Commentary Magazine


What’s The Point?

Here is a good example of the McCain team’s being not quite certain about how to play an issue. Barack Obama is clearly lying when he said he didn’t previously promise unconditional talks with Ahmadinejad and other state terror sponsors. Ask Hillary Clinton if you doubt it. But the media shrugs and many people say, “Well, he’s not saying that any more.” So why is this important, or why should the McCain team raise it? For many reasons.

#1: He doesn’t tell the truth. His lack of credibility on this and matters small and large (e.g he never heard Wright’s hate speech, he played a major role in immigration, he always thought the surge would work) reveal him to be, at the very least, not offering anything resembling New Politics and, at worst, entirely untrustworthy.

#2: All his bouncing around is evidence of inexperience. He will confound our allies and embolden our foes because he says silly things or doesn’t understand what he is saying or doesn’t realize the import of his words.

#3: It reveals that he is weak and subject to persuasion by whichever group he is in front of at that moment. Before the netroots, unconditional talks sounded good, but no longer. In front of AIPAC “Undivided Jerusalem” sounded good, but not when trying to play the “honest broker” with the Arabs.

#4 (which foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann suggested on the media call today): Obama is stubborn and won’t admit when he makes an error. This is the Bush-redux argument. (The “You don’t want another bullheaded president” argument.)

Maybe it’s all of these things. But rather that simply cry “flip-flopper,” the McCain camp would do better to explain and then hammer home why these examples — and there are lots of them — suggest some deeper reason to believe Obama is unfit for the presidency. (And it likely will have to come in a more promient forum than telephone media calls.)