Commentary Magazine


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Re: Unforced Errors and Truth Tellers

John McCain has been blessed with many Joe’s — Lieberman, the Plumber and Biden. In his retooled stump speech he has nearly his entire message, finally distilled to two easily understood points provided in the waning weeks of the campaign by the latter two Joe’s:

Obama wants to raise taxes and redistribute voters’ hard earned money (“spread the wealth”) to, among other people, those already paying zero income tax.

Obama isn’t up to being commander-in-chief — indeed his mere election will incite conflict and his response will be inadequate.

(Sarah Palin is also making fine use of the material from Joe The VP.)

It might be helpful for McCain to weave in a reminder of the radical view of the judiciary that Barack Obama embraces and the extent to which his absolutist view on abortion departs even from many pro-choice Democrats. But in the case of McCain it is likely best to have fewer points rather than more.

It is ironic that the best lines and most cogent descriptions of the dangers of an Obama presidency came from the lips of the two Democratic candidates. But perhaps it is not so odd after all. McCain has always been best as a counter-puncher with his back is to the wall. He’s not particularly eloquent and has proven himself to be a mediocre debater, but he knows an opening when he sees it. In this case he sees two.

It’s late and it may not be enough to pull McCain even, but by Election Day everyone will know exactly what the key arguments against Obama are. Ironically, for a campaign that often predicted ruin if they ran on a “conservative vs. liberal” message and swore that they’d lose if they talked about the economy, they have come around to precisely those topics. We’ll see if voters are still listening.