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Lessons to Learn

This very insightful piece on the McCain campaign makes several points. First, it was not necessarily the financial crisis per se, but John McCain’s reaction to it, that ultimately did him in. Second, the suggestion was the brainchild of Steve Schmidt. He proved to be exactly the wrong advisor for McCain, who himself is prone to erratic gestures. The combination of the two of them acting to re-enforce their worst tendencies was deadly. Third, a campaign must be about something. The account makes clear they never decided what it was. Fourth, for reasons that escape me, the McCain crew still feels compelled to slur Sarah Palin, in this case criticizing her debate prep performance. (The fact that her actual performance was winning and largely without flaw goes unremarked upon by the snipers.) Does this justify their own failures? How does slamming the person that Schmidt selected and McCain approved help restore their own image? And it escapes me why they seek to tarnish and diminish the hopes of the person who may serve the Party they claim to love — either as a future Presidential candidate or as a spokesperson for reform and rebuilding.

The reasons for McCain’s loss go well beyond the specifics of his campaign, of course. But they provide lessons that future candidates should ponder. The necessity of focus, the primacy of organizational management in modern campaigns, and the essential task of separating tactics from vision. The next GOP nominee will need more than that, of course. But he or she will need at least that.



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