It’s hilarious to watch the media applauding John McCain for finally speaking out against the heated crowd rhetoric at his campaign rallies and urging supporters to be respectful. McCain has basically spent the last two weeks poking a hornet’s nest with a stick, and then when he finally expresses some concern at the size of the swarm, the media starts cheering the return of the Straight Talk Express. But wait a minute.
McCain’s ads have gone 100% negative and routinely play on fear (Obama “launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist” and is ”too risky for America”). But then when a voter tells McCain, “We’re scared of an Obama presidency”– exactly the response all those ads are meant to evoke– McCain says that he shouldn’t be scared. Um….. what?
But the mixed messages don’t stop there.
McCain frequently claims Obama has done exactly nothing in the Senate and has no experience– while Republican crowds chant “Zero! Zero! Zero!”– and now McCain is saying he “admire[s] Senator Obama and his accomplishments.” Sarah Palin’s entire stump speech can be summed up into, “Bill Ayers! Bill Ayers! Palling around with terrorists, plural!” and now McCain is saying Obama is “a decent family man, citizen.” The entire Republican campaign has turned into one big subliminal smear-fest of Barack Obama, and now McCain wants “everyone to be respectful.”
This near-comedic level of conflicting moods and messages reminds me of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in its last days. It’s a sign that John McCain is sinking like a stone and he has ten different advisors telling him ten different ways to stop Obama. And like Clinton, I suspect McCain can’t decide which strategy is best, so in the grand tradition of indecisive leadership, he’s just doing all of them.
A little negative advertising on Monday, see how that works out. No? Okay, how about some solutions on Tuesday? Nothing? Okay, let’s show a little anger on Wednesday. Rising negatives? All right, let’s do a baby kissing tour on Thursday. We’re losing white males?! Okay, suspend the campaign and cancel the debate on Friday! Erratic?! Okay, let’s go along with this bailout deal and don’t rock the boat. Conservative backlash?! Quick, embrace Bush! Liberal backlash?! Quick, denounce Bush! Wait, what day is it?!?!
What McCain isn’t going to realize until November 4th– Hillary didn’t see it until the end either– is that with those ten different ways to stop Obama, there really was no choice to make. None of them would have worked.