to have been up by double digits by now? Let’s leave the campaigns alone and just see this for what it is a candidate misshapen for the times is against a candidate of the moment, no amount of non-campaigning will fix that.


2 Responses

  1. it is a double digit lead now…10 points according to the Washington Post/ABC poll

  2. Where are all the comments lately? This is compelling stuff.

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