Bill Clinton is Joseph McCarthy and Bill Richardson is Judas. That’s what Democrats are saying about each other. If this goes on for a few more months there will be little more for John McCain and the RNC to add that hasn’t been said already about either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton ( or their spouses, supporters or potential advisors).
Indeed, McCain is trying hard not to add too much, even going so far as to suspend an aide for a rather innocuous video replaying the already familiar Reverend Wright vitriol. While this may seem overly cautious or even odd, there is a rationale for his insistence on a high-road approach.
In the wake of the Wright controversy, McCain may have gone a long way toward solving his residual problem in unifying the Republican base. (After getting an earful of Wright’s hate speech and Obama’s excuse mongering, the GOP base will be plenty energized on McCain’s behalf if Obama is the nominee.) So McCain’s pitch on both syle and substance can be focused increasingly on independent voters who will determine the election’s outcome. It is these voters McCain is hoping to secure, in large part on the basis of his record of bipartisanship, but also with his insistence on a gentlemanly tone. He is banking that these voters cringe when they hear the ever more hostile rhetoric and over-the-top accusations flying between Democrats. He intends to look and sound presidential, and in particular sell independents on the notion that the entire Democratic primary is just the latest example of the rancor and animosity which these voters have come to dread. For now, it seems to be working as an ever larger segment of independents, according to polls, lean toward McCain. With some help from the Democrats’ continued hysterical accusations, McCain hopes to cement that relationship.