Thursday, October 16, 2008

McCain's Mad Men

My friend Dan Gerstein with an insightful analysis of the many ways in which the McCain campaign has gone off the tracks:

Dangerous Thoughts
McCain's Mad Men
Dan Gerstein 10.15.08, 12:01 AM ET

As John McCain's presidential campaign has unraveled this fall, it's come to be defined and destabilized by a series of big, backfiring gambles. Sarah Palin blew up with Hillary voters. McCain's bailout bill gambit blew up the negotiations in Washington. And last week, Team Maverick's loaded character attacks against Barack Obama blew up in a bipartisan backlash. (It's no wonder they're fixated on Obama's association with '60s bomb-thrower Bill Ayers.)

Of all those bad tactical bets, though, none has been less appreciated or more disastrous than McCain's post-primary decision to entrust his campaign to a handful of Bush operatives. These Karl Rove disciples, led by top strategist Steve Schmidt, were supposed to take out Obama in the same methodical way the Bush team eviscerated McCain in 2000 and John Kerry four years later. But, instead, they ended up swiftly swift-boating their own guy and the peerless reputation he spent a quarter of a century building, decimating in the process the campaign's best asset--McCain himself. Talk about an honor killing.

Even worse, the Bushies traded integrity for incoherence as the McCain watchword. Indeed, this shotgun marriage never made sense stylistically or politically--and, ever since it was consummated, neither has the McCain campaign. It has careened chaotically from message to message, tactic to tactic, attack to attack.


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