‘Smart Republican Strategists’ Give McCain Unsolicited Bad Advice

McCain To Do List Mark Halperin presents a list of 22, mostly inane, suggestions as to “What Smart Republican Strategists Think Should Be on John McCain’s To-Do List.”

It’s certainly true that the McCain campaign needs to be “about the American people and what is best for their lives” and that this requires going beyond foreign policy and McCain’s biography. And, yes, his television ads need much work. Most of the other advice is either platitude, contradictory, or both.

Yes, it’s true that “staying on message” is important. One can’t simultaneously have one guy dictating the whole show, grow the staff with non-loyalists, hire consultants that fundamentally disagree with you on core issues, and end all divisions in the campaign. Nor can one simultaneously be an automaton who never strays from the daily talking points while cultivating the respect of the pundit class. Similarly, one can either lead people or simply tell them what they want to hear (which is how I read “Speak to what concerns voters, don’t tell voters what their concerns should be”). And one can either follow a list of suggestions about how to pretend to be someone completely other than you are or “Protect the McCain Brand at all costs.”

One wonders if these are the same “Republican strategists” Daniel Libit wrote about recently?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Hal says:

    I dunno. While it is framed rather cutesy, some of those suggestions sound pretty good, actually.

    But hey. Stick with dis’ing it and labeling it really horrible crap, normally seen in the liter box and not on serious campaign commentary sites. Makes it easier for us on the left.

    John McCain is doing GREAT! Stay on target, John. Don’t deviate one iota from your current strategy and above all, don’t listen to these so called experts and their advice. You know what you have to do and they’re all just political wannabes, not the authentic maverick like you know you are.

  2. SDM says:

    Mark Halperin rarely says anything that isn’t a banal and tiresome repetition of creaky, obsolete conventional wisdom — unless he’s got a scoop he’s revealing.

    This column is the former.