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The Home Stretch

On Fox News Sunday Bill Kristol tears into the McCain-Palin staff on the wardrobe issue:

Why wasn’t a staffer out there saying, “You know what? I made a mistake?” Since when do the staffers go into hiding and let Governor Palin be the one who has to explain it? It’s a total disgrace the way the staff has ducked responsibility for this mistake, which was not her mistake.

No one thinks — whatever people’s criticisms of Governor Palin, no one thinks she lived high off the hog in Alaska and used to go to Neiman Marcus. That wasn’t her decision. So I think the staff has ill-served her.

And he details her efforts to break free of her handlers and her recent very substantive speeches, which haven’t been highlighted by the campaign. I can say from my own conversations with McCain insiders that the aspect of the gossip concerning foreign policy has an air of unreality. Certainly, like any governor she had virtually no hands on experience with national security – similar to the position which Mitt Romney or Barack Obama faced heading into the campaign. But if anyone should have a birds-eye view of her ability to handle national security issues it would be senior national security advisor Randy Scheunemann. Scheunemann has worked on House and Senate committees and with House and Senate leadership since the mid 1980s and certainly has seen his share of politicians. He is known to believe she is as smart, tough and capable of any he has seen.

But whatever you make of her abilities and talents, it seems safe to say that the assigned staffers couldn’t have done a worse job if they tried. And it is now clear that some just aren’t trying.

Beyond that, Mara Liasson has a very fair summation of the campaign as a whole:

Look, there’s no doubt that there’s, I think, at this point, very little that McCain could have done to withstand the political landscaping so tilted against Republicans, the drag that George Bush has had on him, the mortgage meltdown — all of that. But it’s also true that he could have run a better campaign. He could have run a better campaign as a reform Republican. He never — he had all of the parts. They just didn’t add up to a whole.

All of the Fox roundtable participants including Liasson and Juan Williams are candid enough to admit the extent of the press bias.

Well, it’s not a very pretty picture, but with all of that there is some tightening of national polls and many state battleground polls are within the margin of error. Most of all, McCain has found solid economic and national security themes. So the final week of the campaign might be spent by the McCain camp firing away at their opponent instead of each other and reminding voters that an Obama-Pelosi-Reid controlled federal government is unlikely to be the model of restraint or moderation.

In addition to the Presidential race, there are House and Senate races that benefit from a full airing of the issues. Just which Democrats are in favor of the 25% defense cut spending? Who agrees with $4.3 trillion in new spending? And how many Democrats are in favor of the Big Labor wish list including abolition of union secret ballot elections? These are key considerations.  As the election approaches, voters will be reminded  that they don’t just get “change” when they vote out of disgust with the incumbent party — they get a specific ideology and program that the challenger’s party advocates. Everyone should be very clear about just how extreme that program is, not matter how soothing its chief spokesman may be.


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