As of this writing, John McCain’s hopes for capturing the White House appear dashed. They are nearly as dim as they were back in July 2007, when most political observers left his campaign for dead. McCain is currently trailing Barack Obama by over seven points in the nationwide popular vote (RealClearPolitics average). Even more troubling, he is lagging in the electoral map projections – oscillating between a narrow defeat and a landslide, depending on how you count “leaners” and toss-up states.
However, there are still 22 days to go before the election. In today’s era of multiple daily news cycles and an electorate that in many ways has the attention span of a gnat, 22 days is an eternity. Therefore, there is still plenty of time for McCain to climb back into the race between now and November 4.
McCain can greatly improve his chances by doing the following three things:
1. Kick Obama’s posterior in tomorrow night’s debate. McCain has promised to do exactly that, and he needs to. There are multiple approaches he could take that would be effective. But there can be no more Mr. Nice Guy, no more striving to be “respectful” at the expense of going after Obama on legitimate issues. McCain can ill afford another debate “tie” – real or perceived. He has to “win” in such a way that even the Obama drones at the New York Times and AP must declare him the winner. That will not be an easy task. McCain should start by making sure he is prepared to aggressively rebut Obama’s canned dissembling on his relationships with Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko, ACORN etc. Of course, this presumes McCain will figure out a way to inject these subjects into the discussion – and he absolutely has to do this, regardless of whether moderator Bob Schieffer brings them up or not. Beyond that, McCain needs to figure out a way to effectively and concisely articulate his economic agenda, because for all its flaws it is a much better alternative to the socialistic plans Obama has in mind (“universal” healthcare, income redistribution, etc). McCain might also close the debate by distributing a copy of this letter to everyone in the audience at Hofstra University.
2. Raise the specter of Obama-Pelosi-Reid. True, some people don’t mind such self-inflicted torture. But historically, Americans have been decidedly averse to giving one party control of both the White House and both houses of Congress. To be sure, McCain himself will not be the most reliable check on Democratic excess from a conservative standpoint. However, if the past is any guide, we can count on Barack Obama to be a rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who will never be mistaken for Blue Dogs. At least McCain represents a chance that the most odious Democratic legislation will die on the White House desk.
3. Focus on the economy. McCain had a golden opportunity to differentiate himself from Barack Obama on the economic bailout plan – and he passed by voting for the dubious bill. But he still has an opportunity to distinguish himself from Barack Obama on at least two key economic issues – taxes and energy. On taxes, McCain sensibly proposes lower taxes across the board as part of the remedy for our ailing economy. Yes, this includes the “wealthy” and corporations – two groups that most Americans depend on for their jobs. On energy, he needs to talk about drilling for oil – without clouding up the message with utopian babble about biofuels, windmills, and the like. Imagine all the real, high-paying, blue-collar jobs that would be created by massive new drilling efforts in AWNR, offshore, and the Rocky Mountains. McCain should explain that it is a false dichotomy to say we must choose between the environment and drilling. Today’s technology makes it possible to drill with minimal disturbance to the environment. An Obama administration (and more specifically, the Obama-Pelosi-Reid trifecta) equates to a near-zero percent chance of increasing the domestic supply of gasoline, which translates to an increased dependency on foreign oil, and even higher gas prices down the road.
Call it Operation Nobama. The time has come.