Acceptable v. Unacceptable

Author: Rory B. Bellows

This National Journal article is an excellent case study on the terrain in which the GOP should fight the November election.

The argument of change v experience is a loser for the GOP. Hillary Clinton tried to make that argument in the primaries and she lost. She sold herself as the ready-to-lead candidate. Theoretically, democrats should have been receptive to the idea of building a bridge to the 1990s; after all, their man was in the White House for most of the decade. While that argument didn’t fall on deaf ears, Senator Clinton did garner 18 million votes, it was not effective as Barack Obama and his nebulous calls for Hope and Change ultimately won the day.

The people interviewed in the article are not receptive to McCain’s experience argument. If anything it works against him as he is associated with the problems of the past and the unpopular Bush Administration. Where the election will turn is if McCain can do a sufficient job of savaging Obama to the point where people deem him an unacceptable risk, and McCain wins by default. This should be easy for McCain – after all, he won the GOP nomination not on the strength of his own candidacy but on the weakness of his rivals and their inability to sell the conservative base on their worthiness to carry the flag in the fall. However, McCain’s career has shown a disturbing trend to save his venom for Republicans he disagrees with while bending over backwards to ingratiate himself to Democrats in Congress and liberals in the press.

John McCain has a compelling biography, but it does not mean anything in this election. Nor does it matter that John McCain is a “different kind of Republican.” The public does not want any kind of Republican in the White House. Look at the generic polls, Democrats beat Republicans. For McCain to win the election he is going to have to ruthlessly attack Obama every minute of every day. The myth of Obama needs to be torn down and replaced with a narrative of the dangerous place Barack Obama wants to take this country. This should be easy to do. Senator Obama has laid out an agenda that features more spending, more regulations, more government programs, more redistribution of wealth and insanely high tax rates.

Senator McCain likes to talk of a high minded campaign about the issues, but this campaign cannot be about why McCain is right, it has to be about why Obama is wrong.

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