Commentary Magazine


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This Takes The Cake

If this report is accurate it is bad news indeed for the McCain campaign:

Presented with 30 options for new economic measures, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has – at least for now – chosen none of them. His campaign had been planning to roll out new proposals this week that would be aimed at restoring confidence in financial markets and encouraging investors to return. On Sunday, hours before attending a big strategy meeting at McCain campaign headquarters, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Bob Schieffer on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that McCain was planning “a very comprehensive approach to jump-start the economy, by allowing capital to be formed easier in America by lowering taxes.” But when the meeting ended, so did plans for a new economy push. The campaign now says no new policy announcements are planned. Participants in the meeting refused to say what happened.

. . .

The news dismayed McCain supporters and surrogates, who had thought the fresh policy would help him gain traction on the campaign’s most vital issue, and dilute the impression that he was relying solely on attacks in the home stretch.

Which is worse, to fritter away a summer with no comprehensive tax and economic plan or to “tease one” now in the final stretch and then fail to deliver? If anything sums up the intellectual bankruptcy, the organizational disarray and the resulting frustration of the McCain supporters this is it. If someone were trying to convey a sense of hopelessness and lack of executive skill they would be hard pressed to do “better” than this.

McCain refuses to fully engage Obama on character issues. He is unwilling or unable to come up with a comprehensive alternative economic vision. So are we back to running on his biographical wonderfulness? Oh, and as a top Republican insider pointed out to me, he could at least have mentioned in his “reset the campaign” speech today two key arguments for his candidacy: national security and judges. But not even that was possible.

No, McCain has not yet lost and the race may narrow simply because Barack Obama remains such a problematic figure. But it won’t be because of anything McCain has done. In fact, he hasn’t done much of anything to convince voters to vote for him — other than point to Obama and say “He’s worse.”