Why McCain Needs to Focus on Issues
Rich Lowry argues that the McCain campaign’s decision to “double down” on character attacks in the last month of the campaign is a losing strategy.
McCain has to meet a higher standard. Not having a compelling economic message before the financial crisis hit was malpractice; now it’s madness. McCain’s pet causes of bipartisanship and earmark reform don’t qualify as such a message. Bipartisanship is an empty concept; the parties can unite just as easily to pass foolhardy laws as necessary ones. Meanwhile, only John McCain would — as he did in the first debate —steer a discussion about a complex global credit crunch onto earmarked federal spending for bear DNA research.
McCain has suffered from his own manifest lack of interest in economic issues. He was chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee for four years, but you’d never know it.
McCain has to make the case that Obama’s most dangerous association is with a Democratic Congress that will take Obama’s proposals for tax and spending increases and make them much worse.
Otherwise, the race might take on the cast of the 1992 campaign. In the midst of economic discontent, George H.W. Bush ran against Bill Clinton on character and experience. Clinton pledged to fix the economy. Bush had little or nothing to offer the middle class, while Clinton (like Obama this year) promised those voters a tax cut.
Obviously, I agree, but one of the major problems that McCain has on the economics front is precisely is lack of interest in such matters. In his speeches, he mouths platitudes against “greed.” In his record, he’s pretty much just voted with the rest of his fellow Republicans. He’s never been a leader on economic issues. And his campaign’s policy is emblematic of that. It’s a hodgepodge with no real focus. I believe that Barack Obama has some real vulnerability on economic issues. Particularly, his opposition to free trade agreements and his xenophobic ads against foreign cars and other foreign products, not to mention his ill-defined “regulate more!” solutions to economic problems.
John McCain could be hitting Obama on those issues. That he’s not, though, isn’t much of a surprise.