Monday, October 13, 2008

McMea Culpa coming? Was Joe Klein right, but early?

On September 10, Joe Klein, denouncing McCain for "one of the sleaziest ads I've ever seen in presidential politics," predicted that McCain would gin up an Act of Contrition some time after November 4. Last Friday, after McCain finally willed himself to check hysterically hostile supporters, I wondered
Which way will McCain swing at last? Will the mea culpa that Joe Klein predicted come before election day rather than after? Will he embrace the press in a warm bear hug, shower Obama with personal praise, and slam him for proposing a trillion dollars in new spending and premature withdrawal from Iraq, as he has every right to do? Or will he pitch himself down the path of all-out character assassination?
Now, William Kristol suggests that the worm is indeed about to turn -- that there will be one last sudden lurch toward reviving Mr. Straight Talk/Mr. Clean:

What McCain needs to do is junk the whole thing and start over. Shut down the rapid responses, end the frantic e-mails, bench the spinning surrogates, stop putting up new TV and Internet ads every minute. In fact, pull all the ads — they’re doing no good anyway. Use that money for televised town halls and half-hour addresses in prime time.

And let McCain go back to what he’s been good at in the past — running as a cheerful, open and accessible candidate. Palin should follow suit. The two of them are attractive and competent politicians. They’re happy warriors and good campaigners. Set them free.

This from the very sage, mind you, who was egging Palin on a week ago to "take the gloves off" and go after the Wright connection -- and who's for all practical purposes claimed credit for elevating that petty thug to the national stage (McCain's epitaph: relied on Kristol balls?). That he can now blithely suggest that Palin can morph into an "open and accessible...happy warrior" slides right past irony into farce.

Why not go all the way -- and dump Palin for Lieberman? If you're going to make a mad dash for the road not taken, you'd better drop your heaviest baggage.

1 comment:

  1. Kristol suggests that Palin should follow McCain's lead:

    "Let McCain go back to what he’s been good at in the past — running as a cheerful, open and accessible candidate. Palin should follow suit."

    Of course, Palin is not good at these things — that's McCain's schtick. Palin's schtick is to attack without scruple, as she did in her acceptance speech at the convention, and as she has done with relish this past week. That's her record not only against Obama, but also in Alaska, as near as I can make out.

    And Palin has never been accessible to the press during this campaign — for self-evident reasons.

    Interestingly, the (London) Times says that Palin is openly defying McCain at this point: that he wants to run a respectful campaign, but she is positioning herself for 2012. That is, she is presenting herself as the Republican who will relentlessly attack Democrats, with no holds barred.

    I'm not convinced yet: it seems more likely that Palin is just playing the role that McCain's strategists have assigned to her. But she has repeatedly objected to McCain's decision to withdraw resources from Michigan, so who knows? She is certainly willing to contradict her running mate's position.

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