Friday, October 24, 2008

Should John McCain win in 11 days, he can't credit his team, which has run the shallowest, most image-centered campaign since the 1988 presidential race. Robert Draper's excellent NYT Magazine story (published this Sunday) may have the same effect as Ron Suskind's infamous Bush White House piece published shortly before Election Day. What emerges from Draper's story is the pathetic fumbling of a man whose eminently marketable virtues – virtues he has never stopped trumpeting – failed to mesh with the designs of his advisers. 

Oh dear:
Despite their leeriness of being quoted, McCain’s senior advisers remained palpably confident of victory — at least until very recently. By October, the succession of backfiring narratives would compel some to reappraise not only McCain’s chances but also the decisions made by Schmidt, who only a short time ago was hailed as the savior who brought discipline and unrepentant toughness to a listing campaign. “For better or for worse, our campaign has been fought from tactic to tactic,” one senior adviser glumly acknowledged to me in early October, just after Schmidt received authorization from McCain to unleash a new wave of ads attacking Obama’s character. “So this is the new tactic.”
"Tactics." When you rely on "tactics," you doom yourself to play defense. The real tragedy is how a person who depended as much on literal and metaphorical war wounds to bolster his integrity as John McCain found, too late, that these wounds and the "tactics" of modern campaigning are irreconcilable. He can talk to Bob Dole about it.


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